US 3427916 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. 18, 1969 c. L. FENDER 3,427,916
GUITAR AND ADJUSTABLE MUTE THEREFOR Filed June 2. 1956 Sheet of 2 INVENTOR. 6'2 ARENCE L. FENDER Feb. 18, 1969 c. L. FENDER 3,427,916
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.L CLARENCE L F's/V252 Arrae/wsns' United States Patent 13 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A bass guitar incorporating a spring-finger mute, there being one spring finger for each guitar string, such spring finger having a resilient damper means on the stringengaging end thereof. Screws are provided to individually adjust each spring to thereby regulate the muting pressures. Pivot and actuating means are provided to simultaneously release or engage all of the damper elements.
This invention relates to a guitar and to an adjustable mute for damping vibrations of the guitar strings. The invention is particularly adapted to be employed in conjunction with a bass guitar, although it may also be employed in conjunction with a conventional Spanish guitar, steel guitar, etc.
It is known in the art to provide spring-finger mutes for the individual strings of a bass guitar. Heretofore, however, no practical, economical and effective way has been devised for elfecting individual adjustment of the spring pressure applied by each individual mute portion. Thus, musicians employing bass guitars have been forced to resort to such expedients as manual bending of the individual spring fingers in an attempt to regulate spring pressure. This, however, was totally unsatisfactory in that the degree of spring pressure could not be accurately controlled, and because repeated manual bending of the individual springs resulted in damage thereto.
In addition to the above, and insofar as is known to applicant, no practical method has as yet been devised for eifectin-g conjoint adjustment of the various fingers of a bass mute in order to regulate the degree of muting. Thus, for example, it will be understood that there are times during a performance when no muting is desired, other times when full muting is desired, and other times when an intermediate degree of muting is wanted. It is therefore desirable to provide a practical, effective, and simple means whereby the guitarist may rapidly adjust the degree of muting, at any time during a performance, in a predetermined manner.
In view of the above and other factors characteristic of the field of mutes for guitars and the like, it is a primary object of the invention to provide a mute comprising a plurality of spring fingers having muting portions adapted to resiliently engage the individual strings of a guitar, in combination with means for effecting accurate adjustment of each individual spring finger in order to regulate the degree of spring pressure.
Another object is to provide a guitar mute incorporating a plurality of spring fingers, in combination with means to effect conjoint adjustment of all of the spring fingers between a position at which there is no muting, a position at which there is full muting, and intermediate positions at which there are different desired degrees of muting.
These and other objects will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a bass guitar incorporating the muting means of the present invention;
FIGURE 2 is an enlarged plan view of the bridge and mute regions of the guitar of FIGURE 1, a portion of the bridge cover being broken away;
FIGURE 3 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken on line 33 of FIGURE 2, and showing a portion of the means for effecting conjoint adjustment of all of the spring fingers;
FIGURE 4 is a view corresponding to FIGURE 3 but illustrating a different adjusted position of the muteoperating means;
FIGURE 5 is a fragmentary longitudinal section taken on line 55 of FIGURE 2, illustrating one of the muting fingers in a retracted position at which no muting is effected;
FIGURE 6 is a view corresponding generally to FIG- URE 5 but illustrating the finger in a position at which a substantial degree of muting is effected; and
FIGURE 7 is a sectional view taken on line 7-7 of FIGURE 2, but omitting the strings.
Referring first to FIGURE 1, a bass guitar is illustrated to comprise a body 10, neck 11, head 12, and strings 13- 16 inclusive. The strings lie generally ina single plane which is spaced above and generally parallel to the plane of the face of body 10. Not only are the strings spaced above the body, but they are spaced from each other, extending in tensioned relationship from tuning screws 17 to a bridge and mute structure 18 to be described hereinafter. The strings extend over a nut (bridge) 19 adjacent head 12, and also over a suitable pickup (transducer means) 20.
Pickup 20 is electrically connected to control means 22 and 23 adapted to control the volume and tone of the electrical signal generated in response to vibration of one or more of the strings. A jack indicated at 24, is adapted to receive a plug end of a cord which leads to a suitable amplifier and loudspeaker combination, not shown.
