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Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by tommy154578, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. tommy154578


    Jul 14, 2003
    I would like to know a little bit about bridges. I've noticed that most of them have a rare pattern, a kinda marbled figure. Why's that? Does anyone know? Is it because they use a different wood or it is cut in a different way. I just happened to see a cheap bass of a friend of mine that didn't have that figure, but sort of lines that run parallel to the top of the instrument. Does it have to do with the quality of the bridge??


  2. Most high quality bass bridges are made from European maple. The best bridge makers seem to prefer wood from the Ex-Yugoslavia region. European maple is considerably softer than the hard maple we see in US lumber yards. The wood is always cut on the quarter which brings out those flecks you see in the wood. This means that the wood is cut in wedges from the center out like you would get cutting a pie. The cheap bridges you mention are almost always advertised as Northern hard maple. This usually means hard maple from the US or Canada. They are definitely inferior to the bridges made from the softer European maple.
  3. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    1) What makes them inferior?
    2) How does this inferiority manifest itself?

    Will they warp easier, vibrate different and produce inferior volume/tone?

    I'd appreciate more info.

  4. (1) From a luthiers standpoint, because of the hardness, they are much more difficult to fit and shape properly. They are also heavier.
    (2) Yes, Yes and Yes
  5. tommy154578


    Jul 14, 2003
    Thanks Bob!
    But, as I understand, backs, sides and necks are often also cut on the quarter but do not show those flakes but "flames" or things like that. Why's that?

    Thanks again!

  6. I'm not a tree expert, but I imagine that has more to do with where the tree is grown than anything else. As mentioned earlier, bridge makers (mostly in France and Germany) prefer to use maple that is grown is the location of old Yugoslavia. I don't know if it is the weather, elevation, soil or whatever, but the same species of tree do produce different figuring depending on the growing location. BTW, I have seen instruments that have these flecks. I wonder now if those were made in Yugoslavia?
  7. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Neither am I a tree expert, but there's variation in everything, especially something as natural as trees. Not every single maple tree, when quarter-sawn, will show wonderful "flame" (i.e., medullary rays) and "fleck". After being cut, the wood is examined and graded and set aside for specific uses.

    What we're seeing in the European bridges is European bridge-makers purposely selecting the wood they want to achieve the effect they want. They're pretty damn good at it, too!
  8. tommy154578


    Jul 14, 2003
    Thanks, that's pretty much what I wanted to know.


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