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Jul 31, 2021 - 6:51:51 AM
327 posts since 4/18/2014

Hey All - I recently acquired a 60s ODE open back long neck and the action is a little high. The neck is straight and it sounds great with a 1/2 inch Snuffy Smith bridge. I don’t want to mess with with either rod if possible so my first thought is to try a lower bridge. But unfortunately I’m having a hard time tracking down a 3/8 bridge. Does anyone make these or are they all custom order? I was hoping to find something like in 3/8 Grover in stock somewhere and then if I like this bridge height I could order a custom bridge somewhere. I’ve search the forum but all the discussions on this subject at 5-10 years old. Thanks!

Jul 31, 2021 - 7:35:36 AM

209 posts since 8/25/2009

Most (if not all) bridge-makers advise against bridges <1/2". In my younger and wilder days I sanded down a Grover to what I wanted -probably 1/2", and it worked OK. I got two pieces of sandpaper (one coarse and one fine), put it on a table and moved the bridge around on top of the sandpaper to sand the bottom of the feet.  Every once in a while I tried the bridge on the banjo, to make sure I wasn't taking off too much.

I wouldn't advise messing with a Snuffy Smith bridge lest you ruin it (Decreasing the weight can do that, I'm told.), but a Grover might be expendable.

Good luck ,

Edited by - Half Barbaric Twanger on 07/31/2021 07:42:41

Jul 31, 2021 - 7:49:13 AM

327 posts since 4/18/2014

Thanks Bill - I have no intention of sanding down my SS bridge. And sanding 1/8 inch off a 1/2 Grover bridge would more or less eliminate the feet so I don’t want to do that either. Thus my post looking for a 3/8 inch bridge.

Jul 31, 2021 - 8:39:25 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A


1284 posts since 10/15/2019

Nobody makes a 3/8" bridge, to my knowledge, but it would never hurt to ask Mike Smith or Tim Purcell about it.

Perhaps a two footed bridge? That way you still have feet after you shorten it. Bart Veerman makes a nice two footer. 

More likely, people will start chiming in to recommend a shim or other neck adjustment.

Jul 31, 2021 - 9:14:06 AM

327 posts since 4/18/2014

Thanks Eric - I don’t trust myself to monkey with the neck but I might take it to Bernunizos if all else fails. I figured I’d start out with a lower bridge first as it’s easier and cheaper.

Jul 31, 2021 - 9:19:57 AM

74 posts since 5/20/2020

you need to adjust the neck.

The adjustments are very small, like an 1/8th turn on the tension rod nuts. Email for detailed instructions if it is not obvious to you.

My long VEGA has tiny screws, 4 of them in a trapezoid pattern that rest on a metal plate on the neck.

these also need adjusted in very small adjustments, like a 1/4 turn. Then I recommend a 5/8 or so bridge to keep silver oxide off of your drum.

Jul 31, 2021 - 9:35:36 AM

327 posts since 4/18/2014

Thanks Buck - I’m not sure if you’re familiar with older ODEs but in order to adjust the rod you need to remove the tailpiece. That’s a last resort. I’ve searched the forum on adjusting the rods on an ODE and it appears fairy tricky and risky. For now I’m just looking for a lower bridge.

Jul 31, 2021 - 9:44:57 AM
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Bart Veerman


5023 posts since 1/5/2005

Quite a few of the older banjos use 3/8" bridges. In order to keep those period-true, why would one recommend against using short bridges? A hundred years ago people would have argued that 5/8" bridges would way too tall making banjos unplayable smiley

By all means, try to get something done, if possible, to the neck angle so you can keep using your 1/2" bridge. If that doesn't pan out then make a dummy bridge first to see what height could work for you. Here's how:

If it turns out you do want/need a bridge shorter than 1/2" there's plenty of bridge makers, including myself, who can hook you up.

@Buck Mitchell: when you say, "I recommend a 5/8 or so bridge to keep silver oxide off of your drum," I've never heard about that, where would the silver oxide come from and why would that be bad?

Jul 31, 2021 - 11:30:12 AM

327 posts since 4/18/2014

Thanks for the response Bart! I just made a 3/8 inch bridge and it definitely lowered the action. I’ll mess around with 3/8 vs 7/16 over the weekend and see which one I like better then see about ordering one somewhere. Surprisingly my banjo sounds fair with my homemade bridge. Thanks!

Jul 31, 2021 - 12:09:34 PM
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11702 posts since 10/27/2006

1/16" off the bottom and 1/16" off the top of a 1/2" bridge? Easy.

That said, a 1/2" bridge on an ODE that is too tall means the banjo is out of adjustment. It could be something as simple as the lower co-rod not being snug against the pot—first thing anyone should check. These things do happen.

Jul 31, 2021 - 1:25:24 PM

1198 posts since 1/9/2012

As far as I understand, truss rods address the bow of the neck, and the co-rods effect (among other things) the angle with the pot. I think it's time to "mess with the [co-] rods," as Mike H. suggested. A tiny bit goes a long way because of the trigonometry: you can lower the nut, but it's very far away. Shimming at the heel is something folks do if there's a dowel stick whose angle can't be changed without a reset [a serious job].

Jul 31, 2021 - 1:32:55 PM

1528 posts since 1/28/2013

Anything lower than 5/8 usually results in picks hitting head, unless you really have a light touch.

Jul 31, 2021 - 2:39:20 PM
Players Union Member



9948 posts since 1/22/2003

Maybe you just loosen both coordinator rods completely and then tighten them again gently, and see what happens.

Jul 31, 2021 - 3:18:46 PM

327 posts since 4/18/2014

Thanks All - as mentioned it’s very difficult to adjust the c rod on these old ODEs. There is only 1 on my banjo and you need to remove the tail piece as the back of the rod is secured with a screw from then outside of the pot and the screw head is blocked by the tail piece.

Aug 1, 2021 - 8:19:44 AM

145 posts since 12/4/2007

You may be able to find a one piece flat bridge intended for a banjo ukelele or banjo mandolin that would work.

I have sanded down a Grover 1/2" and it helped, but the real solution is to adjust the neck. Removing the tail piece is not a big deal.

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