Proceeding next to a detailed description of the bridge and mute structure 18, this is illustrated to comprise an angle plate 25 which is secured by screws 26 to the face of guitar body 10. Mounted on such plate 25, and adjustably connected to the flange portion 27 thereof, are a plurality of bridge barrels 28 each adapated to support one of the guitar strings 13-16. Such bridge barrels, including the associated height-adjustment screws 29 and the longitudinal adjustment screws 30, are described in detail in my previous Patent No. 2,573,254, issued Oct. 30, 1951, for Combination Bridge and Pickup Assembly for String Instruments. The strings 1316, after extending over the bridge barrels 28, pass through small openings in the flange portion 27 and are anchored by means of eyelets indicated at 31 (FIGURES 5 and 6).
The mute portion of the bridge and mute structure 18 comprises an elongated mounting element 33 which, in the illustrated embodiment, is pivotally or rockably mounted for pivotal movement about an axis extending transverse to the strings 13 16. Stated more definitely, the mounting element 33 is pivotally or rockably mounted for pivotal movement about an axis which is parallel to the plane of the strings, spaced a substantial distance beneath the strings, and perpendicular to individual ones of the strings. In the illustrated embodiment, such axis of pivotal movement is also the axis of the element 33 itself.
Referring to FIGURE 7, pivotal mounting of element 33 is illustrated as being effected by inserting mounting screws 34 through openings in element 33 and downwardly into body 10. The holes through which screws 34 project are oversize, and the mounting element is maintained spaced above the face of body 10, so that pivotal movement may be effected. Preferably, the mounting screws 34 have generally conical or rounded heads, and the holes through which they project are correspondingly counterbored.
A plurality of spring fingers 35-38 are connected to mounting element 33 and extend, respectively, generally parallel to and beneath the respective strings 13-16. Each spring finger 3538 is illustrated as being generally rectangular in shape, and is formed of a suitable spring metal such as a relatively light-gauge spring steel. At the ends of the spring fingers 35-38 which are remote from mounting element 33, and relatively adjacent the bridge barrels 28, are provided string-engaging pad or damping elements 39 adapted to resiliently engage the undersides of the respective strings 'as shown in FIGURE 6. Elements 39 may have progressively different sizes, as illustrated in FIGURE 2, being relatively large under the lower-pitched strings 13 and 14 and relatively small under the higherspitched strings 15 and 16.
The ends of the springs adjacent mounting element 33 are illustrated as being integral with a channel or hook portion 41 which corresponds generally to, and fits closely around, an edge 42 of mounting element 33. Thus, and as shown in the drawing, the fingers and the channel portion may be stamped from a single sheet of spring steel. Edge 42 is preferably parallel to the described axis of pivotal movement of element 33, being the edge of element 33 which is remote from bridge barrels 28. It is pointed out, however, that the entire element 33 is mounted sufficiently close to the bridge barrels that the pad or damping elements 39 are relatively adjacent thereto.
Referring particularly to FIGURES and 6, it is emphasized that each spring finger 3538 is connected to the hook or channel portion 41 at an indented or fulcrum portion 43 which is generally parallel to the axis of pivotal movement. Such fulcrum portion 43 rests upon the upper surface of mounting element 33, for a purpose to be described hereinafter.
In accordance with a very important feature of the present invention, an adjustment and mounting screw 44 is inserted downwardly through an oversize opening in each of the spring fingers 35-38, being threaded through an internally-threaded opening in mounting element 33. Such screws are spaced substantial distances from the aboveindicated fulcrum portions 43, having lower ends which may be inserted into corresponding recesses 46 in body in order to prevent any interference between the body and the screws.
Each spring finger 35-38, when in its natural or undeformed (free) condition, is bent upwardly relative to hook or channel portion 41 at an angle much greater than that illustrated in FIGURE 5 or FIGURE 6. Accordingly, the heads of adjustment screws 44 exert substantial downward forces upon the spring fingers, bending the same downwardly against the inherent spring bias therein. Despite the described bending, there is no upward pivoting of the channel or hook portion 41 about the fulcrum portion. Such upward pivoting is, instead, prevented by the lowermost region of the hook portion, which extends horizontally beneath edge 42.
The described relationship provides an extremely simple, economical, attractive and effective means for causing the spring fingers 3538 to move both upwardly and downwardly in accordance with the degree of threading of each screw 44 into the mounting element 33. Only one adjustment and mounting screw is necessary for each finger, and no separate biasing springs are required, yet the musician can readily, by merely employing a screw driver, determine the exact degree of muting pressure which is exerted against an associated string 13-16.
