-= Bridge FAQ =-

For help with setups and other technical issues.
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-= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by mezcalhead » Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:00 am

We get a lot of posts and threads about offset bridges, so here as suggested by forum members is a FAQ which summarizes pretty much everything that has been said on the forum about them. I've tried to credit everyone involved.

We've included links to certain products themselves, but we've tried to avoid retailers. Nothing should be taken as an endorsement of any particular manufacturer; we don't get any advertising revenue from anyone and we have no plans to change that at present.

For now I'll sticky it to the top of this section and invite comments regarding body of the FAQ. After a while here I'll wipe all the comments after incorporating them into the body of the text, and lock it as a permanent FAQ with further comment by PM only.

It will supersede the "how I setup my bridges" thread, so I'll unsticky that and let it sink into the depths.

We hope to follow this up with a few more FAQs on frequently occurring topics, so feel free to suggest some .. for example, a FAQ on recommended replacement pickups and how to solder them in is underway.

BTW can someone check that the link to the Schaller Roller Bridge is the correct part?
Last edited by mezcalhead on Tue May 01, 2007 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by mezcalhead » Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:03 am

Bridge FAQ

Complaints about the stock bridges are common - there is a lot of buzz, the strings jump from their saddles, the height screws shift, they don't stay in tune, etc. This FAQ is to help anyone with questions about their Jazzmaster/Jaguar bridge. It has been compiled from numerous posts and threads throughout the forum.

Stock Jazzmaster/Jaguar bridges

A lot of players find that with a decent set-up and moderately heavy strings (.010 or .011 and up) the stock bridge is absolutely fine. This will of course depend on your playing style.

Bear in mind that there are a few differences to the set-up as compared with Strats and LPs, and a tech who is unfamiliar with offset-waist Fenders may not perform a decent set-up. Most players on the forum eventually learn to do their own set-ups, but that's a topic for another FAQ.

Vintage bridges are generally more stable than modern ones, particularly the CIJ/MIJ bridges. Whether this is due to ancient craftsmanship or simply the forty years' worth of rust, dirt, sweat, beer and unidentifiable muck (sorry, mojo) that vintage bridges acquire is anyone's guess.

Bridge tilt

The bridge should sit dead upright in the thimbles and tilt freely as the trem is used. The only thing holding it in place is the strings. If the strings have been loosened and then tightened without the bridge being reset to centre then it may be resting against the back or front of the thimbles, which can cause buzz or tuning instability while using the trem. It can be easily put back in place by loosening the strings, just hold it central as you retune.

DIY mojo

If the bridge is buzzing because of loose screws, or you find that the saddle or bridge height screws (or even the intonation screws) shift, you can simply use your own way of gunking the bridge up. White teflon tape, available in hardware stores, is a good method. Wrap the tape counter-clockwise around each screw so it stays put when the screw is rethreaded. Loctite, which is a kind of glue designed for this sort of purpose, is also a classy way to do it - the "light" version (blue) is recommended.

However, you can use pretty much anything you might find around the house - if you have buzz from one or two loose screws, drops of clear nail polish or superglue onto the part are reversible with nail polish remover (acetone). For a bridge full of rattles, you can dip the entire bridge into wax like potting a pickup - let the stuff cool down, take out the bridge and wipe off excess wax. The screws are basically glued in place, yet the wax is soft enough to allow for easy adjustments. Even hair pomade has been used by one forum member to coat each individual bridge part and does the job.

If you find that your bridge is actually too rusty, try WD-40 to dissolve some of the rust. D-5 Deoxit and a little elbow grease works too, or the brass brush on the Dremelhas also been used.

Bridge posts

Wrapping tape such as Scotch tape or electrical tape around the bridge posts will prevent them from buzzing if the bridge tilts and the posts contact the sides of the thimbles. You can also put something a little thicker such as a few bits of heatshrink to limit this movement which is said to make the tuning more stable, but bear in mind that the bridge is designed to tilt as the tremolo moves - this movement is part of the trippy sound of the tremolo. If it doesn't return to its original position this will cause problems with tuning but is more likely to be due to problems elsewhere than in the bridge itself - binding in the nut slots for example.

Intonation screws

Sometimes after setting the bridge up and setting string height, a couple strings may touch the intonation screws... If the saddles aren't adjusted high enough and the bridge IS in order to compensate, then the strings will hit the backside of the bridge itself. I have found that there is a fine balance between bridge height and saddle height which will cure this. Also moving the strings into different grooves on the saddles can help somewhat.

