Dear Banjo Player,
if you are a discriminating player, no matter if you’ve got a 40-year experience on the banjo (like me) or not, you will surely agree about the importance of the bridge in determining the sound, in all of its components: response, volume, tone and so on.
My Scorpion Banjo Bridge is a synthesis of some designs I have studied (great banjo bridges made by Snuffy Smith, Dave Wadsworth, and others), filtered by the rules that traditional lutherie has developed and followed for centuries in building bridges for bowed instruments. During my luthier apprenticeship at the shop I work at (Airenti & Lowenberger in Genova, Italy), I’ve had the opportunity to analyze old and modern bridges for violin, viola, cello, string bass, and baroque string instruments, and I’ve put that knowledge to use in the Scorpion Bridge. My quest is for the “traditional” sound which I love, the one of Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, Sonny Osborne and other Masters, and I hope that my bridges can help players come close to it.
For my “regular” bridges I choose only high quality Balkan maple, centuries old, seasoned, evenly and mostly tightly grained, and I air-dry it myself. The ebony I use for tops is some of the most dense and hard you will ever find. I always quarter-saw my bridge blanks, which may results in some “waste” of wood, but ensures that the grain be correct in each bridge I build. I also build my bridges within certain weight frames, to ensure consistency. All these factors are essential for the sound.
I offer my bridges in all possible (reasonable) heights: 1/2″, 19/32”, 5/8”, 21/32” (.656”), 11/16”, and 3/4”, and practically any height in between. You can get them unslotted, notched to standard or wide (“J.D. Crowe”) string spacing, notched to custom spacings of your choice, with or without intonation compensation for the 3rd string. Other options I offer on special order include different kinds of wood (North American maple, treated Bosnian maple, sunken maple, also purple ebony or snakewood for the tops) for different tonal flavors, and of course radiused tops for banjos with radiused fretboard. Last but not least, in recent years I’ve been building bridges for Old Time banjos, using a slightly different design, and for 4-string banjos (tenor or plectrum). I’m always more than willing to build custom bridges for customers who have clear ideas about the sound they want to get from their banjo: after all, getting the most from a banjo is the reason I started building bridges in the first place.