Lots of people seem to like the bridges I make for my builds, and I've often said they're quite simple to make. It's not really my design - it's similar to a banjo bridge and there are a few other builders on CBN who use similar bridges. I've been meaning to do a how-to for a while, so here we go:

I start off with a bit of scrap wood, most likely an offcut from the fretboard. For these two I am using walnut and maple, but any hardwood is fine. The little bone pieces are from a 80x10x3mm bridge blank which I cut into 4 pieces. I mark the bridge's full length, then mark where to drill to make the slope on the top and the 'arches' on the bottom. I work out the height the bridge needs to be first, then subtract the 3mm for the bone and mark it out on the wood.

I carefully drill out the holes with the piece clamped to a scrap of wood to prevent tear out.

Now the bridges are cut out and are beginning to take shape. Next the bone pieces are glued onto the tops of the bridges. I use superglue for this.

The bone is glued on and the tape is removed. Time for some sanding.

I clamp a piece of 60 grit sandpaper to my bench and sand the bridge at an angle to blend the bone and wood, and to make a 'sharp' peak along the top of the bone. This is also handy for flattening the bottom of the bridge. the curves are done with the rounded corner of a sanding block.

These are both finished now after being sanded to 180 grit.

A few coats of Danish oil and they're done! Measure the string spacing you want to use and carefully file some shallow grooves with a triangle needle file.

Of course there is plenty of opportunity for individual expression with this design. In the photo above I doubled up the thickness, so the blank was 1/2" thick, and used half a bone nut blank. I also went without the centre 'foot'.

I hope this has been of some use!

-Richey Kay

Views: 1837

Tags: banjo bridge, bone, bridge, how to


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Comment by Wayfinder on November 13, 2015 at 8:30am

Thank you Richey.  I'll see if I can find them.

Comment by Richey Kay on November 13, 2015 at 1:26am
I get those from eBay in packs of ten from China. They come out about 50p each.
Comment by Wayfinder on November 12, 2015 at 7:06pm

Thanks for the article.  Very interesting.  Where do you get the bone blank? 

Comment by Richey Kay on November 4, 2015 at 2:25am

Thank you all, you're welcome.

Comment by john w on November 2, 2015 at 11:25am

Man that is very sweet.   I love the simple tailpiece as well.  Serious style and craftsmanship. 

Comment by Ray K III on October 29, 2015 at 11:33pm

Nice work. I was wondering how some of these were made. ThX for sharing your method.

Comment by Preston J. Laisure on October 29, 2015 at 11:18pm

A really interesting and well documented piece. Thank you.

Comment by dean showering on October 28, 2015 at 5:17pm
Very nice
Comment by Bluesheart on December 31, 2014 at 11:46am

Excellent article and techniques!!

Comment by Wichita Sam on August 28, 2014 at 5:27pm

very nice.... a clear demo of how something that adds a lot of class to a build doesn't have to be difficult to do....

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