New Fingerstyle Bolt On Bridge Design Is A Success!
Tests on the prototype bolt on bridge went very well and the concept has now been integrated into the Aaron O'Rourke Fingrestyle soundboard. So what does it do and why was it worth waiting for? Functionally, the new design is superior in several ways. The action is now easily adjustable without removing the bridge. There are two set screws that allow adjustment from the top after slacking the strings. The bass side can be above or below the treble side so you can get the exact action you are looking for. Intonation can also be adjusted. This will be especially useful if you want to switch between steel and nylon strings. Steel strings are stiffer than nylon and require a longer vibrating string length to intonate properly. This adjustment can also be done from the top after releasing string tension. It will be possible to slightly skew the bridge, if one side requires a longer string length than the other.
But the biggest advantage to the new bridge is that the string retention is now incorporated into the bridge rather than the top. By removing two screws, the bridge can be replaced with an alternate bridge that, for example, accommodates four strings. In combination with the bolt on neck, the dulcimer is now the ultimate in flexibility. The standard three string neck is 1.50 inches wide, which is ample for four equidistant strings, so if you order a new instrument with a four tuner head, you will be set to try four strings in the future with the purchase of an additional bridge. Tests on four strings at full tension are yet to be done, but the instrument can definitely withstand four strings at slightly reduced tension.
So now the Aaron O'Rourke Fingerstyle Dulcimer can be your favorite nylon string, steel string, three string or four string instrument. All with a tone that is totally unique and far more expressive than the standard dulcimer. My guess is that few will ever outgrow it's potential for musical expression.
If you currently have an instrument being built by me, let me know if you are interested in a four tuner head. The additional cost will be $25. I haven't established the bridge pricing yet, but it should be in the neighborhood of $80 when available.