Hudson Valley Folk Guild
[Home Page] [Newsletters] [Music Samples] [Events]
[About Us] [Guestbook] [Contact]

Volume 21, Issue 3: January & February 2001

Other newsletter segments:

Kingston chapter news, Patterson chapter news, and Poughkeepsie chapter news.

The Placement and Fit of Archtop Instrument Bridges

by Bruce Morrison

The owners of archtop fretted instruments are well aware of the importance of having the bridge correctly located for optimum intonation. Yet, two of the most important aspects of archtop instrument bridging, the fit of the bridge feet to the soundboard and having the bridge stand perpendicular to the soundboard, are frequently overlooked. When either of these particulars of bridging are incorrect, an instrument's ability to produce its best sound is impaired.

Placing the bridge of an archtop instrument for the optimum intonation is a two-step operation. The first step measures the bridge's mathematically correct position, then adds an approximate amount of compensation. Using that position as a reference point, the second step determines the bridge's correct compensation position. Use the metric scale to make these measurements. Becuase metric uses smaller units of measurement, it's more accurate. Also, it's easier to read because there are no fractions to correlate.

To determine the bridge's mathematically correct position for the first string, measure the distance from the front face of the nut to the middle of the twelfth fret. Double it. The doubled figure is the bridge's mathematically correct location. Now we add a little extra to approximate the compensation. This is done to get us as close to the bridge's correct compensated position as possible so that we'll have to move the bridge as few times. For a short scale insturment such as the mandolin, add 2mm. Longer scale instruments such as the guitar require the addition of 4mm. For the bridge's location on the lowest string, add 2 to 3mm to the figure for the first string on a short scale instrument, and 3 to 5mm for a long scale instrument. Once you've recorded those figures, tune your instrument down to about three-quarter tension before repositioning the bridge. A bridge is much easier to move with the strings at reduced tension.

To set the bridge in its correct compensated position, chime the first string at the twelfth fret. Then sound the string fretted at the twelfth fret. Compare the two notes. If the fretted note is flat, move the bridge away from the nut. Repeat this process until the two notes match. Do the same with the lowest string. That puts the bridge in the correct compensated position for the highest and lowest strings. You may find that it sits at a slight angle, not perpendicular to the strings. That's OK. Once it's in place, bring the instrument back up to concert pitch, being careful to keep the bridge perpendicular to the soundboard. Double check the intonation at concert pitch. You may need to readjust the bridge's position. Again, make any adjustments at reduced tension. As the fine tuning of the inner strings may require alteration of the bridge saddle, in most cases it's best to have a qualified repairman make those changes.

When the bridge feet do not fully contact the soundboard, string energy is dissipated into the air rather than being passed on to the soundboard. The result is an instrument that doesn't sound its best. When the bridge feet are properly fit, you should not be able to slip a .002" feeler gauge between them and the soundboard.

The bridge must stand perpendicular to the soundboard. Even though the bridge feet may be in full contact with the soundboard, having the bridge saddle lean forward or back ward prevents the strings from exerting their maximum downward pressure on the soundboard. If that pressure is not achieved, the instrument will not produce its best sound. This needs to be checked every so often as tuning up tends to pull the bridge saddle forward. You'll notice that this will probably happen as you return the instrument to pitch after moving the bridge. Depending on the arch of the soundboard, there are cases in which the bridge feet may be well forward of the saddle evern though the bridge is standing perpendicular.

To review, there are three key factors of archtop instrument bridging which help an instrument sound its best. First is having the bridge correctly placed for intonation. Second is having the bridge feet properly fit to the soundboard. Third is having the bridge stand perpendicular to the soundboard.

Back to Top of Page

How to Sign Up to Perform- Tips from Bruce Blair

If you've never performed at a Hudson Valley Folk Guild coffeehouse, here is the protocol. Don't forget that most of the people in the audience are also performers, so we all want you to do well. It would be hard to find a more accepting audience, which, of course, is our reason for being.

Our mission is to provide a venue for performance in the Hudson Valley. You may be just learning how to perform on a stage, or an old pro who wants to try out some new material in an accepting environment. Whoever you are, we offer an opportunity to express yourself musically. It's what we do!

Here's how to participate:

  1. Sign Up.

    There is a sign-up sheet near where the Host takes the admission. You don't have to be first. Pick a spot on the schedule that makes you comfortable.

  2. Tell the Emcee If You Have Any Special Needs.

    Do you have a group? We can usually mic up to 3 or 4 performers if we know what you need.

  3. Play!

    We usually have time for you to do 2 songs. Once in a great while we have everyone do an extra song, but two songs are typical.

  4. Everyone Gets to Perform.

    We will stay until everyone who has signed up has an opportunity to perform That's how we are!

  5. Listen to the Fine Music We Offer!

    We all have other places to be, but we consider it polite to stay, if possible, until we all have had the chance to perform.

  6. Ask the Host or Emcee

    if you have any questions. And remember to -

  7. Tell Your Friends about us!

[Back to Top of Page]

Renew Your Membership For The Year 2001!

by Kevin Becker

Membership renewals have been arriving at a brisk pace as we approach the year's end. Thank goodness for the kind generosity of Folk Guild members and their families. The Hudson Valley Folk Guild is a non-profit, member-run corporation dedicated to preserving interest in folk music, contributing to community service by entertaining at benefits and giving its performing members opportunities to perform their own music. Over the last fewmonths, Guild entertainers have given of their time and talents to perform for the Clearwater, the Alzheimers Association, 'Toys for Tots', Victory Lake Nursing Home. And those are just the ones we know about!

The Folk Guild needs you to show your support for its work by renewing your membership for the year 2001! As in past years, our membership renewal drive will run between January 1st and March 31st of the new year. All members shall be issued membership cards, be eligible for discounts to Guild events, and have the satisfaction they are helping to support folk music in the Hudson Valley. Performing members are also eligible to participate in Folk Guild special events and programs.

There are several categories for membership:

Individual ($10)     Family ($15)
Patron ($25)     Sponsor ($50)
Benefactor ($75)     Angel ($100 or more)

As the Folk Guild develops different activities, the cost of operations always increases. There are several expenses the Guild pays regularly such as liability insurance for all who work on and attend our events. Each issue of the newsletter costs approximately $300 to publish. Also, with sound equipment for four chapters, plus a larger system for concerts and outdoor events, money is always needed for repairs and replacement of broken equipment. If you or your spouse works for a participating firm, your membership gift can be doubled (sometimes tripled!) Retirees may also be eligible.

If the Folk Guild is going to continue to meet its goals, your support is most necessary! If you think the work the Hudson Valley Folk Guild does is worthwhile, please mail the form on the front of this newsletter with a special 2001 membership donation! -

[Back to Top of Page]

[Home Page] [Newsletters] [Music Samples] [Events]
[About Us] [Guestbook] [Contact]