I am having to duplicate the odd three corner pyramid bridges off of the 1920s Stromberg/Voisinet guitars. The prototypes bridges I have been making are spruce (way easier and less expensive for the learning curve) as were the originals that came off of these. My understanding is that Kay only used spruce for all their bridges on their guitars for decades. All of my KayKraft guitars for instance have spruce bridges for example
I have bought quite a few bridge blanks ebony/rosewood and such, but am wondering what your thoughts are on why spruce was never really used for such a purpose. I know the density/strength things about ebony/rosewood already too.
Aesthetics or maybe the extra step needed to color them?
I think you got it first try, Kerry. I've seen a lot of old lower quality instruments with softwood bridges Every one of them that I've dealt with were big and bulky, warped, had misshaped pin holes and deep slots where the strings cut into the bridge. My impression is that the soft wood bridges were cheap for cheap guitars. ( I'm not saying that your Kays were cheap, just saying what I've seen.) I've changed everyone of them so far for a thinner less bulky bridge from harder wood but then I haven't had such a fancy design to replace. O course the new material isn't original but considering that the original is always dyed black so it looks (something) like ebony I don't mind. To me it no different than changing out the plastic bridge on a '60 Gibson.
In the interest of fairness, I should say that it's possible to find "soft" wood bits that are fairly hard, usually heart wood from a particularly pitchy board and I seen some planks from submerged logs that are very stiff. I once made a mandolin bridge from a piece like this as an experimental piece to determine fit and design with the intention of refining it and the duplicating it in ebony. It worked so well that I left it. I did attach a thin strip of ebony on top to carry the strings. I've also seen plenty of maple bridges that worked just fine.
Hmm, I have to admit I never noticed spruce bridges on those guitars. I guess I've always assumed they were maple, birch, or other domestic hardwood, dyed black for obvious reasons. . .
Looks like the original bridge held up ok. How many years kerry ? Must be pushing 80 or 90 years. Kinda makes me want to try a spruce bridge. Good job by the way.
I agree. And even if it seemed to work, when could you say it had passed the test. I have a low end guitar I might try it on, but I wont live long enough to say it was safe to do.
Guys, why? Guitar bridges are load bearing parts of the guitar and are designed to resist wear by strings and the tension on saddles as well as compliment the bridge plate in re-enforcing the relatively weak spruce top etc. Maple and other cheap hard stiff woods are fine, Spruce is probably not.
Here's why it appealed to me.
Different instrument, but the same idea.
Steve, its not the same idea - that's a different system with a tipped/reinforced load bearing area - if you asked me about that specific bridge system you would get a different specific answer. You are comparing apples to oranges. Still, it's a free world brother, tell us how it goes.
Of course i understand the difference. either way, torque or pressure, the strings still have to shake the top. The lighter the bridge the louder it should be. I Built my last mandolin (#24) just because i read Franks story and i wanted to try it. It worked well. That was 15 years ago. I've though about how to do it on a guitar ever since. Then Kerry let us know it had been done and i thought "hey, maybe i should try it".I've seen a lot of ideas over the years to take weight out of guitar tops, and this one looks interesting to me. I'm old and most likely wont get to it, but you never know. I'm still struck by Kerry's picture of a 90 year old spruce bridge that's still one piece.
*apples and oranges compared (not so different)
Tell us how it goes.
It could be years from now Rusty at the speed i go now. I mostly just think about this stuff these days and don't spend much time in the shop. Age is catching up with me. But i still love it. Nothing in the world like stringing up something you built yourself.