Back to the main bridge page


Here's a report and some photos
from Keith Newell, about his bridges
made from maple and ebony.


On October 7th, Keith wrote:

Hi Red. My name is Keith Newell and I live in Oregon. I have been following with great interest the maple bridge development for the past few months. I have no web-site and the Commando doesnt seem to accept my posts when I try. I was hoping you could print this on your site.

As you can see from some of the bridges in the back-ground that I have tried a couple different ones. The black one on the bench is Slab-cut birds eye maple dyed black to look like ebony. I noticed a slight increase in volume but the tone was so hollow and tinny that I removed it and made a Red maple bridge also shown on the bench. I didnt like it any better than the birds eye one so I cut it down and added a ebony cap to it. The quality of sound seemed better but the volume was gone.

I read others attemps for a few weeks and got the bug to do it again and found in my tool box a piece of what I thought was ebony. I made the bridge shown on the mandolin (yeah yeah no comments on a red mando). I am not going to take it off because wow! volume and great tone! No more tinny sound yet a great clarity of individual string sound. The top vibrates like crazy and the most interesting thing... the sweet spot used to be right at the end of the fingerboard (it is a shorter tail style) and you couldnt move to much or the spot was gone, but now it has a sweet spot over an inch in width with no change in sound.

The bridge is what I think of as ebony, but when sanding and cutting it it produced a grey to purple/blue powder or chips. I picked the piece for a reason, when tapping a bridge blank (I had three band-sawed out from different materials) with a 6" machinist scale the sound of the bridges was quite different. The birds eye maple went "thwack" the red maple went "thannck" and the ebony went "TING". I have a theory about this. The mandolin top moves and vibrates to make the air chamber function as its supposed to. I suspect that maybe a maple tye that has flame in it with soft/hard bands when quarter sawed makes a bridge that the sound still has to travel through different densities of materials so to speak.

My ebony bridge as grain running verticaly and no real soft/hard bands to it so the vibrations travel unimpeded to the top and thus the top can do its job.

If you can print this and my pictures I would appreciate it so much. Feel free to choose pictures that best show what I'm talking about.

Thanks, Keith Newell

(In a second note, Keith described his method for fitting the bridge feet;)

Hi Red. I forgot to mention that I use the bridge sanding tools also shown on the work bench but this is how I do it.

I lay down a sheet of Glad Wrap over mandolins top first, then I cut 3 pieces of paper all progresively smaller and lay them on top in center of bridge area. Then I lay a piece of sandpaper on that and start sanding with my bridge sanding holder. What this does is sand a slighly tighter curve to the bottom of the bridge so when you try it out without string tension the outer tips touch a first on the mandolin top.

When you put the strings on the tension flexs the tips slightly and you still have full contact, but it keeps the tips from rising off the soundboard when under tension.

Thanks, Keith

Keith sent four photos to illustrate his bridges:

picture of bridge on mandolin
picture of bridge on mandolin
picture of bridge on mandolin
picture of bridge on mandolin



Quick shortcuts:

Go back to the main bridge page

Go to Red's CD page

Go to Red's astronomy page

Go to Old English fonts and translations

Go to Red's electronics page

Go back to Red's Home Page

Go to The Murphy Method Home Page to check out our music instruction tapes!