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Mar 3, 2024 - 3:58:49 AM
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banjooud

France

132 posts since 10/5/2010

For an old English open-back banjo with a nylgut string and a skin that's a bit too thick for my taste, which wood would you recommend?
I've heard that for nylon strings, there's no need to add the top ebony part to the bridge. Its only function is to support the high pressure of the steel strings.
So would I gain in sound quality with a single wood bridge for nylgut in your opinion?
Thanks a lot !




Mar 3, 2024 - 8:25:43 AM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

27870 posts since 6/25/2005

Lightweight and all-maple.

Mar 3, 2024 - 8:28:11 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5681 posts since 1/5/2005

What kind of tone are you aiming for?

Mar 3, 2024 - 10:42:25 AM

banjooud

France

132 posts since 10/5/2010

Since the skin is thick, the pot 10.5" and the sound with the nylgut rather dull and weak, I would like to seek a little more volume and try to feel more the skin vibrate. A fuller, richer sound. While keeping the nylgut strings (currently it's a light set).

Mar 3, 2024 - 11:52:44 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5681 posts since 1/5/2005

From what you described: most likely the head tension is too low.
Bridge-wise: light weight,1.4~1.6 gram hardwood, 2 leg preferred

Mar 3, 2024 - 1:44:56 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5681 posts since 1/5/2005

forgot to mention: maple or beech, NOT walnut.

Mar 3, 2024 - 2:42:13 PM
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79568 posts since 5/9/2007

So far all my nylon string customers are very happy with sycamore for the base wood and a rosewood top.
I can see a maple top on sycamore sounding very good,also.
Solid maple certainly needs no top wood with nylon,but sycamore is so soft I've always liked covering it.
If anyone wanted a solid sycamore I would certainly make it for them.

Wanting stronger tone with a thick head and light strings may be a challenge.

Thinner head maybe?

Edited by - steve davis on 03/03/2024 14:44:37

Mar 3, 2024 - 5:03:39 PM
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Bill H

USA

2283 posts since 11/7/2010

I have a solid rosewood Lamson bride on one of mine and aa African Blackwood Bridge on another. I like both, but the blackwood shines out.

Mar 3, 2024 - 5:30:52 PM
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13066 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

Lightweight and all-maple.


Agree. Same as a fine violin.

Mar 4, 2024 - 7:00:21 AM

banjooud

France

132 posts since 10/5/2010

Thank you very much.
Noted for the maple!
Why not walnut ?

Mar 4, 2024 - 7:19:16 AM
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3003 posts since 2/4/2013

quote:
Originally posted by banjooud

 and a skin that's a bit too thick for my taste


You can use sand paper on the head. I replaced a boken head on my Clifford Essex but the replacement was just too thick. I gave it a good sand to the point I liked the sound. I guess if it's an old head some care might be needed.

Mar 5, 2024 - 9:42:48 AM
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2397 posts since 2/9/2007
Online Now

The earliest banjo instructors recommended "soft pine" for bridges. I'll always use a softwood bridge on a low-tuned antebellum-style banjo, but have also found one well worth a try on a classic-era banjo like yours (or a banjo-uke!). Whatever material, you want that bridge to be LIGHT. IMO the bridge should not be any wider than it has to be-- unlike the current standard design which has feet spread wide of the outside strings.

Mar 18, 2024 - 12:34:53 AM
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3 posts since 3/17/2024

You could experiment with a maple or rosewood bridge without the ebony cap and see how it affects the sound.

Mar 18, 2024 - 12:54:16 AM
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317 posts since 6/20/2020

quote:
Originally posted by banjooud


So would I gain in sound quality with a single wood bridge for nylgut in your opinion?


Yes.

I make bridges for 6 and 7-string banjos and gut strings. It's not too difficult and a lot of fun to make your own and experiment. Also, that way you develop your ear and discover what works best for yourself. Weight is a significant factor; if you have a set of digital scales in your kitchen these can be put to a new use.

I enjoy using wood that I've cut myself. But that requires at least a year to season newly cut wood. I mark the date and wood-type, seal both ends of the log section with arbrex to control the rate of moisture loss, and store in a cool, dry place outdoors. For an immediate start you can buy small sections of pre-dried timber quite cheaply.

Edited by - Pomeroy on 03/18/2024 01:01:39

Mar 18, 2024 - 8:46:09 AM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5681 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjooud

Thank you very much.
Noted for the maple!
Why not walnut ?


Walnut bridges remove too many highs from a banjo's frequency range. 

Mar 18, 2024 - 9:05:22 AM
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406 posts since 5/25/2015

I made a couple of bridges for nylon strung banjos with calfskin heads out of well-dried apple prunings and they sound as good as maple to me. I cut them so that the heart of the wood forms the top.

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