Tuesday, October 29, 2013

1940 Epiphone named Frixo…

Tap, tap, tap…that would be the sound of Lonnie fitting a sound post in the workshop.  He has been steadily working on the 1940 Epiphone B-3 named Frixo. 

Lonnie and I had a discussion a few weeks ago about new bridges verse old seasoned wood bridges.  In past we have been quick to discard the vintage bridges that come with a playable bass thinking we can improve the tone with a new French Despiau bridge replacement.  And for the most part, we have.  But we began to wonder if we could repurpose some of the older bridges that remain arrow straight but lack height. 

From this conversation I made some phone calls about buying more expensive seasoned wood bridges only to find out that the supply of good hardwood bridges is dwindling.  It seems the really high quality woods are not being imported so the variety of seasoned wood bridge blanks is not that vast.  We all pretty much have access to the same vendors and the same bridges.  This inspired Lonnie to try and repurpose the bridge that came on Frixo. 

The bridge is of good quality but just a bit short for an optimum set up.  So once again…and Lonnie dreams this stuff in his sleep…he made the effort to repurpose the bridge by adding a bit of height to the feet, instead of the leg.  While it would be MUCH easier to cut a new bridge, Lonnie took on the laborious task to add wood to the bridge foot.  We have some nice, hard boca (Brazilian hardwood) wood from a cabinet making friend that he has experimented making banjo bridges in the past. 

The new "boot" feet made from dark hardwood

Left foot not quite finished

Right foot beautifully carved and married to the bridge

Fitting the feet

Fingerboard is scraped nice and smooth.  Good solid piece of Brazilian rosewood

Some how Lonnie glued chunks of new of the dark wood to the bottom of the bridge feet and then carved it down from there.  I watched him whittle away to get these beautiful new feet fitted perfectly to the bridge.  Once again his craftsmanship, patience and skill amaze me.  The new feet are almost done and the bridge will be a very unique one of a kind bass bridge (or a bridge with boots, which is perfect for a guy that has a passion for exotic western boots).  I’ll be interested in seeing how this all works out.  Recycling an old wood bridge is a good thing.  The hours of time spent getting it just right…well…you have to enjoy playing with a piece of wood, otherwise it would not be worth the effort.

We are going to try a set of Thomastik weich on the bass first.  If it does not have enough ass…we will move up to mittels.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress!

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