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May 21, 2021 - 6:00:17 PM

jfb

USA

2446 posts since 9/30/2004

I received my super duper Chinese made milligram scale today, and now I’m able to weigh in on bridge weights. Measures in thousands of grams ( maybe overkill). I thought it might be interesting to see what weights other makers tip the scale :) .

As follows: Very old original Snuffy ( used on all the recordings of DA-5055 on my home page). Weight 1.95 g

David Wadsworth 2.04 g

Scorpion 5/8 1.99 (labeled 2.0 by maker) Scorpion 11:16 2.02 (Labeled 2.1 by maker)

Frank Neat 2.10

Unknown 1.69

Purcell Old Maple 2.17 (labeled 2.2 by Tim)

Hatfield compensated 2.01 (labeled 2.2 by maker)

Rattler Old Maple by Me 1.78

If you have a scale, please post weights of any you happen to have. I believe I may need to fatten mine to >2.0 to get a sound pleasing to most bluegrass pickers?? What say y’all? Comments welcome Thanks

Edited by - jfb on 05/21/2021 18:02:44

May 21, 2021 - 6:29:52 PM
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Eric A

USA

1282 posts since 10/15/2019
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I'm going to subscribe just to see what people say.

I can't be of much help because I tend to like lighter bridges, so most of mine fall into one of two camps:

1) Ones that I've "molested" i.e. thinned, and I probably didn't keep good records of what their original stock weight was, or
2) Ones that I custom ordered in a light weight to begin with.

But I do have a couple of data points to add that might be helpful. The heaviest bridge I've gotten was a Sullivan Factory Floor, 5/8", that came to me at a chunky 2.53 grams. (it's not that heavy any more!)

My gut feel suggests that most 5/8 maple ebony bridges these days come in between 1.9 and 2.2.

I did luck into a small handful of "New Old Stock" Grovers on ebay once.  Not sure how old they are but they are all in the 1.6 to 1.7 range.  They have the larger font GROVER stamp on them instead of the small font stamp you see now.

I have some super cheap chinese ebay bridges that run anywhere from 2.2 to 2.5.

Edited by - Eric A on 05/21/2021 18:43:16

May 21, 2021 - 6:37:01 PM

2686 posts since 3/30/2008

I remember in one interview Earl said that 1 milligram on the bridge can be the difference between having a Hoss or a Paint Peeler.

Edited by - tdennis on 05/21/2021 18:44:50

May 21, 2021 - 7:04:23 PM

442 posts since 10/18/2020

On my Rickard 11 inch maple Whyte Laydie I have a Doc Huff bridge on rite now that weighs 7.7 grams, I have four Doc Huff bridges that are all different weights from 2,7 grams to the heaviest that weighs 7.7 grams one weighs 4.7 grams and one with a raised fifth sting that weighs 3.3 grams, on my second banjo which is a Bart Reiter Grand Concert i have a Bart Veerman Dark star which I alternate with a Veerman Archie bridge because I cannot decide which one I like the best they are real close, i am not sure what either weigh the Archie and the Dark Star are vary thin light looking bridges but the Dark Star seems really heavy for such a thin little bridge and both sound really great
I have several other bridges made by Bart Veerman,Steve Davis,Don New,Sampson,moon Bridge,Neckville Enterprise bridge and a few others I have no clue what any of them weigh, I at one time was one of those that felt weight meant a lot when it came to a bridge for a banjo but since getting the Doc Huff bridges and Veerman bridges have since changed my mind on that theory, you just cannot ever tell what a bridge is going to sound like or what it is going to do to your banjo until you experiment with different bridges

Edited by - Don Smith1959 on 05/21/2021 19:11:35

May 21, 2021 - 7:31:23 PM
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8925 posts since 8/28/2013

I think maybe scales used by others should also be checked against each other. I'd bet there would be discrepancies.
 

May 21, 2021 - 8:20:29 PM

442 posts since 10/18/2020

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I think maybe scales used by others should also be checked against each other. I'd bet there would be discrepancies.
 


this is probably vary true the doc huff bridges i have were weighed on three different scales and al three read the same weights though

I will say if someone does not calibrate the scales being used properly i could see where the readings could be all over the weight spectrum

May 22, 2021 - 7:46:58 AM

RB3

USA

1078 posts since 4/12/2004

Huber bridge, .6535" height, 2.45 grams

May 22, 2021 - 8:33 AM

483 posts since 5/29/2015
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I second the calibrate your scales comment from Mr. Porgie.