If the reverse is true that the bridge is low and the saddles high, sometimes the intonation screw will foul the string, especially on the G string saddles. A lot of players simply cut the extra bit of screw off, if it isn't a vintage part. Another tip is to turn the entire bridge around, so the intonation screws are facing backwards. Of course you have to re-orient your saddles, but you don't have to mod anything. If a string hits the screw behind the bridge, it's not much an issue (unless maybe you're an avid trem user).

Saddle tilting

Tilting saddles that strings tend to jump out of can help. Most commonly the outer height screws of the high and low E saddles are raised to prevent the strings from popping outward, off the fretboard.

Strings behind the bridge

Most players like the extra resonance provided by the length of strings between the bridge and the trem block, which seems to be part of the offset sound. Some (like Sonic Youth) pluck the strings there as part of their technique. However, some players prefer to dampen this which can be done by placing a rubber band around the strings when restringing, or simply placing a small block of foam underneath them.

Mods to the standard bridge

Saddle grooves

To reduce string jumping, some people simply find where they like their strings to sit and deepen those grooves with a narrow file.

Mustang saddles

Single  Mustang saddles will fit into a stock bridge base. For the benefits for/against see under Mustang bridges.

Graphtech saddles

Graphtech String Savers or Tusq saddles have a single slot like a Mustang saddle but also have adjustable height screws. They're also made of a graphite-like material which is slippery and enhances movement of the string over the saddle, which may not be relevant if you're using a standard floating bridge set-up.

The saddles are narrower side-to-side than stock saddles. Some players adapt this by placing spacers (e.g. of card, paper, tiny washers) between the saddles, some just leave them and report no problems.

Note that if you switch to graph tech saddles and your guitar is grounded to the bridge you will have to re ground to the trem because the saddles are not metal - this goes for any non-conductive saddles.

Tone changes are said to be similar to a Mustang bridge - a little more defined and attacking, a little less sparkling and detailed.

Buzz stops

The buzz stop is a device that fits to the guitar between the trem block and bridge and changes the break angle of the strings over the bridge. This should increase downward pressure on the bridge and reduce buzzing and string jumping. It is fixed in place with the trem block screws so it's reversible and doesn't need any permanent mods to the guitar.

The potential downsides are a change in string tension which increases sustain and removes some of the characteristic sound of the guitar (sometimes described as a loss of high-end detail or sparkle), probably due to deadening the strings behind the bridge. The feel of the tremolo is also altered to be a bit stiffer and less touch-sensitive which is more obvious on a Jazzmaster than a short-scale Jaguar. Some people prefer these changes.

Alternative bridges

Mustang bridge

A stock Fender Mustang bridge is a simple conversion, and drops right in to replace the stock Jazzmaster or Jaguar bridge. It matches the standard vintage 7.25" radius perfectly, and the saddles have single grooves which reduces string jumping. The saddles also don't have individual height screws, which means less adjustments to come loose. However, you can't raise (or lower) certain strings to be away from the standard 7.25" radius.

As per the Graphtech saddles, the saddles are narrower side-to-side than stock saddles.

Some players find that the sound is defined a little more and has a slightly stronger attack with a Mustang bridge, and/or that the jangle is reduced.

Warmoth Modified Mustang Bridge

Warmoth sell a modified Mustang bridge, which has height screws in the outer four saddles (i.e. not the G and D saddles) so you can get the advantage of single grooves but also adapt to a different radius.

Tune-o-matic bridge

This is the standard Gibson bridge, and there's usually some adjustment of the thimble area required to fit them except on the Nashville Tune-o-matics which have more slender bridge posts. Fender's version is called the Adjust-o-matic and is essentially the same thing.

The benefits include less likelihood of buzz as there is less potential for loose mechanical parts, slightly better sustain as the bridge assembly is a more solid design and if cut right, the saddles will hold the strings better.
Some players feel that the harmonics behind the bridge from the droning lengths of string are killed off a little more, while others feel they are dramatically increased.

The downsides include modification to fit as above and friction on the strings during trem movement (as the bridge is fixed as doesn't float), which may cause string breakage but can be reduced by filing the saddle slots smooth (see image below) and putting some lubricant in them such as graphite. Also, the bridge is set to the Gibson radius and has to be re-adjusted to a 7.25" fretboard radius, usually by deepening the saddle grooves (try a square or triangle file to get a V-shaped slot).

