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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Your first favourite Bridge


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/360548

5strings3picks1banjo - Posted - 01/23/2020:  03:52:32


What was your first favourite Bridge.
What is your all time favourite Bridge.
Have you spent over $200 testing bridges.
Have you changed and why?

MoJoBanjo - Posted - 01/23/2020:  04:50:50


Snuffy Smith. Never looked back.

Astrobanjo - Posted - 01/23/2020:  04:54:20


I am using a Scorpion on my RK35. I have Purcell, SS, and a couple others....I am about to switch em out and do another listen, but the Scorpion gives me a tone closer to what I'm looking for.

Eric A - Posted - 01/23/2020:  05:18:17


For decades I never gave my bridges much thought. I only had two of them and kind of went back and forth. Lately, I'm getting back into banjo after something of a layoff, and am diving into all things regarding setup and learning a ton.

Of the two I had, a Grover with the little "bone" inserts was best ("Acousticraft" I think they call it). I still have it and still like it.
Lately a huge bridge buying and testing binge. I'm sure I've gone over the $200 mark, but it's better not to keep track. I have one of Bart Veerman's Mystery Woods that I really like. I have one of Mike Smith's Kat Eyz that I really like. I have a two footer from Clifford Essex in the UK that I really like. Many others not so much. I have a couple more still coming.

I just got a gram scale (AFTER I had ranked all the bridges on a spreadsheet) and for my ear and my aesthetic, it turns out that my favorites tend to be the lightest ones. The ones that I think are downright fugly are the very heaviest ones. Very interesting, this high correlation with weight.

And that 40 year old Grover with the "bone" inserts still holds up pretty well. It's just a tad heavier than the other favorites, sort of an outlier in an otherwise clear correlation, so maybe that "bone" insert gimmick really does something. I don't know.

Eric A - Posted - 01/23/2020:  05:24:24


I put "bone" in quotes because I'm naturally skeptical of what that material really is. On my 40 year old one, maybe it really is bone. If I were to buy a new one today I assume it would be some kind of plastic.

beegee - Posted - 01/23/2020:  05:47:41


Snuffy Smith was the game-changer. I have a box of bridges from many different makers with many wood combinations and configurations. My go-to bridge these days is the Scorpion, but I also have David Cunningham, Kat-Eyez, Snuffy, and several others. I usually try a series of bridges. Seems like individual banjos respond differently to the same bridges.

TOMCAT - Posted - 01/23/2020:  05:52:54


Purcell all the way

dpgetman - Posted - 01/23/2020:  05:55:22


Sampson walnut with ebony top. I'd had my Brooks 12" spun over for months and I liked it, but when I put that Sampson on it everything changed for the better.

Emiel - Posted - 01/23/2020:  05:59:54


It's hard for me to mention one favorite bridge, since the best bridge depends on the banjo in question. There is not one favorite for all banjos. Also, if the head is changed to a different type, a different bridge may be better than the one that was favored with the head that was on first.

An all-time favorite however is the Desert Rose Z bridge (maple/ebony, Vintage Elite type).

Moose_Roberts - Posted - 01/23/2020:  06:21:13


I have a first favorite, but I'm only a little over a year in so I don't want to go with all time favorite as well.

My first and current banjo is this old, aluminum rim, Japanese banjo, and in my search to improve it's sound I tried a few bridges. I ended up with one of BHO member Don New's spillway dam bridges made from 100 year old barn wood, and it is amazing.

I suspect I will probably land there on the build, but I have a KatEyez in cherry, a Desert Rose Elite, and a Scorpion to try on that as well. There is a bridge blowout in the classifieds so I picked up a few at a good price. No where near the $200 mark (yet).

Dpilg - Posted - 01/23/2020:  06:25:43


First favorite was the Snuffy bridges but only like the older bridges.

Desert Rose Z bridge (maple/ebony, Vintage Elite type) currently.

I also like the Sullivan roasted bridges gives more volume and brighter. Good for
wanting to be heard in a Jam.

Scorpion bridges gave it a thin sound. Good tone but prefer the Z bridge better.

I don't believe their is one magic bridge depends on the banjo, and the bridge
weight. I always weigh and mark them to compare weights.

