Fairly easy Home Made Bridge

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by agfrag, Aug 5, 2007.

  1. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    In response to a few members who asked that I provide details as to this bridge, here is a sort of "how to" on it.

    I originally made this because I couldn't afford/find any bridge that had small enough spacing for my short fingers. It was made mostly with common tools: drills, hacksaw, sandpaper. The hardware was available at my local hardware store, which does not carry a lot of exotic stuff. I used it on my homemade 6 string (sort of, I started with a 5 string Carvin neck, boy do they make nice maple necks!) and it sounds great for what it is. The stock material for the bridge pieces is 3/8 inch thick aluminum (6061 I believe...) and for the big bar that anchors the strings it is 5/8ths by 1/2 inch aluminum. I can't recall where I got the aluminum, it's been about 10 years.

    The most expensive part was the black anodizing, but hey, black hides a lot of sanding marks y'know!;)

    The springs are from ball point pens, the lock down screw is a stainless steel wood screw with a shoulder, with a matching washer, the height adjusting saddle is a 5/16-24 bolt, with the head sawed off. The shoulder that was under the head I filed down and slotted for the strings, a different width for each string of course.

    The in/out adjusting screw is a 6/32 brass slotted head machine screw 2 inches long, the spring slides over this after you slip it through the big bar.

    Take a look at the pics, and if you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them:)
     

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  2. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    More Pics
     

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  3. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    ...and more...
     

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  4. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    ...and some dimensions...
     

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  5. Bo_H

    Bo_H

    Jul 2, 2004
    So the most forward screws lock the saddles in place and they would have to be loosened to make intonation adjustments...correct?

    Very nice job. I've often thought of the possibilities of a hardware store bridge. Did you cut the saddles yourself or were they just something else you adapted?

    Bo
     
  6. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    Yes you are correct about the saddles and intonation. I cut the aluminum with a hacksaw out of some 3/8 inch thick stock I got somewhere, and also hacksawed them into the shape you see, and then sanded down to...say...400 grit wet sand paper, to get the final smooth finish. With the small pieces, it went pretty fast, I recall.

    The hardest part was tapping the 6/32 for the intonation screw...had to go real slow, lots of tapping fluid.

    Here's a thought, I've often wondered if one could just do a string through body kind of thing, to anchor the string, and then you could pretty much get away with just the saddle assembly. You could put it together and place the strings under tension, holding the saddle assemblies to the body with string tension, much like an upright bass bridge, then, when you were happy with the intonation, then you could mark the location, and use the hold down screw to lock the saddle assembly in place. Later if you wanted to change strings or gauges, you could just slide the saddle assembly back and forth until you got it right, and lock it down again.
     
  7. Bo_H

    Bo_H

    Jul 2, 2004
    Thanks for the info. Okay, I know it has been a while since you purchased the aluminum, but I have to ask and I will be satisfied with your best guess.

    Approximate cost?

    Bo
     
  8. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    This should go into the tutorial section, nice job!!
     
  9. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    Bo H, I recall the black anodizing was about $50. The screws and washers I don't recall, but by today's prices (guessing) probably about $10 for a 6 string, maybe $15. I had to buy a 6/32 tap, as I had one and broke it in one of the saddle assemblies (I initially made 8 pieces, to allow for mistakes, I ended up making two exactly, so I finished the project with exactly wht I needed...whew!), so maybe $5 for that, and I had to buy a 5/16-24 tap, so another $5 for that...real wild guesses here...maybe total $95 in today's prices.

    Hmmm, doesn't seem like much of a super deal when you add it all up! Gosh I hate that!!!

    scottyd, thanks!
     
  10. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Excellent hand work. Where did you have the anodizing done?
     
  11. Wademeister63

    Wademeister63

    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Nice simple design, well done, and great pics to go with it. Excellent job!

    For anyone wanting to do this, your best bet for cheap materials would probably be your local small machine shops. Let them know you don't need any kind of paperwork and they may be able to sell you something for $10 or $20, or they may even let you have something from their scrap bin.

    For the anodizing, most of the places I've dealt with have a minimum charge of around $60.00. You could probably get a dozen of those bridges for that much, but they have to charge minimums just to get your job in their system, handle the paperwork, inspection of the parts etc. Finding a shop that does the anodizing shouldn't be hard, they're in probably every city in the US and probably even in most good size towns. Look for "plating" or "anodizing". Usually the anodizing is available in black or clear, but some places also offer colors. Red, yellow, green. blue and purple are fairly common.

    Powder coating may also be a good way to go for a small project like this, and their minimum charge is usually a bit less than the platers. The powder coating can be done in just about any color you would like. If you get something like this powder coated be sure to have them mask the threaded holes.
     
  12. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    The place I got mine done was a local shop in metro Detroit, they did a lot of motorcycle parts and custom car stuff. I had used them previously when I was making ultralight Dobsonian telescopes. They offered all kinds of colors, and I believe, could offer shiny or satin black finishes.
     
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Wow, not even up to twenty posts and he's helping people already. Excellent! :cool:

    That looks really nice, and especially for homemade, and with limited tools on top of that! Did you cut that taper on the sliders by hand with a hacksaw? Good job. The radius between the forward face of the high part and the upper surface of the lower (clamping) area is a nice radius for not having been done on a mill.

    As far as your question on using similar saddles w/o a stop bar, here's Hambone's bridge that he made with pockets directly in the guitar body. There are a few pics of it on his site (#HCB009, walnut, upper left pics):
    http://home.mindspring.com/~adhamilton/id15.html



    p.s. one more hint on the anodizing: if you do a colored anodize (including black), do not expect pieces from different anodize batches to match in color.
     
  14. Jonny B

    Jonny B

    Nov 5, 2006
    WI
    That has to be one of the coolest bridges I have ever seen.
     
  15. Tenma4

    Tenma4

    Jan 26, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    Thanks a lot for the tutorial on the bridge. This is very close to what I'm trying myself. I've been going back and forth between a headless tuner/bridge assembly, and a normal bass (with headstock) and this type of bridge. If I were to do headless, then I need to make some sort of string retainer. Either way...I'll probably make something like this for a bridge or at least intonation setup.

    Wow that was wordy... :meh:
     
  16. The Penguin

    The Penguin duplicate account violation Inactive

    Jun 21, 2006
    I'm not pelagic
    Looks great and I love thats it's unique.
     
  17. agfrag

    agfrag Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    Novi, Mi
    To answer pilotjones question on the taper and radius, yes the taper was cut by hand, and the radius was done by drilling through the piece side to side, then hacksawing down to the hole from the top and front.

    One of the things I did to get the pieces even and looking alike was to clamp all of them together in a line, and sand each flat surface until they were uniformly smooth, then unclamp for tapping, and wet sanding.

    I have to admit, a couple times the pieces would all go flying out from the clamp, but I eventually managed to find them all and put them together again!

    Thanks for the compliments, what a great group here on TalkBass!