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Homemade Beechwood Bridges

Posted by banjopogo on Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I've been thinking of making my own banjo bridge, but I am NOT very handy with tools... well, I can do some things, but I'm not a woodworker by any means.  I figured if I was going to make a banjo bridge, it was going to have to be very close to the width and height I needed , then just cut and shape the ends, drill some holes, and narrow the top and cut the notches.  I just used a little hobby saw and files and emery boards to do the cutting and shaping.

As it was I managed to draw a LITTLE blood- nothing serious, though!

I found some wooden kitchen tongs at Grocery Outlet that looked perfect- and they said "beechwood".  Must be a Chinese beechwood, because they are made in China.

Anyway,  I searched beechwood on the Banjo Hangout, and there are references to beechwood being an excellent tonewood for bridges, and so far this fits the description- I haven't cut the holes yet (I'm going to make it like a Lamson or a Fielding partly because drilling round holes is going to be easier for my limited woodworking skills)- it's just a solid piece of wood, but it sounds GREAT.  And it's curved, so it fixes the intonation problems.

It's kind of sustainy, but I haven't drilled the holes yet.  And the sustainy sound is kind of nice for solo stuff (and I mostly perform solo), so I might make two- one with holes and one without just to see what the difference is.

One of the nice things is that the low notes are SO clear now.

It's a bright wood, but it's a warm, mellow brightness.

This is like getting a new banjo-

I think it's going to revolutionize my banjo playing!

I've gotten compliments on my Hohner Travel Banjo's sound, but I think this is going to be a quantum leap!

(later edit- next day)

I made two more beechwood bridges.  One is identical to the first except neater, both with a curve sort of like a Moon bridge.

Another was just a straight beechwood rectangular block, but I graduated the G string slot with a file.  It still sounded pretty similar... UNTIL I took a drill to it to do the Lamson/Fielding thing... except I misaligned the holes a bit- the holes aren't right under the strings... the strings are right over the edge of the holes.. ( I told you I wasn't much at woodworking!) But it sounds good-  but louder, and not quite as sustainy.

I've got some more pieces.  I wonder if I make the holes smaller if I won't get a sound somewhat in between the solid bridges and the one with the holes.  Another possibility- try to make one as close to the standard 3-legged shape as possible.

Another possibly... try to do the Lamson-Fielding thing, but get the holes lined up right this time!!!  Thing is, I DON'T have a drill press.

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