There will next be described the means for effecting pivotal or rocking movement of element 33 about the above-specified axis, in order to effect conjoint shifting of the pre adjusted spring fingers 35-38 and damping elements 39 relative to strings 1316. Such means is illustrated to comprise a crank arm 47 which is pivotally connected to one end of mounting element 33. As best shown in FIGURE 7, the pivotal connection may comprise a bolt or rivet 48 which projects through registered openings in the elements 33 and 47, above a clearance recess 49 in guitar body 10. The end of crank arm 47 remote from mounting element 33 has provided thereon a knob or handle 51 adapted to facilitate pivoting of the arm 47 about a generally vertical axis (generally perpendicular to the face of the guitar body) through element 48. The crank arm should not be able to pivot, relative to mounting element 33, about any axis other than the indicated vertical one.
A cam-like step plate 52 is fixedly mounted on guitar body 10, for example by means of screws 53 projecting through a base portion of the step plate. As best shown in FIGURES 3 and 4, the upper edge of the step plate 52 has a plurality (illustrated as four) of generally horizontal portions 5457 each adapted to support the underside of crank arm 47. Portions 54 are disposed at progressively different elevations, being connected by inclined cam surfaces 58 to facilitate shifting of the crank arm 47 between the various step positions. Stop ears 59 are provided at each end of the upper edge of the step plate in order to prevent pivotal shifting of the crank 47 to an undesired position.
Referring particularly to FIGURES 5 and 6, means are provided to bias the mounting element 33 in such direction that the lower surface of crank arm 47 always remains in resilient engagement with one of the horizontal portions 5457. Such bias means are illustrated to comprise helical compression springs 61 which are seated in recesses 62 in body 10, bearing against the underside of the edge portion 42 of mounting element 33 (such edge being remote from the step plate). The bias means not only prevents undesired pivoting of element 33, but also prevents undesired pivoting of crank arm 47 about the vertical axis through bolt 48.
Substantially all, or all, of the assembly 18 may be covered by a housing means indicated at 63, the illustrated housing being secured to the guitar body as by the screws shown at 64 in FIGURE 2. It is emphasized that the housing may also cover the mounting element 33 and much or all of the crank arm 47.
Brief summary of operation In setting the present adjustable mute prior to use during a musical performance, the operator merely pivots the crank arm 47 to the position shown in FIGURE 4, so that it rests on the uppermost horizontal portion 57 of the step plate 52. Such pivotal movement is readily effected (-for example from the position shown in FIG- URES 2 and 3) because the edge of crank arm 47 rides up the various inclined cam portions 58. The indicated elevating of the distal end of crank 47 effects pivoting of mounting element 33 from the position shown in FIG- URE 5 to that shown in FIGURE 6, against the bias of the helical springs 61.
Because the mute element is then in its maximum-muting position, the musician can readily adjust the degree of maximum muting by merely turning individual ones of the adjustment screws 44. The turning of such screws causes individual pivotal movement of each of the mute fingers 3538 about the associated fulcrum portion 43. Thus, the guitarist may readily adjust the maximum degree of muting of each individual string of the guitar, independently of each and all other strings.
Once the degree of maximum muting has been adjusted in accordance with the desires of the musician, shifting of crank arm 47 to other positions will then achieve predetermined degrees or percentages of such maximum muting. When the crank 47 is on the lowermost horizontal portion 54 (FIGURES 2 and 3), the degree of muting is minimum. Frequently, but not necessarily (in accordance with the desires of the musician), when the crank arm 47 is on portion 54, each damping element 39 is out of engagernent with the associated string as shown in FIG- URE 5.
With the described construction, and by a very simple movement which may be made at any time during a performance, without even looking at the mute, the guitarist may shift the crank 47 to any one of four or more desired muting positions, thus achieving predetermined degrees of muting of the guitar strings. Because of the individual adjustment of the spring pressure for each individual string, the degree of muting is always precisely that which is desired by the guitarist.
It is emphasized that the vertical adjustability of the bridge barrels 28 makes the adjust-ability of the mute spring fingers 35-38 even more desirable than on guitars having bridges which are not adjustable.
The foregoing detailed description is to be clearly understood as given by way of illustration and example only, the spirit and scope of the invention being limited solely by the appended claims.
