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Scale drawing of a compensated 4 string bridge?

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Dec 3, 2019 - 12:47:27 PM
331 posts since 1/30/2019

Anyone got one a scale drawing? It's for a vegaphone professional tenor, tuned GDAE. I'm having real intonation problems. I have a wound 3rd and 4th which along with the large intervals between strings is causing the problem. No-one seems to sell these in the UK. So I thought I'd try and make one.
Or any other tips? Slanting the bridge forward on the treble side until 1st and 4th are correct really pushes 2nd and especially 3rd out.
I'm using harmonics at 19th fret to set the old bridge, and I can set a five string up in about a minute, so I think it's not me or my ear.
Struggling with this though, so any advice would be gratefully received!
Andy

Dec 3, 2019 - 1:25:56 PM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

14651 posts since 3/27/2004

You can probably find your answer by perusing Bart Veerman's extensive collection of banjo bridge information at his website:

https://banjobridge.com/

Dec 3, 2019 - 1:51:57 PM
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70409 posts since 5/9/2007

You can find it the way I found my compensated 5 string "wave".
Tape a 5/8" by 3" block to the head in place of the bridge.
I used 2 pieces of painter's blue tape across the ends of the block to keep it from moving.Center the block over where the old bridge was.

Make 4 pencil lines on the block showing string spacing and centering these lines to the neck.
String up the banjo and tune it normally.Don't have to be too fussy about the tuning,yet.

Get a paper clip under the 1st string...between the string and block.You are now in control of that string's plucked length.
By sliding the paper clip along the 1st string line drawn on the top of the block,find the place where the 12th fret harmonic and the 12th fret fretted note are both 0 on the tuner.
Repeat this process for the other 3 strings and your compensation design will be drawn by connecting the 4 dots.

If the strings are buzzing on the leading edge of the block when running the paper clip,sand a few degrees off the neck half of the block's top.

Edited by - steve davis on 12/03/2019 13:56:55

Dec 3, 2019 - 2:49:49 PM

rmcdow

USA

725 posts since 11/8/2014

I've found that every banjo I have needs a different shaped compensated bridge. It's best to follow Bart's or Steve's instructions if you are going to make one, rather than going for a generic design.

Dec 3, 2019 - 9:00:55 PM
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902 posts since 8/7/2017

I've noticed that achieving good harmonics ( between all the strings, i.e. making them all sound good together) requires me to move the bridge slightly A) as the strings age, and B) when I change tuning e.g. standard G vs double C.

So, in making your test block marks per Steve, I'd recommend using new strings, and tuning to the pitches you will use the most (maybe on your 4string the tuning never changes, I have not dealt with one of those banjos since I was a teenager).

Also, if you plan to use Equal temperament tuning, which is what the regular electric tuners use, it'd be nice to check that your particular tuner is working well. To do that, take your tuner to the music store and see if it agrees with the store's tuners. You might get lucky and find that the repair dept of the store has a fancy stroboscope-type tuner, supposedly the best/most accurate. If the store is friendly, they might let you use their fancy tuner when you do Steve's block procedure.

I'm going to try Steve's method next time I change strings to new ones, Thanks Steve :-)

Dec 3, 2019 - 10:56:48 PM

331 posts since 1/30/2019

Thanks all. I had no idea intonation could be so different. Great advice all, thanks again!
Andy

Dec 3, 2019 - 11:54:33 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

4487 posts since 1/5/2005

No need to make a test block, your current bridge is all you need:

https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm

Definitely use the harmonics test at the 12th fret instead of at the 19th as, way up there, things get way too tight and grossly inaccurate so you can end up with false intonation measurements because of the big spread of the string gauges, especially for Celtic style fans.

The link to the intonation measuring routine above might look intimidating at first but it takes a lot less time to do than to change a set of strings smiley 

Here's one example of what you could expect the required curves of YOUR bridge to look like, check bridge numbers 14A and 14B on this page of my website:

https://banjobridge.com/br-08.htm

Bart.

Dec 4, 2019 - 3:19:49 AM

331 posts since 1/30/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman

No need to make a test block, your current bridge is all you need:

https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm

Definitely use the harmonics test at the 12th fret instead of at the 19th as, way up there, things get way too tight and grossly inaccurate so you can end up with false intonation measurements because of the big spread of the string gauges, especially for Celtic style fans.

The link to the intonation measuring routine above might look intimidating at first but it takes a lot less time to do than to change a set of strings smiley 

Here's one example of what you could expect the required curves of YOUR bridge to look like, check bridge numbers 14A and 14B on this page of my website:

https://banjobridge.com/br-08.htm

Bart.


Thanks Bart, great site, great looking bridges. I actually feel like I understand this a bit more now. 

