Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Bridge question

Complete newbie here. I keep hearing that you want to change your bridge for better sound, so I bought a Deering Smile Bridge from the store. Problem is: there’s no instructions, and I can’t find my answer in Google either. How do you know which direction the bridge should face?

One side is flat and the other is angled. Does the flat side face the neck or the tail piece?


Hey @mike.thomson, welcome!

Looks like Steve Huber has the angled side facing the tailpiece and the flat side facing the neck:

I’m not sure how much it actually matters, though.


Put the smile toward the headstock :slight_smile:


Thank you kindly!


Got the bridge installed, and I’ll be darned if the banjo sounds a little brighter. I’ve heard that the bridge can make a big difference, but honestly didn’t think my untrained ears would be able to hear the difference. Well, I guess I can.

Which makes me wonder: If I can hear a difference, how much would an experienced player hear?

I have an Ibanez B200, and looking at the bridge it came with versus the Deering bridge, the OEM one is much thicker. I’m wondering if the thinner Deering transmits the string vibrations better because it’s thinner?

Regardless, I’m very happy I got the Deering bridge. It’s an improvement over the OEM bridge for sure.


Welcome to the weeds! As a Beginner, I’m here to offer my expert opinion.
Once you start wondering about bridge thickness, the floodgates are open! It’s no longer a question of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” Now you want to know if the pin can hold more dancing angels if they are doing a waltz or the polka.
There will be no piece of banjo minutia too arcane for you. You might find yourself watching this video on banjo strings:

Wading thru the weeds can be exhausting, but the more you understand your banjo, the more you will have to practice…so it works out pretty well in the long run.

Here’s the stupid question I cannot get out of my mind: 'When strung on the banjo, is the string that is wound around the 4th string under as much tension as the string it is wound around? And what purpose does winding a string around a string serve?
The answers to these questions will never win you any money on “Jeopardy.”


Oh… Banjoe! What have you done?? Yes, the floodgates are now wide open! No time to practice! Have to get this banjo research done!! Please do not start wondering about minor chords!!


@mike.thomson, not much I can add here…but that’s never stopped me before! :grin:
First of all, I’m glad you asked this question, because I just bought a smile bridge too! Got it from Banjo Ben’s General Store and your question saved me from having to ask it. I put it on a new (to me) 2005 Deering Sierra, and I’m going to have to say I agree with you on being able to immediately hear the difference. I’m only a couple of years in on this banjo thing, and this is the first time I’ve ever tried something like this. I’m now convinced a bridge change can really make a very significant difference.

@BanjoBen, thanks for the answer above, and re-watched the Steve Huber bridge placement video here on your site before swapping them out. ( )

@BanJoe, I watched that string video at Deering the day after it came out (in it’s entirety), and floodgates is correct…it could all become overwhelming if you let it! Also watched the one Jens Kruger did on the smile bridge before finally deciding to make the purchase…he really is a banjo geek! Interestingly, several other folks have done reviews and videos about it too. A common thread among the reviewers is that they feel the volume is more even across all the strings with the smile bridge, and I’ll have to say it does seem to be true in this particular example.

And from my limited abilities it (the Smile bridge on the Sierra) was most pronounced (louder) on the 3rd string than before, and the intonation now seems a little different on this string in particular…in a good way…not the same tendency to sound flat after the attack, perhaps? I apologize @Boo, I’m starting to sound like what you warned us about…and it does indeed take away from practice time for me, too. :upside_down_face:


Thanks for the review of the Smile bridge. I wonder how it compares to a Snuffy Smith?
Maybe I’ll just spend the money to find out.
(Ben loves that kind of talk, but my wife thinks I should play the right notes first, then worry about the bridge. Silly girl.)


Can’t speak to the comparison with the Snuffy Smith Bridge…but like you, I’d enjoy the opportunity to do so!