Eric A - Posted - 01/23/2020:  06:45:30


On my current quest, bridges currently enroute are a Scorpion from Silvio, a Prowler from Mike, and and a clawhammer two footer (with the raised 5th) from Clifford Essex. Hopefully, this will be the end of this current madness, a sentiment that I'm sure my wife is very much on board with.

stelldeergibber - Posted - 01/23/2020:  07:07:05


As far as buying one, I started with Kat Eyz, liked it but then liked Snuffy better and that's my favorite all around bridge. I have only had new Snuffys, never had the old one. I'm sure 200 has been spent but that's water under the bridge. As Emiel and Beegee said, different bridges for different banjos so I have a pretty decent collection now. Other best bridges on some banjos are Cunningham, Scorpion and Sullivan historic.

The Old Timer - Posted - 01/23/2020:  07:17:22


I used the old style Grovers in ebony top and ebony/"bone" top for 20 years. Then my dad took apart a 19th century piano and started making bridges with vertical grain, just for something to do. They sounded good and were "tall", so I used those for many years. Then I discovered Snuffy Smiths and settled on those.

After Snuffy passed, I tried Huber and Sullivan. Both are OK. For the money the Sullivan can't be beat. But I guess I still like Snuffys best.

lightgauge - Posted - 01/23/2020:  07:41:49


I tried several and Kateyz was my favorite. I saw myself headed for that 200.00 level and decided to spend the money on a bandsaw and have been making my own for several years now. It has been interesting trying different woods and weights. Maple/ebony still wins to my ear, but weight varies some by banjo. As much as I experimented a few years ago, I just was not willing to put out hundreds to try them all.

From Greylock to Bean Blossom - Posted - 01/23/2020:  07:50:14


I have used and loved Hatfield's, Purcell and Cunningham. IMO one bridge is best for a banjo but you have to try a lot to find which one it.
ken

Eric A - Posted - 01/23/2020:  08:04:02


quote:

Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

I have used and loved Hatfield's, Purcell and Cunningham. IMO one bridge is best for a banjo but you have to try a lot to find which one it.

ken






Kiss a lot of frogs....

Turpen1 - Posted - 01/23/2020:  08:38:05


Has anyone used or still using Bill Stokes' Hotspot bridge? I haven't seen Bill or the bridge in quite a while.

From Greylock to Bean Blossom - Posted - 01/23/2020:  09:02:35


quote:

Originally posted by Eric A

quote:

Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

I have used and loved Hatfield's, Purcell and Cunningham. IMO one bridge is best for a banjo but you have to try a lot to find which one it.

ken






Kiss a lot of frogs....






yeah, that is how she woke up the prince.



Ken

hardleydavidson - Posted - 01/23/2020:  09:15:29


Never had a proper bridge, always make mine, interestingly though I have found that making one out of the same wood as the rim somehow sounds better

bluenote23 - Posted - 01/23/2020:  09:22:20


When I was starting out, for the first couple of years, I tried lots of different bridges. Desert Rose, Purcell, Moon, Enterprise and Snuffys. My banjo sounded bad no matter what I tried (prewar subMastertone).

A few years ago, I started to be able to play. I put the Snuffys on and just left them ever since.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 01/23/2020:  10:30:07


quote:

Originally posted by 5strings3picks1banjo

What was your first favourite Bridge?



It was this one I made circa 1964 and used on my 1927 Archtop Granada for around 15 years— it weighed practically nothing and delivered the "Stanley sound" with that banjo.  Pretty embarrassing looking, but it worked until I learned more.





Eventually, I got more interested in a more complex and expressive sound, and developed the arch type bridge I used until the present, went to a "moon" curve in 2009.





What is your all time favourite Bridge?



These two—the arch one on the right is my preferred for bluegrass, can be made very light, and the one on the left with the more traditional feet is the one I often use on frailing banjos, and particularly large ones, like 12" ones—you get more frequencies from that one, and clawhammer people usually prefer a "plunk" to a "plink".





Have you spent over $200 testing bridges?



I have spent hours upon hours upon hours testing bridges in various sizes, designs, weights and species of wood, but not much money since I make them myself. Here are some—(BTW, sound samples of these are on my BHO page).







Have you changed and why?



I have changed over the years as my idea of what a good banjo sound is has evolved, and since I build banjos and make a bridge for each one, I get to fool around with all the variables—I have a fairly clear idea of what happens.