May 22, 2021 - 9:33:35 AM

237 posts since 5/13/2009

Does it matter where on the bridge material is removed to reduce the weight? I recall my first banjo sounding pretty clunky, and being advised to thin the top of the bridge, reducing string contact. This didn't remove much weight, but the reduced string contact seemed to increase brightness and sustain. When a bridge is sanded on one side, it reduces string contact as well as overall weight. On the other hand the "rivet buster" has a full thickness top, but has a lot of material removed elsewhere, especially from the feet.


 

May 22, 2021 - 9:45:35 AM
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kat eyz

USA

1124 posts since 10/1/2003

gram weights are a great way of keeping check on your personal "ground zero" for good tone . I appreciate the fact that gram weight tells me real quick about the density of the (maple ) wood iam working with ....some 5/8ths bridges at 2.0 grams will have what i consider great dimensions when finished ..others maybe a little thinner than average and some maybe a little thick to acheive the 2.o gram mark . When using a scale that can weigh 3 digits ( 2.12 for example) dont be suprised if your weight moves around a little over time . a bridge is raw wood with ability to absorb and deminish weight within its environment. Now does this fat 2.0 gram bridge sound better than the thinner 2.0 gram bridge ? ..thats where the fun of experimenting comes into play

May 22, 2021 - 11:14:28 AM

74924 posts since 5/9/2007

I tend to make my Davis Comp Bluegrass model (ebony on Sullivan roasted maple) at 2.22 to 2.25 grams and Clawhammer models (rosewood on sycamore) at 2.5 to 2.7 grams.
I use these weights because they sound right to me and my customers.
When I made my first bridges I used to try and get them as lightweight as possible.
I told that to Jimmy Cox one day and he asked "Why would you want them so light?Try some that are heavier and see what you think."

I went from 2 grams to 2 1/4 and found a more complete overall tone.Especially the lows.

One thing that helps me maintain my consistent weights is always using my original 25 bd/ft of Sullivan roasted maple boards in all bluegrass bridges (unless other wood is specified) and the same big ol' plank of sycamore for the "Hammerists.

When weighing to hundredths of a gram I find repeatable perforance in the same piece of wood.

Edited by - steve davis on 05/22/2021 11:23:58

May 22, 2021 - 11:27:20 AM

74924 posts since 5/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Don Smith1959
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I think maybe scales used by others should also be checked against each other. I'd bet there would be discrepancies.
 


this is probably vary true the doc huff bridges i have were weighed on three different scales and al three read the same weights though

I will say if someone does not calibrate the scales being used properly i could see where the readings could be all over the weight spectrum


Digital scales are remarkably true to each other.

Using the correct "zeroing" weight works on all of them.

May 22, 2021 - 2:36:44 PM

74924 posts since 5/9/2007

Digital scales as with electronic tuners are all accurate to each other.

May 22, 2021 - 3:02:42 PM

GLR

USA

3 posts since 5/22/2021

Gravity on the Earth's surface varies by around 0.7%, from 9.7639 m/s2 on the Nevado Huascarán mountain in Peru to 9.8337 m/s2 at the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Just sayin'...

May 22, 2021 - 3:51:34 PM
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Eric A

USA

1282 posts since 10/15/2019
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quote:
Originally posted by SamCy

Does it matter where on the bridge material is removed to reduce the weight? I recall my first banjo sounding pretty clunky, and being advised to thin the top of the bridge, reducing string contact. This didn't remove much weight, but the reduced string contact seemed to increase brightness and sustain. When a bridge is sanded on one side, it reduces string contact as well as overall weight. On the other hand the "rivet buster" has a full thickness top, but has a lot of material removed elsewhere, especially from the feet.


I've removed material many different ways from a bridge.  From one side, from closer to the top, from the "toes" of the feet, and even from the corners outside of the 1st and 5th strings.  It all seems to work, the weight apparently being the main factor.

Sanding only from the side can be a bit rough on the fingertips, so often I'll try to get a head start on weight reduction by first nipping some wood off of other places first.

I'm not sure if the thickness of the top is a big deal or not, but I do lean toward a thinner top for a brighter tone.  Sure enough though, there will always be a thick topped one that argues the reverse.

