Halflight Guitars 'Naiad' English Walnut 2017  bridge w.jpg

The idea behind the the Naiad bridge is to achieve a direct connection between all parts, a 'pure flow' of vibration, and to maximise the influence of the wood on the tone. The fretwire saddle is also important, maximising the connection and interaction between the strings, whether played together or allowed to ring sympathetically.

Every bridge design has it's own character. In my experience bridge material and design is second only to pickup choice in terms of the most obvious and immediately noticeable tonal changes on an electric guitar. Metals have their own sound, the more metal on the guitar the more 'metallic' the sound will be. The movement of vibrations through complicated and separated forms like screws and springs also has a big effect. This one piece wooden bridge with fretwire saddle, with no separated, adjustable parts, glued under high pressure directly to the top, has all the resonance, sustain, overtones and general beauty of sound that has made wood the preferred material for stringed instrument construction for centuries.

The bridge is preset, at the making stage, for intonation profile, spacing and action on each individual guitar, in relation to the string gauge and scale length used. It can be made for any string gauge, scale length or action setting. Higher actions and different string gauges would not necessarily work with the straight saddle, but can certainly be done in this style. Like the Naiad zero fret and nut arrangement it allows complete freedom of string spacing as well as precision control over the string height and over pressure at the contact point.

The straight fretwire saddle, shown above, is my preferred setup and works for the strings used in combination with all the combined properties of the rest of the instrument. The tension of the strings, as affected by the string path and areas of contact all over the guitar, and the action, is such that the need for compensation is adjusted to be a straight line, taking into account the intonation over the whole of the fretboard, not just the 12th fret. See the intonation section for more thoughts on this.

A Fretwire saddle can have the hard, polished and minimal area contact point that is the ideal. Usually though, the downforce that is required for good tone will cause the string to quickly wear away a small contact point, even on the very hard stainless steel fretwire that I use. This will ruin the quality of the contact point surface and move the intonation point slightly. The 'nut' arrangement behind the saddle therefore holds the string so that the downforce on the fretwire is minimal- just enough for a clear sound, and no more, both to avoid wear and to avoid changing the intonation of the heard note. The 'nut' also holds the string against any sideways movement over the saddle that would cause wear.

This arrangement also moves the position of the main transfer of the force of string tension from the intonation point to the wooden surfaces of the bridge. This protects the contact point, but also means that energy here is travelling through wood that is directly coupled by a high pressure glue joint between highly refined surfaces- a principal of the Naiad design in many ways, and the same as on the Nut arrangement. Another advantage, which is again also present on the Nut arrangement, is that bending forces from string tension are distributed both up and down, which acts to balance the forces felt by the neck, reducing the need for truss rod counter forces and the inherent distortions that these bring.