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Help with Banjo Bridges

Alex.S 26 Jul 04 - 03:02 PM
GLoux 26 Jul 04 - 03:32 PM
Geoff the Duck 26 Jul 04 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Jon 26 Jul 04 - 05:23 PM
Geoff the Duck 26 Jul 04 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Les B. 26 Jul 04 - 06:40 PM
Alex.S 27 Jul 04 - 01:21 AM
darkriver 27 Jul 04 - 02:01 AM
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Subject: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: Alex.S
Date: 26 Jul 04 - 03:02 PM

Let me first apologize to those who have been following my continued battle with my banjo and are still kind enough to help-- I can't locate that thread, or I would revive it instead.
Anyway, my newest problem is the bridge. The old one broke, so I went to the music store and bought a new one (the guy looked at the banjo and told me to get 5/8"). This bridge is still much higher than the old one, and the strings angle up to it significantly from the fretboard, and I find it more difficult to play. Is this just a higher bridge, or is somethign wrong? Are banjos like violins in that a bridge is bought unfitted? Can I do it myself, or do I need a luthier? Thanks for all your help.


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: GLoux
Date: 26 Jul 04 - 03:32 PM

There are many factors to consider when replacing a bridge on a banjo. What style of banjo-playing do you do? For example, clawhammer/frailing players typically prefer higher action, which could be accommodated by a tall bridge. There are different styles of bridges (moon compensated, etc.) to look at. There are bridges with bigger feet that put more mass against the banjo head, there are maple bridges with ebony tops or some other substance (mine is corian). Then, of course, some are inexpensive ($3 - $6 US) and some are expensive ($13 - $30 US) (I'm scanning the most current Elderly Instruments catalog for these prices).

My point is, order a number of inexpensive bridges at different heights and styles and you decide which one you like best, changing them yourself. Or call your music store and ask if you could bring your banjo in and try-on different ones while in the store before making a decision...

Hope this helps...
-Greg


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Jul 04 - 05:02 PM

Alex - a useful trick to use if you want to find a posting you (or ANY OTHER POSTER) has made is to find any posting you (they) have made, and then click on the name where it says (for example - in this thread)

Subject: Help with Banjo Bridges

From: Alex Statman

The name hides a clicky which will take you to a list of all postings which you (or other name) has made. You can then browse down the list until you find the thread or posting you are looking for.
BEWARE - some people post hard and fast, and have also been on Mudcat for a number of years. Their list will go on forever. There IS a way to bring it up in chunks of ??? (20? 50?) postings, but I can't recall it at the moment. Try the "Mudcat FAQ - new users guide".
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Jul 04 - 05:23 PM

If the old bridge worked for you, you would probably be best off getting one the same height.

I note from the other thread that your banjo is a Harmony. Is it one of the bakelite jobs? If we know what it is, it may help someone (not me) come up with a possible adjustment if you did want to use a higher bridge.


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Jul 04 - 06:21 PM

It is always to sand down either the top or feet of a bridge, as long as the shortening doesn't make the bridge top too thin to support the pressure of the strings. Mark with pencil and then take a sheet of fine carborundum or wet & dry paper (ordinary "sand" paper disintegrates too easliy). Put the paper down on a flat surface, rough side up, and run the bridge (lengthwise) along the paper.
If you are taking some off the top, mark the position of the string slots with pencil marks down the bridge. Once sanded, use a fine triangular needle file - from modellers shops, to re-cut the grooves.
If the new bridge is already useless, you have nothing to lose. If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, then try a different style of bridge.
Alternatively find out if your neck adjustment will increase the angle between body and pot, and so drop the string heigh above the upper frets.
Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 26 Jul 04 - 06:40 PM

The 5/8" is a pretty common height for many bluegrass banjos. I think bridges can go up to about 3/4" - but I've never seen many lower than 1/2" (although the sandpaper trick can get you as low as you want!)

The guy at the shop was probably going by what he thought the average player would use. I think I've got an old bakelite Harmony 5-string lurking under my bed. I'll try to remember to see what it's got on it.

If you find out you really are serious about being a banjo player, you'll want to move on up from the bakelite banjo fairly soon. I couldn't believe how much better I got when I finally got rid of my old $60 beater and into a better built, better handling, and better sounding banjo. Good luck !


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: Alex.S
Date: 27 Jul 04 - 01:21 AM

Thanks for all your help, everyone. How do I know if my banjo is a "bakelight" or not? It just says "harmony" right up on top over the pegs. I'm sure it's a pretty cheap banjo, but that's fine for me. I actually like the banjo a lot -- it actually seems easier to achieve basic competence than with a guitar because my fingers can easily manage 4 strings (instead of 6). But, you know how it is, with an $800 violin sitting under my bed, I just can't afford to be too serious about anything else for a while...


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Subject: RE: Help with Banjo Bridges
From: darkriver
Date: 27 Jul 04 - 02:01 AM

Alex,

'Bakelite' is an older form of plastic. A lot of stuff from the 1920s and 1930s was made of bakelite.

Doug


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