Pondering bridge plate woods

What're You Doing?
Post Reply
Stray Feathers
Posts: 484
Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:39 pm

Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by Stray Feathers »

I have started on a dreadnought (my first) using East Indian Rosewood and a fine sounding Sitka top. I am looking through hardwood I have on hand for the bridge plate. I would like to use rosewood but don't have a piece thick enough (.098" and plan calls for 1/8") and ordering it is more of a challenge these days. I have a scrap of Wenge but wonder if it is too splintery for a bridge plate. I also have a Narrah ukulele set that will leave me enough extra to cut a bridge plate out of. Same with a Black Locust guitar set. I have quite a bit of maple but now I can't remember if it is hard maple or Bigleaf Maple, which is a lot less dense. And I have a piece of what I think is Ovangkol. So far I have only used rosewood and maple. Has anyone any experience with any of these others for bridge plates? Thanks - Bruce W.
jread
Posts: 442
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:52 am

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by jread »

I'm sorry I don't have an answer but thought I'd mention that I've been wanting to try ebony and thought maybe it would come up in this thread.

I noticed recently that Martin sometimes uses carbon fiber-spruce-carbon fiber sandwiches. I've used both hard maple and Indian rosewood but who knows if there would a noticeable difference in the two since I of course can't test the same guitar with both.

One thing for sure is that I pay attention to is getting a nice tight fit into the braces. I ensure the plate is pushed flush against the X braces and that there is hhg in that seam thinking this will help transfer the vibration energy to the bracing more efficiently.

I've found that cut-offs from the backs on smaller guitars leaves enough material for a bridge plate so I trim those out before thickness sanding the tops. I've also bought raw fretboards (2" wide) on sale and run though the planer and can get 2 plates out of that. Exoticwoodzone and Rctonewoods often have sales. I've considered buying orphan sides too to keep the supply up, you can email these places and see what they have on hand.
tippie53
Posts: 6733
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: Hegins, Pa
Contact:

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by tippie53 »

rosewood wears more that maple
I have used
Cherry Liked
osage orange Loved
Maple like
EIR not so much
Brazilian OK
John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
president of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
http://www.bluescreekguitars.com
Stray Feathers
Posts: 484
Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:39 pm

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by Stray Feathers »

Thanks jread for your thoughts. I agree that offcuts from backs can be useful; I need to be more consistent about cutting out the backs before thicknessing, which is a little less wear and tear on the thickness sander anyway.

Re: fitting the plate tight to the braces, I don't know what to think. In his book, Jonathan Kinkead specifies a 1/32" gap between the plate and braces. I did that on my two most recent guitars, a six and a twelve, and they sound good, but I can't say better than the two I made the other way. I have read some views that plates should even be tucked under the braces, as tone bars are. Some say that's a problem if the plate needs replacing. (Maybe that's why Kinkead leaves a gap?) It's been discussed here before I think, but I can't recall anything definitive.

John Hall, thanks for your input, based on experience. I have a Stew Mac plan which specifies maple, and an older Bill Lewis plan that says rosewood is good tonally, but I had not heard that it wears more. I may try one of the alternative hardwoods I have to see what happens, or I may chicken out and use maple. And I am interested that you like cherry, given that it is softer. So much to learn . . . Bruce W.
tippie53
Posts: 6733
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: Hegins, Pa
Contact:

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by tippie53 »

often rosewood is refered to as the Brazillian
John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
president of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
http://www.bluescreekguitars.com
Skarsaune
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:12 am

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by Skarsaune »

I’m using black locust in the black locust 000 I’m finishing up. Won’t know how well it does for a few years though. :-)
jread
Posts: 442
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:52 am

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by jread »

tippie53 wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 10:52 am rosewood wears more that maple
I have used
Cherry Liked
osage orange Loved
Maple like
EIR not so much
Brazilian OK
Using Osage Orange for my current build, thanks for the tip. I didn't know about this hardwood but it grows here.
https://www.indystar.com/story/life/hom ... 794561001/
Skarsaune
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:12 am

Re: Pondering bridge plate woods

Post by Skarsaune »

I’ve got an Osage orange back and side set in the to-be-built pile. Got a number of small pieces at the same time for bridge plates, etc.
Post Reply