Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I am trying to find the proper bridge for my Wunderlich Boucher, any suggestions? I have had to sand the bridges down to about 1/2" height to keep the action normal, what material, shape, brand? Thanks again!

 

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Many of us tend to make our own.  George Wunderlich says that it is better to make one from a soft wood like pine, and that the goal for the earlier banjos is to keep the mass of the bridge low.  I am presently making mine out of poplar, which seems to work fairly well.

thanks John, i have been making them all week, and not satisfied, do you prefer two feet as opposed to 3?

 

There are no period examples known to our era with 3 legs.

Bridge? Ebony topped hard rock maple sandwiched around carbon fiber. Just kidding.

Pine. Two feet.

If I recall correctly in his video discussing building minstrel banjos Wunderlich mentions using a pine bridge on his creations (and I believe he discusses why he is using pine). You should be able to duplicate the present one fairly easily. It would seem a dowel stick adjustment may be in order. Then you could add some pine to the missing feet of the present bridge. I have a bunch of home made and store bought bridges to fuss with my banjos. In any case having a spare bridge or two is a good idea with humidity chnges. They are so easy to make they are hardly worth ordering and waiting. Resetting (repositioning) the dowel stick may not be as big a problem as one might guess....  In any case that would be your ultimate and probably necessary solution.

 

Sounds like you have a really nice banjo. I don't know what is ideal for one of his banjos but mine (non-minstrel) are roughly 1/2". My minstrel banjo is 1/2" but my pot is home made and I don't know what the ideal hight is for them.

thanks all, i think i will try making some two footed pine bridges this evening

 

I use a 3 foot bridge..sugar pine.

I like it.

Wow Tim - A three foot bridge? That must be one big banjo!

(Sorry - it was a bad joke but somebody had to make it)

Tim Twiss said:

I use a 3 foot bridge..sugar pine.

I like it.

Don't be afeared to crank that action up, more volume is a good thing.
I use basswood that I've had around for making ship models. It comes in small sheets that are very conveniently bridge-width. You can get it at hobby stores like Michael's. It's light stuff and works nicely.

How high do you suggest the action be, I'm used to it being level down the neck as a clawhammer player, but this seems to have a lot of differences than my modern banjos
Ha...I thought about that after I wrote it....looks funny!
Ian Bell said:

Wow Tim - A three foot bridge? That must be one big banjo!

(Sorry - it was a bad joke but somebody had to make it)

Tim Twiss said:

I use a 3 foot bridge..sugar pine.

I like it.

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