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Thread: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

  1. #1

    Default Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Will I be wasting my money? I’m an old tone hound on guitar but a beginner on mandolin.
    Would I expect to hear a boost in volume from swapping out the stock LM500 ebony bridge? Is there any real science behind the idea? Mandolin too cheap to begin with?

  2. #2
    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    FWIW
    I bought a very inexpensive pre-owned Mandolin from Ebay. I suspect it is a Pango due to the features and design of the truss rod and TR cover.
    I had Tyler White replace the bridge with a full contact bridge. The difference was immediate.
    Greater volume and complexity of tone.
    So much so that I said it wasn’t too bad for what it is. Tyler said, “No. It is a good mandolin”. It doesn’t have all the appointments of a much higher dollar mandolin, but it plays well. The neck is a nice profile. The finish is quite thin. The top and back are carved to Loar specs.
    WELL worth the investment on this one!
    Eric Hanson
    Click #016/ Born on 2/29/08 - Sold to the next Conservator of this great mandolin!
    The search has ceased! (At least for now)
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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    The CA bridge will almost certainly be an upgrade. Whether it’s enough of an upgrade to justify the cost will only be known after it’s on your mandolin. I once upgraded to an ebony Stew-Mac bridge from a stock rosewood bridge on my first mandolin, a Kentucky 675-S, and was amazed at the improvement in tone and volume. But, the stock bridge had issues and wasn’t transferring well. If your is fit well to the top and doesn’t have issues otherwise you may not hear a big difference.

    That said, no reason not to hot rod up that Loar!
    Chuck

  4. #4

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    The CA bridge will almost certainly be an upgrade. Whether it’s enough of an upgrade to justify the cost will only be known after it’s on your mandolin. I once upgraded to an ebony Stew-Mac bridge from a stock rosewood bridge on my first mandolin, a Kentucky 675-S, and was amazed at the improvement in tone and volume. But, the stock bridge had issues and wasn’t transferring well. If your is fit well to the top and doesn’t have issues otherwise you may not hear a big difference.

    That said, no reason not to hot rod up that Loar!
    Well, I only spent 300.00 (used) on the thing and I don’t know why they discontinued this model as it has an ebony fingerboard with a factory scoop, great tuners and it’s in great shape, it just seems a little too quiet.

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    "Is there any real science behind the idea?"

    Yes, BUT...
    If you are indeed 'an old tone hound on guitar', then you will know that a certain balance needs to be found involving the mass of the top and bracing vs the strength of the strings. (Just looking at two properties here.) When that balance or sweet spot is found then BINGO, the tone quality appears and probably more volume too. But volume can be subjective.

    My guess is that this Loar has a thick top, not carved to any fine level, so it is 'quiet', or it is not working in a balanced fashion. You can try to change that formula with a new bridge. It might work. It certainly will be different. But a thick and non-responsive box is not going to change a lot.

    (That same bridge on a finely balanced $5000 mandolin is gonna make a change that you can hear right away.)
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  6. #6

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Hmmm… a bit of a toss up. I've only put CA bridges on mid-grade mandos and on those the difference was quite noticeable. Factors involved would include:
    • How well made is the current bridge? Steve only uses top grade ebony and there's no slop in how the pieces fit together (no wobble in the top saddle)
    • How well is the current bridge fitted to the top? This is huge and an area that may be less well attended to on a lower budget instrument. Even the best bridge will sound thin if not well mated to the top. I've read of other players spending four hours to get a new bridge perfectly mated. I can do it in 1/3 that time but I've done a bunch of them and have tools. It is part of the expense/time investment you have to take into account beyond the cost of the bridge.
    • How well graduated are the plates on the instrument? If the top and/or back were left overly thick, then you'll be limited in how much more you can get out of it.

    * One other possibility strings and pick: mando's are quite a bit different than guitars and you have to disconnect your guitar brain when dealing with them. If you don't have medium gauge strings on it, yet start there. The pick may be a big change for you, to move those high tension pairs of strings, you need a substantial pick- think large triangle 1.4 -1.5mm. If you haven't already made these changes, start there before investing in a bridge. Pick in good health!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    "Is there any real science behind the idea?"

    Yes, BUT...
    If you are indeed 'an old tone hound on guitar', then you will know that a certain balance needs to be found involving the mass of the top and bracing vs the strength of the strings. (Just looking at two properties here.) When that balance or sweet spot is found then BINGO, the tone quality appears and probably more volume too. But volume can be subjective.

    My guess is that this Loar has a thick top, not carved to any fine level, so it is 'quiet', or it is not working in a balanced fashion. You can try to change that formula with a new bridge. It might work. It certainly will be different. But a thick and non-responsive box is not going to change a lot.

    (That same bridge on a finely balanced $5000 mandolin is gonna make a change that you can hear right away.)
    I certainly appreciate your input but my feelings
    would be hurt if I bought a finely balanced 5000.00 mandolin and it came with a crappy bridge. Maybe you mean if my current bridge was installed on the expensive mandolin, I would hear a difference?
    Maybe I’m trying to polish a turd. Who makes a good turd polish these days?