Normally, the saddles of a Tune-O-Matic look like examples 1 or 2 when you buy it. Cutting them more like example 3 makes for a much smoother trem action, since the strings then won't be resting on a sharp edge.
Image



Schaller Roller Bridge

The Schaller Roller Bridge will drop in to the standard thimbles, but is higher than the stock bridge and may require extra shimming of the neck in some guitars. The strings move over roller saddles, rather than the bridge floating as was the original intention. The roller saddles are threaded and move side-to-side so that string spacing can be adjusted. As for the tune-o-matics, the bridge is set to the Gibson radius.

Mastery Bridge

Pros:
increased sustain, especially with bends
no string jumping
increased resonance of the guitar body when playing unplugged, translating to a fuller plugged in sound
adjustable radius
works well with the tremolo system, has good tuning stability

Cons:
pricey, $160
requires a wait list to get it
height adjustment screws sometimes loosen, requiring loctite
won't accommodate a bridge cover

More info/reviews here.



Contributors: chrisjedijane, fullerplast, geoffreysnow, GTO, i love sharin foo, JazzBlaster, Mad-Mike, mezcalhead, TheMilford, mjet260, mynameisjonas, NBarnes21, NoFi, Orang Goreng, Pumpkin, sookwinder, spaceghost, stereordinary
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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by NoFi » Mon May 07, 2007 11:57 am

Good, good !
Yes the link to the schaller is the correct part, it drops in to the standard thimbles with the help of some tape. I think the radius is similar to tunomatics, so they are ok on guitars with a 9.5 radius, but more problematic with the original 7.25" radius instruments. They cant be adjusted by filing obvioulsy.

I think it would be worth mentionning that some (or all ?) of the newer mustang bridges have a gap between the saddles that can be annoying. When the strings are pulled to tension, the saddles tend to fill the gap by coming closer to each other, the string spacing changes a little, and things are never quite settled. Some people wont mind, but setup perfectionnists will hate this. The vintage mustang bridges dont have any gaps, the saddles touch each other and dont move at all, they really feel heavy and sturdy.
Edit : i just noticed you mentionned this under graph tech saddles :-).
Last edited by NoFi on Mon May 07, 2007 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by mezcalhead » Fri May 11, 2007 1:16 am

Thanks NoFi .. your annotations have been included.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by monk » Tue May 22, 2007 6:50 am

thanks for the informative faq!

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by Puke+Cry » Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:09 pm

Cool thanks.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by JazzBlaster » Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:48 pm

If you switch to graph tech saddles and your guitar is grounded to the bridge you will have to re ground to the trem because the saddles are not metal.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by mezcalhead » Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:10 am

Thank you David, your annotations have also been included.

:)
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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by MuffFuzz » Mon Jun 18, 2007 6:54 pm

Can someone post a website or two that sells the mustang bridge?

TheodorJ

Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by TheodorJ » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:26 am


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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by woody » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:10 am

Thanks to all who contributed the info. Nice to have a source like this for quick reference.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by magikker » Sat Jun 23, 2007 9:39 am

I think that it should be mentioned in the Warmoth section that the modified mustang bridge's have saddles that don't touch... There is a definite gap between my saddles on the one that came in the mail.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by TheMilford » Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:43 pm

God... wouldn't it be really easy to have somebody machine exact copies of the Mustang saddles?

the other difference of note it that the Japanese made Mustang saddles are chromed brass... the originals are steel.
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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by MuffFuzz » Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:14 pm

I didn't feel like making another thread about the mustang bridge so I decided to post it here.

I've got a mustang bridge coming in the mail soon and wanted to know if putting the electrical tape around the bridge posts was pretty manditory? I also read somewhere(I think it was here) that you could just detune all the strings; while lifting them up and unscrew your current bridge; then put in the new one. Does this actually work too? I was going to take it to a tech and let him deal with it but If this isn't so difficult then i'd rather fine tune my own instrument.

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Re: -= Bridge FAQ =-

Post by TheMilford » Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:20 pm

MuffFuzz wrote: I didn't feel like making another thread about the mustang bridge so I decided to post it here.

I've got a mustang bridge coming in the mail soon and wanted to know if putting the electrical tape around the bridge posts was pretty manditory? I also read somewhere(I think it was here) that you could just detune all the strings; while lifting them up and unscrew your current bridge; then put in the new one. Does this actually work too? I was going to take it to a tech and let him deal with it but If this isn't so difficult then i'd rather fine tune my own instrument.
Not manditory and you should just dive right in and do-it-yourself... you'll eventually learn to set up your JM/Jag better than any hack at a guitar shop.
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