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May 18, 2024 - 8:37:25 PM
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banjonz

New Zealand

12056 posts since 6/29/2003

A few months ago, I purchased an 05 Gold Star GF85 (GS) here. I found its voice 'dry' but with a 'crack' to it. It was using the bridge it came with. I posted a previous enquiry about where the bridges for this instrument were made. Most likely it was Asian. There are many bridges available online through outlets such as Ebay and Aliexpress. Quality bridges however are basically only available from the USA in any quantity. That makes them quite expensive. In the last few years I have become acquainted with man who made banjo in Australia but had returned to NZ. His name is Leon Reihana and he is Maori. He has now focused his time in experimenting with making bridges out of different native woods. I am extremely fortunate that he has considered me someone who could test these for him. He posts videos of himself playing with these on facebook.com/groups/2954347151300350 Banjos New Zealand. Help, servicing and advice.
He has sent me a few to test. One standard maple and ebony tipped one sounded perfect on the GS. A second one was made of black Maire but somehow it didn’t take on the GS. I thinned it down a couple of times measuring the weight each time. It still didn’t take. The last one he sent was an experiment with the shape which was inspired by the shape of a violin bridge. Its weight is 2.5gm. I fitted it yesterday but had to slightly recut the slots. Initially it sounded a bit muted but even in tone. I decided to leave it over night and come back to it. WOW! The difference was amazing. The GS just cracks along wonderfully. It looks amazing also. I am going to keep this on the GS.


 

May 19, 2024 - 2:59:05 AM
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banjo roo

Australia

232 posts since 5/12/2010

Interesting design, and good to hear of the reports on sound. Thanks for sharing

May 19, 2024 - 4:36:49 AM
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Paulf

Australia

3571 posts since 2/1/2012
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Met Leon many years ago at a banjo Jamboree in Victoria and not only was he a very friendly person but a talented one as well.

Paul

May 19, 2024 - 5:22:03 AM
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1212 posts since 2/2/2008

Thank you Wayne for testing my ideas and sharing honest feedback.
Your a valuable soul.

@Paulf thank you for kind words.
Banjo jamboree was a cold place at night but I always had amazing experiences.
Geez one year we had Greg Deering there and I spent the weekend talking with him and watched everybody get there banjos checked by him.

May 19, 2024 - 11:09:30 AM
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Players Union Member

rmcdow

USA

1406 posts since 11/8/2014

That is a beautiful bridge.

May 19, 2024 - 9:40:52 PM
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kat eyz

USA

1177 posts since 10/1/2003

impressive looking bridge . I always enjoy seeing beautiful bridges ...wish there were more postings like this ...thanks for the pic !

May 20, 2024 - 4:24:32 AM
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1212 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by kat eyz

impressive looking bridge . I always enjoy seeing beautiful bridges ...wish there were more postings like this ...thanks for the pic !


Thank you Mike. I have owned your bridges and appreciate the work you put into them. I was saying to Wayne the other day that Kat eyz is the best looking bridge but maybe now I'm in the running haha.

Not having access to woods available in the USA I've always experimented with any wood I could find. Now home in New Zealand I am testing our native woods and this Black Maire is heavy and dense. My ancestors made weapons from it. How it is delivering a good sound I can't believe but it is. So hard and stiff it needs no top.

Thank you for commenting of the design. You have made my day even better

May 21, 2024 - 7:30:01 AM
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kat eyz

USA

1177 posts since 10/1/2003

experimenting with woods as a whole and in combination with different topwoods has been a barrel of monkeys for me over the years LOL Sometimes the results are lack luster and sometimes very surprising but its the ONLY way to find out .

May 21, 2024 - 6:14:48 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

12056 posts since 6/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by kat eyz

experimenting with woods as a whole and in combination with different topwoods has been a barrel of monkeys for me over the years LOL Sometimes the results are lack luster and sometimes very surprising but its the ONLY way to find out .


I agree that experimentation is the only way. I have been doing this for decades. Trying different bridges of different materials (solid rosewood etc), removing mass (sanding down to make thinner). It is just too expensive to purchase US made bridges and import them. I have, over time Obtained many Asian ones (Aliexpress) which are all over the map in terms of weight and height, even though they are sold a 5/8" ones. I am fortunate that I have been sent ones that Leon has made to trial. I now have a source of really good bridges. I have found in this process that not all bridges sound good on all banjos. What is great for one, not so on others. I have my supply of bridges to try to bring out the natural voice of a particular instrument.

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