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Oct 17, 2021 - 6:44:06 AM
52 posts since 3/7/2011

I recently received a drum dial to help me check the tension on my 2 month old Ode 12" open back. It's a Renaissance head, 26 brackets and as expected since I have been playing it in, it needed adjustments. The tension was around 85 in many areas. I brought it up to around 88/ 89, not an expert at this , trying to get it pretty even. Challenging with 26 brackets. Rechecked and reset a day later after letting it settle in and found I had to move my bridge towards the tailpiece the width of the bridge foot on the forth string side and a bit less on the 1st string side to correct the Intonation. Slanting the bridge somewhat. This moved it away from the builders mark on the head quit a bit, my question is, is this to be expected?
Overall very happy with the tone improvement.
I am a beginner so, still learning these things.

Edited by - Banjercat on 10/17/2021 06:45:31

Oct 17, 2021 - 7:24:28 AM
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182 posts since 6/5/2006

Yes, the bridge is often slanted. An alternative is a compensated bridge. I like the curved ones.

Oct 17, 2021 - 7:41:37 AM
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Lew H

USA

2688 posts since 3/10/2008

Here's my stab at interpreting this: When you tightened the head, you raised the bridge (which now depressed the head less). This elevated the strings on that end, and at the 12th fret by half. So when you fret the strings, you are moving them more off of their straight line, thus increasing tension more than before the head adjustment.. The solution is to move the bridge toward the tailpiece. I have no idea why you needed to slant it.

Edited by - Lew H on 10/17/2021 07:45:21

Oct 17, 2021 - 8:13:44 AM
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rmcdow

USA

1035 posts since 11/8/2014
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You might want to read over some pages on Bart Veerman's page. He has a wealth of information about bridges, and makes great bridges also. His method of designing a bridge for the particular intonation of a banjo works really well; I have used it several times.

banjobridge.com/

Oct 17, 2021 - 9:12:07 AM
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mbanza

USA

2404 posts since 9/16/2007

The makers mark on the head is probably the mathematical bridge position, that is, prior to compensation. The bridge winds up slanted, because as a rule larger strings require more compensation than do smaller ones which results in the bridge slanting back on the bass side. Two mysteries persist, however: First is that the intonation on the fifth string doesn't normally go way flat. Second is those cases where the bridge slants back on the treble side.

Changing string sizes or material requires or a reset of the bridge for best intonation.

Oct 17, 2021 - 9:20:23 AM
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Alex Z

USA

4556 posts since 12/7/2006

"found I had to move my bridge towards the tailpiece the width of the bridge foot on the forth string side and a bit less on the 1st string side to correct the Intonation. Slanting the bridge somewhat. This moved it away from the builders mark on the head quit a bit, my question is, is this to be expected?"

Yes, expected.  Forget the other marks -- you have to please your own ears and own sense of best (never perfect on a banjo) intonation.  Best workable (for the specific player) bridge position depends in part on the relative gauges of the strings and the action height of the strings above the fretboard.

Oct 17, 2021 - 9:57:14 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5074 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjokatt

This moved it away from the builders mark on the head quit a bit, my question is, is this to be expected?


 

Yes. Tightening the head makes the bridge "travel" upwards and this lengthens, even if ever so slightly, the effective length of the strings requiring the bridge to be moved towards the tailpiece.

Here's a simple routine to get the bridge to be where it needs to be and whether slanting is needed and, if so, then by how much:

https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm

Good thing bridges are moveable smiley

Oct 17, 2021 - 10:20:40 AM
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sethb

USA

625 posts since 2/16/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman
quote:
Originally posted by banjokatt

This moved it away from the builders mark on the head quit a bit, my question is, is this to be expected?


Yes. Tightening the head makes the bridge "travel" upwards and this lengthens, even if ever so slightly, the effective length of the strings requiring the bridge to be moved towards the tailpiece.

 


When you tighten the head, it raises the bridge, which also raises the action.  This doesn't actually change the length of the strings, but the higher action does change the banjo's  intonation, making each note at each fret slightly higher in pitch (because the string has to be pressed down a little further to contact the fret). 

