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  • juanderer 11:37AM
  • Twang 11:37AM

Bridge weight, big tones, etc

I've been playing a 2005 DellArte Hommage for the last year and a half, prior to that it was a Gitane 255. It came with a big tone. It's not as loud as my Gitane but sounds much better tonally. While I prefer my AT Pro 70, the big tone sounds pretty good, not thin. I've used it alone and and in conjunction with the AT many times.

In general, I wish the guitar was a bit louder and more responsive. I'm a hard picker and when I play my friend's Zwinakis the sound just explodes out of it, though it's also thinner than the Hommage.

The bridge is rosewood, as are the moustach ends, so while I'm not positive I think they're original Dell Arte. On the other hand the bridge is too low without shims so maybe not?

Yesterday I took the bridge "off" (really just off to the side since still connected by the cable) in order to look at the construction of the bridge, I was thinking of building a bigtone bridge for another guitar. I was surprised to see how big the bridge was so on a whim I put a different bridge (ebony and lighter) on the guitar. Instantly the sound changed, brighter and louder.



  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆVirtuoso 503
    edited April 2017
    Thoughts? Leave the other bridge on your guitar and throw the Bigturd in the trash?

    The lighter the bridge, the better! Good ones are completely hollowed out underneath. Big tones are literally the worst, that's a dumb idea in the first place and to add insult to injury the piezo sound they produce is horrible.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    You can read some thoughts on this subject, see a lightweight bridge that I made, and also see an experimental bridge from France here:


    My bridge also has hollow feet with a narrow perimeter of wood on each foot. It's been on my Favino for over 10 years with nary a problem. Maybe it's time to make another even lighter one...

    I liked the way it changed the sound of my guitar. The best I can describe it is to say that it aired out the sound. I like a clear and ringy tone and this enhanced that aspect of the sound.
  • Scot I followed those links to view your larger files but they take me elsewhere...even signed up for flickr as it seemed necessary.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Sorry about that, those accounts were probably deleted by yahoo a long time ago. I'll take same new photos today and get them posted as soon as I can.
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    edited April 2017
    I've messed around with bridges a lot. Scot's description is good. The lighter bridge gives an "airy sound", presence, and more volume.
    Don't know anything about Bigtones.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • bluetrainbluetrain Finland✭✭✭ Barault, Cach, Epiphone Triumph 1956
    I discussed with Leo Eimers about Bridges in Django Reinhardt festival in Fontainebleau last year. He wants to use bigtone in his guitars and he said that heavy ebony bridge is better for bigtone sound. I guess you could make a bigtone into a really light bridge but according to Leo the sound would not be that good (bad, haha).

    I've experimented with bridges also and I'm sure it is one big design factor for luthiers to tweak the sound. The lighter is not always better because light bridge can bring out too much presence (air?) into the sound and loose warmness. Heavier bridge have maybe more balance and sustain to the overall sound. Maybe some luthiers could join in with their observations? :)
    Andrew Ulle
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Wim Glenn wrote: »
    Thoughts? Leave the other bridge on your guitar and throw the Bigturd in the trash? ...Big tones are literally the worst, that's a dumb idea in the first place and to add insult to injury the piezo sound they produce is horrible.

    Hey Wim - don't hold back - tell us how you really feel!

    BucoWim Glenn
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    edited April 2017
    Personally, I'm not a fan of piezos either. To me there are much better pickup options including clip on mics, contact mics (like the Ischell) and magnetic pickups.

    Here's the thing with bridge weight. There two basic relationships that are at the heart of the sound of any stringed instrument. 1) Resonant frequency is proportional to stiffness over mass. 2) Specific Mobility (SM) is proportional to 1/ (stiffness x mass).

    So decreasing the mass of the bridge raises the resonant frequency(s) of the top and increases the top's specific mobility.

    A guitar top has a number of resonant frequencies, all have influence, but the main one that produces the majority of the sound on gypsy guitars is around 220-230hz. Sometimes as low as 200, sometimes as high as 260. Reducing a bridge by 10 grams can raise this resonance by ~15 hz. This is noticeable. Lower = darker, higher = brighter.

    More important is the specific mobility (SM) which is just quantification of how responsive and active the top will be when stimulated. The higher the SM, the more responsive the guitar and quicker the attack. This higher the SM, the louder the guitar. You can see by the SM relationship that a reduction in mass will raise the SM if the stiffness stays the same. As a floating bridge has little effect on top stiffness, a lighter bridge raises SM for a louder guitar with quicker attack. Again, this is noticeable.

    About a year ago, I had a guitar in for repair and noted it had a 25 gram bridge, an archtop type with the screws that raise and lower the bridge height. It was killing the sound. Replaced it with a 10 gram bridge and it was like a whole new instrument. What was a very dull sounding guitar came alive with the lighter bridge.

    Now, maybe you don't want a brighter, responsive, louder guitar with quick attack. Okay, load up the bridge and all of these will go down. Easy to test with a bit of putty and a coin or two stuck to the bridge or top near the bridge. Note, however, that ALL of the above will go down. The guitar will sound darker, but also not as loud, not as responsive. There are other avenues if one wants to affect these characteristics selectively, but it is hard to do after the guitar is built.

    As you probably guessed, all this does get complicated really fast, but bridge weight by itself is fairly straight forward and easy to experiment with.
    BucoWim Glenn
  • I definitely want a louder, brighter, more responsive guitar. Tonight I put on the bridge from my friend's Zwinakis. I had to use extreme shimming, maybe 3/8". Ridiculous. Even so, it sounded SO much better. Damn...
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    It's important to keep in mind that Bigtones are not all the same....each manufacturer makes their own and they vary greatly, especially with regards to the bridge and the quality of the piezo element. The Dell Arte bigtones are notoriously overbuilt with very heavy bridges that dampen the acoustic volume and tone of the instrument quite a lot. Also, the amplified sound tends to be very thin and harsh. We've always had the best luck with the Dupont bigtones which use the same lightweight rosewood bridge that Dupont uses on all their guitars. In most cases, the Dupont bigtones actually improve the acoustic tone of the guitar which is nice and the amplified sound is a lot smoother than the Dell Arte bigtones.
    t-birdBill Da Costa Williams
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