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what makes a really good bridge

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by BassGreaser, Sep 15, 2003.


  1. BassGreaser

    BassGreaser

    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'm looking at bridges for my bass. What should I look for in a bridge. I'm looking at getting "top of the line"
     
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Most important is that the bridge be sized correctly for your instrument. Ideally, the bass side foot should be placed directly over the bass bar, but the bridge should not be significantly wider than the distance between the upper eyes of the f-holes. Tight grain helps to produce good highs, and indicates a bridge that should be more resistant to warping. The distance between the heart and the bridge top is also important, as is centering the bridge on the bass' top. Sometimes one foot will need to be a little longer than the other to align the strings properly while keeping the bridge centered...Hopefully you are beginning to realize that bridge replacement is a job for an experienced person. If you have good woodworking skills, and can get advice from a pro, you might do OK. Your post was unclear, though, on whether you plan to do the job yourself...
     
  3. Spanky2112

    Spanky2112

    Aug 20, 2003
    Utica, NY
    Exactly what does the bridge do? Why would I want a quality bridge and how will it improve my bass?
     
  4. I knew the quality and the fitting of the bridge made a huge difference when I got a first class one fitted by a top luthier, but the penny only dropped as to the nature of its operation when he described it as "a flexible coupling". If you ever practise with a mute, a mute works by damping the bridge from vibrating in horizontal plane and being flexible. Accordingly, the qualities and of the wood, its thickness and dimensions are crucial to allow full vibration of the string and yet be stiff enough to transmit the vibration vertically down to the top. On the other hand, I may need educating here too.
     
  5. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    There is a happy medium with bridges: strong enough that it won't warp or break, yet transmit the string vibrations, and light enough that it doesn't unnecessarily dampen the tone. Most of the time, I see basses with bridges that don't fit the bass bar/fingerboard projection measurements. That is, the bridge is either too small, or too big.

    The lower end bridges- Bausch, Dresden- are good for shops with a high volume of school-rental instruments. The higher end bridges- Despiau, some Aubert- have tighter, more even winter grain, and are more expensive. (Winter grains are the smaller, darker horizontal lines in the bridge.) Of course, the fit of the feet is "muy importante". A correctly fit and thicknessed low-end bridge will sound a hell of lot better than poorly installed $40 bridge blank. (By the way, prices of bridge blanks can vary from $20-$50. The good stuff is usually $35+)
     
  6. kip

    kip

    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    The Despiau site refers to high, medium or low heart. what does this mean, soundwise? or is the heart position a consideration relating to bridge height after the blank is worked to accomodate the specific instrument being fitted? Thanks, Kip
     
  7. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The heart placement is related to the projection of the fingerboard. Let's say you have an instrument that needs a 165mm bridge, (that's a wide bridge) but has a low projection (or low bridge height). You might end up with just a few millimeters of wood above the heart with a "medium" or typical bridge. This is not desirable. So, you could use a lower-heart model, leaving more wood between the heart and the crown of the bridge. (crown being where the strings meet the bridge)