Banjo bridges

Red Henry

Red Henry

As you may know, if you look around at a festival or browse through the pages of Bluegrass Unlimited, or especially if you're a member of Banjo Hangout, there are a lot of banjo bridges on the market. And they're a wide variety of sizes and shapes. The traditional Grover-style bridge now has many competitors. Some are compensated, some are curved as seen from above, some are lighter, some are heavier, and some have radically innovative designs. Several modern bridgemakers put a great deal of craftsmanship into each bridge, and are rewarded by substantial prices. But is there a magic bullet?

I've done a lot of experimenting with banjo bridges, and I've come to the conclusion that there's no one bridge that sounds best on all banjos. Some banjos like a traditional bridge. Some like a compensated bridge (though their traditionally-minded owners may or may not). Some banjos sound best with this or that bridge. And the only way to find out which bridge a particular banjo likes, is to try bridges out and see how they sound! Bridgemakers I've spoken to generally agree with this, too.

This is not a note of pessimism, it's a note of optimism. I mean, that so many fine and well-made bridges are available now that the folks who want to experiment can do so with lots of excellent bridges, and see which one their banjo likes best. If you are not used to doing things like switching bridges, my advice is to STICK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. But for those brave folks who like to tinker with their banjos, there's plenty of opportunity these days to see how they like the sound of different bridges!