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Sep 27, 2021 - 7:08:18 AM
226 posts since 9/26/2007

I need to replace the bridge on a vintage (1923) Vega #3 banjo (1/2 inch). I'll probably end up getting a few, but what's the tonal difference between pegged and standard bridges?

Sep 27, 2021 - 1:00:32 PM
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13961 posts since 6/29/2005

What's a pegged bridge?—I am not familiar with it.

Sep 27, 2021 - 1:24:40 PM

620 posts since 2/26/2007

Pegged Bridge

From the website:

What's with the pegged top – is it better?

I can't prove that my pegged-top design is a better bridge, but in theory it should be. The fact that 70% of my customers order pegged bridges would seem to indicate that pegged is preferable for many players, but that's pure conjecture. The higher price for pegged models just reflects the extra labor involved to make them. Pegs are of hard maple, and you can optionally order any Kat Eyz bridge with a pegged top.

Edited by - FiveStringPop on 09/27/2021 13:30:16

Sep 27, 2021 - 2:26:03 PM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

1318 posts since 10/15/2019

The theory is less glue involved. Is it really better? I have no idea.

Sep 27, 2021 - 5:35:48 PM
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11763 posts since 10/27/2006

Other than the theory that everything affects everything else, there appears to be nothing special about this.

Sep 27, 2021 - 6:05:26 PM

5728 posts since 12/20/2005

I went to the website.
To me, the workmanship by itself is pretty special.
I make bridges for myself, I have even made one similar to this bridge, believing it was the first of its kind! It was not easy to build.
This degree of workmanship by Mike Smith is enviable.
Looking at the design I feel confident they are as good as they look, but I have never had one.

Sep 27, 2021 - 7:13:31 PM

9001 posts since 8/28/2013

I can't figure out what the pegs are even supposed to do.

Sep 27, 2021 - 8:23:54 PM

16 posts since 9/3/2021

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I can't figure out what the pegs are even supposed to do.


The use of pegs (a mechanical connection) allows for less glue between the maple bridge and the cap. Glue can act as a mute or change the tone - especially on lower-quality bridges (which this is not). This is pretty high-end kit with or without pegs - so I'd give it a whirl if you like the look. 

To the OP: consider trying it with purpleheart instead of ebony if you're experimenting. Or try an uncapped bridge. 

Edited by - eddieOak on 09/27/2021 20:24:57

Sep 27, 2021 - 11:00:14 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5048 posts since 1/5/2005

Sorry, I can't answer the OP's question.

About glue though: it's a pretty safe bet that Mike, like all other bridge makers, uses an acoustically transparent kind of glue.

A layer of glue, when the woods are properly clamped while making a bridge is what, 1 or 2 thou thick at the most. It simply is not an issue and there's so no point in making it one especially considering this particular bridge will only be a half-inch tall smiley

Sep 28, 2021 - 1:05:43 AM

25 posts since 11/30/2012

Ever hear of Kat Eyz banjo bridges? This is who makes pinned banjo bridges and also where you can get Snuffy Smith banjo bridges. I will be trying a Kat Eyz bridge on my banjo to test its tonal qualities. I still love my Snuffy Smith 1.5 bridge I am using. It's loud the way I like it. You can get some different tonal qualities with a pinned bridge. Bridge weight and type of material used to create the bridge plus set up and what wood your banjo is made from all play a part in tone and response. My advice it try a bunch of different bridges on your banjo and listen to what it can do for your tone and sound and playing. Different bridges and the way your banjo is setup can change how it responds to your playing style. That is what makes a banjo so cool.

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:03:17 AM
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9001 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by eddieOak
quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

I can't figure out what the pegs are even supposed to do.


The use of pegs (a mechanical connection) allows for less glue between the maple bridge and the cap. Glue can act as a mute or change the tone - especially on lower-quality bridges (which this is not). This is pretty high-end kit with or without pegs - so I'd give it a whirl if you like the look. 

To the OP: consider trying it with purpleheart instead of ebony if you're experimenting. Or try an uncapped bridge. 

