Sel-mac bridge designs--traditional to experimental

I'm interested in the various bridges people have put on Sel-macs, and the pro and cons of them. It'd be nice to get commentary on them in one thread, with some pics if possible.

A pic of the bridge on Django's 503 instrument shows the usual bridge with two feet making contact with the top and a carved-out area in the middle, between the two feet, that doesn't make contact.

Birelli has evidently used a couple of non-standard bridges. The first is a bridge with a continuous foot making contact with the top for the entire width. I tried to get a screen capture of this one from the Vienne DVD, but could not. It's clearly visible at the very beginning of Chapter 34 'Les Yeux Noirs' just after he makes the scratching noises with his thumb on the low E string.

Birelli's other bridge is the one with the bone saddle on his Hahl signature model guitar, seen here: ... 174368.jpg

Michael Dunn does something similar on his guitars--in one verison, he only puts the bone saddle under the wound strings:

...on others, he does a full-width bone saddle: ... etcrop.jpg

...and in a third variation, he throws on an ebony and felt string-mute behind the bridge: ... ic2003.jpg

Materials wizard Bob Halo reported that
I just made a traditional styled bridge but I inserted a micarta saddle (it's actually not micarta, but it's chemically similar... so you understand the type of material I'm talking about) and it works fantastic. My guitar (Dell Arte Manouche) has a great "spot-on" dry Selmeresque voice but has always been somewhat reserved... I wouldn't go so far as to say "soft" but it was not a loud guitar.

Long story short - I set up with the new bridge and showed up for my Weekend jam with this thing and was sitting across from a guy I'd not gigged with for several months. As we were warming up he looked over and said: "is that a new guitar? Damn that's loud....

Someone else reported (sorry I can't find the quote) that they like their Dunn, but that it sounded a lot better after they replaced the bone-saddle bridge with a traditional Selmer type--warmer, etc.

Bob, could you post a picture of your "micarta" bridge? I've got a guitar I'd like to get a little more volume out of, and your solution sounds promising.

Anyone else experimented with a hard-saddle bridge on a Sel-mac?




  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    That bridge is somewhere out in the shop and I don't have a handy picture. It's basically like Michael Dunn's "full length" model. You invert th bridge blank and slot it on a table saw with an ultra-thin-kerf blade - then inset a slice of the material using cyanoacrylate - clamp it in all directions so it essentially becomes one with the wood - then carve the bridge as usual.

    I went back to using ebony on that guitar because that particular guitar is already bright sounding. With the added topend whack of the hard saddle, it basically became too treble heavy. I'm keeping it around as I have other guitars on which to install it and am in the process of building a few guitars (a project that stalled when I took a new job a few months back)

    Suffice it to say - if you have a bass-heavy guitar that needs more topend clarity - it's a great thing. Michael Dunn's guitars tend to be dark & bass heavy which is probably why he favors these bridges. Birelli's D Hole would naturally have a smoother sound - so bone/micarta etc.. (but not tusq - too soft) would be good.

    On that Manouche, it became loud, but almost unpleasant as the bulk of the sound was 800hz on up. I love playing the Manouche at home with the ebony bridge. It sounds so "traditional" but it just doesn't have the oomph to sit across from 3 Hommages, 2 Parks, 2 Favinos, 2 Gallatos & a half dozen or so of the loudest Gitanes you'd ever care to lay ears on... which is essentially what it needs to do to jam in Portland on a good night. We have some monster-guitars here - not sure what it is - maybe the fresh Northwest air. So, now I play my Loud-arsed Gitane and have a Park on order. There is good and bad in that loudness thing - my ears ring after a long jam... but the good is that it is absolutely not a challenge to jam acoustic in a fairly loud pub. When I get the Park I may have to sell the Manouche and/or the Gitane.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    Here's a dumb question, although I', afraid I know the answer - why does everyone play so loud? I've always had trouble with accompanists like bassists playing louder than every one else in bands I've been in, I'd hate to see the same thing all over again just acoustically...
  • trumbologytrumbology San FranciscoNew
    Posts: 124
    Elliot wrote:
    Here's a dumb question, although I', afraid I know the answer - why does everyone play so loud?

    It doesn't follow that because one wants a guitar with a wide dynamic range that one wants to play loudly all the time. :)

    "Loud" guitars are often also sensitive guitars (because the tops are very resonant), and it's this sensitive quality I'm after.

    It's kind of like why audiophiles will buy a 200 watt amplifier for their home stereos--because then at medium (ie. sane) listening levels, the amp isn't straining a bit, and the amp can "allow the magic to happen" as it reproduces the music.

  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    Oh, I agree, and it gets more true as you go to nylon strings. My question was more about the social psychology of group jams.

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