Bridge position

Bridge position

I have an old framus banjo-mandolin and I am wondering is there a specific position to place the bridge, I have placed it at the usual 12th fret to nut distance but it looks strange, (the bridge is above halfway on the skin!?). It sounds ok possibly a little sharp to my ears and so I would appreciate any sensible advice concerning the bridge placement.
There may be related discussions to my query and if so I would be delighted to get the links to them.
Thanks in advance

Re: Bridge position

The best way to set a floating bridge like that is to play a *harmonic* note at the 12th fret, and compare it to the *fretted* note at the 12th fret. Do it on each of the strings, and then adjust the position until it is as close as possible on all strings. It will be slightly further than twice the length of nut to 12th fret, because the act of bending the strings down to touch the fret bends the note a little sharp.

To adjust the position, move the bridge slightly toward the tailpiece if the notes are sharp, and toward the neck if the notes are flat. The nice thing about banjos (and banjo mandolins) is that the bridge is easy to move, even when the strings are at full tension. And depending on the relative gauges of the string cores, you may find that the best overall intonation might involve having the bridge at a slight angle…

BTW, if you’re not familiar with playing harmonic notes, simply touch the string lightly at the 12th fret (but don’t fret it), and then remove your finger right as you pluck the note. (This has the effect of setting up two standing waves on the string, each half as long as the string itself, which makes that note one octave higher… Exactly the same note that should be played when the string is fretted at the 12th fret…)

Re: Bridge position

don’t expect miracles. Mandolin banjos of my acquaintance have seldom intoned accurately for the whole scale length. This is perhaps due to the short scale length - typically 14" (small errors in bridge position are more significant as they represent a greater proportion of scale length compared to - say - the tenor banjo’s 23").

Also, ordinary arch top mandolins have compensated bridge saddles to assist accurate intonation but I’ve never seen a compensated 8 string banjo bridge. Even if the instrument intones accurately on the 1st and 4th strings, it’s likely that the 2nd and 3rd strings will intone slightly sharp and flat respectively.

sell it and get a box - no bridge and no tuning problems

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Re: Bridge position

I agree and I agree. If you can get hold of a good tuner with a real meter on it, it’ll help you match the harmonic and fretted note. With the nekid ear, it’s hard to get closer than 5 cents, because you can’t hear the two notes together.

In the end, it won’t matter because you’ll just end up hanging it on the wall. 🙂