Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

288
Banjo Lovers Online


Mar 4, 2024 - 7:10:31 PM
217 posts since 1/17/2019

Should bridges be replaced after a certain period of time?


If so, Is life span just time related say…5 years or is it based on amount of playing time?

Or is not a time factor but rather a wear factor…what to look for?

I’ve done everything I know and read about to eliminate a third string buzz and now wondering if it is the three year old compensated bridge?

Mar 4, 2024 - 7:40:04 PM
like this

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

27873 posts since 6/25/2005

I use a 1920s Bacon bridge that Ihat I’ve repaired and recut the bridge slots. Still sounds great. So use your judgment. I would offer the cliché “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And I wouldn’t arbitrarily replace it, either.

Mar 4, 2024 - 9:18:24 PM

463 posts since 7/24/2021

I would like to think a bridge has a very long life ? I would also think they “ in theory” would only sound better the more you play ? My problem is I can’t leave a bridge on long enough to have a shelf life . I have a plethora of bridges from most known makers I just can’t keep from tinkering … I guess ? I do have a Frank Neat bridge on the same banjo for 3 years . I hope someone can help

Mar 4, 2024 - 9:42:21 PM
likes this

5640 posts since 5/29/2011

I have a banjo I built 16 years ago, and it has had the same bridge on it the whole time. As long as a bridge sounds good, has the strings at the proper height, and has no rattles or choked-off notes, I leave it alone.
I have another banjo I built 5 years ago. Since I set it up, I haven't touched the bridge or even tightened the head. It still sounds fine.

Mar 4, 2024 - 9:48:40 PM
like this

KCJones

USA

2929 posts since 8/30/2012

Generally a modern bridge will be designed to last 80-95 years, depending on who's in charge of making it. Of course the actual longevity of a bridge depends on loading cycles, environmental factors, and maintenance practices.

Edited by - KCJones on 03/04/2024 21:48:55

Mar 4, 2024 - 10:06:52 PM
like this

6023 posts since 3/6/2006

With a modern no-sag design, I don't see why there would be a time factor. I know for a fact that a bridge that sounds great on one banjo might sound like a total dud on another, so that synergy is important. One time I was looking for that perfect bridge and I went through about 20 of them. Ended up right back where I started.

Mar 5, 2024 - 4:36:30 AM
like this

5404 posts since 11/20/2004

Any reason to replace a bridge would likely be visible. Bowed, chipped, or worn string slots are all I can think of. Otherwise, age should be good for it, much like the other wood in a banjo.

Mar 5, 2024 - 6:25:45 AM
likes this

RB3

USA

1983 posts since 4/12/2004

A lot of folks think that an accumulation of vibration over time enhances the tone of acoustic instruments. I see no reason why that theory would not apply to bridges.

Mar 5, 2024 - 6:45:39 AM

Owen

Canada

14833 posts since 6/5/2011
Online Now

Would the vibrations produced by an accomplished player enhance the tone "better" than the vibrations produced by a ham-handed schmuck?  devil   

[I seem to recall reading about somebody or other subjecting wood to vibrations before using it to build an instrument, but sometimes my power of recall ain't as good as I remember it to be.]

Mar 5, 2024 - 6:52:15 AM
like this

Bart Veerman

Canada

5681 posts since 1/5/2005

By their nature, bridges are consumables. In real life though, unless there's footsteps visible on them, they can easily outlive humans. Check out these two pages from my website:

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

https://banjobridge.com/myths.htm

Added: if your 3rd string buzzes then clean up the bridge's slots as per the 1st link above.

Edited by - Bart Veerman on 03/05/2024 06:54:12

Mar 5, 2024 - 7:10:07 AM
likes this

RB3

USA

1983 posts since 4/12/2004

Owen,

I share your concerns about the vibrational and stylistic memory of acoustic instruments. Ron Thomason from the Dry Branch Fire Squad has often observed that "there's a fine line between playing old time music and not being able to play at all". I'm a Bluegrass player who has no interest whatsoever in clawhammer, so I don't allow anyone to play clawhammer style on my banjo. I don't know for sure if acoustic instruments really have vibrational or stylistic memories, but why take the chance. Of course, I'm not suggesting that all clawhammer players are ham handed schmucks; some of my best friends play clawhammer.

