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Wow, Rick, that's brilliant! You've got a real talent for challenging the conventions. Can't wait to see and hear where you're going with this :)

How does it sound?

Once again fascinating, I can't wait to see the complete project!

Congratulations on filing for the patent, Rick. It is gorgeous.

I think that this will change more than just your way of thinking of building instruments! Awesome! I can't wait to see what's in store from the list of things there.

It's very interesting to see more work in this area! Ned Steinberger and Steve Grimes did some work on a similar idea (see pat. no. 5,679,910). They include an interesting adjustable neck mechanism (length and tilt) as well as several manifestations of a "stress free" bridge system.

Great job! Nice shape! I'm an industrial designer and I'm without words! Very good innovation!


Elegant design I have to say. I've sketched on a similar design myself. Although, in my sketches, it was kept within the looks of an ordinary bridge. Of course mechanical principles in action are the same. I came up with the idea when trying to figure out what Babicz had in mind with their bridge design. Your design takes away the forces on the soundboard. In contrary I guess the Babicz solution answers a question that nobody have asked.

I find your work very inspiring. Both asesthetically and in terms of technical solutions.

I'm going to build my first acoustic guitar at Totnes School of Guitarmaking early next year. I'm fascinated with acoustic instruments in particular. And I would like to design and build more ergonomic and still elegant guitars in the future. I'm also interested in improving the guitars efficiency in transforming sting vibration to sound. Your bridge design could be a key element in such guitars.

As a mechanical engineer I find the complexity in the function of traditional sound board brazing a bit confusing. Taking away the torque and stress of the soundboard should give room for more optimal sound transducer designs.

I wish you good luck with your work Rick

How do you deal with intonation compensation? Do you have a way around this?

By the way, I think Bob Taylor wishes he was as clever as you are.

Thanks, Tyler.

I've owned Taylor acoustics and they are fine production guitars. I have a lot of respect for Bob and the excellent work he's done both in advancing lutherie and associated ecological issues. Perhaps at some point we'll have an opportunity to work together.

Intonation is approximate on the prototype pictured above, equivalent to a production acoustic. Compensation for the B was simply a matter of filing the cross-member.

This prototype was only to test the concept. More advanced bridge designs — with intonation compensation — are under development in prototype form. I will be publishing additional information as I have time.

This is really good, nice job!

I'm assuming that there has to be no appreciable break-angle in order to ensure zero-pressure on the top? I'm asking because I was wondering if this style of bridge could be retro-fitted to a vintage instrument with a delicate top?

Regards, John Maddock.

Beautiful design! Are the strings pulling up on the center crosspiece, as well as resting on the outer crosspieces? Love that tailpiece too!

This is a brilliant idea, not to mention stylishly executed, but there is very little that is new in the guitar world.

Take a look at the bridge on this guitar:

LINK | http://www.harpguitars.net/history/org_images/form1/lacote_9-stg-mfa_dangerous_curves.jpg

...Interesting, huh? That was built by Rene Lacote in 1827. He made at least one other (a seven string) with the same bridge. I assume he used this design to relieve the tension from the extra bass strings.

On a different note (no pun intended), your use of native woods is fantastic. It’s always nice to see someone making great instruments without using bits of what precious little rainforest we have left. Besides, cherry and walnut are easier to work and they don’t give you lung cancer. ;-)

That is truly genius Rick.

i really like your idea for the neutral tension bridge, yet im curious about the tone and projection of the instrument.

where i work, we put a lot of time and effort in to shaping all of the braces so the top resonates at a tone that sounds beautiful, but what really drives that is the tension from the strings, which also increases the projection and volume of the guitar.

it seems to me youd be trading one dragon for another, then again i havent heard your prototype. much respect.

Jake — thanks for commenting.

You can actually hear the prototype on my website. It is a small test instrument, slightly larger than a Martin backpacker. I built it just to test the concept — prove that it works — before applying for the patent.

LINK | http://www.ricktoone.com/2009/02/neutral-tension-bridge-recording.html

I'm currently building a full size guitar using this technology. It will sound much bigger and deeper, of course. It will also feature a (very) different embodiment of the Neutral Tension Bridge concept, along with a body mounted (headless) tuning system that I've had machined.

Unlike current acoustic guitars with centuries of bracing refinement, I think of this idea as ripe for exploration. It is the beginning of a new branch on the tree of acoustic instruments.

Very, very cool! I love the tailpiece. What is it made from?

Roger — Thanks very much! The tailpiece is stainless steel.

Rick, your site and the work it contains have me blown away. Not sure if I'm inspired or depressed now?

I love the look and concept of the NTB and I wonder if they are for sale individually somewhere.

Another question looking at it is have you tried to make one out of hardwood only (The heel piece not the bridge itself)? I'm looking at it thinking that if you used a joint similar to how a neck tenon is joined but at the butt of the body it would maintain your elegant design and reduce the amount of metals on the acoustic (that's my own taste of keeping it simple and natural, your stainless steel is amazing). I just wonder if the wood would hold up to the tension or if the stainless is needed for strength.

Thanks for this site. I can now share it with my engineer wife as a translation tool :-)


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Rick Toone

Neck Profiles

Tuning Systems

  • NUT

    Intonation adjustable.


    Ultimate tone and sustain.


    Precise headless tuning.