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Wraparound Bridge In Wood.


Blackdog
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While the finish on my first build cures I'm thinking on doing crazy things. Like maybe a PRS style wraparound bridge carved from wood ??

My idea is to pretty much replicate this one-piece aluminum fixed-intonation bridge in some hardwood, but still use the normal metal posts to anchor it to the body and set screws to adjust overall intonation.

Do you think it might work ??

I can make it out of ebony (but I would have to glue two pieces together to get the required thickness), out of indian rosewood (one piece) or out of flamed maple (one piece).

What would you use ?? I'm inclined to say rosewood as one piece would be preferrable and goes better with the cosmetics of the guitar. Comments ??

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You know me, I'm a big fan of weird ideas.

So, how about taking WezV's idea one step further-- set the bridge into the guitar. That way you'll catch all kinds of good vibrations. In that case, I'd make it a string through, kind of like a trem block. You'd be able to eliminate problems with the posts. And as long as you've measured correctly, you shouldn't need to move the bridge about, but there might be a way to accommodate that.

I'd go with ebony too, and use a laminated design.

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There's a major, significant difference between a wooden wraparound (torsional and longitudinal forces) and an archtop-style wooden bridge+tailpiece combo.

I'd worry (a lot) that the wood might break/fail at the studs, regardless of whether it's locked into place or not, with a bridge that small. each string hole is also a weak spot. Inlaying metal the full length might work (ie, let the metal take the contact points and distribute the stress along a wider/longer glue line).

You're giving me some interesting ideas I may have to try out, though. Hope you don't mind!

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There's a major, significant difference between a wooden wraparound (torsional and longitudinal forces) and an archtop-style wooden bridge+tailpiece combo.

I'd worry (a lot) that the wood might break/fail at the studs, regardless of whether it's locked into place or not, with a bridge that small. each string hole is also a weak spot. Inlaying metal the full length might work (ie, let the metal take the contact points and distribute the stress along a wider/longer glue line).

You're giving me some interesting ideas I may have to try out, though. Hope you don't mind!

i think it would have to be made oversize to compensate for the weakness around the studs and the extra depth from making it contact the body woud give the string holes a better chance of survival if they are positioned correctly.

Not sure if this is meant for a carved top guitar, if so it could still be done and teh bottom would have to be sanded to shape the way an archtop bridge is and it would need a bit more carefull planning

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See, having it contact the top sort of negates the usefulness of having a stud-mounted bridge. The whole point is to make it height and intonation adjustable.

Ebony can work fine with strings, but will wear faster than steel. Plenty of archtop bridges made with ebony saddles, and some guitars have ebony nuts. I'd prefer bone, though, personally.

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I'm mainly thinking that it could be replaced with a standard wraparound bridge if the posts are incorporated, but if its something someone wanted for good they are fairly redundant

I am not really thinking about the tonal benefits (if there are any) of having the bridge touching the top. the reason i drew it that way is i feel it solves another strength issue, firstly by having more wood and secondly by negating the need for the wood to be stiff enough to be suspended between the posts - now it just needs to resist string wear and be able to hold onto the posts.

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I made a couple of wooden wraparounds, both were good experiments, but eventually failed. The first one, the grain suddenly split along the length of it as I tuned the last string from d to e, if i used a standard string set, it probably would have lasted a while. But I think I had .012-.050's on that guitar, which aren't exactly 9's . Was fine till that last string, I even stressed it to check, which in hindsight wasn't the best idea. That was made from an un identified australian timber. I believe a eucalypt of some sort.

The second was sapele, it was okay, actually sounded good on the guitar, better than the aluminium one I had. It proved a theory I had. But after a series of impossible events, that guitar fell from quite a height, face down into a pool of dog urine, and well, nothing fares too well from that treatment.

As far as strength goes, you'd be best doing it with tonepros studs, and having a hole for the stud, instead of the U shaped cutouts the bridges normally have. I think I saw a Thorn guitar with one like that. With the u shaped cut out there's ALOT of endgrain in vital places.

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The first one, the grain suddenly split along the length of it as I tuned the last string from d to e

So from your experience do you think that having it thicker and touching the top of the guitar would help prevent the tendancy to split by making it better bale to resist the downward pressure of the strings - i think i might try this at some point

As far as strength goes, you'd be best doing it with tonepros studs, and having a hole for the stud, instead of the U shaped cutouts the bridges normally have. I think I saw a Thorn guitar with one like that. With the u shaped cut out there's ALOT of endgrain in vital places.

yeah, thats why i mentioned the tonepros as well - for those that dont know the top comes off tonepros studs so the bridge could fit over them and then be locked into place... and if you matched the spacing of an existing bridge you could swap between the two!!!

