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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!

7088 reviews in the archive.

Bridges: Virgil Lawson Camo-Frog Compensated bridge

Submitted by Snowbird on 9/26/2012

Where Purchased: won it here on BHO

Overall Comments

I was one of the very lucky folks who won one of Mr. Lawson's bridges in one of the promotional draws he has held. I have been playing for about a year and a half on an entry level open back banjo fitted with a Grover maple bridge with I guess it is a bone insert. Mostly I play below the 7th fret and that has let me set up the banjo to be fairly plunky but pretty decent from the 7th fret down and I thought I was pretty happy with the whole deal.

When I opened the package last night my first impression was geez this is a work of art not a bridge and I sort of just stared at it for a half hour trying to figure out how anyone could possibly make something with that many curves and tapers and still get perfect symmetry.

I diddled around with it for a half hour then put it away. This evening I have spent about 4 hours giving it a decent workout. Here are some comments..
-I had asked Mr. Lawson for a 2.3 gram bridge because I wanted to stay on the plunky side. I was a bit worried that I asked for a bridge that was going to be too heavy but now I think I can say that 2.3 grams is about right for my open back.
- one of the more obvious differences with the camo bridge is volume. The increase in volume with the camo frog on my banjo was startling. With the Grover bridge my maximum volume was not only much less but the useful range of volume that I was able to control was sort of tight. The camo frog gives me a louder max volume and I believe it gives me a quieter useful minimum as well (ie it seemed more responsive to a softer touch). I have pretty much conditioned myself to not making much use of this dynamic because I didnt have much to work with so I need to do some work to be able to use the new range I have available.

-The next most obvious difference was what happened up the neck. With the Grover bridge by the time I got up to the 12th fret I found that most of the time I got more of a plink than a ringing note. The camo frog however gives me an actual ringing note on all the strings right up the neck. Ok ok there still isnt much sustain at the 18th fret but there is still a definite audible ring to the notes that wasnt there at all with the Grover. I suppose that with a better setup I might have been able to improve what the Grover was giving me but I was pretty happy with the sound I was getting from the 7th fret down which is mostly where I play and I didnt want to mess with that.
-I do get a bit more sustain from the 7th fret down but not so much more that I have an urge to try to dampen it at all. The bridge does not appear so far to be causing any sort of overtone issues.
-Not sure if all the camo frogs are compensated but the one I have is. If I was perhaps more experienced I would be able to tell if this has made much of a difference but the truth is that so far I havent noticed a difference that I could attribute to the bridge being compensated. Im sure some of that comes from not playing much up the neck. I can however say that whenever I changed strings with the Grover I was able to set the 2 outside strings bang on and the inside strings were what they were and that wasnt always very close to being accurate. With camo frog I have only done this once but I can say that I was able to get the 2 outside strings bang on and the inside strings were so close to being bang on that they were just about perfect. I just am not able to detect what that does for me.

Overall the bridge has done everything Mr. Lawson said it would do. I got improved clarity, and a big improvement in tone and volume. I love it. I havent seen anything that resembles a downside to the bridge and really no reason to rate it at anything other than a 10.

I will say that I live in Canada and I wanted to mention that the bridge cleared through our customs people without being opened and without attracting import duties and no attempt was made to collect sales tax on it, so Canadians who buy one can probably look forward to not having to pay any additional charges involved with importing one.

Overall Rating: 10

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