May 22, 2021 - 7:18:09 PM

jfb

USA

2446 posts since 9/30/2004

Nice comments from everyone
I am enjoying reading and learning
Keep those weight readings coming
Thanks

May 22, 2021 - 9:17:30 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5021 posts since 1/5/2005

The 2-footed SS Stewart style bridges I make clock in at about 0.6~0.8 gram. Compare that to the 7.7 grams Huff bridge Don mentioned and waddaya know, there really is quite a weight range, isn't there...

Weight can be an important factor, from a bridge maker's perspective, to ensure quality consistency but those folks have their own specific target numbers that obviously vary from maker to maker according to their designs and wood species selections.

Although it's quite interesting to see these different weight numbers: when shopping for the ideal banjo bridge, suitability and performance for your banjo, its setup, and your style of playing are the things that count, weight should not be considered a sales/marketing feature...

Do stay safe you guys!

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 05/22/2021 21:31:15

May 22, 2021 - 9:18:53 PM

4649 posts since 11/20/2004

On a settled in banjo, I usually end up @ 2.2 to suit my ear.

May 22, 2021 - 10:18:44 PM

8 posts since 1/8/2014

Hello this is Harold down in Florida. I am in the camp of 2.20/2.40 grams for bridge weight but sometimes heavier will surprise with its sound quality. Every piece of wood is different. In my experience lighter usually means brighter so you get the weight to get the sound you are looking for. If you want a bright archtop sound go for a light bridge. Personally I like to set my archtops up to sound like a flathead so it takes a different set-up than a Ralph Stanley set-up. Weight does affect the tone. Regards

May 23, 2021 - 5:51:17 AM
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8925 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Digital scales as with electronic tuners are all accurate to each other.


I'd add the words "supposed to be" in the middle of that sentence.

May 23, 2021 - 6:13:40 AM

74924 posts since 5/9/2007

If I want to remove weight from a bridge I never take it from the ebony.I like a thick slot for best longevity from strings cutting in.
The length of the feet is a good place to remove weight.

May 23, 2021 - 6:17:33 AM

74924 posts since 5/9/2007

My tuners (DT 2,Seiko,and Snark) all agree with my Peterson Strobe.
My $3.50 Omega 1" micrometer reads the same as my expensive Starret.

May 23, 2021 - 9:18:24 AM
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4367 posts since 12/24/2003

I tend to lean towards 2.2 to 2.25 in a 5/8" to .656". It really depends on the wood. Red Maple, for example is much lighter overall and less dense. To get a 5/8" Red Maple bridge to weigh in at 2.25, I've got to leave it a little thicker. I've had some Red Maple bridges that sounded great at 2.0 and even lighter. Red Maple is so different, tonally, than Hard Maple. Where it may not have that hard punch that comes off the head of the banjo, it still produces a very pleasing, well balanced tone across the strings.

The amount of ebony top wood makes a big difference in weight balancing too. Just cutting a notch for 3rd string compensation can drop a 2.25 bridge down to a 2.2, or even a 2.15.

Like Mike Smith mentioned. density can vary from maple to maple. That 2.0 thin Hard Maple bridge, from one batch, is going to sound different from the thicker Hard Maple 2.0 that comes from a different batch of lumber. Experimenting is the only way to get a better understanding as for the best weight for a particular maple. Of course you're still battling with how everyone perceives tone. As a bridge maker, you just have to throw it out there and say, " well it sounds really good on my banjos....hopefully, it'll sound good to you, on your banjo" Lol. Not a lot of science involved here. Experience is the best teacher, and I'm still learning.

May 23, 2021 - 2:38:22 PM

74924 posts since 5/9/2007

I believe that woods sound more the same than different.Two pieces of maple with similar age and grain orientation will sound different from each other when one weighs 2.00 grams and the other 2.30 grams whereas they would both sound quite the same if they both weighed 2.00 or 2.30.

May 24, 2021 - 7:09:05 AM
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Eric A

USA

1282 posts since 10/15/2019
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It's fun to have most of my favorite bridge makers all chiming in on one thread.

May 24, 2021 - 11:23:09 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5021 posts since 1/5/2005

Thanks for reminding us of this one Tim: "the amount of ebony top wood makes a big difference in weight balancing too."

Not only makes it a diff in weight balancing but that also affects a bridge's structural stiffness which affects its capabilities to fine-tune a banjo's tonal & dynamic range characteristics.

Yeah, about bridges, it's kinda crazy how such a tiny piece of material, wood(s) or otherwise, can have such a profound influence on a banjo's sound/tone and/or performance - something that wouldn't come close to working, or even being possible for other instruments, a big hell-yeah for banjos and us fellow-banjoeys smiley

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