Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Its amazing how closely one can examine the acouterments of a particular specialty and what one may find there. Take banjo bridges for example. Most people probably don't give much thought to them in their daily lives. Some people do though. In the thriving subculture that is banjo playing, bridges are pretty huge. There are several designs on the current market, all focused on sales but designed to bring out the best sound from your banjo; "guaranteed to make your contemporary banjo sound pre-war". What does banjoboy use, you are probably wondering? Hey, thanks for asking. When I first moved to the Twin Cities area in 1970, I sought out the banjo crowd. I was led to a gentleman in south Minneapolis named Mike Osgar. Mike was a big guy, Scandinavian, and very Minnesotan in the old world sense. Mike made banjo bridges in his basement. He sold them to Grover and Gibson, who put them on their banjos and sold them to the retailers. I would visit Mike every once in a while and once he inlaid some ivory birds in a truss rod cover for my old '29 RB3. I would play tunes for Mike and he would say, "You can get a lot of music out of a five string". A couple of years after I first met Mike, I was working at The Podium, the area's finest guitar/pipe/tobacco/sheet music emporium. The owner mentioned he needed to order some banjo bridges and wanted to know from me what to order. I contacted Mike and we bought bridges directly from the source. I would go through the lots and select bridges that were exactly quarter sawn and showed the distinctive cross grain from that. I gleaned about a dozen through the year or two I was there and those are my bridges. I still use the first ones I put on each banjo, so the other eight or so I have left ought to last me forever and an extra five lives. These bridges are not only made by a master and selected for premium quality, they are now over thirty years old. They rock. They are transcendent bridges and there are none finer anywhere. I love them. I have let loose of only two through the years. One I put on a converted mint 1928 TB-5 that belonged to my buddy Bill's brother that I went through and set up. Eric mentioned to me that he put a new bridge on the TB-5 when I talked to him and I insisted he mail the bridge I put on it back to me. He called back and told me that he would be keeping the bridge I sent. He had spent some time comparing the sound of the two and heard the difference. Other than using some wood from The Cross, I don't know how they could be cooler. But that's just me.


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