Is less weight on the guitar top better for tone/volume? Luthiers help me!


I have an oval hole gypsy jazz guitar handmade by my local luthier, and it sounds amazing! The thing is, the bridge was also handmade by my luthier, and it is walnut wood. I was recently interested in buying a dupont bridge here in DjangoBooks because people say these bridges really change the tone for better. When I asked my luthier, he thought that it wouldn't be the best idea, because the dupont bridge is made of rosewood, which is a much heavier wood than walnut. He explained me how less weight on the guitar top is the ideal thing for a better tone, but then I don't understand why the high quality bridges like the dupont one is made out of rosewood. I also was recomended to remove the tailpiece insert from the guitar, because again, less weight is better (and the guitar really gained harmonics/volume after removing the tailpiece insert). But using the tailpiece insert is the most traditional thing to do, so it confuses me a bit.

Could any luthiers or people who know about this subject explain me about this? I just would like to know, if less weight is better, why the most premiun bridges, tailpieces seem to be the heaviest?

Any clarification would be of great help!


  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 470

    There is no one rule that holds all the time. Different woods have different properties in addition to their density (weight) -- e.g., stiffness and dampening. The lightest wight on the top is a banjo, but the sound is different.

    Rosewood has less dampening than walnut, so pound for pound you'd expect more treble to make it through to the top. Etc., etc.

    However, bridges are relatively cheap, so you can experiment!

  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited July 2022 Posts: 1,457

    I'm not a luthier, but the hardness is also a factor. I think walnut is a softer wood? So it might be less efficient at transmitting vibrations, absorbing some high frequencies. And perhaps you have to build the bridge thicker to get the same strength, too, so maybe the weight doesn't even reduce. Just guessing here.

    Anyway the Dupont bridges are relatively inexpensive, so you may as well try it out and see. It's not like a major job or anything, you can just slot it and swap it out yourself in a couple of minutes.

  • ChristopheCaringtonChristopheCarington San Francisco, CA USANew Dupont MD50, Stringphonic Favino, Altamira Chorus
    Posts: 187

    The main thing I'd be worried about is getting the Dupont Bridge setup correctly on your top. Making sure the feet are properly leveled on the guitar top so to not add pressure points, string spacing evenly for your guitar, height, etc.

    Having a badly setup guitar is going to impact your tone and playability more than the wood type.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    Less weight = more volume. Probably affects tone as well. Like Wim said stiffness is also a factor. Not sure how your particular piece of walnut is stiffness wise. Even within a type of wood stiffness varies wildly. Basically you want light and stiff.

  • richter4208richter4208 ✭✭✭
    Posts: 524

    I'm mean no offense by this but......your guitar sounds amazing and you want to change it? It's a rabbit hole, depending on your chops and practice schedule I'd just put some time on the instrument and get to know it better before changing it.

  • Posts: 75

    Yeah, I agree 100% with @richter4208 -- why would you want to mess around with your guitar if it already sounds amazing? I also feel like bridges should only be changed if projection is an issue (and a serious one at that) and/or if it's fretting out too much, which is usually more of an issue with guitars that don't have truss rods. Regardless, this post seems like a good reminder that we as guitarists often times get too distracted by nitpicking minutia to see/hear the proverbial tone through the trees lol

  • juandererjuanderer New ALD Original, Manouche Latcho Drom Djangology Koa, Caro y Topete AR 740 O
    Posts: 205

    A different bridge will change your guitar's overall sound for the better except when it won't.

    If your guitar sounds amazing as is, leave it be. Maybe experiments with strings and picks.

    If you want a different sound out of your guitar; get a different guitar.

  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 654

    I'm a tinkerer and always think that I can make improvements on anything, guitar, amp, motorcycle, whatever. This bridge and tailpiece were made for a maple Saga. The bridge was originally all wood, but did not improve the sound, so I put the bone saddle on it. That did not especially improve the sound either. The tailpiece was a design prototype for an adjustable length tailpiece that I never got around to building. I wish I had tried this type of bridge on a guitar that didn't sound this bad to start out with. That guitar was weird, when you picked it up by itself it sounded OK, but next to a good guitar, no thanks.

  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 654

    I made this bridge for my mid-80s Favino, a guitar with a dark and ringy tone with it's original rosewood bridge. This was the last of several bridges I made for that guitar, using different ideas I had, and it worked pretty well for me. I liked the essential dark tone but wanted to air out the sound a bit. I played fairly far from the bridge near the center of the sound hole and this bridge gave me almost exactly the tone I wanted. It was structurally sound and did not deflect much under a load, and I always intended to make an even lighter bridge by opening up the slopes above the feet and removing even more wood, but because I liked this one so much I never got around to it. The guy who bought the guitar put the original bridge back on it, though.

    I guess the point here is that there's no harm in swapping a bridge or otherwise trying out new things. Sometimes they work and sometimes not, but the process is always fun.

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