mgbills wrote:On a harmonica style bridge that angle needs to be pretty flat or the strings will break against the bridge. (Ask me how I figured that out. That's an embarassing story for which Pete B. paid the price.)
Tell me more!
On my Tiger most of the strings touch the back of the bridge. I've wondered/worried about that- you read very different opinions on that from respected luthiers. Some say it inhibits all sorts of "rich harmonics and overtones", others say hogwash- it's only what's between the nut and bridge that counts. The harmonica bridge allows a lot of room for intonation, but it's wide enough that you have to keep the tailpiece farther back or higher (which changes break angle) to prevent strings from resting on the back of the bridge. The "Garcia-endorsed higher action" makes it worse. I've strained my eyes looking at Tiger in the flesh and in close-up photos and it looks like the strings may have been touching the back of the bridge. Look at those photos that guy took in Indy last year that got to play the cocobolo wonder.
I've also read (although I haven't experimented with it) that the bridge break angle affects perceived string bending effort. Something like the greater the break angle the harder it "feels" to bend the string? Gibson guys talk about this a lot since it's easy(er) to raise and lower the stop tailpiece, and there are theories about improved tone and sustain if you have the tailpiece cranked down hard on the body. Supposedly break angle affects string tension, but I always figured that you need to have a specific tension to get like A=440. So if a higher break angle resulted in higher tension, you would need to tune down some to get the same note. Or not?
You would think that if the strings touching the back of the bridge had an impact that the same thing would be going on at the nut- maybe even more since there is a longer string length between the nut and the tuners- more vibration. If that is the case why wouldn't the trees used on Fenders be muting all those "rich overtones and harmonics"- and why wouldn't it be even worse on Alligator with the addition of the tree for the lower four?
Inquiring minds want to know!
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First show: 8/16/69 (Woodstock)
Last show: 3/19/95 (Unbroken Chain breakout)
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