(What would postage to the UK cost?)

Andy

Dec 4, 2019 - 5:21:09 PM

70409 posts since 5/9/2007

Hey,Bart.
Can't you simply describe your way without advising someone not to try my block method?

Dec 5, 2019 - 9:53:22 AM

902 posts since 8/7/2017

I like your way, Steve:
1) no need to worry about breaking a bridge while moving it per Bart's method.

2) no need to worry if the bridge is too thick or too thin (2mm top thickness recommended in Bart's method). The bearing surface of a paperclip will be quite thin and will give precise measurements.

3) no need to repeatedly tighten and loosen strings to protect bridge while moving it. btw, I think, based on my experience, that strings wear out faster (lose intonation and favorable harmonics) if you are continually twisting the knobs to tighten/loosen them. This makes numerous retunings for a traditional tunings somewhat problematic, since it wears out your strings faster than if you'd left them in one dedicated tuning - there, a reason for you Bluegrassers to play everything out of standard G...of course you twangers get sucky harmonics, but they play so fast that it all blurrs anyway, hoho. *evil grin*

I'm sure Bart's and Steve's methods both work. Pick whichever one fits your fancy, is my recommendation.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 12/05/2019 09:54:49

Dec 5, 2019 - 10:27:21 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

4487 posts since 1/5/2005

No Steve, your method does have a lot of merits and I'm not at all advising against it.

The thing though, with the block method, people need to come up with a block that's the same height the bridge that they're using and not everybody has access to one.

Also, using the bridge itself, once the routine is followed properly, more often than not, things are tickedie boo and their intonation issues have been solved. Meaning, of course, chances are that they probably don't need a compensated bridge once their bridge is properly positioned smiley

Dec 6, 2019 - 6:46:35 AM

141 posts since 4/5/2016

Not using a wound A string? How come?

Dec 6, 2019 - 8:02:52 AM

331 posts since 1/30/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Nate Banton

Not using a wound A string? How come?


Hi Nate,

Boy this 4 string game is weird. A wound 2nd? Is that a thing???

I ordered the first GDAE set of strings I came across, which had wound 3rd and 4th. Is that normal?

I've followed the advice from Bart, and have a difference of about 9mm between 1st and 4th. Not quite a straight line, but a bridge angled by that much looks properly messed up. I'm going to try making a bridge with an appropriate bend in it, albeit still angled.

There is no twist or warp in the neck visible to any degree.

Driving me nuts. But sounds sweet when it's right.....

(Am having a five string neck built, but want to use both still from time to time.)

Dec 6, 2019 - 8:08 AM

141 posts since 4/5/2016

There's a lot of people playing those banjos around that tune to gdae. I doubt almost any of them have a compensated bridge, but I also know that almost all would have a wound 2nd.

What gauges do you have on there? And this is a 23 inch scale?

If it's 23" I'd go sometime like, either 36, 26, 18, 12. Or 38, 28, 18, 12. Wound 18 for sure.

Dec 6, 2019 - 8:19:20 AM

141 posts since 4/5/2016

Here's a guy I like on YouTube playing a vegaphone artist.  Interestingly, He stays he's using a set of d'addario j63i strings which have a unwound 16.  So maybe I'm wrong.  But everyone I know uses a wound 2nd.

 

I've chatted with him online about banjos, so maybe worth giving him a shout about it.

 

 

https://youtu.be/PB1dfFQKs3E

Dec 6, 2019 - 9:17:08 AM

DSmoke

USA

741 posts since 11/30/2015

I make and sell custom sets for GDAE tuning and for that banjo I would use 12, 17w, 26w, 36w, or 12, 18w, 28w, 38w. I sent you a message through here about that. I've had 4 or 5 of those banjos the past couple years. They are awesome banjos for trad! Not a shameless plug, I started doing this for this exact reason, there aren't many correct commercially available sets out there.

https://tradbanjo.com/collections/string-sets

Dec 6, 2019 - 11:05:45 AM

331 posts since 1/30/2019

So I'm going to order a new string set with a wound 2nd too. Will feedback when they arrive.
Thanks to Dan and Nate. Fingers crossed this is the key to it.
I did reply to your DM Dan, with details about set up.
With this being new for me I didn't keep packaging or remember string guages.
Let's see what I get with the wound 2nd. Should even up and keep it growling too.
Thanks again!
Andy

Dec 8, 2019 - 4:02:38 AM

rmcdow

USA

725 posts since 11/8/2014

Next time I make a compensated bridge, I’ll use a combination of Bart and Steve’s method, and put the bridge block cut except for the width on the banjo, then move the paper clip around on the top and mark each position right on the bridge block. I can then shape the bridge block to the compensated bridge shape and not have marks on the head to boot.

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