Bridges and Bridgeplates
Click here for Slotted Bridges
Click here for an Actual Case Example of a non-slotted bridgeplate
Following are some shots of bridges I've made, bridges in general, bridgeplates, and other things pertaining to bridges and bridgeplates.
First, lets's look at a couple of my own bridges. Above is a bridge that I made from Madagascar rosewood (MRW). It's a replacement for a '52 D-18 which was non-original enough to warrant not using Brazilian rosewood (BRW). As you can see, though, MRW looks very much like BRW.
These are other views of the same bridge. The trickiest part in a Martin-type bridge (for me, at least!) is getting the curve leading up to the top from the wings. Done right, there should be a little "C" shape where the top runs out like little pensinsulas. You also want a nice sharp transisition from the curves to the top. If you sand the bridge, you'll lose both of these, although scraping can be done if you're careful. I think this bridge came out pretty well, although the back is a little more Collings influenced than Martin influenced. Collings tends to round the area behind the pin holes down a little, while Martin tends to bulge up back there. On this particular bridge, the wings are just a little thicker than vintage, again more like a modern bridge. Thicker wings give more strength. I'm trying not to get too thick, of course, but just adding a little bit. Remember, too, that many of the vintage bridges we see today have been sanded or worked on.
Above are two shots of a BRW bridge I made for a '50's D-18. This guitar is also fairly unoriginial, but in this case, I had a pre-cut blank that fit the old hole exactly and I decided to go ahead and use it here.
Here's a side shot of an ebony bridge I made, laid against the original.
In this photo and the ones below, I'm comparing actual vintage bridges against the MRW bridge shown at the top of this page. From front to rear: 1944 D-28 (ebony), mine (MRW), '52 D-18 (BRW), mid-40's D-18 (BRW), modern D-18 (IRW), and '41 000-18. These bridges all have slightly different footprints, wing height and depth, and so on. A couple of things to note, though, are the way the older bridges were rounded at the front and at the ends of the wings. Also keep in mind that playing wear may have softened the wing/top transition on some of these. Look especially at the '41 000-18 bridge.
In the shot above, you can really see where I "Collings-ized" my MRW bridge just a little more than I might should've. It sounds better than way, IMHO, as well as giving a little more palm room, but I can "stink-bug" the bridge if so desired.
Now here (above) is a nice original bridge! <g> This poor bridge is the original bridge on the '52 D-18 above (see MRW bridge at top). It's coated with some kind of epoxy junk. It was coming up in the rear and you can clearly see epoxy smeared all over the backside of the bridge. I took a mirror inside and found.....
....this!!! It's an aluminum plate bolted on to the bridgeplate! Bet THIS does a lot for the tone!
Here's the plate outside the guitar....
This is just a strange D-18! Here's the bridgeplate from this same guitar (above, top) compared to one for a 1936 D-18 that I'm getting ready to install. The X on the '36 crosses just about 1" behind the soundhole and almost 2" on the '52 D-18. This is NOT normal- it should cross closer to 1 1/2" behind. As a result of this rear X, the bridgeplate is amazingly small.
If I line up the pin holes, this is what we get. Wild, huh?
Here's a bridge that has been slotted and in which the low E wasn't slotted enough. It's sticking up and buzzing against the pin. My solution to this is to either enlarge the slot a little or slot the pin slightly. On most Martins the low E is awfully close to the saddle and slotting it the whole way can get it too close to the saddle. So, what I'll do instead is slot the bride a little bit, and then cut a relief groove in the pin, especially up at the top where the pin exits and where the winding is twice as thick. The B-string on this guitar isn't sitting in as firmly as it could, either.