 

stanleytone - Posted - 01/24/2020:  03:05:42


put a snuffy on my stanleytone over 20 years ago.its still there.

country frank - Posted - 01/24/2020:  03:18:41


Arthur Hatfield compensated - Arthur pointed me toward the HO too - a truly wonderful man.

5strings3picks1banjo - Posted - 01/24/2020:  03:31:58


quote:

Originally posted by stanleytone

put a snuffy on my stanleytone over 20 years ago.its still there.






Yes, your the only one I have ever heard this from. I cannot stop from trying different sounds. I love the banjo because of this. My first bridge was a bone insert grover that came on my first banjo. My first real bluegrass banjo came with a factory floor Sosebee. That still is a great sound and I have tried many  big names mentioned above including a few dud Snuffy ones. I spent $300 in my first year on bridges but mainly for learning purposes. Australia is very limited on real quality banjo parts. To date maybe 20 types. It is hard to claim an all time favorite but because of the strange design and sideways feet the Steve Davis with a reddish top is a killer. Not for every banjo but defiantly at a festival jam, it seems to cut through. I will always change up my banjo for learning purposes, bridges, wooden tonerings and moods I want to express, like sad, loving, harsh, loud etc so when banjos come for a setup I can do my best to find the result the owner wants. If I know only one sound then how can I help others achieve theirs. I got a block of birch from Stelling and they make nice bridges as well. Thanks for sharing folks and If anybody can be bothered, help your self and list all the bridges you know of.



Eric A - Posted - 01/24/2020:  04:51:27


It would be a really long list, but I will say the best "one stop shop" that I know of for a selection of quality bridges would be Elderly. Several good ones available also from folks who are active here on BHO.

rudy - Posted - 01/24/2020:  05:44:59


All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...





What would be a valuable service is a "rental" service that would ship you most all of what's commonly available in 5/8" and you could then ship them all back and order whichever one sounded best to YOU.



 


Edited by - rudy on 01/24/2020 05:49:11

vincefewo - Posted - 01/24/2020:  07:41:55


I started out with a cheap asian banjo so I wasn't afraid to experiment which quickly led me to changing bridges and understanding the importance of the bridge in banjo sound, literally, it can make a big difference up to a point.
My quest here was to not only get the best possible bluegrass banjo sound but an even tone, 1-5 and all the was up the neck. Lesser bridges simply didn't perform these criteria.
A GG bridge was good on that little banjo but a more expensive Deering bridge did little for it. So then here comes a Deering Sierra (maple) which still is my primary banjo and bridges on that instrument: original, GD Signature, Bigfoot, a no name I had picked up, Stelling, and now a Scorpion. I had read about the importance of string channels and the effect of bridge weight during this time.
Cleaning and shaping the channels certainly made a difference and I was disappointed that the GD signature needed more shaping than some of the cheaper bridges.
So I picked up a Scorpion and boom, there it was. Not only on my Sierra but later on my Staghorn it really handled the power better than the original, kinda smoothed it out on that one. Maybe one of these days I'll try a Snuffy Smith or the like but for now, Scorpion.
Have I spent $200 on bridges? probably close to it and it was worth every penny for the sound.

Ralph Stanley legend - Posted - 01/24/2020:  10:19:57


 The Beaver King bridge was a great one but now I don't see them advertised. That said, I now have a Tim Purcell old Canadian Birch on my Stelling and it is great, really !


Edited by - Ralph Stanley legend on 01/24/2020 10:21:49

Brodoh - Posted - 01/24/2020:  23:57:10


Bart Veerman "mystery wood" on my lefty 12" open back. Great tone. Nice to get one made to fit the instrument, not just a standard, turned around.


Edited by - Brodoh on 01/24/2020 23:58:23

5strings3picks1banjo - Posted - 01/25/2020:  00:37:36


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...





What would be a valuable service is a "rental" service that would ship you most all of what's commonly available in 5/8" and you could then ship them all back and order whichever one sounded best to YOU.



 






I built my wife a banjo and she likes 2 bridges to tone it down inside the house. Been like that for 5 years.



