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New bridge on the Gitane

Having forayed into the gypsy jazz style from playing other jazz styles about a year ago, I purchased my first gypsy jazz guitar---a Gitane DG-255. I've been very satisfied with the tone and I've decided to "upgrade" the tuners and tailpiece.

My question is: How many of you think it is necessary to change the stock bridge on the Gitane? I've been reading on the forums that a new bridge will help the tone open up much more and will eliminate the horrid bass thumping from the stock Saga bridge. If I do change the bridge, is there a way to get one slotted, or pre-made, as I am not very good with tools and I don't trust myself working on a 60 dollar dupont bridge.

Thanks in advance
-Justin
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Comments

  • ShawnShawn Boise, Idaho✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 295
    I've had quite a bit of experience with this, and can say without a doubt in my mind that those Gitane bridges are some of the worst I've seen. Once you change the bridge you'll see both the tonal and volume difference immediately. Also, I think it really depends on your guitar as to what bridge you'll want to get. I have some Selmer's that prefer an Ebony bridge and some that prefer Rosewood...in fact, my own DG255 sounds horrible with a Rosewood bridge, but sings as well as my Dupont with an Ebony bridge. Having said that though, the Dupont bridges that Michael sells are top of the line quality wise (in fact I just bought one from him) and you'll be more than pleased even at $60.

    They really aren't that hard to fit to the guitar...just go slow if you don't trust yourself. I've saved myself literally thousands of dollars over the years learning how to repair, build, finish, etc., and while a learning curve exists, the benefits of learning will prove their worth both in the satisfaction of having learned a new skill and in the monetary sense.

    Shawn
  • dontanmandontanman ✭✭
    Posts: 33
    Thanks alot Shawn...I'm probably going to go with the ebony Dupont bridge and just try to fit it myself. What height would you recommend? I've heard that a #2 is way too high for the Gitanes due to the relatively small neck angle...a #1 or even a #0 perhaps?

    Thanks
    -Justin
  • KarenAnnKarenAnn Virginia✭✭
    Posts: 55
    I bought a new bridge for my Dupont a couple of months ago. I believe Michael had them available pre-slotted. Of course I don't know if you can use it pre-cut on a different model guitar. I got mine un-cut as I was taking it to be set up.
  • ShawnShawn Boise, Idaho✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 295
    If you're unsure I'd choose the higher one just for the fact that if something goes wrong it's always easier to remove wood than to add wood :D . However, also realize that Dupont bridges (as far as I know) are all Rosewood, and when it states "ebony" that just means it has been dyed to an ebony color. The bridge on my Gitane is actually a Dell Arte Ebony bridge, and I tend to like higher action myself so my Gitane has about 5-6mm action at the 12th Fret, which is much higher than most people prefer. I also just bought a new Gallato Modele Noire that has a huge top arch, which basically forced me to get a #4 Dupont bridge (22mm) just because I like the high action.

    Everyone is different, but if you're unsure I'd say a general rule of thumb is to always go one size up.

    Shawn
  • dontanmandontanman ✭✭
    Posts: 33
    Alright thanks alot for the insight...will probably be ordering very soon!
    :D

    -Justin
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    Posts: 476
    Dontaman,

    Wow, I like Shawn's advice. If you learn to set up your own bridges - you'll be better off.
    When you say: I'm not good with tools, I'm thinking, it isn't the tools so much, but the idea of working towards a near perfect string height (up - down), string spacing (side to side), and intonation (towards and away from the neck) means working in three dimensions such that each string slot places the strings apart from each other evenly, up off the frets the amount you want, and each string gets its own position nearer or farther from the neck so that it plays in perfect tune.

    When the bridge comes and you just put it on the guitar and string it up just to see where your at, there are a couple things to keep in mind. 1. There are two ways to lower the action: a. sand the bottom (feet) of the bridge (in such a way as it conforms to the arch of your guitar (not impossible but the most difficult for me) b. Lower the notches or the notches and the adjacent wood of the top of the bridge.

    If your notching or lowering the top of the bridge, keep looking underneath the bridge (its heavily "gouged out" already) and its easy to notch down to far - no more wood - no more notch.

