The Bridge: Can We Do Better:
Mandolin Magazine, Ken Cartright,
Several years ago, Weber Mandolin Company in Belgrade, Montana, began shipping its instruments with a new bridge design called by its designer's name, a Brekke.
The bridge is very similar to the Monteleone in that it is 100 percent wood-to-wood contact, has a 92 percent footprint, but is easily adjustable by anyone at any time, without taking the strings or bridge off the instrument.
As with the Monteleone, the Brekke must be fitted to the instrument before it works well. In Photo #4, I have taken the Brekke bridge apart to show the components.
The only metal parts are the two one-eighth-inch by five- sixteenth-inch hex-head screws that screw in or out to increase or decrease the cam fulcrum action to push wood against wood.
This bridge is the best commercial improvement in bridge design since the Loar adjustable.
John Monteleone was on the right track and truly a pioneer in bridge advancement. The Brekke does not have the artistic lines of John's, nor
does it enhance the sound or intonation quite as well, but it is a major improvement in user friendly bridge design.
Sound and tone are very subjective and personal. If you have an $800 or better mandolin and you want to change and/or improve the sound to a fuller, richer, not as bright tone, you now have several solutions under $200. When you think about how sound travels and what materials do to change the sound as it travels through them, think about this: On an adjustable, standard Loar-style bridge, the sound travels from the strings to the top of the bridge to the two metal posts and thumb screws to a wooden base to the top. On the Brekke or Monteleone, the sound travels from the strings to the bridge to the top. No middle man.
No conversion of tone - just wood.
Ken Cartwright, owner of Cartwright's Music Repair in Stayton, Oregon, began repairing violins and guitars in Pennsylvania at the age of ten in his grandfather's fiddle shop. He completed an indentured-servitude apprenticeship in instrument repair and setup from 1969 to 1971 in Los Angeles and an internship with Guillermo Combreras in Michoacan, Mexico. From 1973 to the present he has worked full-time in stringed instrument repair, restoration and also training luthiers in Oregon's only luthier-apprenticeship program. Cartwright's Music recently moved from Salem to Stayton, and was formerly Natural Sound, Salem and Coos Bay.