This will probably require the bridge to be moved slightly further away from the nut to compensate for that, unless you bring the action back down, either by shaving the legs of the bridge slightly or by adjusting the angle of banjo neck.  SETH

Oct 17, 2021 - 10:29:03 AM

52 posts since 3/7/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Bart Veerman
quote:
Originally posted by banjokatt

This moved it away from the builders mark on the head quit a bit, my question is, is this to be expected?


 

Yes. Tightening the head makes the bridge "travel" upwards and this lengthens, even if ever so slightly, the effective length of the strings requiring the bridge to be moved towards the tailpiece.

Here's a simple routine to get the bridge to be where it needs to be and whether slanting is needed and, if so, then by how much:

https://banjobridge.com/br-06.htm

Good thing bridges are moveable smiley


Hi Bart, and thanks! I suspected this to be the case but I still like to pick the brains here on BHO, such a wealth of experience! The bridge in question is also 23/32" tall, its the one that came on it. ( A new Ode " limited edition 12" open back, Chuck Ogsubry told me he built these out of parts he had around the shop, trying to clear out room for his new Ode line, pretty cool banjo) I just ordered one of your mystery wood, no topping, Crowe spaced, heavier weight bridges from Elderly Inst. at 11/16" I honestly do not mind at all slanting the bridge for intonation, I believe that with the increased head tension I should be fine with this new bridge. I am curious as to why it came with such a tall bridge to begin with?

Oct 17, 2021 - 11:00:33 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5074 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:

The bridge in question is also 23/32" tall, its the one that came on it ~ ~ ~ Chuck Ogsubry told me he built these out of parts he had around the shop ~ ~ ~ curious as to why it came with such a tall bridge to begin with?

The fix, reason, and question all self-explanatory wink

Bridges this tall were a trend that started some years ago but that, fortunately, seems to have ended about 1 year ago. A lot of clawhammer fans were enthralled all of a sudden that TALL is where it was at for whatever reason. That fad seems to be in a downward trend now, I guess folks found out that them tall jobbies didn't allow them to play above the 5th fret or something.

Oct 18, 2021 - 4:05:07 AM

2897 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

To me and my banjo, a slanting bridge means my tailpiece moved around the rim. For a 5-string banjo, the 3rd string is its centerline over the bridge to the nut. This means to sight from the tailpiece to the nut. Realign the tailpiece. Then set the bridge.

A slanting bridge can indicate build problems. This is not a criticism of Ode.

I use a Fults tailpiece. This limits the tailpiece moving significantly.

A slanting bridge causes many intonation problems. Cases produce slanting bridges.

Oct 18, 2021 - 8:03:58 AM
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sethb

USA

625 posts since 2/16/2005

In my own experience, a slanted bridge is not only normal, but is also necessary and expected.  That's because unlike an electric guitar bridge, where the bridge saddle for each string is adjustable, a banjo bridge is a solid one-piece device.  And a one-size-fits-all approach to intonation doesn't work, because a plectrum banjo's wound C and G strings are thicker than the B and D strings (D & A on a tenor).  That means the action (the distance from string to fret) on each string is going to be slightly different.  If the bridge is simply set perpendicular to the strings, this difference in the action causes the tension of one fretted string to be different from another, and therefore also the intonation of each string to be different.  

Because of the one-piece solid bridge on a banjo, it's really only possible to adjust the intonation on the 1st and 4th strings, and the 2nd and 3rd strings just have to settle for that 1/4 adjustment.  Once you have set the bridge for intonation of the C string, setting the intonation for the D or A string usually means slanting the bridge ever so slightly to correct the intonation for that D/A string.   

Again in my experience, the slight slant isn't noticeable by the audience or the performer, and doesn't impact your playing in any way.  But if your bridge isn't set properly and your intonation is off as a result, you will probably get some strange looks from your bandmates.  That's because you will be either sharp or flat on almost every note/chord that you play, even if your open banjo strings are in perfect tune before you start!  SETH

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