1. In combination with a guitar having a plurality of spaced and generally parallel strings mounted in tensioned relationship over a body, said strings lying generally in a plane substantially parallel to the face of said body, a mute or damper for said strings, said mute or damper comprising:
a plurality of spring fingers each associated with one only of said strings,
damper means mounted on each of said spring fingers 'for engagement with said associated one of said strings,
means to mount said spring fingers on said body in such relationship that each of said damper means engages one of said strings,
said mounting means being pivotally mounted on said body,
adjustable means to bend each of said spring fingers by a predetermined desired amount serving to regulate the pressure exerted by the associated damper means against the associated string whereby to control the degree of muting thereof, and
means to pivot said mounting means and thereby simultaneously vary the relationships between all of said damper means and the associated strings.
2. A bass guitar or the like, which comprises:
a body having a face,
a plurality of spaced and generally parallel guitar strings mounted in ten-sioned relationship over said body,
said strings lying generally in a plane substantially parallel to said face,
a mounting element mounted on said body and having an edge region extending generally parallel to said plane and generally transverse to said strings,
a plurality of spring fingers extending from said edge region to the vicinity of said plane of said strings between said plane and said face,
each of said spring fingers comprising a spring the distal end of which is located in said vicinity and the base end of which is located adjacent said edge region,
said base end of said spring fingers being shaped as a hook and having a portion inserted between said edge and said face,
resilient mute or damper means mounted on the distal ends of said spring fingers for engagement with corresponding ones of said strings, and
a screw inserted through each of said spring fingers and threaded through said mounting element,
said screw being so related to the associated spring finger that turning of said screw effects adjustment of the bias exerted by said resilient means against the string corresponding to said associated spring finger.
3. The invention as claimed in claim 2, in which each said spring fingers is a spring which, when in its natural or free condition, is bent upwardly from said mounting element by an amount greater than that permitted by the head of the associated screw, whereby said spring bears resiliently against said head and will remain in engagement therewith during and after turning of said screw to various adjusted positions.
4. The invention as claimed in claim 2, in which each of said spring fingers comprises an elongated spring having a depressed or fulcrum portion engaged with the upper surface of said mounting element, and in which said screw is threaded downwardly into said mounting element at a region between said fulcrum portion and said resilient mute or damper means.
5. The invention as claimed in claim 2, in which all of said spring fingers comprise flat springs integral with a base portion having said hook formed thereon, said springs and said base portion being formed from a single flat metal member.
6. The invention as claimed in claim 2, in which said mounting element is pivotally mounted on said face for pivotal movement about an axis generally parallel to said plane and transverse to said strings, and in which means are provided to effect pivotal movement of said mounting element about said axis to thus adjust simultaneously the positions of said spring fingers relative to said strings.
7. The invention as claimed in claim 2, in which a vertically-adjustable bridge is mounted on said body adjacent said resilient mute or damper means, said bridge engaging and supporting said strings.
8. A mute or damper device for a bass guitar or similar stringed instrument, which comprises:
a pivot element adapted to be pivotally mounted adjacent the face portion of a guitar body,
a crank member pivo-tally connected to said pivot element,
step-plate means adapted to be mounted on the face of the guitar and to support the end of said crank member remote from said pivot element, whereby the pivoted position of said pivot element is determined by the portion of said step-plate means on which said crank member is supported, and spring means mounted on said pivot element and having damper means on the ends thereof 'for resilient engagement with the strings of a guitar.
9. The invention as claimed in claim 8, in which means are provided to adjust individual portions of said spring means to thus vary the pressure exerted by said damper means against each individual guitar string.
10. The invention as claimed in claim 8, in which spring means are provided between said body and said pivot element to bias said pivot element in such direction that said crank member remains in engagement with said step-plate means.
11. The invention as claimed in claim 10, in which pivotal mounting means for said pivot element are provided in the form of screws adapted to be inserted into a guitar body through oversize openings in said pivot element.
12. The invention as claimed in claim 8, in which said step-plate means includes a plurality of flat edge regions adapted when said step-plate means is mounted on the face of a guitar body to be disposed progressively-increasing distance from said face.
13. The invention as claimed in claim 12, in which portions of said step-plate means between said flat regions are inclined whereby to provide a cam-like action relative to said crank member during shifting of said crank member between different ones of said flat regions.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,134,288 5/1964 Webster 84-311 3,260,148 7/1966 Fender 84267 RICHARD B. WILKINSON, Primary Examiner. G. M. POLUMBUS, Assistant Examiner.
US. Cl. X.R.