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 Post subject: Acoustic bridge wood.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:55 pm 
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Walnut
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Hi all. I am trying to learn all I can about repairing and building guitars. Which is the purpose of this post.
I have read quite a bit on guitar building and repair. And I follow all forums that discuss it.
Everything that I have read about bridge material talks about ebony or rosewood. I am wondering if walnut would work for an acoustic bridge.
I understand that the material used must allow the transfer of sounds or vibration to flow through so to speak. Does walnut inhibit sound vibration.
All response's appreciated.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:24 pm 
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The only thing I'd worry about is the high E string digging into it over time.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:48 pm 
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You think it's too soft?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:42 pm 
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Ricklt wrote:
You think it's too soft?

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I wouldn't think so, but there are many other factors that play in as well. I do prefer a very hard dense wood for bridges as well as backs and sides which both Ebony and Rosewood are. I've never used it but some have mentioned desert ironwood as well. For me the dark black or dark brown is also something that I'm accustomed to, although any wood can be died black.

However, for my purposes I wouldn't use a dampener like maple or walnut unless I was building a guitar for jazz or some other genre that requires very little sustain and more attention to individual notes as sustain will get in the way of changes in key or non standard chord changes. Generally jazz players want quick note deadening bright instruments.

I don't really play that way anymore though so the choice me (fingerstyle- usually alt tuned to a chord) are woods that resonate well with a lot of sustain and I want to build a sound in that key and expand on it with each additional note played, which will also resonate and contribute to the overall feel and direction of the tune being played.

In most cases there isn't really a good or bad wood for (from the widely accepted choices) outside choosing an appropriate wood to suit a specific need, although I'd go with a bridge plate that isn't prone to cracking or soft enough to have the balls at the end of the strings indent. Other than that the differences may be subtle but that is the point of doing what we do- to squeeze every advantage out of each material in order to create the most effective tool (the instrument) to get the best and most satisfying result that a particular style or player demands.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:55 pm 
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Walnut
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How do you know which wood's will dampen and which resonate more? This is actually I guess what I'm trying to learn.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:18 am 
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Ricklt wrote:
How do you know which wood's will dampen and which resonate more? This is actually I guess what I'm trying to learn.

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You and even the most seasoned, experienced Luthiers.

This is where tradition can be helpful. Based on tradition and now personal experience some of the more resonate bridge woods IME are:

BRW
Honduran rosewood ( a favorite of Don Williams and I)
Cocobolo
EIRW

Some of the less resonate are:

Ebony

Of course there are MANY other choices but if you are new to this I would suggest following a model that works well for other as you learn more about construction. We all wanted to build a better mouse trap out of the gate but there are WAY too many basic woodworking issue to master on the early builds.

I'll add that bridge design is every bit as important. If you want a less dampening bridge use a less massive design WITH less dampening wood.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:36 am 
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Walnut
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Thanks for the input. I love this forum. Everyone is great and I am learning.

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These users thanked the author Ricklt for the post: Hesh (Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:12 am)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:04 am 
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Hi Rick, welcome.
As far as how resonance a wood is and what it will do for a guitar bridge, I lean toward experience (past successes and failures), rather than a set of numbers to tell me which would be best.

I've used everything from African blackwood, BRW, and ebony to fairly light EI Rosewood for bridges and they all seem to work fine on the instruments they were designed for. My favorite these days is bois de rosewood.

There are many factors that I'm sure you are aware of that influence how well a bridge will work. Not the least of which are weight, size, and footprint of the bridge, as well as size, weight, stiffness of the top, and contributions made by the back, (active or passive)

If you lean toward the scientific analyze of the guitar, there are many articles and books that will take you in that direction. One that comes to mind is the Trevor Gore set of books. There have also been some in-depth discussions here that are in the archives.

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These users thanked the author Joe Beaver for the post: Bri (Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:20 am)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:57 am 
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IIRC Trevor Gore and Al Carruth have both used walnut for bridges with success. Maybe they will chime in here. Some pieces of walnut can be more dense than others so walnut could work well especially with a pinless bridge where string wear might not be so important. As was noted it's use might be best determined by musical genre. As far as damping goes I have some old black walnut that rings almost like rosewood.

Another wood to try would be osage orange which is about as dense and hard as rosewood with similar acoustic properties. It can be darkened.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:50 am 
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I've used all sorts of wood for bridges, amongst them lots of different rosewoods, a few different ebonies, bloodwood, Aus. blackwood, padauk, meranti, Queensland walnut, and of course American Black Walnut. Nobody would be able to pick which was on what guitar.

I use A.B. walnut frequently, because I like low mass bridges, and walnut has a suitable balance (in the right design) of strength, stiffness, hardness and density. The bridge is in the center of the most active part of the guitar and undergoes the greatest accelerations. It makes sense to make it low mass so that it is easy to accelerate and therefore radiate more sound (sound radiation is proportional to acceleration). The damping of a reasonable bridge material doesn't seem to feature in the mix because a lot more things add to damping above and beyond the effect of the bridge, like the current relative humidity, the age of your strings, the quality of your glue joints etc. etc..

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These users thanked the author Trevor Gore for the post: dpetrzelka (Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:16 am)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:13 am 
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I've used walnut and maple before for bridges. This was before I 'knew' what I was doing and just made those choices purely on the aesthetic. The maple does look pretty cool on a mahogany top, for example. But in the end though, they still sound like guitars ;) I've even used white oak for bridges.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:12 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Maple is used for millions of violin family instruments among others.
I believe Ovation used walnut for their bridges.
I like African blackwood for guitar bridges but will use several different woods depending on the type of instrument.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:21 pm 
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"I believe Ovation used walnut for their bridges."
Not necessarily a recommendation.......

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These users thanked the author Colin North for the post: Bryan Bear (Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:30 am)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:03 pm 
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Ricklt wrote:
You think it's too soft?

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Possibly. But even if it is, you could glue an ebony insert in the high E string hole to protect the bridge from it, and then it would be fine.

Ricklt wrote:
How do you know which wood's will dampen and which resonate more? This is actually I guess what I'm trying to learn.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

Smack it and listen. Hold lightly at the "marimba bar" node for best effect (around 1/4 to 1/3 along the length of the piece, just hunt for the point that rings the longest). I usually use my right pointer finger knuckle for tapping bridges, but a little wooden mallet would probably work even better.

IME, nylon strings work best with all low damping materials, whereas steel strings can work (or fail) with almost any combination.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:03 pm 
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Rick- you can read an interesting discussion of damping in stringed instruments here: http://www.liutaiomottola.com/myth/damping.htm

It doesn't answer your specific question about damping in a walnut bridge, but it presents a bunch of good considerations for thinking about damping in general.


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