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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

7071 reviews in the archive.

Bridges  Sampson 5/8 Maple Compensated Bridge Banjo Part/Accessory Reviews

Submitted by SouthCreek (see all reviews from this person) on 9/20/2016

Where Purchased: Elderly Instruments (Online)

Overall Comments

Coming from a stock Deering bridge, the Sampson 5/8 Maple Compensated Bridge was a perfect buy. My banjo is a Deering Eagle II with Fults 34Parallel Lite tailpiece and medium gage nickel wound strings. Recently I set the banjos head tension to 91 and this gave me the volume and snap I was looking for. But the banjo became too bright (and"cutty") and harsh to the ear. The sustain and prevalence of higher frequency harmonics (or over tones) were over powering. I wanted to regain the sweet rich sound of the midrange and reduce those piercing highs, but I didn't want to reduce the head tension and lose volume or vibrancy. After some research I decided to try out a heavier bridge. In addition, I wondered what a compensated bridge could do for the intonation issues I had up-neck and  on the first fret third string (particularly when fretting the third string in drop D tuning). 

On first impression, the Sampson bridge is a beautiful and supremely crafted bit of wood. It makes the lighter stock Deering bridge look abysmal in comparison. Upon trying it out the Sampson I was displease with the intonation - it seemed to make things worse! But then I realised I had the bridge back-to-front. So I turned the bridge the other way and the tone was magnificent

The Sampson has returned balance to my banjo. Those overpowering high frequency overtones have undergone significant reduction, but not total reduction - which is great. The midrange has regained its prevalence to reproduce an overall rich sound.  The increase in note decay is just enough to provide that clarity of note separation I've been looking for. The banjo has no more intonation issues up-neck. The highs are sweeter and more vibrant. Intonation in D is also fantastic.The volume is about the same. Although, others may perceive a minor reduction in volume, I believe this is due to the banjo being less 'harsh'.... A banjo can be twangy and sweet- it doesn't have to cut glass. 

Overall, the Sampson was a great purchase. I would recommend it to anybody experiencing issues similar to what I have described. If the Sampson does not give you exactly what you're looking for straight away, I suggest experimenting with your setup before ruling it out. 

I play a variety of styles, but mostly Scruggs. 

Overall Rating: 10

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