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2-Ribbon v. 4-Ribbon SJ200 Bridges


Buc McMaster

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There's been some discussion lately concerning the two different bridge configurations found on the SJ200: 2-ribbon and 4-ribbon. There are likely some that may be confused or don't understand the geometric differences between the two with respect to action adjustments possible. (No disrespect to Parlorman!) Hopefully this will clarify things for the unintiated.

 

2ribbon.jpg4ribbon.jpg

 

The 2-ribbon bridge places the pins much closer to the saddle. This placement makes for a steeper string break angle over the saddle than does the pin and saddle positions found on a 4-ribbon bridge, which you can see in the photos is more than twice the distance of the 2-ribbon design. (Yes, the ribbons are missing but you know where they go!) It's this distance that makes the difference in how much saddle lowering can be done while maintaining adequate string break angle. Lowering the saddle in both cases will decrease string break angle over the saddle, but the 2-ribbon setup has a higher angle starting point than does the 4-ribbon. The higher starting angle allows for more saddle shaving to lower action. And here's where neck set angle comes into play. An overset neck (fingerboard angled down and away from the plane of the guitar top) allows for more saddle lowering and better accommodates action adjustment on a 4-ribbon bridge as the steeper neck angle allows for a taller saddle. A shallow neck set (underset) does not leave as much room for a short saddle without giving up adequate string break angle over the saddle. A 2-ribbon bridge better accommodates a shallow neck set angle than does a 4-ribbon bridge. Given the same neck set angle, a 2-ribbon bridge will allow for lower action adjustment than will a 4-ribbon bridge. [cool]

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There's been some discussion lately concerning the two different bridge configurations found on the SJ200: 2-ribbon and 4-ribbon. There are likely some that may be confused or don't understand the geometric differences between the two with respect to action adjustments possible. (No disrespect to Parlorman!) Hopefully this will clarify things for the unintiated.

 

2ribbon.jpg4ribbon.jpg

 

The 2-ribbon bridge places the pins much closer to the saddle. This placement makes for a steeper string break angle over the saddle than does the pin and saddle positions found on a 4-ribbon bridge, which you can see in the photos is more than twice the distance of the 2-ribbon design. It's this distance that makes the difference in how much saddle lowering can be done while maintaining adequate string break angle. Lowering the saddle in both cases will decrease string break angle over the saddle, but the 2-ribbon setup has a higher angle starting point than does the 4-ribbon. The higher starting angle allows for more saddle shaving to lower action. And here's where neck set angle comes into play. An overset neck (fingerboard angled down and away from the plane of the guitar top) allows for more saddle lowering and better accommodates action adjustment on a 4-ribbon bridge as the steeper neck angle allows for a taller saddle. A shallow neck set (underset) does not leave as much room for a short saddle without giving up adequate string break angle over the saddle. A 2-ribbon bridge better accommodates a shallow neck set angle than does a 4-ribbon bridge. Given the same neck set angle, a 2-ribbon bridge will allow for lower action adjustment than will a 4-ribbon bridge. [cool]

 

When did Gibson start offering the 2 ribbon bridge ?

I know most if not all the vintage guitars I've seen ( 38's 40's and 50's) had 4 ribbons

I know in the 60's gibson offered the closed moustache brdige with inlays on the sides.

but I don't know when they first offered the 2 ribbons(1989?) .

 

 

JC

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Thanks for that Buc. I left myself wondering about the difference between the two, but didn't have the time to sit and try and figure out at the moment. I'm new to figuring out the inner working of an acoustic, and that was a big nugget of information, especially considering my entry into the market for a maple guitar.

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When did Gibson start offering the 2 ribbon bridge ?

I know most if not all the vintage guitars I've seen ( 38's 40's and 50's) had 4 ribbons

I know in the 60's gibson offered the closed moustache brdige with inlays on the sides.

but I don't know when they first offered the 2 ribbons(1989?) .

 

The J-200 bridge started to change in the 60s as you've mentions. Not sure about the 70s, but 2 ribbons were definitely available in the 80s. Gibson bounced back and forth on 2 ribbon and 4 ribbon production in the last couple of decades. My 2008 J-200 MC (Standard) has a 2 ribbon bridge.

 

Here's a 1984 add -

 

$(KGrHqR,!qIE8WqlneeQBPPpsTuf!w~~60_57.JPG

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Gibson started using the closed moustache tune-o-matic bridge on the J-200s in 1961. Sometime around 1972 they went to that Dove bridge on the J-200s.

As seen in the ad posted above around 1983 when Gibson for whatver reason decided to try and build guitars more like they used to - they went to the two ribbon bridge.

