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Jan 23, 2020 - 3:52:32 AM
1185 posts since 2/2/2008

What was your first favourite Bridge.
What is your all time favourite Bridge.
Have you spent over $200 testing bridges.
Have you changed and why?

Jan 23, 2020 - 4:50:50 AM
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432 posts since 2/6/2018

Snuffy Smith. Never looked back.

Jan 23, 2020 - 4:54:20 AM
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245 posts since 3/29/2018
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I am using a Scorpion on my RK35. I have Purcell, SS, and a couple others....I am about to switch em out and do another listen, but the Scorpion gives me a tone closer to what I'm looking for.

Jan 23, 2020 - 5:18:17 AM
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Eric A

USA

446 posts since 10/15/2019

For decades I never gave my bridges much thought. I only had two of them and kind of went back and forth. Lately, I'm getting back into banjo after something of a layoff, and am diving into all things regarding setup and learning a ton.

Of the two I had, a Grover with the little "bone" inserts was best ("Acousticraft" I think they call it). I still have it and still like it.
Lately a huge bridge buying and testing binge. I'm sure I've gone over the $200 mark, but it's better not to keep track. I have one of Bart Veerman's Mystery Woods that I really like. I have one of Mike Smith's Kat Eyz that I really like. I have a two footer from Clifford Essex in the UK that I really like. Many others not so much. I have a couple more still coming.

I just got a gram scale (AFTER I had ranked all the bridges on a spreadsheet) and for my ear and my aesthetic, it turns out that my favorites tend to be the lightest ones. The ones that I think are downright fugly are the very heaviest ones. Very interesting, this high correlation with weight.

And that 40 year old Grover with the "bone" inserts still holds up pretty well. It's just a tad heavier than the other favorites, sort of an outlier in an otherwise clear correlation, so maybe that "bone" insert gimmick really does something. I don't know.

Jan 23, 2020 - 5:24:24 AM
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Eric A

USA

446 posts since 10/15/2019

I put "bone" in quotes because I'm naturally skeptical of what that material really is. On my 40 year old one, maybe it really is bone. If I were to buy a new one today I assume it would be some kind of plastic.

Jan 23, 2020 - 5:47:41 AM
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beegee

USA

21538 posts since 7/6/2005

Snuffy Smith was the game-changer. I have a box of bridges from many different makers with many wood combinations and configurations. My go-to bridge these days is the Scorpion, but I also have David Cunningham, Kat-Eyez, Snuffy, and several others. I usually try a series of bridges. Seems like individual banjos respond differently to the same bridges.

Jan 23, 2020 - 5:52:54 AM
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TOMCAT

USA

4931 posts since 11/14/2006

Purcell all the way

Jan 23, 2020 - 5:55:22 AM
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507 posts since 7/10/2012

Sampson walnut with ebony top. I'd had my Brooks 12" spun over for months and I liked it, but when I put that Sampson on it everything changed for the better.

Jan 23, 2020 - 5:59:54 AM
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Emiel

Austria

9367 posts since 1/22/2003

It's hard for me to mention one favorite bridge, since the best bridge depends on the banjo in question. There is not one favorite for all banjos. Also, if the head is changed to a different type, a different bridge may be better than the one that was favored with the head that was on first.

An all-time favorite however is the Desert Rose Z bridge (maple/ebony, Vintage Elite type).

Jan 23, 2020 - 6:21:13 AM

474 posts since 9/21/2018

I have a first favorite, but I'm only a little over a year in so I don't want to go with all time favorite as well.

My first and current banjo is this old, aluminum rim, Japanese banjo, and in my search to improve it's sound I tried a few bridges. I ended up with one of BHO member Don New's spillway dam bridges made from 100 year old barn wood, and it is amazing.

I suspect I will probably land there on the build, but I have a KatEyez in cherry, a Desert Rose Elite, and a Scorpion to try on that as well. There is a bridge blowout in the classifieds so I picked up a few at a good price. No where near the $200 mark (yet).

Jan 23, 2020 - 6:25:43 AM
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Dpilg

USA

30 posts since 9/12/2003

First favorite was the Snuffy bridges but only like the older bridges.

Desert Rose Z bridge (maple/ebony, Vintage Elite type) currently.

I also like the Sullivan roasted bridges gives more volume and brighter. Good for
wanting to be heard in a Jam.

Scorpion bridges gave it a thin sound. Good tone but prefer the Z bridge better.

I don't believe their is one magic bridge depends on the banjo, and the bridge
weight. I always weigh and mark them to compare weights.

Jan 23, 2020 - 6:45:30 AM
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Eric A

USA

446 posts since 10/15/2019

On my current quest, bridges currently enroute are a Scorpion from Silvio, a Prowler from Mike, and and a clawhammer two footer (with the raised 5th) from Clifford Essex. Hopefully, this will be the end of this current madness, a sentiment that I'm sure my wife is very much on board with.

Jan 23, 2020 - 7:07:05 AM

237 posts since 4/14/2017

As far as buying one, I started with Kat Eyz, liked it but then liked Snuffy better and that's my favorite all around bridge. I have only had new Snuffys, never had the old one. I'm sure 200 has been spent but that's water under the bridge. As Emiel and Beegee said, different bridges for different banjos so I have a pretty decent collection now. Other best bridges on some banjos are Cunningham, Scorpion and Sullivan historic.

