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Round vs flat bridge

Hello to you all,

I've noticed that most bridges has a relatively flat top that is lower on the high e and gets higer towards the low E.
However, my bridge top is round and symmetrical, so basically both low and high Es are at the same hight.
You can see my terrible illustration attached :)

Can you guys confirm that most bridges are similar to "a" (on the illustration)?
And if that's the case, I wonder why it is not the case with my bridge.
I own a guitar by a very respected luthier, so it's hard to believe that this is a mistake.
And yes, I tried to contact him - but it's really hard to get a clear response from him..

Any way.. would love to hear from you guys:
What is the shape of your bridge/what do you think could be the reason for this semmetrical round shape etc..



  • Posts: 3,293
    It has to with the radius of the fretboard. There's a bit of preference by a luthier involved.
    I believe the fretboard on my guitar is flat or nearly so and I had a bridge on it that had a fairly pronounced curve and didn't notice much difference between that and the original bridge which came flat from the luthier. I've seen both on other people's guitars too.
    Here's a discussion that has replies from people more knowledgeable on the subject:
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Posts: 507
    The curve of the bridge should somewhat match the radius of the fretboard, and the bass strings (E, A especially) need more room to vibrate so they have to be a little higher than the high-E side.

    Now most gypsy guitars have nearly flat or totally flat fretboards (especially short scaled, 12-fret grand bouche), their bridges will be nearly flat. Some curve is good for playability, but it's also a personal preference.

    There are many threads on this forum about bridge setup and action height - makes for some interesting reading.
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    edited August 2017 Posts: 1,201

    left, dupont bridge
    right, barault bridge
    more pics (and a video) here


  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    Posts: 109
    I have an older Kinnard-made Dell'Arte and the bridge is pretty sloped like the one in the drawing. I have no idea if it is the original bridge or not, but it fits the guitar well and the action is good across all of the strings.
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    edited September 2017 Posts: 476
    I own a lot of Selmacs and work on them. It's been a long time since I put the radius gauges to them but the common radius on most was 20" (or maybe 16" on a couple of them). So in comparison to a stratocaster they're relatively flat, but close in comparison to Martin's and each other. Martin's are usually 16" radius. Old strats (the extreme) can be a 9" radius. But most steel string acoustic guitar fretboards are somewhere in the middle from flat 0 radius, and fenders. That being a 14" to 20" radius.

    I make my own bridges and personally prefer the low E significantly higher. This makes my bridges virtually straight across the top.
    If you listen to the big name gypsy guitarists though you often hear a lot of string slap on the lower strings. Those bridges are likely curved. If your low E and high E are the same height over the fret board, that would be to much curve for me.
    Each guitarist and each luthier can have they're own opinions and none of them are wrong, just choices. They're preferences are just as valid as anybody else's. Each choice produces a different sound and that means you too can choose how much slap is good for you, regardless of what the guitar costs.
    It's time consuming and a little difficult remodeling bridges (or making them from scratch), but you can always get a tech to do it your way once you've discovered a personal preference.
    I think making these choices about bridges is unavoidable for most serious guitarists and you just have to do it or have it done, or buy a guitar that meets your preference to begin with.
    Finding your preference and not changing your mind will be the hardest part.
    Raising the lower strings (using a flatter bridge) of course means it takes more strength to play, so your not just choosing sound, but changing (a bit) the difficulty of playing as well.
    Really there's no right answer.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • Posts: 3,293
    You're right @Jeff Moore there's definitely some radius when I slide a metal straight edge under the strings. When looking by a naked eye it looked flat to me. But I guess 20" which as you say is the most common isn't very noticeable when sliced and placed across a couple of inches. I'll try to measure exactly next time I'm changing strings.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • edited September 2017 Posts: 3,293
    My quick and dirty radius gauge seems to agree with you.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    edited September 2017 Posts: 476
    Buco, yeah these necks "look" pretty flat. Your gauge is great! That's all the gauge a guy needs.
    Being serious about guitar since I was a kid, I only got serious about maintenance, humidity, and gaining repair skills after I realized (30 years later) how much better they play when could do myself all the things I couldn't bear to pay to have done like bridges, frets, and necks.

    Amir_G. There's a lot of variation in newly built bridges. Most look curved though. I've never seen the one like you described and photographed where high and low E are at equal height.
    I wish I could just describe how I make bridges, but it would need a pamphlet and pictures to do it justice.
    In a current discussion "Using DuPont bridge on Paris swing 39" pickitjohn gives a website for cheap bridges. These might be useful to you to start learning or at least to just test out string heights on your guitar and giving the results to a technician to use to make and install the bridge you want.
    Look here!

    Or you might try a adjustable bridge like this to find in the height you like:
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
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