Docs “Cathedral” Bridge (pat. pending), the design came from intuitive thinking, the name reminded us of ancient architecture that we have seen out in the world.Our bridges do not break, they are a beautiful and sound improvement is guaranteed. It can’t get much better than that!
Our bridges are a whole new concept in design, and they will deliver a sound that you have not experienced with traditional bridges. They are the most cost-effective upgrade you can give to your banjo. Our bridges are custom and handmade one at a time, with proprietary design and materials.
“Cathedral Bluebridge” the distinguishing feature of the Bluebridge is that we put notches on the underside of the bridge to the right and to the left of each bridge post. This actually separates the notes from being a “blur” at high speed…the string is over the post…each post of our 5 footed bridge now owns a bit more of its territory on the head of the banjo.
Docs “Cathedral” Bridge (pat. pending), the design came from intuitive thinking, the name reminded us of ancient architecture that we have seen out in the world. Our bridges do not break, they are a beautiful and sound improvement is guaranteed. It can’t get much better than that!
“Cathedral Old-Time” has a flat base on the bottom. This creates a warmer sound…not as much “stacatto” as in the Bluebridge
The bridge has more to do with the tone of your banjo than most people realize. It is the easiest (and most inexpensive) thing you can do to improve the sound of your banjo! We build and shape each bridge by hand, combining design elements and woods to achieve exactly the tone you’re seeking. Not sure exactly what to order? We have some great sounding combinations!
Docs Cathedral Bridge TM named after the design was made, it reminded us of some cathedral architecture that we had seen out in the world. We build a bridge specifically for the Old Time Music players (Docs Old Time Bridge), and another for the Bluegrass players (Docs Bluebridge). It only makes sense when you realize the varying sound one wants to get from their instrument and song styles, and different picking/playing styles. Both styles of bridges are built with vertical laminates with a variety of woods. They do not break…they are beautiful…sound improvement is guaranteed…if tried on your banjo, you will keep it. You will love it!
The shape and character of a Bluegrass note are different than an Old-Time note. This is supported by the difference in design of Bluegrass and Old-Time banjos. If the goal is achieving the best possible tone for either style of play, then we need to consider how the bridge design and materials can contribute to maximizing the quality of our banjo’s tone. Using what we have learned from bridge designs, we have created the Bluebridge™, a take-off from our Cathedral bridge.
This has to do primarily with the fact that strings get closer together as you move farther away from the bridge, the anatomy of your hand, and where your right-hand plays over the pot/neck. Some players play close to the bridge, while others play further up over the neck. The whole issue of different string spacing is simply to get your fingers between the strings in an efficient manner that will give you the opportunity to catch the string at the right angle to get the best tone. There is no “right” or “perfect” spacing
it depends on your playing style and the way your hand and fingers are built.
If you play close to the bridge and your fingers are not large, a 42mm (standard) string spacing might fit you better.
If you like to play in the upper region of the pot, a 44mm spacing, called “Crow spacing”, is preferred.
If you like to play up over the neck (mostly clawhammer style), you should try a 46mm string spacing (Doc’s spacing).
Our bridges have a unique footprintâ€”this much is obvious right away. So what’s with those scallops on the bridge foot?
Generally, the more contact of sound energy to the head, the more sound gets transferred. Our testing shows that if you capture too much sound, you tend to generate too much sustain with the effect that notes start tumbling into one another. While this sounds great with some styles of play, it does not generate a truly great Bluegrass tone.
With the scallops on the foot of the Bluebridge™, we align the string notches directly over the “posts” to create a direct path for more of the string energy to transfer to the foot directly under the string than to the neighboring part of the foot. The net effect is more separation between-the-notes than with one continuous footprint.
The tradition thinking on banjo bridges is that maple is extremely hard and good for all banjo tones. We find that there is a whole pallet of woods both native to the USA and imported that do a superior job transmitting sound energy compared to Maple. Woods have a range of cellular differences not unlike the human body. Some hardwoods have very dense cell walls yet have a lot of extra-cellular air space. If you cut off a very, very thin slice of these woods and hold them to the light, you see light coming through the slices. Other hardwoods are very dense and have little air cell. These woods tend to subtract sound energy unless the mass is critically low. If you were to use one wood with either of the characteristics above, it does not sound as good in a bridge. The right combination of woods with different densities and cellular structures results in a better sounding bridge. It is all about balance…high-end to low-end.
We have burned countless bridges doing research on horizontal laminations the bottom line is that horizontal laminations degrade, rather than enhance, banjo tone. Yet when you shop for even the most expensive bluegrass bridges, most all of them have the traditional Ebony horizontally laminated on top of a single wood. We have a few of our bridges made with identical wood combinations where we glue one horizontally and one vertically. We demo these at shows and festivals because it is so easy to audibly detect the negative impact horizontal glue lines have on tone.
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