 


I question the use of a mere mechanical connection due to the expansion/contraction issues that can occur when two wood species are joined that way. I can imagine situations where the pins could work loose and fall out, or at least cause some extraneous vibration, should weather conditions cause those pins to contract faster than the bridge top.

Glue has never seemed to ba an issue in the construction of guitars, which have their glued in place. I also wonder that if glue is such a tone issue, why a three piece necks isn't pinned instead of glued, or a rim isn't held solely by pins. There's certainly more glue in either case to "kill" the sound waves' movement through the banjo.

I think pinning a bridge top in place is simply an attempt to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:17:56 AM
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13961 posts since 6/29/2005

Like Bart, I can't comment on the OP's question, either, and I agree with him about the insignificance of the glue joint between the bridge and saddle unless you would use Gorilla glue or rubber cement.

Lacking experience with this kind of bridge, you can disregard what I say, but couple of thoughts occured to me—

(1) In order to drill holes down through the top of the saddle, the saddle has to be pretty wide at the top— I wonder if that has some effect?

(2) The top beam of a bridge is pretty thin and acts like the lintel in a post-and-lintel structure bearing the load and transferring it to the feet (posts). You must be weakening that part of the structure by drilling holes down through it.

(3) If the pegs act to transfer the vibrations directly to the bridge, bypassing the joint, I would make the pegs, which are end grain, hence very hard, be exactly where the strings cross and notched, and you could eliminate the saddle altogether.

If my structural fears are unfounded, then I see no reason why this approach would do any harm.

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:57:31 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14612 posts since 8/30/2006

what's the tonal difference between pegged and standard bridges?
 

get an oscilloscope or modern equivalent and measure for yourself and let us know

emlioration is fine razor

i have built Walnut bridges to soothe Maple rims, Maple to brighten up Walnut and Cherry,  Bamboo for Grapefruit, Grapefruit for everything

the tooth grinding in the background is from some who claim there is no tone in the rim, nor bridges, whatever

there is tone in every patina'd nut and washer

i would be inclined to use pegs to show how they ovalize when turned, oops, already did that 15 years ago, the rim is still structurally sound.

pictures can emerge from bridges, too

laminated bridges can be pegged

so a pegged rim/neck/bridge continuum would begin to demonstrate joining pressure

flooring flutes have been filled with half rounded doweling

With clean fresh prepared square surfaces, pegging has been shown to me by my neighbor with various Amish pieces

And they haven't come apart in the barn for a century,the French spec Chestnut because they can

Aside:  Lime. Liming is a form of joining? New thread 

Sep 28, 2021 - 9:30:13 AM
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kat eyz

USA

1125 posts since 10/1/2003

Back in 2003 i was making bridges one night and got to thinking about the use of glue at the maple /ebony marriage and wondering how much effect it had (if any on the bridge when it was complete . ) Later that night i had made my first pegged top bridge . My goal was not to re-invent the worlds best banjo bridge but rather find out what happens when you peg a topwood to the maple frame wood and use less glue to do so . My pegged bridge sounded just fine to my ear ...not really any better than my standard bridge but for sure not any worse sounding . To make a pegged bridge i strike lines at the top of the maple frame wood with a pencil where the 5 strings come across the bridge top . I put a tiny dot of glue at the 2 outer edges of the maple frame and a dot of glue inbetween the pencil marks. I then place the topwood on the maple This way of gluing has glue holding the wood marriage together but no glue under each string . My plan was to be done at this point but was concerned that was not much glue to hold things together ....thats where the pegs come into play . I put the pegs in as a reinforcement for the marriage of the woods ...i drill through the topwood and slightly into the frame wood To date to my knowledge i have not had a failed peg bridge reported. Whether they sound better or not my pegged bridge model for the last 10-12 years is about 80-85% of my orders.

Sep 28, 2021 - 9:39 AM
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9001 posts since 8/28/2013

Mike Smith, I find it good that you have explained this idea and its actual construction.

To me, it still sounds like a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist, and must be a little tricky to make.

I don't, however, doubt the quality of your product.

Sep 28, 2021 - 11:19:43 AM

11763 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Mike Smith, I find it good that you have explained this idea and its actual construction.

