Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

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Chris Curnutt
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Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:13 pm

Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Chris Curnutt »

Hello from a new guy. I'm not a guitar builder nor have I ever played one in the movies, however I play a Gretsch hollow body and I'm realizing I'm not impressed with most arch top wood bridge bases. I'd like to build one that is a little higher so there is less screw exposed, I see so many tune-o-matic bridges that are leaning because they're up so high. Do the screws fit in a metal sleeve or just screwed straight into the wood?

I want to experiment with making my own and testing some of my ideas so I'm looking for a template or something to help me turn a hunk of wood into a bridge base. StewMac does not carry one and suggested I ask you good folks about sourcing a template or some suggestions from scratch. Thanks!

I included a photo as an example Image

Ed Gerber
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Ed Gerber »

As an inexpensive approach, I would try making a bridge from a single piece of wood, similar to a violin or cello. Maple or ebony are good woods to use, or you can even use bone if you are really ambitious (similar to the bandolim from Brazil).

I have used maple by cutting a long piece to the width of the base you want and then chamfering / shaping it to reach the profile and thickness at the top you want, leaving room for string compensation. Cut to length and then trim to make the feet. Cut holes and slots to get an interesting design and to reduce weight - again, similar to a violin bridge. The height is obviously not adjustable, so remember to leave enough material to radius the base and saddle to the exact height you want. If you make your original piece long enough, you will have enough material to make more than one so you can play around with the height and compensation.

Google the Murphy Method for Mandolin bridges for some ideas, which is where I got some of my ideas.

Ed

Chris Curnutt
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Chris Curnutt »

Thanks Ed, I'm actually planning to use a tune-o-matic style bridge, all I want to make is the wood base for it.

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Bryan Bear
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Bryan Bear »

Not an archtop guy so. . .
If I understand correctly, you are just wanting to make a taller base and are looking for a template to follow. You shoulr jsut be able to copy your existing base and redraw the shape to add height to either the feet side, the top side or a little to both. Just come up with a shape that is pleasing to the eye an has the dimensions you want based on the old base.
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

Eric Baack
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Eric Baack »

Guitar Fetish has some roller bridges with wood bases designed for arch tops. You could take a look at those.

David King
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by David King »

A bandsaw or scroll saw will cut out your new base. Fine tune the fit to the top with sand paper on top of the instrument. (protect the finish with a layer of packing tape or low tack masking tape).
Use the upper half as a drilling guide to make new holes and drill the holes on a drill press to assure that they are parallel.
Most of the bridges I've seen had the threads cut directly into the wood. Cut threads in wood are very strong.

Patrick Hanna
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Patrick Hanna »

Screws go right into the wood bridge foot (at least on all that I have ever seen). No metal sleeve. Added stability against a forward lean might be achieved with a wider bridge foot. Some feel a wider foot inhibits the vibration of the top. Others feel a wider foot is an advantage. Experimentation will yield the best bridge foot for your guitar. Forward lean can be corrected (to a point) by adjusting the bridge tilt as the strings are brought up to pitch.

I believe most builders nowadays prefer a single, full contact bridge foot--unlike the two-footed base shown in your photo.

Arnt Rian
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Arnt Rian »

If you have a Gretsch hollowbody, I assume it already has a bridge with a wooden base. If so, why not use that as a template for you new bridge base, with adjustments to geometry as needed? As has been said, the screws are normally threaded directly into the wood, it is plenty strong.

I am not sure how the higher base will prevent the tune-o-matic from leaning, as it rests on the adjustment wheels, above the base. A well fitted base, and proper alignment is usually enough to keep the bridge straight. As with other instruments with lose bridges, you have to be careful to keep it straight and in its correct position when you change strings, and keep an eye on things and adjust as necessary after playing. Some bridge designs for these, such as the roller bar bridge, are designed to "lean" back and forth for vibrato when you use the Bigsby, another option is a roller bridge where each string rest on wheels. At least in theory, these bridges will keep the base steady, while the strings tug back and forth over the bridge with the vibrato.

Chris Curnutt
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Re: Seeking a wood bridge base template or ideas?

Post by Chris Curnutt »

Thanks everyone, looks like making this from scratch is going to be the best if not only course of action. Thank you

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