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Gibson Acoustic Bridge Vote


jibberish
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We all know that folks should buy the guitar that sounds the best. So, yeah, this is hypothetical.

All things being equal, if you were to search for a vintage Gibson acoustic, what bridge would you put at the top of your list?

Another way to ask: Suppose in your search you had to check the boxes for all of the many appointments/designs of Gibson acoustics. What would you request for the bridge?

A) belly up

B) belly down

C) plain rectangle

D) i never even noticed that bridges are different throughout the years, so pick for me

 

(and yes, there are other bridges not listed here. those will be part of a future question)

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To my eye the rectangular bridge is the most visually appealing, never owned one though.  I personally contend that the 'belly up' bridge is key to the Gibson sound, separating it from the Martin 'belly down'.  Due to the different positions of the pins and saddle relative to the shape of the bridge, the top is loaded differently between the two designs, creating pretty distinct tonal difference............my two cents worth, anyway........

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I think you need to add another factor, the bridge plate. Most of the older guitars tried to use a plate that somewhat matched the foot print of the bridge which minimized the effect it had on the movement if the top of the guitar. You can buy a new reissue or whatever they name it with the smaller rectangular (1” x 6”) bridge but it may have a plate that’s twice as wide that changes the sound. That’s one of the factors that separate the builders that take that extra effort to duplicate the vintage sound. 

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Plain rectangle as on my J35 looks good., because it is so simple.

There is another rare bridge on the SJ100    1941 reissue - or the dove, bought are quite thick.

At the end of the day I do not really care about the bridge if I like the sound. Dave F´s post leads to some interesting physical background.

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I do not give much of a fig as long as it is not one of those bizzaro wrap around bridges that builders like Regal and Kay had a thing for in the 1940s and 1950s.  Other than the only thing I have learned is that when it comes to floating bridges go with an ebony one.

I do have a question though.  Why did Gibson make the low end side of the rectangle bridges thicker than the treble side?  I assume it had to do with wanting to solve some kind of an engineering problem but what that could have been I do not have a clue.

Other than that, Dave F. is spot on.  When it comes to sound it is not the bridge but the pate which comes more into play.  Size matters. 

There is also a science which intricately ties break angle of the strings to the height of the saddle combined with distance between the saddle and the pin holes.   

Edited by zombywoof
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8 minutes ago, fortyearspickn said:

Based on a close reading of the OP's question -   it the tone is not the issue/question - then visually, the Belly Up just seems more balanced. 

First, THANK YOU for reading closely! Sometimes it's like Whack-A-Mole around here trying to ferret out the people that just love to hear themselves talk (errr, type).

Second. yes visually is correct. However, I was curious to see if anyone would say:

"I believe less bridge is the best chance for greatest sound. I may be wrong. But my search would BEGIN with a rectangle bridge."

or

"I like the belly, however, I believe the best chance for greatest sound means less wood from belly to bottom. So I'd begin my search with a belly UP, so as not to have more wood below the pins."

Dave F brought a point I had never considered nor heard of, about bridge PLATE shape and size.

Thanks again 40yrspickn!

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12 hours ago, jibberish said:

Dave F brought a point I had never considered nor heard of, about bridge PLATE shape and size.

 

One of the most common changes you will see with Martins built from 1968 into the mid-1980s is to swap the oversized rosewood bridge plate for a traditional size maple one.  Gibson went the same route went they went with the oversized laminate plate in 1961 which I assume was needed to support the heavy ADJ saddle bridges.  I believe though Gibson stuck with a larger plate even after they went back to the simple pin bridge.   When it comes to bridge plates size matters.

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On 12/9/2021 at 5:21 PM, jibberish said:

First, THANK YOU for reading closely! Sometimes it's like Whack-A-Mole around here trying to ferret out the people that just love to hear themselves talk (errr, type).

 

The question is: why do you care what other people think about the look of the bridge? I could understand if you wanted to know about sound or durability, but if you are looking for a vintage acoustic, are you really going to choose based on what people here think looks best? 

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To me the nicest feature of any Gibson Acoustic is the Belly Up Bridge! It attracted me immediately over all others. Add the iconic white ball Gibson bridge pins, and those two beautiful inlaid Mother Of Pearl dots flanking those iconic white ball pins...on that unique belly up bridge...and what you have is a guitar different from any other in the world. ...You have a Gibson!

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I likely don’t know one bridge from another.  Actually, I know very little about the various details of a guitar.  If I like a guitar I’ll continue to play it and what someone else may think of it’s tone, volume, looks, bracing,  playability doesn’t matter.  So long as I like it, I’m satisfied.  I am somewhat envious of the people in here who know and understand all the technical stuff.  There are others in my “playing circle” that also know a lot about guitars.  I depend on all of you when I’m looking for advice..  I’ve glued down a couple bridges (on a Garrison and a Guild), but I’m primarily a “change the strings, wipe-off the guitar, and change the battery” guy.  Anything much beyond that and “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it”…….lol

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I've always loved the look of the belly up, personally.  I didn't come into playing acoustics as I was a punk kid, but all of the players/songwriters who were playing acoustics all seems to favor old J-45s so the belly up look was just something I was drawn to.  Martins with the belly down seemed to be what the fancy player were playing, so I just felt drawn to the belly up look.  The question was about pure aesthetics, which is a totally valid question in my opinion.  Sound is always first, but the question was, all things being equal which would you prefer, and I prefer the belly up look.  The 50's J-45 I ended up with (see that story elsewhere) was chosen for sound, looks, and the chunky neck I wanted, so I think it's really about all three of those to find the guitar that's right for you.

 

Belly up, batwing, big fat neck is my vote.

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45 minutes ago, chasAK said:

For the J45 and other slops I like the looks of the belly up.

Sure - though a rectangular Banner-style bridge suits them too. 

Apart from that you hit the essence : No sense in just pointing out a bridge without mentioning the model.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I like b-up (something I learned after 20 years behind a Martin) - but not on a Dove. 

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50 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

Sure - though a rectangular Banner-style bridge suits them too. 

 

50 minutes ago, E-minor7 said:

 I like b-up (something I learned after 20 years behind a Martin) - but not on a Dove. 

Agreed on both.

Tom you're a hoot!

My j45 is an August 08 build just before they changed over from the MC to the Black nut Standard of today.  I put a batwing pick guard on it. I would like to change the groovers to creaming white button but the groovers are working fine. It has a rich mellow tone that also knows how to growl. The highs are sweet as opposed to harsh.

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