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Selmer Metal Bridge

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Raydar, Mar 23, 2009.


  1. Raydar

    Raydar

    Mar 23, 2009
    Cork, Ireland
    Hi,
    I have inherited a double bass that my father used to play a very long time ago which he then stored and eventually restored and played some more.
    Unfortunately he passed away and so has the history of this particular bass with him. I am intrigued by this instrument and in particular the fact that it has a metal bridge that looks to be made by Selmer. I've searched on the web and cannot find anything in particular about the metal bridge. I was wondering if there was anyone here that would have any info on it or maybe point me in the right direction. (BTW The wooden bridge still exists in a safe place)

    Thanks,
    Ray
     
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Can you post a picture?
     
  3. Are you sure it's not a Framus? Do a TB search to check.
     
  4. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    I have seen this bridge and I know where one is that I can take a picture of it. It is a three legged metal bridge with threaded adjusters that move up and down to adjust the string height. The person who owns this bass bought the bass in pieces and the bridge was in the box with the rest of the parts. The bridge says Selmer and was cast into the arch of the bridge.

    He too is curious about this bridge…I have not done much research but know what bridge you are talking about.
     
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I've seen those too. I thought it might help the OP to have a pic.
     
  6. Dave Walker

    Dave Walker

    Nov 20, 2008
    Hi,
    I have a similar story, my Bass was used by my Uncle for many years and when I got it an alluminium Selmer bridge was fitted to it, i'll try to attach a pic.

    Dave
     

    Attached Files:

  7. MollyKay

    MollyKay

    Sep 10, 2006
    Southern PA
    Bass Hobby'ist
    Yep…that is what one looks like. :) The one I know about is missing one of the disks under the threaded rod. I wonder if this design was a front runner for adjustable wooden bridges. They are a cool piece of history. :D
     
  8. Dave Walker

    Dave Walker

    Nov 20, 2008
    And another pic.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    There's a pic kicking around of Pops Foster playing a bass with one of these bridges on it.
     
  10. That is one ugly bridge!:spit: Looks like something a 14 yr old made at a trade school.

    I couldn't think of a worse-looking bridge to use on a DB. :scowl::scowl: But I do wonder how the sound compares to a wooden bridge.

    It might look cool on one of those aluminum basses.:D
     
  11. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    I've seen one of those same bridges on an old AlCoA aluminum bass about a half dozen years ago. It worked, but was hard to tell the tonal difference between that and the other 20 lbs of aluminum on the bass.

    j.
     
  12. Raydar

    Raydar

    Mar 23, 2009
    Cork, Ireland
    That's the exact same bridge I am talking about.. I'll get a picture of it later today to post on here. I had a look at the wooden bridge last night as well and it has dresden marked on it. I am presuming that the bass is german made assuming that the wooden bridge was the original with it..
     
  13. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Fair enough; no accounting for taste, either way. From my perspective, as a woodworker, I think of the process of which this is the result.

    The vision that somebody had, for whatever reason. The wooden pattern that some patternmaker(s) worked on, adjusted, refined, etc. The sand casting process. The excitement of making the first prototypes, the tinkering, the revisions, the discussions. The initial marketing and selling of this idea.

    I see this as a window into the lives and imaginations of craftspeople from another time. While they are probably gone, the fruit of their creativity and craft is here to see. I would guess that a lot went into this little piece of alloy.

    Having done a bit of simple pattern making when I was younger, I appreciate the process and the object. I have no idea what it sounded like, but thanks again for sharing the pics. :)
     
  14. Well, I admit I do remember this stuff. Don't have any real experience with the Selmer, but I ran across the Framus a few times. These usually were mounted on the German Framus basses. We've talked about those basses here many times. Again, do a TB search. Some were laminated and some were carved. Mingus had an endosement deal with the company.
    The one model that used to get alot of attention around here was their cut-away model. Just like a cut-away guitar, the treble side upper bouts were cut out to, hopefully, make it easier to get into the upper positions. This didn't help anything, since we need to have the shoulder there to give our left arms support in playing in the thumb positions. The few guys I heard playing these things never needed to get up that high anyway. I digress......
    The bottom line (so to speak) is that these bridges sounded just awul. The Framus that is. You can imagine. They were heavy solid metal. They acted like a mute. The few vibrations that finally made it through all that metal was nowhere near enough to get the sound into the top of the bass to let the soud post and the bass bar do their jobs. We didn't use pick ups in those days, so it was a total loss.
    As Molly intimates, these were the fore runners to adjustable wood bridges. The first adjustable wood bass bridge I ran across was in about 1958. It was on a fine German bass belonging to my mentor Red Mitchell. Red happened to come through Denver with Woody Herman's band, and told me that the great L.A. bass luthier, Paul Toenniges, came up with the original design of an adjustabe wood bass bridge. Red was going to be an "inventor" before he decided to be a bassist. This passion, along with his obvious musical talent, drove him to be a real burr under Paul's saddle. Paul told me more than once that when Red wasn't in the studios, he was in the shop drilling him with ideas to improve the sound and playability of the DB. Red was principal bassist with the MGM orchestra during this period and this meant both pizz and arco in terms of playability and sound.
     
    nicechuckh likes this.
  15. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Thanks, Paul. IMO, there's nothing like the voice of experience...:)
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It may be crude and heavy, but you gotta admire the design. I can't help but wonder if a wooden bridge with the same basic design would sound good. The one feature about this one that seems kind of cool is the third foot, which keeps the bridge on axis. How many times has my bass sounded choked or thin because the bridge was tilted forward and the feet weren't bonding properly with the top? More than a few...
     
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Ah, the Ford Pinto... the Popeil Vegamatic... the Roach Motel... the Pet Rock... the Ped-Egg... New Coke :)
     
  18. Pretty good idea, DURRL. Might be some issues with the arching in the top. We're supposed to keep the adjusters fairly even for obvious reasons and you throw a third one in the mix it might look like mental breakdown time.
    In money value? I can see it now......"How much is your bass worth?"......."Oh, I dunno. $1500?" " With that bridge?"...." Oh, about $5,009." :atoz:
     
  19. zeytoun

    zeytoun

    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Also, it's couldn't be a straight run from the slots to the feet. (as in the metal one, the feet have to move out from under the slots for balance). I wonder if because of this a wood one would also have trouble transmitting the vibrations as effectively. Would it also mean a soundpost adjustment would be required, since the treble foot is moved?

    What about instead have a bridge "anchor". Run a thin wire from the bridge to the endpin, under the tailpiece, to keep the bridge from tilting?
     
  20. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Point taken and embraced. The process is always involved, even when the results have questionable value...:)
     

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