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.
Where Purchased: banjo teacher.com
For many years I have been using hard maple and ebony bridges with a Snuffy Smith frosted head, Presto tailpiece,Tony Pass Thin Skirt rim and Curtis McPeake tone ring.
I like the Snuffy Smith ll and lll bridges and also Curtis's bridges. Both had lots of volume and sustain and got a good tone from the ring. Maybe I have been playing bass too long but since I went back to the banjo in a serious way, I found myself bothered by things that never bothered me before such as shrill treble notes and a D string that was not as bassy as I would like. All this despite a new mahogany neck and a head that is not overly tight. Also my Presto tailpiece is not cranked down and I use 10-21 gauge strings.
I tried many of the other maple (and a persimmon) bridges I have collected over the years but they were also too trebly for me and also lacked the full sound I was getting with the Snuffy Smith and McPeake bridges.
I had seen many good reports on Gary Sosebee's bridges but I have enough hard maple bridges already. Then I read about his new Red Maple /ebony combination. Red maple is not as hard as most of the bridges being made today. I ordered one out of curiosity.
It arrived a few days later so I put it on, tweaked the head a bit and left it overnight to settle. The next morning I started picking and my ears immediately perked up. My treble problem improved tremendously. There was far less bleed between the strings. And.... I still had the same powerful, solid sound I had before.
After a few days I checked out the old bridges again before going back to the Red Maple to find out if my ears were playing tricks on me. But no. The Red Maple bridge sounded every bit as good as I experienced the first time around . So..... it's staying on. I like the thickness (same as the Snuffy) and the slight rearward angle that it sits on...also like the Snuffy bridge. Gary Sosebee's manufacturing quality is excellent .
I am not suggesting the Red Maple bridge is the answer for every banjo. But I suspect with all of the different tone rings and rim combinations, the different right hands, your ears, the type of head and all the other factors at work when a banjo is played, somewhere there is a bridge being made that will be the perfect match. I could still live with the two other excellent bridges I have used until now but this new bridge has added something to the sound of my banjo that makes me want to play more often.
There are so many excellent bridges being made today that it's worth experimenting. They can make a big difference for a small cost.
Overall Rating: 9
Where Purchased: Banjo.com
I replaced the original bridge on my Scruggs Deluxe with the Sosbee Red Maple Bridge. Someone who specializes in banjo setups did the work. The bridge is an upgraded sound but I found the bridge lacking as far as being totally ready to go on the banjo. Files were needed to remove burrs on the ebony saddle. Strings buzzed until we could get the ebony grooves ready. I thought the bridges had a little more attention to detail paid to them and would be more ready to just set on the banjo and go.
Overall Rating: 7
Where Purchased: Direct
I originally had a Sosebee Cotton Mill bridge on my Scruggs model. I thought it sounded amazing, but then Gary showed me this new Red Maple bridge. My Scruggs model naturally has a bright sustained sound. The Red Maple mellowed it out just enough, increased the bass response, and greatly improved note separation. I couldn't be more pleased with this product.
Overall Rating: 10
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