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I've never used actual tonepros studs, but I had some from a wilkinson wraparound, which I think work the same way. I think they can be used with thicker "wings" on the bridge, as long as there is enough thread on the top half of the post. I would take the thickness up a little, but a good hard wood should be able to take the tension at standard tailpiece thickness. I think most people use 9's or 10's, so for them, I don't see any troubles, the strings I use have pretty hefty cores, and I think that adds even more tension than most.

Also I think that the thorn bridge used that acrylic impregnated stuff too. Don't know a whole lot about it, but I imagine its stronger for the softer timbers.

The most important thing I found was getting a good tight fit on the posts, if the wings are too thin, the bridge leans forward/up from a loose fit, it places the force over a much smaller area as only the edges of the posts will contact the wood, I broke one bridge that way.

For now I've put the idea on the back burner. I use pretty heavy strings, and I'm not sure how long a wooden bridge will last with them. I have better things to do than carve out more bridges at about 3 hours a pop just for an experimental guitar that's already proved a theory.

I also upgraded one cracked bridge with squares of sheet brass on the top and bottom of the wings. That greatly strengthened it in a very weak point. But just wasn't the look I was going for.

In regards to string mounting, I was counter sinking holes on the under side, and slotting through the back edge so they could wrap around. To prevent the string balls biting in I then flooded the holes with CA.

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Lot's of interesting discussion on the subject here.

Thanks for the feedback, obviously it is an interesting idea after all.

Of course the challenge would be to do a drop-in replacement for an aluminum wraparound. It's got to be practical, so using the existing posts for adjusting action and set screws for intonation should be the way to go.

I still don't get the feeling that an ebony piece would be much more fragile than aluminum. In terms of string anchoring it is not much weaker than some ebony tailpieces used on jazz-styled guitars. Myka latest example (the 335-ish spruce topped hollowbody) comes to mind.

Wouldn't having the grain of the ebony running perpendicular to the strings make for a strong enough piece ?? Locking posts or at least tight fitting "ears" to distribute the torsion forces over a surface as large as possible are probably a must.

I think I'm going to give it a try. It will be a two-piece thing, with a base piece anchored to the studs and providing the string anchoring and a top piece providing the intonation edge and fretboard arch glued on top. This should also add some strenght to the final piece and will be a lot easier to make. Is it unerstandable ?? I'm in the middle of a very interesting meeting at work right now, otherwise I would make a sketch to illustrate the idea... :D

An additional question would be: How do you ground the strings with a wooden bridge/tailpiece ?? Obvious answer is "you don't", so does it make a difference in hum/noise levels ??

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An additional question would be: How do you ground the strings with a wooden bridge/tailpiece ?? Obvious answer is "you don't", so does it make a difference in hum/noise levels ??

I was just wondering that the other day. Was about to ask actually...

You could come up with some arrangement to remedy that... Bury a metal block somewhere in the bridge or body that contacts all the strings, etc.

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An additional question would be: How do you ground the strings with a wooden bridge/tailpiece ?? Obvious answer is "you don't", so does it make a difference in hum/noise levels ??

I was just wondering that the other day. Was about to ask actually...

You could come up with some arrangement to remedy that... Bury a metal block somewhere in the bridge or body that contacts all the strings, etc.

Well, quite. Metal string retaining piece that touches the studs, voila, done. Alternately, a brass nut/ground a zero fret (bit of a hassle, but doable).

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I have been experimenting with a wrap around design on my acoustics. I strung up the first version a little over a year ago with 13's, and it is fine. I use a bone saddle of course and, this would works fine you just have to adjust the height of the sadlle to suit your action, and file to fine tune your intonation. My bridges are glued down to a soundboard that is generally just a bit shy of 1/8" with added bracing. I would imagine with lighter gauge strings and less movement compaired to an acoustic, it should be able to hold its own on a solidbody. If you really like to play around with your action (I don't really do that much) you could focus on a system that would allow you to either adjust the saddle with screws, or even better make some simple shims for the slot (easy and accurate method to make small changes in action). I would think that any wrap around bridge design that can hold up to an acoustic should be more than viable on an electric (I would search around and see what you think of those designs).

Peace,Rich

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