OK. In my first article about bridges, you got an idea of the experiments I've done in finding out what kind of bridge sounds best. Now, let's go over some choices in bridge types, which you can use to bring out one part or another of your mandolin's sound. These three are the very best of the 25 or 30 designs I have tried:
a. The 11-hole bridge
This design is my favorite, and offers exceptional volume along with excellent richness, giving a pleasing bass/treble balance with remarkable clarity and sustain. This is a first choice for bridges 5/8" inches high or more, and it sounds very good in a variety of woods including maple, cherry, yew, and mahogany. (My current regular-height bridges, and some low-profile bridges also, are of this type.)
b. The 6-hole bridge
Comments: Developed after more experiments, this design yields not only volume but also exceptionally clear highs and excellent sustain, with a satisfying "fullness" of sound. For oval-hole instruments, there seems to be little difference between the 6-hole and 11-hole designs. This design can also be used where there is insufficient vertical space for an 11-hole pattern. (Some of my low-profile bridges, and all my bridges below 1/2", are of this type.)
c. The winged bridge:
Comments: This design was the first one I developed, and was my standard for two years. The sound typically features very good volume, a resonant low end, very good sustain and clarity, and excellent projection. Overall volume may not be quite as good as with the 6-hole and 11-hole bridges, but these winged bridges have an advantage over the 6 hole type in richness.
---so there you have three excellent designs for one-piece bridges, developed by sheer experimentation from a lot of other types. For a history of bridge experiments, take a look at these early bridges. And I urge anyone with the interest to make your own maple bridge. It's the cheapest way I know to make a mandolin sound better!