Mar 5, 2024 - 7:25:13 AM
like this

79585 posts since 5/9/2007

There are a few reasons for a string buzzing.
I like to start with head tension which can lower the bridge if too loose causing the "down-stream" fret to contact the vibrating plucked string.
A seasonal change in the relief of the neck is quite common.As the neck straightens the nut lowers the action.

.015" relief at 7 needs to be maintained for clear sounding notes.

The notches in the nut need to be checked for string height above the first fret.
Anything less than .010" over the 1st fret invites buzzes.
Anything over .015" over the 1st fret invites intonation discrepancies.

Lay a straight ruler across the strings just at the leading edge of the bridge and check for the 3rd string being lower than the others.You can also hold the banjo at eye level and "sight" along the strings at the bridge looking for a low 3rd string.

Some banjos go for decades with the same bridge.

Edited by - steve davis on 03/05/2024 07:32:00

Mar 5, 2024 - 7:29:05 AM

79585 posts since 5/9/2007

Get a cheap little scale that reads grams in 2 decimal places and weigh your favorite bridge.

Edited by - steve davis on 03/05/2024 07:30:11

Mar 5, 2024 - 8:53:49 AM
like this

8551 posts since 9/5/2006

if the wood is 300 years old or more ,, i don;t think 80 years on a banjo is going to affect it very much

Mar 5, 2024 - 10:14:08 AM
like this

863 posts since 1/21/2004

I have had the same bridge (on my favorite pre-war Gibson) since 1974 and I still get complements on the sound of that banjo.

In the same time I have gone through two (2) heads ans six (6) sets of frets.



YMMV

Heavythumb

Mar 5, 2024 - 1:37:57 PM
likes this

217 posts since 1/17/2019

Me thinks I have found the 3rd string buzz culprit…..maybe. My hearing aids! I’ve taken into account the suggestions and adjustments you all have made about the bridge and the string tolerences but I still hear the buzzzzz….

90% of the time I don’t use the hearing aids when I play and there is no buzz……but the 10% I do use the hearing aids really brings out the sound in a good way. On my Bishline when playing with hearing aids I do not hear any buzzing. When playing on my nechville with my hearing aids I hear the third string buzz..drives me crazy.

So I will be asking an instructor I know to listen to my nechville to see if he hears the buzz..could just be the certain nechville tone messes with the hearing aid. I dunno.

thanks to all for the discussion.

Mar 5, 2024 - 4:00:31 PM

6023 posts since 3/6/2006

quote:
Originally posted by RB3

Owen,

I share your concerns about the vibrational and stylistic memory of acoustic instruments. Ron Thomason from the Dry Branch Fire Squad has often observed that "there's a fine line between playing old time music and not being able to play at all". I'm a Bluegrass player who has no interest whatsoever in clawhammer, so I don't allow anyone to play clawhammer style on my banjo. I don't know for sure if acoustic instruments really have vibrational or stylistic memories, but why take the chance. Of course, I'm not suggesting that all clawhammer players are ham handed schmucks; some of my best friends play clawhammer.


That's an interesting topic in itself. I have definitely experienced this for violins and guitars. Banjos? Not sure. But an advanced player can imprint some good tone characteristics into an instrument. Until the schmuck gets hold of it. 

Mar 5, 2024 - 4:34:01 PM

chuckv97

Canada

71787 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

This ,, “ I don't know for sure if acoustic instruments really have vibrational or stylistic memories, but why take the chance.”

https://youtu.be/-b5aW08ivHU?si=NPwH4uBpNxiPpKpF


 

Edited by - chuckv97 on 03/05/2024 16:36:18

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Banjo Hangout. All Rights Reserved.





Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.3164063