I also post 6 or so bridges to customers to choose what they like then post what they don't want back. Sometimes it is custom heights they want to test to fix action issues because they don't have the money for fixing it correctly.


rudy - Posted - 01/25/2020:  06:21:15


quote:

Originally posted by 5strings3picks1banjo

quote:

Originally posted by rudy

All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...





What would be a valuable service is a "rental" service that would ship you most all of what's commonly available in 5/8" and you could then ship them all back and order whichever one sounded best to YOU.



 






I built my wife a banjo and she likes 2 bridges to tone it down inside the house. Been like that for 5 years.



I also post 6 or so bridges to customers to choose what they like then post what they don't want back. Sometimes it is custom heights they want to test to fix action issues because they don't have the money for fixing it correctly.






Hi Leon, very interesting!  Thanks for posting that.



I posted the video clip to interject a bit of levity in the discussion, but you've shown there is an actual practical application.  I discovered it quite by accident when swapping bridges out one day.  It's funny how much attention is given to selecting a "proper" bridge when the tone can be so drastically effected by doing something so unconventional as adding a second inexpensive bridge.



I found that the volume didn't change much, but the timber was altered very noticeably.  It would prove amusing if a pair of $3 bridges produced the identical tone as a $30 boutique bridge.

Eric A - Posted - 01/25/2020:  06:58:36


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

quote:

Originally posted by 5strings3picks1banjo

quote:

Originally posted by rudy

All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...





What would be a valuable service is a "rental" service that would ship you most all of what's commonly available in 5/8" and you could then ship them all back and order whichever one sounded best to YOU.



 






I built my wife a banjo and she likes 2 bridges to tone it down inside the house. Been like that for 5 years.



I also post 6 or so bridges to customers to choose what they like then post what they don't want back. Sometimes it is custom heights they want to test to fix action issues because they don't have the money for fixing it correctly.






Hi Leon, very interesting!  Thanks for posting that.



I posted the video clip to interject a bit of levity in the discussion, but you've shown there is an actual practical application.  I discovered it quite by accident when swapping bridges out one day.  It's funny how much attention is given to selecting a "proper" bridge when the tone can be so drastically effected by doing something so unconventional as adding a second inexpensive bridge.



I found that the volume didn't change much, but the timber was altered very noticeably.  It would prove amusing if a pair of $3 bridges produced the identical tone as a $30 boutique bridge.






I've already come to the conclusion that the bridge has a fantastic effect on the sound of a banjo.   Think about it:  those vibrations have to get from the strings to the head somehow, and it's largely via passing through the bridge.  That's where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  The bridge comes first, before the head, rim, and tone ring have much say in the matter at all.


Edited by - Eric A on 01/25/2020 07:00:40

5strings3picks1banjo - Posted - 01/25/2020:  07:42:39


quote:

Originally posted by Eric A

quote:

Originally posted by rudy

quote:

Originally posted by 5strings3picks1banjo

quote:

Originally posted by rudy

All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...



.








I've already come to the conclusion that the bridge has a fantastic effect on the sound of a banjo.   Think about it:  those vibrations have to get from the strings to the head somehow, and it's largely via passing through the bridge.  That's where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  The bridge comes first, before the head, rim, and tone ring have much say in the matter at all.






I have often joked about claw hammer players stuffing socks in the back of their banjos (I also do it for dead tone) why don't you use a wet noodle for a bridge. Yes it is a vital component.



I made myself a silent banjo sounding very much like an electric guitar unplugged so I could play in the chatroom and not wake the family. It had a small neck tie mic attached that would amplify through the PC into the chatroom. Maybe I should dig that out and record some bridges and see if I can notice the changes. This idea may also prove how important a head is as well.


Eric A - Posted - 01/25/2020:  08:06:36


I'm pretty sure that if you put Earl's Granada in my hands, I could pick out a bridge that would make it sound like crap. laugh

5strings3picks1banjo - Posted - 01/25/2020:  08:23:27


Hahaha your not alone Eric

steve davis - Posted - 01/25/2020:  08:39:06


This was my first favorite compensated bridge.
It has the form of one fish eating the other at the same time.
I made it from the firewood pile at "The Dome" in 1977.



 

5strings3picks1banjo - Posted - 01/25/2020:  08:44:11


Omg Steve that is amazing. Loving your ideas

steve davis - Posted - 01/25/2020:  10:09:39


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...





