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Aug 5, 2020 - 12:15:51 PM
7 posts since 8/5/2020

Hello you pluckers!

Rank-beginner here with a few questions concerning the Grover bridge that came with the banjo.

I acquired a old banjo and have looked at videos on how to restring and set the bridge, etc. I set the bridge with the perpendicular side facing the tailpiece. The slanted side of the bridge faces the neck. The logo 'Grover' is printed on the perpendicular side facing the tailpiece.

There are a couple of things I've noticed about this bridge and I can't find anything online about them. I'm hoping someone here can explain.

1. The 2nd slot in from the end of the bridge (the slot for the 4th string) is too narrow. The string sits on top of the slot. Even if I rotate the bridge 180°, the second slot in from the other end of the bridge is still too narrow to accept the 4th string. Aren't bridges pre-grooved to accept the proper string size?

2. The head on this bridge is not flat across. The end of the bridge that starts with the 1st string is higher than the end of the bridge that is nearer the 5th string and the head tapers as it nears the 5th string. Is that normal?

I'll attempt to attach a pic but my computer skills are worse than my playing.

Thanks in advance
Wally D


 

Aug 5, 2020 - 12:45:56 PM
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5495 posts since 9/21/2007

All that "slant side/perpendicular" stuff is fairly recent (with the exception of on patent). If your bridge is not evenly tapered from the base to the top then it was just part of the manufacturing.

The general historical rule predating the last 20 or so years is that if there is any branding that points to the neck.

It looks like your bridge has come to the end of its useful life. Bridges for banjos do not last forever. Try it with the brand facing the neck. If it does not work, get a new one.

Edit* to add that your bridge has warped under string pressure and someone has sanded the top flat.  Nothing wrong with that unless it becomes too short and you get fret buzz.

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 08/05/2020 12:47:55

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:18:32 PM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

792 posts since 10/15/2019

Sometimes people sand down the 1st string side deliberately, to the lower the action there, while keeping the 5th string up high for the clawhammer thumb. But yeah, that old bridge looks pretty well used up to me. Time for a new one.

Trying different bridges is half the fun of having a banjo.

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:22:07 PM

7 posts since 8/5/2020

Why wouldn't the slot be wide enough for the 4th string?

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:28:14 PM

493 posts since 2/6/2018

Get yourself a good Snuffy Smith bridge and you won't look back.

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:37:32 PM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

792 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by WallyD

Why wouldn't the slot be wide enough for the 4th string?


Not sure.  If the string stays where it's supposed to be, then that's wide/deep enough.  If not, and you really want to keep that bridge, then find a very sharp knife...

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:38:13 PM

7 posts since 8/5/2020

Time for new bridge. Thanks everyone.

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:39:23 PM

7 posts since 8/5/2020

One more question: What size bridge should a beginner get?

Aug 5, 2020 - 1:46:35 PM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

792 posts since 10/15/2019

quote:
Originally posted by WallyD

One more question: What size bridge should a beginner get?


How tall is the old one?  (on the higher end).  I'm guessing 5/8".   I'd start there, in lieu of long winded explanations about setup, action, neck angle, etc.  Basically, the banjo itself dictates the proper bridge height.  It's not a matter of beginner or not.  With the proper bridge, folks typically look for the strings to be about 1/8" above the top of the 12th fret, if that helps.

Edited by - Eric A on 08/05/2020 13:48:58

Aug 5, 2020 - 2:04:16 PM
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7 posts since 8/5/2020

It measures 5/8" at the high end. So that's what I'll get and then measure at the 12th fret like you suggest.

Thanks

Edited by - WallyD on 08/05/2020 14:04:36

Aug 5, 2020 - 7:11:30 PM
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6 posts since 3/2/2013

Howdy Wally D, Eric A may have suggested the 1/8th inch at 12th fret for clawhammer banjo. For most bluegrass playing thats gonna put your action up rather high for comfort at the 22nd fret. For a lot of bluegrass pickers 1/8 th inch is a fairly common measurement at the 22nd fret as opposed to 12th fret. I'm not a clawhammer player so im guessing its possible some would set it that high at 12th fret.

Aug 5, 2020 - 7:17:17 PM

13245 posts since 10/30/2008

I can remember when bridges sometimes had that tapered/sloped ebony top when they were brand new. Not all bridges, but some. And I'm talking about back before there were lots of choices in bridges.

I agree with Joel that the slanted/perpendicular sides were never features of Grover bridges. Just stand it up perpendicular to the head based on the FEET. It will probably slant a bit on both front and back.

I agree the string doesn't have to sit "in" the notch. As long as the notch holds it from popping out toward the center, it's good.

Get a new Grover 5/8" and go from there. Cheap and readily available.

Aug 5, 2020 - 7:24:07 PM
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6 posts since 3/2/2013

Correction...my banjos are set closer to just under 1/4 inch..i was thinking i was 1/8th inch there so Eric A would be right...set 12th fret to have a 1/8th inch gap between the top of fret and string. Next time i'll go measure first and not rely on my aging memory lol!

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