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No disrespect taken, Buc. The point I had made was not that the 2 ribbon Vs 4 ribbon didn't exist in terms of break angle, just that much had been made of it, this thread being an example, and of the ones I've tried, there wasn't much to worry about. Certainly nothing approaching the angle of the bridge posted in the other thread that was a very very shallow angle. The uninitiated reading that could easily be forgiven for assuming 4-Ribbon bridges should be avoided. I don't believe that to be true, no more so than Action, saddle height and break angle being looked over when buying any model.

 

As a recent owner of one 4-Ribboned guitar (and tester of many), I never saw a single example in my trials that warranted such warning flags. Some sounded better of course, the TV model in particular. As for Neck resets etc... I'd say the Martin crowd have as much to worry about if not more. Based on the threads that appear here and other forums regarding vintage jobs it would seem neck resets are just as much a concern for J-45's and SJ's as the years roll by. Like those, there's always string ramping to consider too!

 

While I would agree that perhaps 3-degrees might be the lower-end of tolerance on these models, general care should see it remain problem free and a neck reset while invasive is not the end of the road, we see threads and guitars every day requiring a fair bit of work to bring back to glory.... your very own J-45 for example, the corrections there are not a 10 minute job.

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There's been some discussion lately concerning the two different bridge configurations found on the SJ200: 2-ribbon and 4-ribbon. There are likely some that may be confused or don't understand the geometric differences between the two with respect to action adjustments possible. (No disrespect to Parlorman!) Hopefully this will clarify things for the unintiated.

 

2ribbon.jpg4ribbon.jpg

 

The 2-ribbon bridge places the pins much closer to the saddle. This placement makes for a steeper string break angle over the saddle than does the pin and saddle positions found on a 4-ribbon bridge, which you can see in the photos is more than twice the distance of the 2-ribbon design. (Yes, the ribbons are missing but you know where they go!) It's this distance that makes the difference in how much saddle lowering can be done while maintaining adequate string break angle. Lowering the saddle in both cases will decrease string break angle over the saddle, but the 2-ribbon setup has a higher angle starting point than does the 4-ribbon. The higher starting angle allows for more saddle shaving to lower action. And here's where neck set angle comes into play. An overset neck (fingerboard angled down and away from the plane of the guitar top) allows for more saddle lowering and better accommodates action adjustment on a 4-ribbon bridge as the steeper neck angle allows for a taller saddle. A shallow neck set (underset) does not leave as much room for a short saddle without giving up adequate string break angle over the saddle. A 2-ribbon bridge better accommodates a shallow neck set angle than does a 4-ribbon bridge. Given the same neck set angle, a 2-ribbon bridge will allow for lower action adjustment than will a 4-ribbon bridge. [cool]

 

Hi. May I ask.

Ive read that all Gibson J200 Necks are set at a specific angle at the factory...at this angle is it possible that the "nearly on the fingerboard" action some prefer is not possible with the 4 ribbon Bridge as a rule pretty much..? Or is it only on the few that Gibson missed the mark on?

Also would the less angle/break of strings result in a noticeably more flexible feel ?

Thanks

Nick

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If you have ever owned an old SJ/J-200 the first thing you will notice is that the suckers are heavy. Not only alot of wood but alot of top bracing and a combination of scallop and non-scallop braces. Add to that that the earliest SJ-200s and those made in the 1950s into the 1960s had a second wide angle brace above the sound hole. It took a bit of digging in to get the best sound possible out of them. You ain't gonna get that big old voice to come out with too low of an action.

 

I would think the two ribbon bridge was based on the same philosophy as the tune-o-matic bridge - to give a modern player what they want which since the 1960s has meant an action as low as you could get on an electric.

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If you have ever owned an old SJ/J-200 the first thing you will notice is that the suckers are heavy. Not only alot of wood but alot of top bracing and a combination of scallop and non-scallop braces. Add to that that the earliest SJ-200s and those made in the 1950s into the 1960s had a second wide angle brace above the sound hole. It took a bit of digging in to get the best sound possible out of them. You ain't gonna get that big old voice to come out with too low of an action.

 

I would think the two ribbon bridge was based on the same philosophy as the tune-o-matic bridge - to give a modern player what they want which since the 1960s has meant an action as low as you could get on an electric.

 

Thanks.

I've never played the original Rosewood J200's..I would have thought they were light responsive things with a thin top..but not so?

