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Kenny Burrell bridge saddle

JimR56

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Oct 20, 2012
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I was answering somebody's question on the Gibson forums today, about the guitar that Burrell used on his classic Blue Note album "Midnight Blue"...

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/117229-kenny-burrel-es/page__pid__159306

I was just looking at the photos I posted in the thread, and something caught my eye. I've looked at this photo many times, but I had never noticed what appears to be an unusual bridge (?).

43c77b26250832e9bf30320ffc401687.jpg


I've been an archtop enthusiast for many years, but I'm not sure what to make of that. Anybody have any insight or ideas what we're looking at there?
 

Wilko

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I always wondered about his guitars. The one on the cover of Midnight blue is this one:
hqdefault.jpg


Every time I saw him play live he used sunburst Super 400s with the florentine cutaway.

That bridge you posted is interesting... I seem to remember seeing something similar. It wasn't a roller but it had pieces of "bone" sitting on rosewood.
 
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Hammertone

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Jun 11, 2002
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It's a third-party West German bridge that was used by various West German guitarmakers in addition to Hoyer, and was also available as an after-market part. The adjustable white pieces are plastic, not bone. Actually a decent bridge. There's a guy on ebay selling brass replacement inserts.

It also came as a black cast plastic bridge with the same white plastic adjustable pieces. That version is tone-sucking garbage.
 

JimR56

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Wow, very interesting! Thanks Wilko, and Hammertone. This whole guitarchaeology thing sure gets complicated sometimes. I guess I'll never get too old to learn something new like this on occasion. Never seen a bridge like that, although I have heard the name Hoyer.

So I wonder now... why that bridge? Did Burrell seek one out, or did some luthier or repairman suggest it, or...? I guess we may never know for sure.

I find it pretty amazing, though, that something like this just happens to turn up in relation to a specific guitar which (for me, at least) produced perhaps THE most delicious and perfect archtop/jazz tone ever created. It didn't hurt that we're talking about a vintage L5 here, with a Charlie Christian pickup, and KB's fingers no doubt had a lot to do with it, but this adds a new twist.

I've obsessed for years over the evolution of KB's tone as well as his playing, and I really find the sound of that specific guitar to stand out among his great recordings from the 50's/60's (the tone he got with his D'Angelico/DeArmond 1100 was also sublime, but quite different, of course). So, I just wonder how much of a coincidence it is that the guitar in question had such an "unusual" bridge on it. A "secret ingredient" to what I find to be an iconic tone? Oh well, all I can say is that if I stumbled onto one of those bridges, I'd probably want to give it a tryout. :hmm

By the way, that custom(ized) instrument posted above (florentine cut, "6-finger" tailpiece) is a bit of a mystery as well. KB definitely enjoyed some experimentation, especially back in those years.
 

TM1

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I wonder if that bridge was made by the same company who make the tailpiece, ABM. My late friend Klaus Muller owned this company before he died about 6 years ago of a heartattack (at age 54..).
The two guys who own it now are really nice and make top quality stuff, but I doubt if they would know. they moved everything from the Nurnberg area(Bavaria/Franconia region) up to Berlin.
 

Wilko

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Do we really know what guitar (s) was/were used to record that record?

I'm not sure it's all the same guitar. There times when I've listened to the old vinyl thinking it was clearly a more "acousticy" sound that usually means the carved top versions. Pictures from that period often have one of two blonde ES-175s. One has 1 pickup, others show two.
 

JimR56

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Do we really know what guitar (s) was/were used to record that record?

I'm not sure it's all the same guitar. There times when I've listened to the old vinyl thinking it was clearly a more "acousticy" sound that usually means the carved top versions. Pictures from that period often have one of two blonde ES-175s. One has 1 pickup, others show two.

You make a good point, which I probably should have mentioned. There's no doubt he could have brought more than one guitar to the MB session. I was mainly basing my reference to the sunburst L5/CC on the photos (two, at least) by Francis Wolff, taken at the actual session. The photo that made me curious about the bridge is one of those.

I don't know whether he modified his blond ES-175(s), or what, but you're right- there were at least a few variations that he used. Some of the photos I've seen in the past are now only in my memory. Some I saw in books, some probably on LP sleeves. I sold all of my LP's and converted to CD's many years ago.

By the way, I think my favorite track for KB tone is actually not a Blue Note, but a Columbia recording. It was in the can for years, and released over a decade later on an LP called "Bluesin' Around". It's now available on a CD titled "Moten Swing", on the Euphoria label.
 

Hammertone

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Jun 11, 2002
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I wonder if that bridge was made by the same company who make the tailpiece, ABM. My late friend Klaus Muller owned this company before he died about 6 years ago of a heartattack (at age 54..).
The two guys who own it now are really nice and make top quality stuff, but I doubt if they would know. they moved everything from the Nurnberg area(Bavaria/Franconia region) up to Berlin.

The bridge on Burrell's guitar (and on the Hoyer guitar shown above) was made by the Josef Teller company in Bubenreuth. They made most of the wood archtop bridges used by West German archtop makers after WWII. They also supplied Guild, and continue to supply various smaller makers and luthier supply houses with archtop bridges.

It is either a model 104 (ebonized pearwood) or a model 104P (rosewood).
 
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