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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    On my old Kentucky J75 gauge strings made a huge difference, as it was also overbuilt and needed the heavier strings to drive it. I’ve also been trying some new picks lately, just for fun, and have found acrylic picks to be brighter and louder than my beloved Bluechips (which remain my favorite). V-Picks and Gravity picks can be found pretty reasonably...nfi, ymmv, etc.

    Nice deal on your Loar!!

  10. #9

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    I replaced the bridge on a LM 500 that had a sagging saddle with a new CA bridge.
    The Loar's bridge wasn't well fitted to the top, and I fit the CA bridge meticulously. However, the tone didn't improve and in fact sounded tighter/thinner with the CA. Probably something to do with the mass/density of the ebony.
    I've used CA bridges on other mando's with much better results.
    YMMV.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    I put a Stew-Mac ebony bridge on our son’s 310f “The Loar” and it made a noticeable difference. But, as another mentioned, it was replacing a bridge with some issues (sag). Fitting is critical and takes time, too. But these (grade of) instruments are quickly made and the tops, regardless of marketing description, not really hand carved in the same way as instruments costing much more. Personally, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on something like a Cumberland.

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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    I just had one a Cumberland bridge fitted to my Eastman 305. It made an appreciable improvement to quality and evenness of tone and playability, so it was well worth it. I wouldn't say it upped the volume much on mine, and I don't know how much was the bridge and how much a better bridge fit, or whether it would work like that on all comparable mandolins. But how much are those bridges, $55? My mandolin is about $500 new, and I recon it could now give a much more expensive instrument a good run for its money (nothing really fancy, but good enough). For $55 plus fitting I reckon it's a no-brainer try unless your instrument already has a first class bridge on it, or something that makes your local tech say "This is never going to go because...".

  13. #12
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    For me, it's a no brainer, I'm happy with my stock bridge.
    Let's boil it down, a piece of wood and 2 posts, and a tight fit, how much of a variation can there be?
    2020 The Loar Supreme LM700 VS

  14. #13

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Quote Originally Posted by J Mangio View Post
    For me, it's a no brainer, I'm happy with my stock bridge.
    Let's boil it down, a piece of wood and 2 posts, and a tight fit, how much of a variation can there be?
    How much variation can there be between different pieces of wood? I’d think that anyone who spends time playing acoustic instruments would realize there’s a lot of variation. If there weren’t, all instruments built the same way from the same materials would sound the same.
    Soliver arm rested and Tone-Garded Northfield Model M with D’Addario NB 11.5-41, picked with a Wegen Bluegrass 1.4

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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    One would hope they would.
    2020 The Loar Supreme LM700 VS

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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    In my experience, instruments (bowed or plucked) made to the same design out of similar wood can exhibit a very wide range of quality and style of tone. What appear to be small details like the bridge fit and it's precise dimensions can make the difference between an indifferent mandolin / violin / whatever and a really nice one. That's why luthiers that build a reputation for consistency are so sought after - it's possible to make a fine looking instrument out of very expensive tonewoods and strictly to exact plans that just doesn't work right for no obvious reason- other than perhaps the maker missed some quality of the wood which required him to vary the thickness or arching of the top or something like that.

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Quote Originally Posted by J Mangio View Post
    For me, it's a no brainer, I'm happy with my stock bridge.
    Let's boil it down, a piece of wood and 2 posts, and a tight fit, how much of a variation can there be?
    Read the rest of this thread for an answer to your question.

    Or the myriads of other threads on the subject.

    But I'll also answer your question: a lot.
    Chris Cravens

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  21. #17

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Well as to variables in Ebony, I was a jeweler, in a former life and in the 70’s I made some silver jewelry that incorporated black ebony and in those days ebony was black as coal without the need of dye and it was hard as hell. I’m afraid those days are gone forever.

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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Violin repairers appear to be able to find that coal black ebony, Oldblues - but it does cost £££s, even they are offering alternatives, and who knows, maybe now we have black dye that doesn't wear off I rather like the look of some stripey ebony, but I don't know whether it has the same acoustic properties.

  23. #19

    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Violin repairers appear to be able to find that coal black ebony, Oldblues - but it does cost £££s, even they are offering alternatives, and who knows, maybe now we have black dye that doesn't wear off I rather like the look of some stripey ebony, but I don't know whether it has the same acoustic properties.
    I too wonder about the acoustic properties of hard and softer grades of the same wood species.

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    Default Re: Cumberland bridge on Loar LM500 ?

    My first good mandolin was the Loar A style, the top of the line A at the time (2016), I agree with the user above that thinks they're carved with thick tops and thick finish. If you have a pro luthier look at the stock bridge, fit the base nicely, make sure the saddle is tight on the screws, file the slots nicely, get intonation right, that's probably about as good as it gets.

    (I'm a big fan of Cumberland bridges, I just sent a mandolin off to Hendersonville 45 minutes ago).
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