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Thread: A better bridge?

  1. #1
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    Default A better bridge?

    Is there any advantage to replacing the original bridge that came with the mando?

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    Depends on the original bridge. If it isn't fitted correctly or the slots aren't placed right or whatever you either need to fix the original or replace it. Some people have experimented with different types of bridges and enjoyed the results. Does your current bridge have issues?
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    No issues with either my 1997 Duff or the new Eastman 605. Just wondering if bridges selling for $50.00 and above are worth the money.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    They are if you need one

    My feeling is that if you're looking to upgrade a mandolin for the sound there are other things I would do first.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    No issues with either my 1997 Duff or the new Eastman 605. Just wondering if bridges selling for $50.00 and above are worth the money.

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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    I come from the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp. If there’s nothing wrong with the bridges and you’re generally happy with the sound of both instruments, fitting a new bridge could conceivably make them sound worse. You may be better putting your $50+ towards something else.

  7. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    Hmmmm... is there an echo in here?

    Some bridges might change the tone of your mandolin but, assuming the bridges are all hardwood, the differences would be subtle. It might make a greater difference, for instance to replace the bridge saddle with a harder material such as bone or even metal.

    As far as the OP's comment about price: prices reflect the quality of material and workmanship. You usually do get what you pay for.

    Also, even the best quality bridge if poorly installed will not give satisfying results.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    Duff is a highly skilled builder, and does not skimp on parts or fit. If your Duff has its original bridge, I would expect it to have a very well fitted bridge made out of good dense ebony. The only reasons to replace it would be if the saddle developed a crack or someone has messed with it who didn't know what they were doing.

    I haven't seen a recent issue Eastman in a while, but the older mid and upper level models [500 and above] that I have seen had bridges that were of reasonably good quality.

    If you just wanted to experiment, you could order just a saddle only from Axiom www.axinc.net and put it on the existing base on your Eastman, then report back to us about any differences you notice. I wouldn't monkey with the Duff unless something on it has already been compromised.

  9. #9
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    Changing the strings and/or your pick will probably have a quickly noticeable sonic difference with a minimum of hassle. A new bridge would need to be fitted by a competent repairman. You could easily end up in a worse place if not done properly.

    You might also look as your technique, usually a fair amount of improvement can be had there. Just sayin

    And Duff's are really nice instruments. If it's not better sounding and easier to play than the Eastman, it might need some setup work.
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    If you're talking imported commercial instruments then a bridge upgrade CAN be beneficial. I've been using Cumberland Acoustic bridges with noticable improvement. But, I don't have any bench-made mandolins. I wouldn't worry about it if you have an instrument from a quality individual maker.

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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    Thanks, all, for your comments and good advice.

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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    As long as the bridge you have now is fitted correctly and made of good hardwood, most likely only your dog will hear the difference if you change it.

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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    I had a Cumberland Acoustic bridge fitted to an Eastman 305, and the sound improved - better sustain, fuller middles in the sound. BUT - I don't know whether it was the bridge itself or better quality fitting that did it. I suspect the top carving on this particular Eastman is (accidentally?) asymetric between the bass and treble sides, and the fitter may have managed to fit the new bridge better than the old one to the top.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: A better bridge?

    For what it's worth, just being a hardwood bridge doesn't make everything. Dimensions, density, grain (foot and saddle) etc. all have an effect vibration transmission to the body and also a little on string excitation. Ebony vs rosewood vs walnut and others have different qualities. Upgrading a bridge can definitely create a noticeable difference. That being said, if what you have works and you're happy with it, then it's entirely your subjective decision. Unless you're bridge is really poor quality then it's definitely a good idea! Better bridges will also likely have higher quality hardware which will be smoother and longer-lasting.
    Fiddles are even more sensitive to bridge differences, so it could be worse...

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