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Mind you I ain't claiming to be an expert on how to buoild a guitar. But no guitar in the Gibson lineup has been through more bracing changes than the SJ/J-200. I am guessing it had to do with worrying about supporting that big old top. I have only played one 1940s rosewood SJ-200 and it was decades ago so do not recall a whole lot about it. But they came with two bracing patterns. The first ones had the second brace above the soundhole and then later in the 1940s Gibson went to a single X braced version like the J-100. Sometime in the early 1950s, after Gibson had shifted to maple bodies, they returned to adding the second brace. Gibson, however, still worried about those tops so much in the early 1960s they went and added a nasty floating brace screwed to the top. Then throw the tune-o-matic bridge into the mix and you had the makings for one flippin' heavy guitar.

 

I have to assume thiugh that the technology of guitar building has come a long way over the decades and they can now build a big box guitar that is lighter and more responsive without having to worry about stablizing the top.

 

My favorite J-200s though are those with the second X brace. I assume it is because the added wide angle brace transmits more enegry to a part of the guitar top that does not come into play that much - at least compared to below the soundhole.

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Sometime in the early 1950s, after Gibson had shifted to maple bodies, they returned to adding the second brace.

 

I have to assume thiugh that the technology of guitar building has come a long way over the decades and they can now build a big box guitar that is lighter and more responsive without having to worry about stablizing the top.

 

My favorite J-200s though are those with the second X brace. I assume it is because the added wide angle brace transmits more enegry to a part of the guitar top that does not come into play that much - at least compared to below the soundhole.

 

Aren't the SJ-200TV made with this bracing?

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Aren't the SJ-200TV made with this bracing?

 

I once asked that here and was told that Bozeman did not make a J-200 with that bracing. I may be wrong but believe the J-200s have the lighter advanced single X bracing. I would also guess that all of the bracing is scalloped unlike the old ones which had a mixture of scallop and "arched" bracing.

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I once asked that here and was told that Bozeman did not make a J-200 with that bracing. I may be wrong but believe the J-200s have the lighter advanced single X bracing. I would also guess that all of the bracing is scalloped unlike the old ones which had a mixture of scallop and "arched" bracing.

 

 

I always thought that the J-200TV was replicated from the 50's. So how does the TV vs the Standard differ in the bracing?

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Can't answer your question about difference between the models.

 

The J200 TV is not a spot on reproduction of a guitar from a past catalog but rather a guitar with features from a number of periods. Gibson will, as example, combine the red spruce top of a pre-War guitar with the body depth of a 1950s guitar and so on.

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Nick ,

 

I'm not sure but I can tell you the SJ 200 Tv's are wonderful guitars

you can't go wrong with a well made TV.

I have heard that some Tv's are duds but I would say 90 + percent are consistent and sound great.

 

 

JC

Cheers Juan

They use hide glue on that one I think. And Mr.Ferguson & Gibson believes it makes a distinct impact on the sound.

John Greven the Luthier & ex head of repair at Gruhn says it has no impact..I think I believe Mr.Ferguson.

Your new Golden Age probably will be assembled with Hide Glue in addition to that lighter braced back & great looking historic long headstock..

You'll have a maple one and a rosewood..When you get it and initial shock wears off I will have some questions for you..refering to comparison : )

I was just ready to go ahead on that SJ300 Rosewood that was mentioned...pretty much taking a chance it would be good.. dazzled & going for its looks...and it's more affordable..but I just noticed it does not have ab.inlay around the top.

Less reason to take the chance due to looks(& he has a bid on it already).Oh Well.

I saw a Bozeman Brazilian J200 not that long ago..that sounds interesting but Id have to assemble more cash to consider one of those.

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I have one of each. I feel that the 2 ribbon seems to play a little nice. I had the luthier I use compare and adjust both my SJ300 and the SJ200 to be identical in height. But the SJ200 still "feels" lighter to the touch.

 

Hi

Which of the two J200/300 do you like better.How does the Rosewood guitar compare to other Rosewood J200's you may have tried..Thanks

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I once asked that here and was told that Bozeman did not make a J-200 with that bracing. I may be wrong but believe the J-200s have the lighter advanced single X bracing. I would also guess that all of the bracing is scalloped unlike the old ones which had a mixture of scallop and "arched" bracing.

 

On the J200 Bozeman Prototype I have I think I asked long ago and was told the braces were not scalloped in there.

But the guitar is overall quite light and seems to be braced very lightly as well though it came with Medium strings(most guitars seemed to those days).

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Hi

Which of the two J200/300 do you like better.How does the Rosewood guitar compare to other Rosewood J200's you may have tried..Thanks

 

I like them both just fine, however the SJ200 Custom has abalone binding as well and is I feel too much bling for me. A beautiful piece, just too much for my liking. As far as the rosewood and the maple. Two different animals. Rosewood= heavier bass and sparkling highs. Maple= balanced across the range. It depends on my mood. I love to play the rosewood in drop d tunings. I hope this helps.

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