The importance of the bridge

ruolmoruolmo New
edited April 2010 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 17
I bought a Gitane D-300 O-hole J.Jorgensen model,wich is a fine guitar,but after having read all the raving reviews about it I was a tiny little bit disappointed of the performance of it,in the sense that the separation of the notes when playing chords was a tad muddy and it was missing that growl (bark?) when hitting it harder (the strings,not the guitar,ha ha).So I set everything up (action,neck relief etc.)but that changed little.So I thought the bridge ,wich is the medium that translates the string vibrations to the top,could be the point.And it WAS!!!I first wanted to get some ebony in order to make a new bridge,but the old man in his also very old antique furniture restoration shop did not have any,so I ended up with some 100 plus year old walnut.This is dense and hard.With a little belt sander it is really easy to make bridges,albeit with the later Selmer style compensation ,not the stairsteps,that would be more complicated.I was absolutely thrilled by the difference this bridge made to the guitar.Crisp,definite,strong bass,every note rings out free and clear,the overall volume increased.
So I changed all the bridges on my other guitars (Cigano D and O),a Harley Benton 500 ,a Keytone D,and everyone of them became so much better.
If you are not 100% happy with the performance of your gipsy guitar,try out old,seasoned walnut as a replacement bridge material.You wont be disappointed!And,yes,get yourself a little belt sander.Bridge -making is FUN!!


  • ruolmoruolmo New
    Posts: 17
    P.S. The bridge should sit completely flat on the guitars top,should follow the gentle curve of it. Now,if you tune the guitar,the strings will tilt the bridge toward the neck.Just a tiny bit,nearly unnoticeable,but ,yes.So,after the guitar is properly strung up,firmly grab the top of the bridge and tilt it back,towards the tailpiece.Most likely you will hear a cllunkk noise as the bridge settles in its correct position. :shock:
  • HennoxLaneHennoxLane Leuven, BelgiumNew
    Posts: 34
    that clunk must be a pretty scary sound hm? :)

    well, I can definitely understand that bridges can make an immense difference, I tried a few guitars with a wooden bridge with some bone (or be it plastic, I don't remember) where the strings fit over it, and I must say that a solid wooden bridge sounds much better overall ..
  • i believe that one of the properties of walnut is that it absorbs sound to a degree probably in the mid to higher freq's .... not meaning that the above post is in any way incorrect.... thinking about fine tuning what sounds to be a good change for some instruments :wink:

    i would suggest that someone try making a bridge out of osage orange. it works really well as saddles in reso's providing a bit more volume, note separation and brighter tone though it possibly might make an overly bright guitar too bright

    perhaps bob holo will read and comment :D
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • ruolmoruolmo New
    Posts: 17
    Well,I thought too that walnut is a heavy ,rather non-projecting wood.I once had a walnut Strat and that went just ploofff (another scary noise),gobbling up the notes...Perhaps my success with the walnut bridges lies in the fact that the walnut I got is so old? What kind of wood is that orange you wrote about?I am always happy to learn.Thank you! :lol:
  • osage orange is a hardwood grown in se of usa
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • ruolmoruolmo New
    Posts: 17
    Thank you,now of course I should try to get some...I wanted to modify all of my 7 gipsy guitars with these walnut bridges,got a second batch of wood and...this was not good at all.It made the guitar sound muddy,so I had to convert back to the original ebony bridge.I suppose I was lucky getting a bit of exceptionally dense walnut for the first 3 guitars....
    Another thought of something completely different:If Django &Co. were able to get light gauge strings (0.010-0.46 or so) that were even good for pickups ,I wonder then why people like Albert Lee,Clapton et al in so many interviews complained that back in the early 60s or late 50s only really heavy strings were on the market,and that ,in order to obtain lighter gauge string sets,they had to make the sets up from banjo strings?If you look at the damage sustained by many an old Selmer,like the neck coming up or the top dishing down ,it could be that too heavy strings were fitted in those days?And of course Argentines are roundwound,but how comes that (I think) Rotosound claims to be the inventor of these,saying that in the old days all strings were flatwounds? Anybody fit in string-history out there? :shock:
  • gadjojazzgadjojazz where the fun isNew
    Posts: 17
    Strings have been round wound for ever - I got a 1920's banjo with the original strings in the case - all lower strings round wound. The tape windings came more with the electric guitar to stop finger noise I guess.

    In the 1960s in England ( I was there) the Savarez strings used by the French were damn near impossible to get. I wasn't even aware of these back then. We had Rotosound, Black diamond, Clifford Essex etc and if we were lucky Fender and Gibson brands. The strings were gauged light, med or heavy. Light meant a 12-48 set heavy 14-56. Most Macc's in the UK at that time had a regular acoustic gauge string set on it.

    Banjo strings started at 10 so you scrapped the low E from a medim set and got a banjo top string for the high E - a rock and roll set with plain (bendable) G.
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