Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

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DeanoSonic
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Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by DeanoSonic » Sun May 29, 2016 3:30 am

After searching online for detailed information, I couldn't find an in depth A/B comparison of the Mastery and Staytrem bridges anywhere so I ended up buying one of each to try out and see for myself. Here's a run down of what I found for those of you looking to find out all the differences in one post.

I have a Squier VM Jaguar and a Squier VM Jazzmaster - both completely stock. I put the Mastery and Staytrem bridges on both guitars and swapped them over from one to the other (leaving the stock thimbles in place) to see if there were any noticeable differences and to find out if one was any better than the other. They both performed great in either guitar and were massive improvements over the stock bridges which have now been relegated to the very, very bottom of the parts bin. Neither of the necks were shimmed to increase break angle and both bridges have no problem keeping the strings in place and in tune during heavy playing and normal vibrato use. They each have the same string spacing of 52mm which is slightly narrower than the stock 55mm bridge and place the strings in a better position relative to the neck and pick up poles. The rear sections of both base plates are designed to give plenty of clearance for the strings to make their way to the vibrato. Special mention to the Mastery which has exceptional clearance and a unique rear profile.

There are some pros and cons with each design which may be more important to some than to others and these are my observations from my experience with these Squier VM guitars in an attempt at improving the poorly performing standard bridge and addressing tuning issues. I found that replacing the vibrato was not really needed as both bridges, particularly the floating Staytrem were very smooth and stable. The stock vibratos work fine so long as the spring is tensioned properly and the arm is pushed firmly all the way into the collet. No other mods were made to the guitars other than setting them up correctly and widening the nut slots to accept 10's on the Jazz and 11's on the Jag. I highly recommend doing this and using 'Nut Sauce' or any other suitable lubricant on the nut to assist the vibrato action and reduce tuning issues. I was intending to install a Mastery Vibrato with the Mastery Bridge but have not found the need yet.

Sonic improvements are very a subjective thing but I did notice a wider dynamic tonal range with more depth, presence and sustain with both bridges which was incrementally more noticeable with the Mastery than the Staytrem. Both, it must be said sound much better to my ear than the standard one. It's not hard to understand how this can happen when you compare the flimsy standard bridge with the far more substantial materials and designs of these after market bridges. You really can't go wrong with either.

Mastery Pros:
Well built
No buzzing
Smooth under hand
Innovative design
Better string spacing than stock
Strings don't jump out of saddle slots
Saddles are height adjustable in addition to base plate height adjustment
Radius adjustable from 7.25" onwards
Depth and clarity of sound much improved, more sustain
Tuning stability excellent when guitar set up and used correctly
Brushed base plate would look great with a brushed Mastery vibrato

Staytrem Pros:
Well built
No buzzing
Smooth under hand
Less expensive at £65 (US$95)
Looks correct and style/period appropriate
Easy to intonate and adjust height
Individual string intonation
Better string spacing than stock
Strings don't jump out of saddle slots
Both 7.25" & 9.50" radius available
Floats back and forth smoothly as Leo intended
Depth and clarity of sound improved
Tuning stability impeccable when guitar set up and used correctly
Non rocking option available

Mastery Cons:
More expensive at US$165 (£115)
Intonation for a wound G string not possible
Not as period or style complimentary as the Staytrem
Brushed base plate does't look that great next to a standard chrome vibrato

Staytrem Cons:
Radius cannot be adjusted
Doesn't have the current cachet and hype of the Mastery
Tuning can be affected if the posts hit the thimble sides with overly heavy vibrato use

The Mastery bridge is not designed to float unlike the Staytrem which rocks back and forth like the original. The posts of the Mastery fit snugly into the existing thimbles "creating full contact between bridge/thimble/body". There was a little bit of play in both my guitars thimbles but not enough to cause any issues. Mastery make stainless steel replacement thimbles (which I purchased along with the bridge) but I haven't felt the need to put them in. The base plate is a heavy, brushed stainless steel affair and the saddles are height adjustable as well as the plate. Radius adjustment is via two 'bridges' that operate not unlike London's 'Tower Bridge' which technically means the A and B strings cannot be height adjusted independently. This could be a limitation of the design but I had absolutely no issues dialling in a perfect 9.5" radius and perfect intonation. It looks quite futuristic and definitely makes its presence felt. It would look great with a brushed Mastery vibrato but looks a little out of place with the standard chrome vibrato especially when on the Jaguar. According to Mastery, the saddles have a "unique hard chrome-plating" and the strings do seem to slide nicely over them when using the vibrato but I can't help feeling that the Staytrem feels a little smoother and keeps tune slightly better with normal vibrato use due to the rocking motion. There is no rocking option available on the Mastery but Staytrem have a non rocking option if that's what you're looking for or planning to use on a non vibrato equipped guitar.

