Too many Bart Bridges to choose from?

There are so many different bridges available on these pages I don't blame you if you are confused, especially when you consider that bridges can profoundly alter the sound you're used to. The thing to remember is that, fortunately, not all banjos are created equal. As well, most people have their own idea about what sounds good, especially when playing in different styles or when playing different types of music. I'm thinking it's not unreasonable to expect that a Don Reno fan might have substantially different sound and tone requirements than someone looking for plunk on an openback banjo. For that reason it would make a lot of sense to dig a little deeper and to consider custom tailoring your sound requirements instead of settling for a one-fits-all mass produced bridge.
After a lot of trial and error experiments I've narrowed down the selection of woods pretty good and came up with some rules of thumb. First, any of the bridges I make will sound really nice on any banjo so you really cannot make a wrong choice. Second, some wood combinations however, are more likely to get you the ultimate sound & tone then others.

Of course, personal preferences vary from player to player, from instrument to instrument and there always are exceptions, but here's some pretty solid clues that'll help you select the most suitable bridge for YOUR banjo and YOUR style of playing.

One thing to keep in mind though, there is a practical height range when it comes to quality sound and/or tone: anything shorter than a 1/2" or taller than 3/4" and well, basically it'll be a thingie that holds up the strings - functional but sound wise you shouldn't expect optimum performance as there's either too little, or too much, mass for getting quality sound. For optimum sound you should try to set up your banjo so it can use a bridge in the range of 1/2" to 11/16". Three finger bluegrass pickers might even want to limit that range to 9/16" ~ 11/16".

Bridge Wood: Mystery, no topping Clean/clear sound, excellent volume. Great for clawhammer or toning down overly bright sounding banjos - *the* bridge for Odes Especially suitable for old-time yet remarkably clear for 3 finger style
Mystery, topped All around favourite, can't go wrong with this one. Awesome for hard driving bluegrass, fabulous volume & sustain. Terrific volume on the 4th string yet clear as a bell on the other strings. High-end Mastertone style banjos love this one. Scruggs/Reno/Melodic style
Enigma, topped Excellent volume and sustain, bright sound, especially suitable for arch tops or to brighten flat tops - exceptional performance on Stellings Reno/Stanley style. These enigma bridges are renowned for getting along with sound system EQ settings.
Teak, topped A tad louder and brighter than enigma, arch tops love this one but may be a tad too bright for flat tops. They're also a great choice for lower volume banjos, or entry level to medium price range, like Goodtimes etc., some Gibsons (teak not recommended for Stellings) Stanley style, especially with mystery topping
Topping wood Ebony Great neutral tone For strings of all gauges
African Blackwood A little more melodious than ebony. Hard driving sound but sweeter for slower melodies Ideal for light(er) gauge strings
Mystery A smidgen brighter sounding than ebony Medium gauge strings love it
Bloodwood Nice and neutral sound The dark red looks awesome
Bridge Weight A Regular weight, excellent volume Ideal for most banjos with thin skins (mylar, kevlar, frosted, smooth). High end banjos for especially for dynamic sound range, low end & medium banjos for sparkle & volume
B A little heavier, a bit beefier sound For some middle of the road banjos or those equiped with thicker heads: fyberskin, thick calf/goat skin (thin real skin counts as a thin head). Wilwood banjos love these B weights.
String spacing 42 mm "Standard" used to for most mass produced bridges (distance between the 1st and 5th string) If you have a came-with-the-banjo bridge this is most likely what you have
44 mm Makes it easier for a lot of people to play cleaner and faster ("Crowe") Great for both 3 finger and clawhammer styles
46 mm Prefered by many for clawhammer A bit on the wide side for 3 finger
48 mm Some clawhammer players like it this wide Not my preference for 3 finger style but then there's Baucom...
50 mm As used by Stealth banjos careful, strings will spill over board on many standard necks
Consider too that you might want to get an seperate bridge for the various styles of music you play. If you do a lot of hard driving bluegrass but want to get a real sweet tone for some slower stuff - what's to stop you from swapping your bridge for the occasion since doing so only takes a couple of seconds...

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