mastery bridge

John Woodland inspects John Lennon's 1962 Martin D-28, the guitar Lennon used all throughout the 1970s

and on his last live performance.

Photo by Zoran Orlic.

Leo Fender didn’t get everything right the first time: How John Woodland perfected the offset guitar bridge.

Leo Fender designed the Jazzmaster in 1958, and for 50 years musicians fell in love with its elegant shape and unique sound—and fell out of love with its temperamental and fickle bridge. A luthier and designer named John Woodland put in a lot of time thinking about this problem—and a lot of time trying to fix those challenging bridges. In 2008 he had a flash of brilliance. The result of that flash was the Mastery Bridge.

The Mastery Bridge seems to be everywhere now. It's on new and vintage instruments played by Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Elvis Costello, Sean Lennon, Troy Van Leeuwen, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and many others, and on boutique guitars from BilT, Fano, and others. “Before John," says BilT's Tim Thelen, “the best anybody could do was to use a modified Mustang bridge. If there was no Mastery Bridge, there would be no BilT guitars."

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