again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

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Brian Evans
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again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

Post by Brian Evans »

I've asked about this before but I need more advice. I made a cello style solid bridge for my acoustic archtop, of jatoba wood, very hard and brittle but very light. The guitar is still moving around a bit, and dialing in the action is a PITA, you have to do it the same as a nut by adjusting individual slots. Get it too low and you have to make a new bridge or fill the slot. The action height on this guitar seems to be slowly rising, I set it just over 1/16" and three months later it's up to just under 3/32", I have no idea why. So I made a really traditional ebony base, ebony saddle, two threaded adjusters for it. The guitar loses it's shimmer, it's high frequency brittleness, and also seems to be lacking clarity in the bass compared to the solid bridge. Now, if I play it for 20 minutes my ear loses the difference, but I know it's there. The question is - has anyone else experimented with very light, solid bridges to see what they found as a difference, or do you mostly go straight to the adjustable and accept what tone it gives you? I also made a very heavy bridge with a TOM on it, as an experiment, and it was dead as a doorknob, totally killed the guitar. I wonder how many archtops out there are dreaming of the day they get a solid bridge?

Also, point of interest - why do flat top and classical guitars get non-adjustable bridges and put up with changing action height, when archtops almost invariably have the adjustable bridge in the first place? I mean, what other serious acoustic stringed instrument always gets an adjustable bridge? Violin family doesn't, as far as I recall, only the Loar designed stuff.

Brian

Alan Carruth
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Re: again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

Post by Alan Carruth »

Archtop guitars seem move around more than most instruments. The difference from the violin family may have to do with the lack of a sound post in the guitar. Over time there's a tendency for the top to sink and the neck to rise, due to string tension, and they also seem to move a bit with changes in the weather.

I've been using a 'wedge' bridge for some time, based on the D'Aquisto design. The main bridge body has a deep slot in the top that retains both the saddle and a wedge to raise and lower it. It doesn't allow for independent adjustment of thew bass and treble action, but it does a pretty good job of accommodating movement otherwise.

A light bridge will certainly tend to accentuate trebles, no matter how its shaped or adjusted. Maybe you'd get a better sound if you reduced the mass some, particularly in the top.

Joshua Levin-Epstein
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Re: again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

Post by Joshua Levin-Epstein »

Also, point of interest - why do flat top and classical guitars get non-adjustable bridges and put up with changing action height, when archtops almost invariably have the adjustable bridge in the first place? I mean, what other serious acoustic stringed instrument always gets an adjustable bridge? Violin family doesn't, as far as I recall, only the Loar designed stuff. (one day I'll learn how to italicize...)

It is common to find adjustable bridges on double basses and I've seen them on a cello, once. I like to think of double bass as a serious acoustic stringed instrument.

There is some controversy about the material for the adjusters (aluminum, ebony, synthetic) and whether it affects the sound. The people who think the sound is affected have two or more bridges. If you've ever changed a bridge on a double bass (or even seen a bridge changed on a double bass) you'll know why adjusters are popular. I've gone both routes. When I had multiple bridges (and sound posts...) I never changed them. I think this year is the first time I used the adjusters. I've had adjusters for many years (on and off) but this year is the first time I actually used them.

But wait, this is not about me.

If your guitar sounds best with the bridge of your design, and the instrument moves enough, have two or more bridges.

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Beate Ritzert
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Re: again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

Post by Beate Ritzert »

A point to the accutone like bridges: are they really more lightweight than a typical adjustable bridge? Most of them look as if they were quite heavy and stiff.

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Dave Weir
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Re: again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

Post by Dave Weir »

I like the fewest separate parts in the bridge as possible, and wouldn't give up on the one piece design.
Make sure the truss rod is adjusted properly, and the neck joint isn't coming apart. If those are good, just cut it a little deeper or shim it until in's all settled in.

Dennis Duross
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Re: again please, solid vs adjustable bridge...

Post by Dennis Duross »

I've recently gone with a one-piece, full-contact maple bridge with a lignum vitae saddle (and nut). Very nice sound.

You can use a fully-adjustable tune-o-matic style bridge until everything settles in, then use those measurements to make your one-piece from.

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