Optimal Bridge - dimension, position, etc

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MelbourneHot
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Optimal Bridge - dimension, position, etc

Post by MelbourneHot »

It would be of great help if someone could offer a clear advice for bridges on Slemer style guitars... :?:

I have a Dell'Arte 'Angelo Debarre' model. I had it set up a few years ago by a local luthier who is great with acoustic guitars - just had not dome any work with the Selmer style. In short, he filed the bridge (a Bigtone) too low. I said so to him at the time but, though that he knew better. Anyway, it was only a few weeks ago that I've seen a video of Angelo playing his Dell'Arte and I could see just how much taller his bridge is: looks like the Empire State compared to mine...

I will have a replacement bridge soon and my question to luthiers out there to please offer some advice on bridges: dimension, height, positioning, etc., etc. This must be a serious topic and probably hard to answer in a few lines of text but it would be really helpful to get some views, guidance, etc.
Many thanks in advance,
have guitars, will travel!
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maruejouls
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Post by maruejouls »

As a guitar maker specialized in Selmer type guitars, I will try to answer your question.

The bridge is one the most important element of the guitar. If we think of it: the bridge transfer the energy of the stings to the soundboard. Just for this fact the bridge should by given great consideration. The bridge also determine the action of the guitar (distance of the strings in relation to the fretboard), therefore a higher bridge will bring the stings further away from the fretboard.
A high bridge also increase the brake-angle of the strings toward the tailpiece, low brake-angle is not good but too much brake angle is not good either, it increase the pressure on the soundboard but not the sound.
The height of a bridge is determined by the action requested and the neck angle. I would regard a standart bridge to be between 16 mm and 18mm high between the D and G sting's notch with an action (gap between top of the fet and bottom of the string) at the 12' fret of 2.5 mm at treble E and 3 mm at bass E (the rest of the strings are staguered in between). However I have seen fine guitars with bridges 14mm high and some others 22 mm high.

Now having said that, if your guitar sounds good and plays well it doesn't matter how high the bridge looks. if it works, it works.
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MelbourneHot
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Post by MelbourneHot »

Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.
Could I pester you with a few more questions...?

At present my action is too low. Strings slap aggainst the fretboard without too much effort. I compensate by using heavier guage strings like 'John Pearse Silks Medium'. This makes strings feels tighter i.e. more tension and makes the guitar louder.
Also heavier guage strings seem to lift the action a bit - and this leads me to the question of the truss road adjustment...
Given your explanation of the break angle on the bridge and relative string height at the 12th fret - how will the truss road adjustment play a role here?
i.e. if I use 'Gypsy' strings and my current bridge: can truss rod adjustment alone make a difference in string clearance at the 12th fret?
...and can something be said about the break angle of current bridge?
Thanks again for your help. I am learning a lot here!
have guitars, will travel!
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emackenz
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Post by emackenz »

Hi Alec - how's things?
sounds like your regular jams are starting to take off :)
During the colder, drier weather the action of your guitar - an Angelo DeBarre Dell Arte if I remember - will lower quite dramatically. The usual remedy is to shim the bridge - find a luthier - maybe Paul Davies? - who will cut you some thin rosewood shims to slip under the feet of the bridge. As noted, a medium action is a good idea - gives you more dynamic range.
If the truss rod is set at optimum ie straight with a very slight concave angle, then I would be reluctant to touch it just to raise the action. The other thing is to buy a higher bridge eg from Alain at Dell Arte to use until the weather changes :)
Best of luck - hope to see you in November!!
Ewan
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MelbourneHot
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Post by MelbourneHot »

Hi Ewan, and thanks for the advice - a small world!
Alain Cola is sending me a new bridge so I am educating myself a little to make sure that what happened to the original bridge will not be repeated.
I am in Germany now nursing a very sore head after über-indulgence last night. Will be back in Melbourne on Monday and hopefully the 'MelbourneHot' will pick up from where we left it last Saturday.
Alain Cola mentioned to me that he is overstretched this year and would not be able to make it to OzManouche - a pitty really. But I look very much forward to it. Ever since I crawled from under the rock and discovered all these manouchers everywhere - it's been hard to put down the guitar.
Are you still planning to run workshops in Melbourne...?
Best regards, Alec.
have guitars, will travel!
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emackenz
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Post by emackenz »

Alain is planning on coming in 2008 I believe - I'm hoping Paul Davies will come again and Les Dorahy from Byron Bay who makes a truly excellent Selmac.
The plan to do workshops in September has been put on hold - probably sometime after OzManouche now - maybe December - January.
Hope the new bridge does it for ya!!
seeya mate!
Ewan
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