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Jun 15, 2024 - 2:06:53 PM

Kellie

USA

229 posts since 1/19/2018

Can anyone explain how they alter the sound?

Jun 15, 2024 - 2:21:41 PM
like this

1695 posts since 1/9/2012

Jun 15, 2024 - 2:29:17 PM
like this

79839 posts since 5/9/2007

By trying many kinds of wood for bridges over the centuries we've learned that maple is the king of bridge woods because it supports such a fine tone from stringed instruments that also have (many times) maple in their construction.

A great example of how bridge weight alone affects the banjo's tone.
3 bridges weighing 2g,2.5g and 3 grams will make you think you are playing 3 different banjos.

Then there is grain orientation effect in the bridge. As the grain is "tipped" forward treble is gained until the vertical grain limit.

Jun 15, 2024 - 3:36:48 PM
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Kellie

USA

229 posts since 1/19/2018

quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

1. Yes  wink

but only if you like to read:  frown

2. https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/bridge-hills/bridge-hills.pdf

3.https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/pickers-guide/pickers_guide.pdf

4.https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/rubber-bridge/rubber-bridge.pdf ???

5. and more generally https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/


You're telling me I have to read for my information? What is this communist Russia?

Jun 15, 2024 - 3:59:35 PM

5470 posts since 11/20/2004

Anything you can imagine doing to a banjo's sound can be done with a bridge.

Jun 15, 2024 - 4:01:55 PM

1695 posts since 1/9/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Kellie
quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

1. Yes  wink

but only if you like to read:  frown

2. https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/bridge-hills/bridge-hills.pdf

3.https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/pickers-guide/pickers_guide.pdf

4.https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/rubber-bridge/rubber-bridge.pdf ???

5. and more generally https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/


You're telling me I have to read for my information? What is this communist Russia?


The short version requires that you grok "formant."  (They're why different people sound different.)

The bridge establishes a series of formants.  The lowest frequency one depends only on its mass (as per Steve Davis' comment) but also on the head parameters and the break angle.  The higher frequency ones are determined by the interplay of bridge flexing (itself determined by bridge design and material) and head motion at the feet.  Note that break angle and head parameters imply that the same bridge will do different things on different banjos.  You get to choose what you like.  

Jun 15, 2024 - 4:21:20 PM

Kellie

USA

229 posts since 1/19/2018

quote:
Originally posted by davidppp
quote:
Originally posted by Kellie
quote:
Originally posted by davidppp

1. Yes  wink

but only if you like to read:  frown

2. https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/bridge-hills/bridge-hills.pdf

3.https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/pickers-guide/pickers_guide.pdf

4.https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/rubber-bridge/rubber-bridge.pdf ???

5. and more generally https://www.its.caltech.edu/~politzer/


You're telling me I have to read for my information? What is this communist Russia?


The short version requires that you grok "formant."  (They're why different people sound different.)

The bridge establishes a series of formants.  The lowest frequency one depends only on its mass (as per Steve Davis' comment) but also on the head parameters and the break angle.  The higher frequency ones are determined by the interplay of bridge flexing (itself determined by bridge design and material) and head motion at the feet.  Note that break angle and head parameters imply that the same bridge will do different things on different banjos.  You get to choose what you like.  

 


Thank you so much! I was just joking by the way. What is a break angle?

Jun 15, 2024 - 4:45:07 PM
like this

1695 posts since 1/9/2012

"Break angle" is the angle the strings make going over the bridge. The determinants are bridge height, tailpiece geometry, and head tension. It's a significant piece of the lowest, main formant. It acts like a spring that tries to hold the bridge in place as it vibrates up and down. In particular, bigger angle produces a higher central frequency. Typically, most bluegrass players go for high angles by getting the tailpiece to extend well towards the bridge and and setting it low. Mellow, e.g., "old time," will go for a tailpiece that hardly extends beyond the rim. In practice, angles go between about 4 and 13 degrees.

Jun 16, 2024 - 2:53:57 PM

15751 posts since 10/30/2008

"Thin" bridges are usually associated with a more sharp, piercing, staccato tone, and consequently often associated with arch top banjos, as in, the "typical" Stanley banjo sound

Bridges never used to be very thick until the so called "Snuffy Smith" bridges came along, which seemed extremely thick to those of us raised on Grover bridges. Snuffy Smith bridges took over the flat head bluegrass sound for quite a while.

Both bridges mentioned above had one piece ebony tops. A variant (I forget the name) used little bitty rectangular bone inserts under each individual string. These were thought to firm up and clarify or sharpen "muddy" tone. They were sort of medium thickness, and many hot rodded them by sanding them thin.

Now bridges are expressed in grams of weight/mass. But as before, in general light weight is sharper tone and heavier weight is warmer tone. But there are always exceptions.

Personally I've never looked beyond maple wood with ebony top. But there are lots of other boutique choices now. In general they're expensive.

Jun 16, 2024 - 3:54:03 PM

Fathand

Canada

12398 posts since 2/7/2008

A bridge transmits the energy from the string to the head. Weight, angle and density of of the bridge can change how efficiently that happens. e.g. a softer bridge may absorb some of the vibrations.

As for those bridges with the little white inserts, they are Grover Acousticraft and everyone I've seen had Ivoroid (plastic) inserts. We're they ever real bone?

Jun 16, 2024 - 4:29:02 PM

79839 posts since 5/9/2007

I can't think of any better choice in performance and ease of making than maple with or without ebony.
Clawhammer can be done with heavy maple,but sycamore is better,imo.

Jul 12, 2024 - 2:43:53 PM

41452 posts since 3/5/2008

I allways wanted to try ..
Iron wood..
But never had the opertoonity..to do so..

Don't even know if annahbody elese has tried it or not ..neitha..

Jul 12, 2024 - 5:02:40 PM

3391 posts since 3/30/2008

This thread proves that the banjo set- up is Rube Goldberg machine.

Jul 12, 2024 - 5:56:23 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

28088 posts since 6/25/2005

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

I can't think of any better choice in performance and ease of making than maple with or without ebony.
Clawhammer can be done with heavy maple,but sycamore is better,imo.


Exactly. My two favorite bridges are Bacons from the 1920s. The Lightweight and all-maple. They give me the punch and snap I like. 

Jul 12, 2024 - 6:56:48 PM

Dean T

USA

134 posts since 4/18/2024

The Deering smile bridge doesn’t sag in the middle. That was a big gripe early in my banjo adventures. I was coming off many years of electric guitar, with radiused neck, and the flat fretboard was bad enough, but the sagging bridges were awful. The smile bridge fixed that. I got one when they first came out, and it’s still straight after many years, and that's even on a 12” head.

Edited by - Dean T on 07/12/2024 18:57:38

Jul 13, 2024 - 7:03:43 AM

RB3

USA

2050 posts since 4/12/2004

A thicker, heavier bridge promotes notes with more sustain and a prevalence of more bass overtones. A thinner, lighter bridge promotes notes with less sustain and a prevalence of more treble overtones.

Jul 13, 2024 - 7:45:14 AM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5743 posts since 1/5/2005

Although I no longer make bridges, there's still a lot of stuff you can learn about bridges on my website:

https://banjobridge.com/

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