Can you guess what this is and what its possible use could be?
This has been the reason for my preoccupation over the last few months.
The way guitars are constructed in our dear India, you must shell out upwards of 15K to acquire a decent guitar. Anything else in the lesser price bracket is a disaster waiting to happen. Notice, I have not named brands and models, instead I quote a price range.
Like I have said often, after you cross that 15K price barrier, you get an instrument which has elements which justify the price. Elements? Almost everything used in the instrument is of a (comparatively) superior quality – most importantly – the bridgeplate. The bridgeplate is the heart of your guitar.
But not all of us can afford to shell out 15K – 20K for a guitar. An overwhelming majority falls for a 4K – 5K instrument. What the quality of elements is in this guitar, I leave to your imagination. So, within six months (a year at best) you will find the instrument develop a belly that an ‘expensive’ guitar may not sport in a decade!
Why does this phenomenon happen? String tension tries to pull the top up of the guitar. It is the job of the bridgeplate to counter that tension and prevent any bellying from occurring. Because the material used for a bridgeplate in a ‘budget guitar’ is just any piece of wood that the manufacturer managed to lay his hands on, the bridgeplate is found woefully inadequate.
The first photograph is a cheap bridgeplate which has seen better days, while the third one is what you would expect to see in an ‘expensive’ guitar. The second photograph shows the positioning of the bridgeplate on the underside of the guitar top.
Keeping all that I have said till now as the background, I had my thinking cap on, trying to figure out a way to deal with the deluge of of cheap guitars that come knocking at my doorstep.
The solution to the problem is what the Western world calls a Mitchel’s PlateMate (a mate of the bridgeplate) developed by Mitchel Meadors, a talented Bluegrass musician and inventor.
The PlateMate gets stuck on the bridgeplate and takes the brunt of string tension on itself, providing years to the bridgeplate. This has a two-fold effect: a) the bridgeplate is protected from damage from the string ball-end, and b) since the bridgeplate is not taking the tension of the strings directly, it stays ‘unstressed’ for longer.
On Mitchel’s site, the Plate Mate sells for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. That’s Rs 1654+ shipping and handling!!!!!
Would you pay 2.2K – 2.5K for the Plate Mate to be installed in a 4K – 5K instrument? I wouldn’t!!
StewMac, a respected but frightfully expensive luthier store, also in the US, charges $26.66 plus shipping!
And, here’s where I come in. From those strips of metal, I shall shape individual PlateMates that are made to fit your guitar only. Think of it as buying a readymade shirt and getting one stitched to your measurements and it will be done at 1/3 the price of the bigger players.
Right! So, the bridgeplate is protected and bellying will be delayed by installing the PlateMate. What effect will it have on the sound of the instrument?
Most finger-style players – those who love to arpeggiate chords – will love what the PlateMate will do to the sound of the instrument. However, country/bluegrass style musicians who cherish the bass response of their instruments may not like the modification.
But, then again, that is my assumption. If you are a country/folksy musician, maybe, you will like the change of sound, after all!
If you wish to protect your bridgeplate, do drop into the Lucknow Guitar Garage and experience the transformation the PlateMate can do.