Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Archtop Bridge


bill67

Recommended Posts

My experience is not all that great but based on what I have learned messing around is to get as much volume as an archtop has to give, first, make sure whatever bridge you are using is fit properly. I also found that ebony bridges with small adjustment wheels results in a slower note decay which makes the guitar sound fuller.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The size (length) of the bridge base does not have as much to do with sound transfer as to how and where the bridge sits on the soundboard, and in most cases bigger is NOT better. As ZombyWoof says, it is very important that the bridge base be properly carved to sit snugly and firmly across the arch of the top. But what is most important in vibration transfer is how the base sits over the "tone bars", as Gibson calls the lateral bracing. This bracing is what transfers the string vibrations to the soundboard. The size, shape and fit of these "tone bars" also weights heavily into the equation.

 

One thing you must remember when analyzing the perceived loudness of an archtop guitar... they were designed to PROJECT. The player hears very little of the volume that is being projected outward. Archtops were originally designed to be loud guitars to replace banjos in jazz orchestras and bands, and we all know how loud and obnoxious a banjo is.

 

I have recordings from my basement jamming with two friends. One is playing a brass body pie-pan type dobro, and the other is playing a Taylor flat-top. With a mic just sitting in the corner of the room, my 17" L-7 dominates the recording. With the Count Basie Orchestra, Freddie Green played an 18" Stromberg acoustic archtop. Even sitting in the middle of a 20-piece horn band, you can/could hear every chord strum. Archtops have become known for their unique tone, but were originally designed and marketed for their volume.

 

A few years ago I wrote an article for another (now defunct) guitarists website. It was about the design and construction of archtops guitars as compared to violins, as archtops were originally called "cello guitars". Maybe I can find the article in my files and post it here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In theory, the higher above the sound board the strings are, the louder it is. Violins and cellos are much higher, compared to a guitar, strings. But notice that their bridges are tall and thin, with fairy small feet.

 

It is generally understood that the more massive a bridge is, the less able it is to transmit vibrations from the strings to the soundboard.

 

I am guessing if a big foot bridge is more massive you will hear a reduction in volume and sustain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is generally understood that the more massive a bridge is, the less able it is to transmit vibrations from the strings to the soundboard.

 

I am guessing if a big foot bridge is more massive you will hear a reduction in volume and sustain.

 

That should be the case. Remember, too, that the mass of the glued-down bridge (and the glued-on bridgeplate beneath) have the effect of increasing the mass and thickness of the soundboard, which makes it less responsive. That's one reason that late-60's J-45's, with adjustable bridges, thick tops, and big plywood bridgeplates (instead of small maple ones) often have a "muffled" sound.

 

Plywood is a very good vibration damper compared to solid maple, and you really have to scratch your head about Gibson in the late 60's through the entire Norlin era.

 

As part of its "million mile tune-up" Ross Teigen replaced the massive 1968 plyood bridgeplate and adjustable bridge on my 1948 J-45 with a period-correct belly-up bridge and small, solid maple bridgeplate. Just those two changes (plus some more) made a substantial improvement to the guitar's tone and volume, bringing it back towards its original 1948 character.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.... A few years ago I wrote an article for another (now defunct) guitarists website. It was about the design and construction of archtops guitars as compared to violins, as archtops were originally called "cello guitars". Maybe I can find the article in my files and post it here.

 

I'm interested. B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...