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Davis Bridge

Posted by steve davis on Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I  took a 5/8 x 5/8 x 3" block of wood and drew 5 lines on the top face representing the string spacing I prefer. With the line side up, I put  this block in place of the bridge.

I then used a paperclip hooked under each string.With the clip between the string and corresponding line on the block the paperclip becomes a moveable saddle.

Now I start playing the third string (for instance) tuned open then fretted at the 12th fret and playing the 12th fret harmonic frequently  checking the open note on the tuner to stay 0. By sliding the hog-ring along the middle line on the block I shorten or lengthen the 3rd string until the open note and the 12th fret note and the 12th harmonic are all 0 on the tuner.

When everything's at zero I mark where the paperclip contacts the line on the block. Same for all strings and this was the pattern that emerged. I then drilled that pattern into a 6" plastic ruler which is the template for each bridge.

 I like how the feet are cut concentric to the rim.They had to be turned for stability's sake,but the reaching of the toes nearer the center of the head and rearward toward the tailpiece added to the tone and power.



17 comments on “Davis Bridge”

Kevin B Says:
Thursday, October 18, 2007 @7:06:24 PM

Hi Steve, I just ran acrods this tonight.  The building of your bridge sounds super labor intensive but I can imagine it was very satisfying.  Interesting project.  Belated congratulations.  It is great  you dare to experiment.  I've been enjoying listening to your recordings too.

- Kevin Barnsdale

tanglpick Says:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007 @12:35:00 PM

Hi, Steve, what if you made a bridge out of a solid piece and then cut it into five pieces creating a little bridge for each string. Then you could slide each segment back and forth until intonation is acheived. Sort of the way a Gibson guitar tune-a-matic bridge works. May sound goofy to some but what do you think?

southcoastman42 Says:
Friday, February 15, 2008 @12:40:21 PM

Typical Lobsta picka ! Trying to make everything work with some wire and some hog rings.


New Bedford  Lobsta draggerman !

mark vann Says:
Saturday, April 19, 2008 @9:04:56 AM

Hey Steve, I used to build all my crab pots, and still have a butt load of hog rings laying in the shed. Took me a sec to visulize, but it makes sense. Course we dont get to much cabin fever in SC. But thats was a smart idea.


N.E.banjo Says:
Sunday, July 20, 2008 @9:17:37 AM

Labor intensive is what's required for intonation perfection.  And all the labor didn't go into one bridge - it went into a template for all time, for that banjo.

I'm gonna try this.  My banjo has always been a "special bridge" case.  This could be the answer.



steve davis Says:
Sunday, July 20, 2008 @10:38:47 AM

Go for it,Dan.Keep in mind that any tipping of the bridge fore or aft will cause the strings to be out of level with each other and that turning it cw or ccw as you look down on its top will change the spacing between the strings.It's a balance between turning and tipping that makes everything agree.

Brian G Says:
Friday, November 28, 2008 @4:17:22 AM

good job you didn't use the 'lignum vitae', maybe get sunk crossing the river as it doesn't float, when one over the top Yo Ho! Ho! and a bottle of...whatever, doubt if a bridge would hold it up anyhow!!!

Jammer Says:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 @5:58:27 PM

Hi Stephen. I have always used a regular compensated Bridge and Im amazed how much it looks just like yours in the photo.  I know I would NEVER gp back to a straight bridge on my banjo, it's a compensated bride, or something on hte lines of what you have here, or no other bridge is good enough!!

joshhymer Says:
Monday, January 25, 2010 @4:17:26 PM

hi steve i wonder how the sound compares to a straight bridge

steve davis Says:
Monday, January 25, 2010 @4:22:22 PM

The sound is full and powerful.
With the new balance of the chords I think it is more powerful than a lot of straight bridges I've tried.

jrmorrow Says:
Monday, November 29, 2010 @2:50:40 PM

Thanks, Steve. I just made one yesterday from an old broken chair. I think it is oak. With no top on it. I love the intonation, perfect notes all over! It brought out even more power out of an already strong 1959 Gibson with a Huber ring. I'm going to try out some other woods. Joe

tkocason Says:
Thursday, July 28, 2011 @9:45:12 AM

This sounds like an awesome idea. (no pun intended)
I've just got to where I can place my bridge in just the right place, where the fretted note really pops off the head under the harmonics of the 12th fret. So, now I see what a difference a properly placed bridge can make, I can only imagine one built to the exact intonations. (not sure if that's the proper way to say it but you know what I mean, i hope.)
Anyway, I've learned much by reading your threads Steve, I just can't figure out why I hear the HAL computers voice (from 2001 A Space Odyssey) in my head when I'm reading your comments!!!
It's not a bad thing just wondering.

Pickin furry paws Says:
Thursday, September 29, 2011 @3:38:44 PM

Steve, I have used Lignum Vitae as a top wood on some of my bridges. The top has to be very thin, both in depth and width (since LV is pretty darn heavy), but it really works for a warm, full tone. If thin enough, it can make the banjo bark, too. Have you tried making a bridge using LV as a top wood?

steve davis Says:
Thursday, September 29, 2011 @4:18:24 PM

I've only tried it as a solid piece,Matt.
I never trusted its waxiness to take glue.

Pickin furry paws Says:
Friday, October 7, 2011 @4:46:42 PM

Well, when I used it, Steve, I tried various glues, since it is contains one of the highest concentrates of natural wood oil. My first attempt, I actually used Titebond III, later, I used Gorilla Glue. The GG held very well, and it hasn't delaminated since. What I do on all my bridges c. oily top-woods, however, is to really rough up the contact surfaces of both bottom and top pieces. I use 60 grit sandpaper, swipe a couple of times, and then glue. That way, the wood is not perfectly smooth, and the glue has tiny little channels it can expand into to "get a hold."

patrick martin Says:
Sunday, October 7, 2012 @6:31:26 PM

How can I get a bridge from you?

steve davis Says:
Sunday, October 7, 2012 @6:37:30 PM

I just need your bridge size(5/8,.656,11/16,etc)and your mailing address,Patrick.

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