To me, it still sounds like a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist, and must be a little tricky to make.

I don't, however, doubt the quality of your product.


Agreed.

"Glue can act as a mute or change the tone"

Hide glue is pretty transparent in that regard — still gluing fine fiddles after hundreds of years.

Sep 28, 2021 - 11:29:33 AM

13961 posts since 6/29/2005

In the world of banjo bridges made by competent builders, where product differentiation is important, this seems like a perfectly good idea, and if it accounts for 80 - 85% of bridges sold, I'd say it's a great idea.

Sep 28, 2021 - 11:45:34 AM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

417 posts since 5/11/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

(3) If the pegs act to transfer the vibrations directly to the bridge, bypassing the joint, I would make the pegs, which are end grain, hence very hard, be exactly where the strings cross and notched, and you could eliminate the saddle altogether.

 


This makes me wonder about a "bridge" that's 5 individual wooden 'columns' each going from the string to the head. You'd probably need a small strip of wood connecting each column to stabilize the whole thing and maintain string spacing. Basically this would be a miniature 5-pile timber bent, like you see on old railroad structures. But I wonder what type of sound that would create. It would certainly be the most "acoustically transparent", because there wouldn't be any glue at all and the string vibrations would transfer directly to the head. You could specify dense wood and thick columns to get the total weight up to say 2.4 grams.

Maybe this warrants it's own thread. 

Edited by - YellowSkyBlueSun on 09/28/2021 11:47:07

Sep 28, 2021 - 12:24:54 PM

13961 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

(3) If the pegs act to transfer the vibrations directly to the bridge, bypassing the joint, I would make the pegs, which are end grain, hence very hard, be exactly where the strings cross and notched, and you could eliminate the saddle altogether.

 


This makes me wonder about a "bridge" that's 5 individual wooden 'columns' each going from the string to the head. You'd probably need a small strip of wood connecting each column to stabilize the whole thing and maintain string spacing. Basically this would be a miniature 5-pile timber bent, like you see on old railroad structures. But I wonder what type of sound that would create. It would certainly be the most "acoustically transparent", because there wouldn't be any glue at all and the string vibrations would transfer directly to the head. You could specify dense wood and thick columns to get the total weight up to say 2.4 grams.

Maybe this warrants it's own thread. 


I remember a structural engineering class I had, where each student got a number (based on their weight) of thin dowels around 6" long and we had to build a structure we could stand on—they did look like old railroad structures.  Most failed after a few seconds, some humorously, but such a thing would work for a banjo bridge if you could get it to stand up.

This is probably is worth another thread.

Sep 28, 2021 - 1:51:52 PM

YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

417 posts since 5/11/2021

My understanding is that the primary purpose of the ebony cap is to protect the bridge from the cutting force of steel strings.

If the goal is ultimate tonal transparency, why not just use a no-cap banjo bridge that is all one piece of wood? Sure, you might end up having to replace it some day because of the steel strings, but I've got no-cap maple bridges that are 20+ years old and still function just fine with steel strings.

Sep 28, 2021 - 4:15:36 PM

11763 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun

My understanding is that the primary purpose of the ebony cap is to protect the bridge from the cutting force of steel strings.

If the goal is ultimate tonal transparency, why not just use a no-cap banjo bridge that is all one piece of wood? Sure, you might end up having to replace it some day because of the steel strings, but I've got no-cap maple bridges that are 20+ years old and still function just fine with steel strings.


Maple is quite efficient as a bridge material; ebony is not but its hardness affects tone. Everything affects everything else.

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:34:41 PM

Owen

Canada

9587 posts since 6/5/2011

Mike Smith: "....not really any better than [...] but for sure not any worse ..."

Tongue-in-cheek, isn't ^^ the crux of about 90% of discussions re. things banjo?

Sep 28, 2021 - 9:31:16 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5048 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran
 

Maple is quite efficient as a bridge material; ebony is not but its hardness affects tone


At the proper proportions/dimensions, an all-ebony bridge is quite efficient Mike, and they do quite an amazing job smiley

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