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Wishbass bridge style tips

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by dave-chaulk, Dec 16, 2011.


  1. Hey all,

    I was interested in starting to do wishbass-based wooden bridges. I love the simplicity and look of them, and that they are simpler than other wooden bridged and, honestly, cheaper than metal ones.

    What I was wondering was the string ferrule location in relation to the bridge - is this necessarily specific? If it's 34" scale and the bridge itself is (just for example) three inches in from the body end, could I put the ferrules any distance from the edge?

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I've never owned, built, or even used this sort of bridge system but have always been interested.

    Any additional information would be greatly appreciated - any information at all.

    Thanks very much,
    David.
     
  2. When Wish makes his, I believe he measures the scale length and adds two inches for the through holes.
     
  3. 49sfine

    49sfine

    Apr 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    Hello. Good questions. I refinish/refine/modify Wishbasses and end up replacing all of Steve's corian ones with ones made from hardwood to either match or contrast the particular bass I'm working on. I have found that there are 2 considerations (there may be more, but this is just my observations so far) in terms of placement of the string holes to the bridge piece - the first one is optimum length for the string 'break' and second, string length. From what I've experienced with this set-up, the bridge is best placed about 1-1/4" to 1-3/8" from the string hole, otherwise the resulting tension (if it is too short), wants to either pull the bridge piece closer to the pickup, or won't allow you to place the bridge in the exact spot you want, thus effecting intonation. The second thing is if the string-thru holes are set too far away from the bridge, you are just eating up string length and it could get you into trouble if it goes beyond super long scale. It's more expensive too and you have less choice when you get into the super long scales, especially if you need to buy an individual string.
    Here's photos of bridges I've made for some of my Wishbasses ...

    IMG_9080.
    This first photo shows an unfinished salt & pepper ebony bridge being fitted to the newly plugged/redrilled/inlayed string-thru holes. This is just at about 1-3/8" to the E string (measured from center of hole to the peak or top of the bridge). This is a good distance and gives me the flexibility I need without adding unnecessarily to string length ...
    Lobe1016051.
    Multi-hardwood pen blank I used to make this bridge. Finished in Tru-oil ...
    IMG_9193.
    Bubinga pen blank used for this bridge. Finished in Tru-Oil.
    IMG_8611.
    Purpleheart scrap used for this bridge, finished in Tru-Oil. This one is too close together and I just barely cleared my scale setting as a result. Steve was cutting it close on this one! ...

    All these basses have nuts that match the bridge pieces, BTW ...
     
  4. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Supporting Member

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    So do you buy pen blanks and saw them in half length-wise? Do you have a jig for it that you would be willing to show?
     
  5. 49sfine

    49sfine

    Apr 20, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    H: No jigs, I do it all freehand. Basically, one pen blank will yield 1 bridge and 1 nut, (they will match obviously), with a small bit of scrap left over that I can usually get a thumbrest out of too. I cut everything up on a benchtop band saw, cutting the two pieces to length first. Depending on the Wishbass, I will then trim about 1/4" off along the length of the bridge piece. I run this piece thru the bandsaw again to roughly create the triangular shape. From there I switch to using my 4" benchtop belt sander (with 6" sanding disc) and sand until the shape is achieved, leaving the bridge too high so I can make adjustments later. I shape the ends using the sanding disc feature of the belt sander, BTW. When the bridge is the shape I want I turn to filing and then sandpapers. I usually run the sandpaper out to 800 grit before applying finish. I will finish the bridge, nut (and the occasional thumbrest) along with the bass, building up many coats and sanding in between them, leaving the bottom of the bridge and nut alone. Once the bass is all back together and strung up I then will sand the bottom of the bridge and nut to bring them into proper height relationship, again using the bench belt sander. Once I know the bridge is where I want it, I fine sand the bottom and wax. I may or may not notch the bridge a tiny bit depending on the string hole alignment nuttiness that is typical of most Wishbasses. I can do one now in about 45 minutes, minus finish work.

    If you need any more help, let me know. I might be able to dig up some photos too, I think ...
     
  6. Wow, thank you so much for the thorough, informative response 49sfine! That covers all the questions I had and more. The pictures are an excellent reference as well - I'm more of a visual thinker anyway.
    If I have any more questions I'll revive the thread or PM you or something.

    Thanks again!
    David.

    P.S. You do absolutely beautiful finishing and shaping work.
     

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