The Staytrem has a polished stainless steel base plate (not quite as thick as the Mastery) with machined SS saddles much like a Mustang bridge but very nicely made and it looks like it belongs on a chrome heavy offset guitar. It is well designed and simpler to set up and adjust. Intonation screws are offset so access and adjustment is easy. The floating design has limitations with very heavy vibrato use as the posts could hit the sides of the thimbles which could shift the location of the bridge. This kind of use was never envisaged with this design and best left to more modern vibrato concepts anyway. As with the Mastery, dive bombers should look elsewhere.

Personally, I feel the Staytrem looks, feels and operates smoother and truer to Leo's original 'Floating Tremolo' concept but is far better than the original in every way. The Mastery is a beautiful piece of design and engineering but with a higher price tag to match. I like them both and both are vast improvements over the original bridge but if I had to pick a winner, I'd have to pick the Staytrem. Cheaper, simpler and floating, it suits what I want to do with an offset guitar and addresses every issue I had with the original. At the moment, the Staytrem is at home on the Jaguar and the Mastery is staying on the Jazzmaster purely because it looks better than on the Jag due to there being less chrome. I may eventually go ahead with a brushed vibrato on the Jazz just to see how it performs and to balance the brushed look of the bridge. If I do, I'll be able to A/B with the original and I can post my impressions for those who may be interested.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by grapesoda » Sun May 29, 2016 5:28 am

Cool! Thanks for the comparison.

I've had two Masterys in two different guitars. One has been perfect, the other started buzzing uncontrollably after a couple months. I know a lot of people have run into the same issue. Some people recommend Loctite on the intonation screws. I found wrapping masking tape around the posts (teflon plumber's tape might be better) and tightening the saddle screws to move the saddles back towards the tail to be the best fixes for that.

I absolutely love the tightness and playability that a Mastery offers, but they do require some upkeep and occasional trouble shooting. :)

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by thegumbootman » Sun May 29, 2016 6:00 am

Thanks for the comparison!

I'm going to try the Staytrem on my MJT Jazzmaster build soon.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by lewisanderson » Tue May 31, 2016 6:08 pm

Many thanks for the comparison. Looking for a new bridge for a JMJ. Think the Staytrem is the way forward. :)

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by sunburster » Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:12 pm

Nice comparison! However, there are two minor errors I noticed. First, you mention the both bridges have "better string spacing than stock", but the stock threaded saddles are such that you can adjust the string spacing however you like it, so this does not make any sense. Second, a con to both the Mastery and Staytrem is you CANNOT adjust horizontal string spacing. You are stuck with what they give you (which, for me, is not ideal).

I always stick with the stock MIJ/AVRI bridges and they have always worked perfectly fine for me (might need some loctite, but most of mine have not needed it). I like being able to adjust the string spacing to my liking (both horizontally and vertically). Also, I didn't like the change in tone the Staytrem produced (I've not tried a Mastery).

The bridges on the VM series are junk, but instead of going to a Mastery or Staytrem, I'd much rather buy a $50 AVRI bridge.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by AwesomeWelles » Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:31 pm

That's a really good write up for posterity.

I've long been a fan of the Staytrem stuff and I agree with everything said. Sadly, I'm not one of the people for whom the stock bridges work. With the sole exception of the one on my vintage JM, every single original bridge that I've played had some sort of issue, mostly the dreaded rattling.

I've never had a single moment of woe with my Staytrem bridges - they just work. Plus, they do change the sustain for the better a little.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by mbene085 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:22 am

A very thorough comparison.

I also have both. I agree that the Staytrem is the ideal bridge if you want to preserve the floating design of the original.

In my books, though, the Mastery has it beat. The improvement in sustain - while keeping all the classic offset behind-the-bridge overtones - is better for my uses, though I understand that's a personal thing.

For the record, I was doing some unplugged playing on my one offset with a Mastery - a TVL JM I bought recently - and my fiancee (who is not a guitarist) commented "Wow, that's the best acoustic sound of any of your electric guitars!" And I own about 10, including 3 other offsets.

