Banjo bridges - what they do
"Am I getting the ultimate sound my banjo is made to deliver?" "Am I getting my money's worth the way my banjo is set up?" "Could I improve the sound of my banjo?" Regular questions on the minds of most banjo players, and if you've ever had similar thoughts, you're not alone. Obvious things like changing the strings regularly, trying different strings, adjusting the the head for the proper tension etc. go without saying. Anything you change, or do different from the way it was before, affects the tone and the sound. Some of the most dramatic changes happen when you tackle the bridge. No great surprise really, it's the part that transfers the sound from the strings to the banjo itself, making it one of the most important pieces to concentrate your efforts on. Think about the great amount of work manufacturers have done to come up with fabulous sounding banjos and strings, no effort was spared to get you the best possible sound. The bridge transfers the vibrations from the strings to the rest of the banjo so it can translate it into the sound you need and want. To do so of course, ideally, the bridge needs to do this job without absorbing any of the sound and without adding/colouring the original sound qualities of the banjo itself so it needs to be as sound neutral as possible.
Should you bother, or is it worth the effort to do a bridge check up, or to consider choosing another bridge? Absolutely! Plain and simple, banjos with properly positioned bridges always sound better, are always easier to tune and are always easier to keep in tune. Banjos with the right bridge exploit your banjo to the maximum capability of your instrument especially if you choose one that reflects the style of music you play. But, you do have several other options: you can play faster, you can play louder or you can play and faster and louder. Of course, there are better ways, read about them on the next few pages.
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