Mandolin: Reproduction Bridges

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      Many of the old mandolins I work on, arrive with no bridge, perhaps because it is not fixed. I have not found a source of reproduction bridges small enough for the old bowls, so I was forced to start making them myself. Most of the modern replacement bridges available, are intended for newer instruments, which generally tend to be carved tops, or flat that have taller bridge heights, so are unsubstantial. I have taken existing bridges from old mandolins as my models, and for convenience named them after the instrument in question. Below are those I make to date.

All Bridges are made by me, by hand. 

   How do I choose a bridge?

   With such a range now available, some visitors to the site have asked me, 'How do I know which one?' So, when choosing a bridge, consider first the style of the instrument.... some bridges would look very out of place on certain mandolins. For further ideas about what is appropriate, have a look at some gallery photos of similar instruments. Second, consider how much bridge height you have to play with.... this is a particular concern with old Italian mandolins. If the bridge height is very small, you will need a shelf bridge, as an ordinary one will be too tall. With a bit more height to play with, say 6mm upwards, you have room for simple bridge, which of course can be compensated. Once you have narrowed it down a bit, the choice of style is down to you.

   To be able to make one, I will need to know certain things: 

  • minimum bridge height.
  • string spread (distance between outermost strings).
  • string gauges to be used (to be able to cut correctly sized string slots).
  • string set up (in the case of bouzoukis esp. octave or unison tuning).
  • preference for bone or brass saddle with shelf bridges. (German instruments typically used bone, Neapolitans a brass rod)
  • if the instrument top is domed or not.

Can I make my own bridge?

   Of course..... given a little assistance, some fairly basic tools and some woodworking aptitude, its not too difficult. The biggest problem is the familiarity with the technique.... when you are just making one, you have no previous experience to fall back on, so you can use mine here.....  making your own bridge   ...and similarly for the related task, which may also be necessary of making a new nut.

Can I order a replacement for a broken bridge?

   Many players with broken bridges have asked me to make replacements. This can be done most easily by sending me the broken one, but failing that, I can reproduce one very similar with certain measurements. Those are as follows; the length, the width, saddle length and string spread; and a photo or two helps to get the shape and style right. 

Discussing a replacement can be done by dropping me a line via the contact page.


Hand-made Standard Bridge Blanks in Ebony or Rosewood
Click on the name of each bridge in blue for photos and further information.......

Mandolin Bridges

Type Height Suitability Length  
Simple Shelf Bridges All mandolin shelf- bridges can be made with bone or brass saddles. These are designed for a low bridge height.
Stridente 4-10mm 120mm typical, will suit any bowlback
Complex Shelves      
Loveri (brass saddle) 4-8mm  110mm  
German 4-12mm 120mm a Germen style for bowlbacks
de Meglio (plain) 4-8mm 120mm  
de Meglio (inlaid) 4-8mm 120mm typical on de Meglio style instruments
Minieri 4-10mm 125mm  
Corradotti 4-12mm 130mm  
Fenga 4-12mm 135mm  
Poggeli 4-10mm 135mm  
Venzana 4-10mm 135mm  
Silvestri  4-12mm 120mm  
Modern Shelf 4-8mm 120mm  
Maratea 4-12mm 130mm  
Simple Saddle Bridges All these mandolin  bridges are made with bone saddles, and tend to require a greater bridge height.
Il Globo (plain) 5-12mm 120mm again common where there is height
Washburn 6-15mm 100-110mm  
Complex Saddles      
Puglisi (Compensated) 5-10mm 120mm  
Silvestri (decorated) 8-15mm 120mm  
Canted All these mandolin  bridges are solid wood without saddles
Canted (Compensated) 5-10mm 110mm  
Others All these bridges come with bone saddles and a flat foot, but can be fitted to domed tops.
Suzuki Mandolin 10-15mm 115mm  
Modern (MOP dots) 8-15mm 120mm  
German Slot Bridge (mandolin or bouzouki) 10-20mm 120mm  
Other Instruments
Mandriola plain (modern) 10-20mm 120mm  
Mandriola compensated (classical) 5-12mm 120mm  
Mandola/waldz split saddle 5-20mm 120mm  
Tall Classical 10-25mm 130mm  
Mandola (Compensated) 5-25mm 120mm  
Compensated Bouzouki 12-25mm 125mm  
Greek Bouzouki 8-25mm 140mm  
Waldzither (Comp.) 8-20mm 125mm  
Waldz-Zook (slope-sided) 12-25mm 125mm  
John Grey (mandolin banjo) 6-12mm 90mm  
John Grey (5 string banjo) 6-15mm 100mm  
Domra (3 or 4 string) 10-20mm 80mm  
Old Glass Waldzither bridges These are old period bridges, heights vary, tell me what height you need...  

NB. Bridge heights are estimates, and actual range will depend on the dome of the top. 

Tensioners Tensioners can be made in ebony or rosewood, with or without inlay, to match any of the bridge types. Careful measurements will need to be taken to ensure the screw holes match the holes in the top.
Individual Requests      I am happy to consider requests to make or reproduce individual bridges. The cost of materials should not normally be too different, but the work involved in reconstructing a first model is a lot more, so I would estimate a little more for a one-off repro bridge.
Individual commissions 

(which can be repeated)

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