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Bill Dailey's maple bridges for mandolin and mandocello



[Bill has just started making bridges, but he's heavily into it. Here are some of his reports.]

Bill's latest update, in November 2005, is at the bottom.



picture of bridge on mandolin

[October 19th, bridge on a Kentucky]

Hi Red,

I recently was inspired by the Frank Ford article to make a bridge for my Kentucky 140S. Since I've been picking banjo for about 50 years now, what else would I come up with but a 3 legged design? I made two of the bridges so far using some tiger maple scraps I scrounged from my brother-in-law who makes tiger maple reproduction furniture.

I must say this bridge brought the Kentucky to at least 150% volume, with cleaner, fuller, more even tones at all spots on the fretboard. It now has a great sweetspot about an inch from the fingerboard. It seems to have much more thunk and bass response too. At a recent jam I drowned out all other mandolins, and had the D-28 thumpers taking notice! (Being a banjo player all those years helps may have helped too)

I'm going to send you some pix via my Kodak Photo program so you can post this design on your website if you wish. I feel it has a very attractive look once it's installed. It all it probably took me 3-4 hours to make the prototype. As you state, once you get comfortable with the tools and know what you are doing it becomes easier. I even talked my wife into buying some soup bones a few days ago so I could get material for making a new nut. That seems to help too! (The soup was mighty tasty too!) I now have a lifetime supply of nut blank material!

I have a couple of friends who want me to make them new bridges now. Maybe I'll even use some of your ideas.

Great website.

Bill Dailey



[October 22th, bridge on an Epiphone]

My friend showed up at our jam tonight with the Epiphone I put the bridge on. The leg of the bridge is settling in and fits all the way across now. It still gives a little when you wiggle it forward & backward. The Epiphone is sounding better too! I'm gonna start using the graduated paper trick! Or I suppose you could carefully sand a whisker off the center bridge leg and get the same result. You might consider making the center leg that way when you install a 3 legged bridge.

[Mass production]

I copied my bridge design on a 1 1/2" block and cut that out on a jigsaw. Then I drilled the holes using a Forstner bit. Now all I have to do is slice 'em off like lunch meat & I'll have 5-6 blanks to work with! That's almost 10 bridges today!

Bill



[October 25th] Hi Red,

So's you'll know I haven't been loafing, last night I fitted your bridge design on my block, compensated it and slotted it for the strings. It will be installed later today when my son gets here to road test my bridge, then yours. He wants me to make a bridge for his mandolin so this will give him a comparison. Your bridge looks really nice once it's completed and sanded out. I wiped a very weak coat of stain on it to bring the grain out and it's kind of a hone color now. I'll give you a full report and photo later on.

[Mass production]

I don't remember if I told you but I clamped a straight board across my band saw table and was able to slice your bridges off a block very easily. There is some surface sanding to do to get rid of the saw marks, but I had 6 blanks in a matter of 5 minutes! (Okay so the last one is a little thin!)

Bill



[October 26th, bridge installed on a Gibson A-model]

picture of bridge on mandolin



Hi Red,

This mandolin was very muddy sounding with the original bridge. My 3 legged installation went very smoothly and I got an excellent fit of the bridge to the top. The curve was off from my fitting block so I had to resort to a lot of trial & error till I got it right.

This mandolin now has bass notes like a mando cello! It is much louder and the notes are crisp and full sounding in all ranges in spite of a set of very old strings. I'd say we made a 40-50% improvement in volume and tonal qualities. I'm gonna keep it around the house for a while to show a comparison of our bridge designs. I'll have to get some new strings! Got any deals??

I'll send a couple pix and a report on your bridge next.

Bill Dailey



[Bill's mandocello bridge, Oct. 27th:]

I just finished installing my 3 legged creation on a Mandocello, Now we need someone to play it to see how it sounds!

I put a light coat of antique maple stain on it. I think the curves & the shape fits the design of the instrument. It sure is bassy & loud now!

picture of bridge on mandolin

 




In November, 2005, Bill added the following:

Hi Red,

Just a week or so ago I reviewed your excellent website on mandolin bridge development. I noted you still had my work from a couple years ago.

After digesting all the newest information, I came up with the bridge pictured for my Kentucky 150. This bridge has approximately 3/4" footprints and a bone strip running diagonally on the top, to handle intonation. It's made of tiger maple, (I have yet to stain or finish it.)

The bridge is quite a bit lighter than the stock ebony bridge with adjustment screws. The mandolin has increased volume along with a very bright tone. It seems much more responsive in all ranges.

Thanks to Dave Tortulette I think the intonation method of slanting the top of the bridge makes a lot of sense. I just sawed a slot about 1/8" deep and glued in a strip of bone. I did all the shaping with my small grizzly 1" belt sander. I think it's a pleasing design for the "A" model.

Bill Dailey

picture of bridge on mandolin



 

picture of bridge on mandolin



 

picture of bridge on mandolin



 


 

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