What would be a valuable service is a "rental" service that would ship you most all of what's commonly available in 5/8" and you could then ship them all back and order whichever one sounded best to YOU.



 






I've always run my bridge business that way.Many times someone orders 2 or 3 bridges to try and keeps their favorite and return the others.The $4 shipping back is on them..



They are also welcome to try out a bridge without paying and see if they want to keep it or not.

Cornflake - Posted - 01/25/2020:  10:39:22


I keep returning to good ole Snuffy Smith.

rudy - Posted - 01/25/2020:  12:38:03


quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

quote:

Originally posted by rudy

All you folks who have multiple bridges laying around should try two sometime...





What would be a valuable service is a "rental" service that would ship you most all of what's commonly available in 5/8" and you could then ship them all back and order whichever one sounded best to YOU.



 






I've always run my bridge business that way.Many times someone orders 2 or 3 bridges to try and keeps their favorite and return the others.The $4 shipping back is on them..



They are also welcome to try out a bridge without paying and see if they want to keep it or not.






Steve, I'm suggesting that bridges from many different makers are included.



If there was no difference in the perception of results between a variety of makers there wouldn't be all the differing opinions when someone asks the "Who makes the best sounding bridge?" question.

Hawk54 - Posted - 01/25/2020:  13:25:52


I have owned many banjos ,and over the years bought nearly every brand of bridges on the market .easily spent well over $ 200 us on them .my favourite by far are kateyz bridges ,including radius bridges .every banjo i have ever owned ,i settled on a kateyz . I ordered from mike a certain weight ,timber ,top and i was never disappointed. Before i discovered kateyz bridges ,i did have good success with moon bridges and purcell bridges.

AlpacaLips - Posted - 01/31/2020:  15:18:51


I haven't spent over $200 on bridges, because of my two main banjos, the super expensive Ome sounded exactly as I wanted it right out of the gate (and for what I paid it darn well better), and the other one (a Gold Tone WL-250+ that was a bit bright for my taste) was made "just right" by the Old Time Cathedral bridge from Doc's Banjos. I normally play open-back, old time, clawhammer style, so when I pick up my resonator WL-250+ banjo for 3-finger style (bluegrass or classical) I prefer a mellower sound than most bluegrass players, and Doc's Old Time Cathedral was just the ticket.



I live fairly close to Doc, so he very graciously met me at his shop and we tried a bunch of different bridges on my WL-250+ until we found just the right sound (and he even grabbed his knife and fine tuned it on the spot). The personal experience and the excellent result means I'm done bridge shopping (until I buy a new banjo!).

MasterFly - Posted - 01/31/2020:  19:03:56


Original Snuffy. Been on there for 7 years now.

djj7 - Posted - 02/02/2020:  09:48:49


Slightly OT:
I have only one custom bridge, a Bart Veerman that I really like. Wanting to experiment, and being a dedicated DIYer, I have made several of my own. So for my fellow DIYers out there I offer a tip for a gram scale - actually a beam balance.
Made from a coat hanger and a razor blade, it is amazingly accurate. A two gram weight and shotgun pellets are used for comparison. A couple of #7 lead shots will get you close enough to 1/10th gram. For greater precision use one #5 steel and one #6 steel.
Alternatively, a copper/zinc penny with a 5/32nd hole is close enough to 2.3 grams.
Be careful with that razor blade.



 

Dmaud1 - Posted - 02/07/2020:  09:30:34


I put a third string compensated Crowe spaced Scorpion bridge and went to lighter gauge strings on my OB-150 and I love it. The Crowe spacing for me helped tremendously with my picking and not inadvertently hitting other strings. I was skeptical at changing the bridge that it would have a noticeable sound impact but I can tell you it did.

Moose_Roberts - Posted - 02/07/2020:  09:40:32


quote:

Originally posted by Eric A

I'm pretty sure that if you put Earl's Granada in my hands, I could pick out a bridge that would make it sound like crap. laugh






We all have a special talent... 

Texican65 - Posted - 02/07/2020:  12:00:00


I’ll second the Bart Veerman “mystery wood”. I guess different bridges depend on different banjos. But Bart’s bridge was the only one that my ‘63 Scruggs Vega liked!

I also like the Curtis Mcpeake “lightning” bridge...woke up a few different banjos that I have.

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