Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Bridge or troubled waters

How do bridges make the banjo sound different or better?

Good question.
I’ve gone through a box of 30-50 bridges a friend of mine made on three banjos of mine. over an afternoon with sevral friends.
they all looked and measured the same
they came from the same piece of wood
they all sounded different on different banjos.
some were better on one banjo and some were better on another.

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It’s just a guess, but I would imagine the density of the material in the bridge changes the vibrations that make it down to the head. That’s why different bridges from the same piece of wood can sound different.

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Hi Peggy,

Knock on wood,.

Different woods (and parts of the same wood) resonate at different frequency’s which produce different tones like the colours in a rainbow spectrum. To learn more about how sound waves work try searching YouTube or Google. Search for Sound & Light, Pitch, Frequency & Wavelength

The Banjo Head is also a factor, the material it’s made from, how thick or thin, rough or smooth surface.

The other components of the banjo such as the rim the neck the flange and tone ring all contribute to the transfer of sound.

If you throw a pebble into a still pond you will see the surface of the water disturbed by the ripples that move outwards from the centre. Those ripples you see are the same modulations you can’t see in the air but you can hear as the air strikes your ear drum when you drop a coin on a hard surface or pick a banjo string.

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Here’s a somewhat methodical testing of some bridges by Tom Nechville. Not sure how helpful it is. Little too in-depth for me (TMI) and I didn’t quite make it through it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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That is a great video comparing different weights in bridges. Are there other factors besides weight that makes a diiference?

Have you ever grouped the bridges according to the number of growth rings that occur in each? I have been told that the bridge with the most spring growth (wide bands of lighter colour) is better than many thin darker winter growth lines. If the winter growth is more dense then it makes sense that it would inhibit vibration transmission.

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No, just have been interested in how different t parts give the instrument so many diff sound. The nuances of it all. Ben has some for sale, but none have the weight listed, which is what the Nechville video talked about the most. I went to a few other sites and none had the weight listed.
Yet in the write up for each Ben says it’s one of the best ways to improve your tone. But I would spose that each would have different tone characteristics.

It really is a journey to find the desired tone for your particular banjo…it’s part of the fun :slight_smile:


I have found some other videos that show using different bridges and the sound. Pretty neat how there is such a difference