Since their patent in the late 1950s, the Bunker Individual Bridges have gained notoriety with many famous bass guitarists’ endorsements. (See Testimonials page.)
The patents for my Individual Bridge Systems were prompted by the demands of the innovative Touch Guitar, which is a tapping style of instrument. The Touch Guitar required a quicker and more responsive tonal attack, plus its strings needed to be electronically separated. Electronic string detection for this patented “Electronic Mute,” my individual bridge design, enabled this separation.
With a conventional bridge, uncontrolled string vibration can create a noise problem and a loss of clarity. When plucked, a string sends a circular motion of oscillation from the fret via the string to the intone piece of the bridge. For clarity of sound, the intone point of a guitar or bass must dampen as much of the oscillation as possible from flowing past it. But dampening that oscillation creates a new problem. With a conventional bridge, the more oscillating sound that is stopped, the more that bridge will cross-feed noise to the other commonly mounted intone pieces…and then they will oscillate in turn, creating after-tones that you really don’t want in your music.
When I first researched this problem, I confirmed the origins of the cross-talk or errant noise. My remedy was to build multiple stand-alone bridges with individual intone pieces that would restrain nearby strings from oscillating.
Tests using spectrum analyzers confirmed that if bridges were mounted individually, almost all cross-talk could be eliminated—the better the tonal “stop,” the greater the sound clarity. Where conventional bridges could not adequately dampen the vibration, my unique, patented bridge system did, and the purity of tone was impressively retained.
Ultimately, I developed three unique bridges (below), which I have incorporated into all my guitars.
1) Through the Body: Mounts through the body to the back with 2 steel posts.
2) Top Mount: Mounts on top of the body with only 1 steel post going through to the back.
3) Surface Mount: Does not go through the body but mounts on the top surface.
I am always forsaking the use of cheaper materials such as castings, aluminum, steel, and plastics. I never compromised my deep commitment to using musically accepted bell-brass for the bridges, which could be machined to precision tolerances for quality and a lifetime of use.
My individual bridges, materials, and techniques have been further refined over the years. And I’m still improving them to this day!