What Mastery says about their bridge making more contact and transferring more energy is really true. That guitar absolutely came alive acoustically with that bridge. I understand it might not be what everyone wants, but it catapaulted that JM into being my favourite guitar.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by baccachewy » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:00 pm

Haven't owned a Staytrem but they definitely have look better. I love my Mastery bridge, have never had a problem. Mastery makes great products. Expesnive but solid.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by 0xeneye » Tue Jun 07, 2016 1:23 pm

I love my Staytrem. It's more comfortable and easier to just look at and immediately understand. Plus I would prefer for Staytrem to know what a 7.25 radius is, not me! This one-sized bridge is actually an advantage.

If people are really having to use Loctite and screw around maintenance wise with a Mastery, then they are just buying an expensive problem.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by Brandsmannen » Mon Jun 13, 2016 3:01 pm

0xeneye wrote:I love my Staytrem. It's more comfortable and easier to just look at and immediately understand. Plus I would prefer for Staytrem to know what a 7.25 radius is, not me! This one-sized bridge is actually an advantage.

If people are really having to use Loctite and screw around maintenance wise with a Mastery, then they are just buying an expensive problem.
This is so much me too. I love my staytrem for this too. I can adjust the height and stuff, but there is no room for me to screw up the radius, which given the chance I bet I'd do haha

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by HorseyBoy » Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:53 pm

0xeneye wrote:I love my Staytrem. It's more comfortable and easier to just look at and immediately understand. Plus I would prefer for Staytrem to know what a 7.25 radius is, not me! This one-sized bridge is actually an advantage.

If people are really having to use Loctite and screw around maintenance wise with a Mastery, then they are just buying an expensive problem.
Yes, you really do need to use Loctite on a Mastery. But it's a one time application if you do it right so it's not too painful.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by grapesoda » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:00 am

To me, complaining that it's a problem that a Mastery requires maintenance is like saying it's a problem that Jazzmasters need bridge replacements.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by TheMilford » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:29 am

Love my Staytrem. Recently put it on my CS Bass VI. Ordered mine with a custom radius (7.25 for the E, B & G and 9.5 for the D, A, E) In order to facilitate not raising the bass side of the channel higher than the treble side.

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by DanyoSound » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:36 am

For the record, there are tons of Mastery vs Staytrem bridge comparisons on this site. I know because I've probably read them all, because I was trying to decide if I should get that fooking Mastery. Of course, I did.

I have the Staytrem on my red Jaguar. It works way better than stock, Mustang, and Warmoth adjustable. Staytrem is such an improvement, and the Staytrem tremolo arm is also awesome for not flopping around. Nonetheless, the sustain is not particularly good, especially above the 12th fret.

I have the Mastery Kit (with UFO tip) on my green Naughty-Caster (essentially a Jaguar). In a casual way, the Mastery Kit is way better, but not perfect! Though I can dive about a perfect-5th on the inner strings (a major-2nd on the high-E), if I wiggle the tremolo a bit too much, I get tuning issues: usually from the B or E strings. I cannot say if it's from the Vibrato or from the Bridge. I was playing a show a few weeks ago, and my high E string detuned all the way to D-sharp half-way through a song (during the synth interlude I quickly tuned and finished the tune!). I never had any drastic tuning issue like that with my Staytrem infused red Jaguar. I've only had this guitar for a few weeks, so maybe..., it will go away... (???)....

What's awesome about the Mastery bridge is the added sustain. I've read so many complaints about sustain issues, particularly on Jaguars. I play 10-52s, which is considered light for many Jaguar players. Stock bridge enthusiasts insist that with heavier gauge strings and a proper set up, the stock bridge is excellent. Ha, und ha. The Staytrem helped only a little. The Mastery, however, made the guitar almost as a sustainy as a Strat bridge. I really like that, because I value the strings-behind-the-bridge and the subtle vibrato system of the Jaguar/Jazzmaster but I also value the sustain of the string-through-the-body Strat bridges.

Shout out for the UFO tip. It's kind of awesome.
Offsets and flangers

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Re: Mastery v Staytrem Bridge Comparison

Post by Pepe Silvia » Sun May 27, 2018 5:35 pm

I've had three Mastery bridges, various other offset bridges and just got a Staytrem. I'm in the Staytrem camp now. It was easier to setup, looks better, I think the guitar is actually louder than with the Mastery and no buzzing saddles. I felt like the Mastery made the guitar seem more strat like while the Staytrem kept true to the offset guitar feel.

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