Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Archtop #5: Bridge

Over the years, I’ve given a great deal of thought to my bridge’s design and, looking back, at my early mandolins, the design has evolved considerably. So, here is the current incarnation.

The ebony blank is roughly fitted to the top plate: by marking out the curve on the base of the bridge from the templates used to carve the top plate it can be done quite quickly and accurately.

Then the slot for the saddle is routed. This allows the saddle to be fitted and by using a simple jig, the bridge’s location can be accurately found.
Then the base of the bridge can be sanded to fit the top plate perfectly and then worked to its final shape.
There is always a tendency for this type of bridge to tip towards the fretboard, so to compensate for that, I now make my bridges a tad wider at the base and set the saddle slot a few mil back. Also, at this stage the saddle is roughly shaped for intonation compensation and slots cut for the strings. The final refinement of the saddle is done once the mandolin is strung up.
Here’s the bridge, you can see that I scallop out the front of the bridge; this is to remove some of its extra mass which is gained by making the base wider. Also, I like to have “feet” on my bridges rather than continuous contact. The feet are directly over the top plate’s tone bars.
Make the nut and then………………..



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