Jan 23, 2020 - 7:17:22 AM
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12674 posts since 10/30/2008

I used the old style Grovers in ebony top and ebony/"bone" top for 20 years. Then my dad took apart a 19th century piano and started making bridges with vertical grain, just for something to do. They sounded good and were "tall", so I used those for many years. Then I discovered Snuffy Smiths and settled on those.

After Snuffy passed, I tried Huber and Sullivan. Both are OK. For the money the Sullivan can't be beat. But I guess I still like Snuffys best.

Jan 23, 2020 - 7:41:49 AM
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4455 posts since 11/20/2004

I tried several and Kateyz was my favorite. I saw myself headed for that 200.00 level and decided to spend the money on a bandsaw and have been making my own for several years now. It has been interesting trying different woods and weights. Maple/ebony still wins to my ear, but weight varies some by banjo. As much as I experimented a few years ago, I just was not willing to put out hundreds to try them all.

Jan 23, 2020 - 7:50:14 AM
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5481 posts since 10/13/2007

I have used and loved Hatfield's, Purcell and Cunningham. IMO one bridge is best for a banjo but you have to try a lot to find which one it.
ken

Jan 23, 2020 - 8:04:02 AM
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Eric A

USA

446 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

I have used and loved Hatfield's, Purcell and Cunningham. IMO one bridge is best for a banjo but you have to try a lot to find which one it.
ken


Kiss a lot of frogs....

Jan 23, 2020 - 8:38:05 AM

Turpen1

USA

50 posts since 2/5/2011
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Has anyone used or still using Bill Stokes' Hotspot bridge? I haven't seen Bill or the bridge in quite a while.

Jan 23, 2020 - 9:02:35 AM

5481 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Eric A
quote:
Originally posted by From Greylock to Bean Blossom

I have used and loved Hatfield's, Purcell and Cunningham. IMO one bridge is best for a banjo but you have to try a lot to find which one it.
ken


Kiss a lot of frogs....


yeah, that is how she woke up the prince.

Ken

Jan 23, 2020 - 9:15:29 AM

233 posts since 2/16/2017

Never had a proper bridge, always make mine, interestingly though I have found that making one out of the same wood as the rim somehow sounds better

Jan 23, 2020 - 9:22:20 AM

bluenote23

Canada

1072 posts since 12/4/2012

When I was starting out, for the first couple of years, I tried lots of different bridges. Desert Rose, Purcell, Moon, Enterprise and Snuffys. My banjo sounded bad no matter what I tried (prewar subMastertone).

A few years ago, I started to be able to play. I put the Snuffys on and just left them ever since.

Jan 23, 2020 - 10:30:07 AM
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12729 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by 5strings3picks1banjo

What was your first favourite Bridge?

It was this one I made circa 1964 and used on my 1927 Archtop Granada for around 15 years— it weighed practically nothing and delivered the "Stanley sound" with that banjo.  Pretty embarrassing looking, but it worked until I learned more.

Eventually, I got more interested in a more complex and expressive sound, and developed the arch type bridge I used until the present, went to a "moon" curve in 2009.


What is your all time favourite Bridge?

These two—the arch one on the right is my preferred for bluegrass, can be made very light, and the one on the left with the more traditional feet is the one I often use on frailing banjos, and particularly large ones, like 12" ones—you get more frequencies from that one, and clawhammer people usually prefer a "plunk" to a "plink".


Have you spent over $200 testing bridges?

I have spent hours upon hours upon hours testing bridges in various sizes, designs, weights and species of wood, but not much money since I make them myself. Here are some—(BTW, sound samples of these are on my BHO page).


Have you changed and why?

I have changed over the years as my idea of what a good banjo sound is has evolved, and since I build banjos and make a bridge for each one, I get to fool around with all the variables—I have a fairly clear idea of what happens.


Jan 24, 2020 - 3:05:42 AM
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3310 posts since 7/12/2006

put a snuffy on my stanleytone over 20 years ago.its still there.

Jan 24, 2020 - 3:18:41 AM
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6216 posts since 10/6/2004

Arthur Hatfield compensated - Arthur pointed me toward the HO too - a truly wonderful man.

Jan 24, 2020 - 3:31:58 AM
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1185 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by stanleytone

put a snuffy on my stanleytone over 20 years ago.its still there.


Yes, your the only one I have ever heard this from. I cannot stop from trying different sounds. I love the banjo because of this. My first bridge was a bone insert grover that came on my first banjo. My first real bluegrass banjo came with a factory floor Sosebee. That still is a great sound and I have tried many  big names mentioned above including a few dud Snuffy ones. I spent $300 in my first year on bridges but mainly for learning purposes. Australia is very limited on real quality banjo parts. To date maybe 20 types. It is hard to claim an all time favorite but because of the strange design and sideways feet the Steve Davis with a reddish top is a killer. Not for every banjo but defiantly at a festival jam, it seems to cut through. I will always change up my banjo for learning purposes, bridges, wooden tonerings and moods I want to express, like sad, loving, harsh, loud etc so when banjos come for a setup I can do my best to find the result the owner wants. If I know only one sound then how can I help others achieve theirs. I got a block of birch from Stelling and they make nice bridges as well. Thanks for sharing folks and If anybody can be bothered, help your self and list all the bridges you know of.

Jan 24, 2020 - 4:51:27 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

446 posts since 10/15/2019

It would be a really long list, but I will say the best "one stop shop" that I know of for a selection of quality bridges would be Elderly. Several good ones available also from folks who are active here on BHO.

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