One of the most important components of a banjo is the bridge. The function of the bridge is to transfer the vibrations produced from the strings to the body of the instrument. For this reason, the overall sound of the banjo heavily relies upon the placement of the bridge. While most banjo manufacturers pre-install the bridge, occasionally you may need to readjust or replace it. Installing a banjo bridge takes a little concentration but, when done properly, it can greatly enhance the sound of your instrument.
Place the banjo on a flat surface and lay the bridge on the head with the logo or brand name facing down.
Slide the bridge horizontally underneath the strings approximately halfway down the head of the banjo.
Pull the strings upward near the tailpiece of the banjo and gradually raise the bridge into an upright position. When you let go of the strings, the bridge will be held in place.
Shift each string into its respective slot on the top of the bridge.
Slide the bridge down toward the tailpiece until it is approximately two-thirds of the way down the head of the banjo. You are now ready to set the intonation.
Place your finger on the first string at the 12th fret without pushing it down. Pluck the string and then quickly remove your finger to produce a harmonic tone.
Place your finger on the first string at the 12th fret again, but this time push it down and hold as you pluck the string. The sound should be exactly the same. If the sound is either flat or sharp, move the bridge forward or backward slightly until it is the same.
Repeat the process for the remaining strings.
Once you have installed the bridge, lightly mark the position on the head of the banjo using a pencil. This will allow you to quickly install a new bridge at a later date or adjust the existing one if it is accidentally moved.
Make sure the bridge is standing completely upright before you begin to fine tune the intonation.
Adam White began writing in 2007 and is currently based in Norwich, U.K. White graduated from the University of East Anglia with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and is currently continuing his studies at the university for a Master of Arts in culture and modernity.