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  • Techniques for hollowing out the bridge?

    For what it is worth, I hollow my bridges out by hand with a Dremel. It is the last thing I do after the bridge has been fit, slotted and finalized in size and shape. I use three different bits. The first cuts are with a 1/8" spiral cut router bit combined with a Dremel router base to cut first a shallow trough in the under side, then a deeper ones. I vee this out with a conical bit and then finally get down deep in the center with a small bud bit. I free hand all of this. Free handing allows me a lot of flexibility in taking more here than there and more to one side than the other, following the slant of the top edge. BTW, I liked that picture of the little Dremel sanding drum for cleaning up the edges of the hollow, have to try that, but to get deeper, you need the bits.

    Regard bridge weight, I strongly believe that the lighter the better as long as structural integrity is kept in mind. I've never reached a point where a bridge collapsed or visually sagged under string tension. I have gotten the side walls so thin I could see light through in places (yikes, too thin :-), but the bridge still worked. I don't disagree with Jeff and others that a bridge can be too flexible, but I have not seen a Selmer style bridge of normal height (17-20mm) reach the point in spite of serious hollowing.

    A bridge contributes nothing to the stiffness of the top, so its effect is mass only and reducing mass in the top assembly without reducing stiffness almost always results in a livelier guitar that sounds better. I often get bridges down to 10-11 grams, but anything under 14g is generally okay. Above 14g, the effect on sound is very noticeable. I've replaced a couple bridges that were in the 25-30 gram range with 12g bridges and the result was nothing less than spectacular.

    BTW, watch out for the weight of mustaches. Thick ones out of ebony can weigh over 4g apiece. By using lighter wood and hollowing the undersides out, I get them down to ~ 1.5g each.

    Good fit to the top and shallow string notches are important.

    Regards the Bob Benedetto reference, while I can see what he is getting at, I'm not sure that what is true for archtop guitars is necessarily true for gypsy guitars as they are very different. In gypsy guitars, my experience is the reduction of mass in the top assembly is quite important and everything else being equal, less is more. Mass and stiffness are obviously related, Reducing mass without reducing stiffness is at the heart of a string instrument builders craft. There are many ways, old and new. Arched bracing combined with the pliage is a perfect example.
  • Pain due to inadequate guitar or wrong technique?

    Are you even sure it's directly related to your guitar playing?
    I've been waking up with a slight discomfort in the right wrist recently and I've been at it for a while playing this style so I'm sure it's not guitar related.
    It could be that you're pushing your wrist too far. While this is just a layman's observation, I don't think a discomfort is an issue. If you start pushing any part of your body into a position it's not used to be in, it's going to resist. Pain is not good though so it's important thing is to know your body and back off when it's giving you signals to do so.
    It's like Dennis said.
    If you look at the best of the best in this genre, the degrees of how much they angle their wrists vary a lot. Some are really broken and some are nearly flat. It depends on the anatomy of your hand, where on the guitar you rest the arm, how close to the soundhole the hand is, things like that.
    There are some YouTube videos that describe this but basically, hold the guitar how you normally do, place the arm in the regular position, hold the pick as if you're about to strum the chord, let the wrist drop on it's own weight and relax the hand.
    Now, usually it's said that this wrist position should be your picking position.
    For me that would be too uncomfortable.
    I'd say, from that relaxed hand position start lifting the hand and decide where it's most comfortable.
    Definitely avoid doing what's causing pain, but it takes longer than 4 months to become comfortable picking in this style. Having never used the pick before is probably advantage though. It would take much longer to undo one habit and then start forming a new one. So you could say you're 50% further ahead than many others when starting to play this style.
    I highly doubt the guitar itself could be the cause.
  • Share your practice routine!

    I'm studing jazz in general so i'm trying to become a professional at this.
    Transcribe one Django lick every day :) or any artist i like, and write it down.
    or technique wise there's always something to do, stick to metronome at low tempos to be very aware of whats going on.

    After studying some phrases and all i go on manouche backing tracks and try to input them on a musical way, just making more vocabulary. I improvise around 2 hours a day to keep ideas fresh, and for the sake of that i enjoy improvising a lot.

    I often learn heads of some songs an try to embelish by myself and then compare it to famous artists versions and see what i like.

    Also: I try to transcribe trumpet licks when i can in order to be vary my melodic and rhythmic repertoire, it's very easy to just go crazy with eights or 16ths caring almost nothing about your rhytmic ideas. I was just listening to the solo of Django on G. on my mind and i love it! it's simple and effective, i like fireworks but not all the time.

  • Share your practice routine!

    Well after writing what turned into an essay, I'm going to shorten it and say that I've been experimenting with 2 minutes practice, trying to find out if there's some tangible benefits in this short amount of time.
    And it would seem that there is. I selected a few shorter musical sections that I want to play cleaner and would simply set the timer and repeat for 2 minutes. Mostly once a day, sometimes twice. You'd be surprised how many repetitions you can squeeze in that amount of time.
    I have specific reasons why I wanted to try this but that turned lengthy to write and explain so suffice it to say if you lack time in your life you can at least do that and still gain benefits.
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