    If the bridge comes un-notched, try laying out the strings across it evenly by eye. You can get both the right spacing between the strings while looking at how the two outside E strings relate to the edges of the fretboard. Its tedious to get the spacing right but not necessarily hard. I discount the width of strings, meaning I measure from the center of each string to the center of the neighbor string.

    Good luck, and if you can have a guitar close at hand with good string height it can act as a reference. If not, and if the guitar your working on has the height you like, find an easy way to keep those measurements or objects (that slip over the 12th fret and under the strings without lifting the string, so that you have a solid reference when your doing everthing else. You can't put the wood back on - only take it off, so go slow, and restring and play it as often as you need to to sequentially be moving things in three dimensions without going to far in any of those three.

    This isn't in any way an exhaustive instruction, just things to think about each time, before you grab the next tool and start working again.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • dontanmandontanman ✭✭
    Posts: 33
    Thanks alot Jeff, that was some really helpful advice. I'm going to use all the advice from this thread along with Josh Hegg's tutorial on how to fit a bridge. Hopefully I'll get it right...I'm just going to take it slow and not rush things. I just cant wait for the tonal difference...I heard it improves tenfold. Maybe my Gitane will sound a bit more like a Selmer now? :)
  • jointbearjointbear New
    Posts: 6
    I shimmed my stock bridge with popsicle sticks when I got my 255 (pretty ghetto, I know, but it works for now!) and I'd say the hight is in between the #0 & #1...a smidge under 17mm. I'm happy with the playability at this hight if it's any help. I'm thinking of doing the swap too, I can't imagine how much an actual hardwood bridge will change my guitar!
    Let me know how your fitting goes, I'm not much of a fine wood-worker either, and I don't think bashing my guitar with a hammer will help much! (just my neighbors)
    Cheers,
    j.
  • jointbearjointbear New
    Posts: 6
    Just a side note:
    was in the bridges section shopping and noticed that this caveat for the dupont : "High quality Selmer Maccaferri bridge made by Maurice Dupont in Cognac, France. Dupont authorizes these bridges for use only with Dupont guitars or vintage French made instruments. Please do not order these for use with guitars by other contemporary manufacturers."

    Any idea why?
  • noodlenotnoodlenot ✭✭✭
    Posts: 388
    because he´s french, oui?

    regarding bridge material, rosewood (if Brazilian - not likely - or east indian - probably so) is less dense than ebony (in general, there are many types of ebonies and rosewoods used in guitar making).
    ebony is also a much more dampening material than rosewood, which is to say it has higher internal friction than (any) rosewood does. in fact, ebony is one of the heaviest and more dampening woods that i know of, while rosewood - although dense - is one of the most "ringier", for lack of a better word -that´s why they make marimbas out of it: if struck it rings and the ring has a long decay time for a material such as wood. this is related to the way the cells grow and the amount of oils and extractives that are present in the wood.

    why is this worth mentioning? because - if both bridges are shaped and hollowed to the same size, and they are - you will have an heavier and more dampening material sitting on the top of your guitar if you have an ebony bridge than you would with a, say, indian rosewood bridge. this will have - all things being equal - a twofold, but concomitant, effect. putting it grossly:

    - increased mass will increase the amount of energy required to put the top in motion (it will lower the output volume for the same input energy), but this will not be balanced across the frequency spectrum; higher frequencies tend to be masked more heavily than lower ones, and so the effect sounds more "bass heavy"

    - increased dampening will cut all the frequencies down (think of a sponge absorbing water), but again the result would be bass-biased, as bass frequencies would need a much bigger object to be absorbed to the same amount of high frequencies

    so, in conclusion and - again - all things being equal, an ebony bridge will equate - although subtly - to a less "trebly" sound (or more "bassy", if you will) than a rosewood bridge will. this gives you the opportunity to balance the sound of your guitars with different bridges, a treat for us selmac owners. it also means that the more mass you remove from the bridge, the more treble-biased your instrument will turn - up until a point, if the bridge becomes too light it will not be able to drive the top properly.

    hope this helps,
    miguel.
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