There’s been a lot of bridge building and carving of late.
The process of carving the bridge is an interesting one and there have been some major developments at Taran Guitars over the years. The outline shape of the bridge is the same on all models, apart from the Tenor, but over time the shapes and contours of the bridge have moved on.
I use ebony for my bridges as I feel it transfers energy more efficiently than rosewoods. I look for a bridge that is strong but light. In the slideshow, you can see the process I use to create the bridge...
Ebony isn't the lightest material but by removing lots of material behind the saddle, I get an increased break angle of the strings over the saddle which gives a better transfer of energy to the soundboard and makes it light. I need the saddle slot area to be strong and I need the strain of the string pull to be transferred directly to the braces inside. The ridges that you can see on each side of the saddle do both of these things brilliantly. Form follows function, a great design philosophy!
One of the most important areas of guitar design in terms of tone and attack is the physical height of the string above the soundboard.
- Higher = more brash/louder
- Lower = more mellow/quieter
With this in mind, I change the neck angles on my bespoke instruments to get the best string height and thus sound for my client’s taste and playing style. In terms of playability, the action (strings from fretboard) is important but not as much as the response of the soundboard. The more responsive the board, the less energy it takes to vibrate it, so the less work the strings have to do and therefore less work for the player, making a supple dynamic action.
Bridge design is a key element of soundboard response and I think about the bridge as being the last brace to go on. In effect, it has to be tuned like all the other braces to get the most out of the guitar.