Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

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skern
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Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by skern » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:22 pm

Hi guys. If you wanted to achieve a certain action, what difference does it make whether you achieve it by raising the bridge or raising the saddles? I know that if the saddles are too low, the string might contact the screws or the bridge plate itself. Let's assume this is NOT an issue. Does a higher bridge help with its rocking motion when using the tremolo?

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by Danley » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:37 pm

I assume you're talking a Squier bridge? A few pointers:
  • Because one issue with the worst examples (import/Squier) of this bridge is that the intonation screws are too loose in the baseplate and can rattle (due to having been drilled too large,) it is a best practice to have the saddles as high up as they go before interfering with the string - this way, the "diagonal" screw makes greater contact with the baseplate and is less loose/floppy
  • It is possible to shorten the intonation screws and gain more action adjustability - and short screws are standard on vintage/US bridges)
  • Higher saddles assist in elevating the back of the string above the back of the bridge baseplate; contact with the back of the bridge is a possible means that the string could bind and go out of tune - this is one reason I actually think adjustable saddles/Jaguar bridges are a good idea on Mustangs
  • Yes in theory a higher-up bridge baseplate (adjusted by the posts) will have greater range to rock through when using the trem. The added break angle may also make it more solid and keep it from shifting, though you may need to shim the neck. That said I've kept both mine adjusted quite low (like a mm or 1.5 mm over the posts/pickguard or possibly less) and it rocks/stays in tune and in place plenty fine
King Buzzo: I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by skern » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:31 pm

Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:37 pm
I assume you're talking a Squier bridge? A few pointers:
  • Because one issue with the worst examples (import/Squier) of this bridge is that the intonation screws are too loose in the baseplate and can rattle (due to having been drilled too large,) it is a best practice to have the saddles as high up as they go before interfering with the string - this way, the "diagonal" screw makes greater contact with the baseplate and is less loose/floppy
  • It is possible to shorten the intonation screws and gain more action adjustability - and short screws are standard on vintage/US bridges)
  • Higher saddles assist in elevating the back of the string above the back of the bridge baseplate; contact with the back of the bridge is a possible means that the string could bind and go out of tune - this is one reason I actually think adjustable saddles/Jaguar bridges are a good idea on Mustangs
  • Yes in theory a higher-up bridge baseplate (adjusted by the posts) will have greater range to rock through when using the trem. The added break angle may also make it more solid and keep it from shifting, though you may need to shim the neck. That said I've kept both mine adjusted quite low (like a mm or 1.5 mm over the posts/pickguard or possibly less) and it rocks/stays in tune and in place plenty fine
I don't understand why shorter screws gives you more action adjustability. It seems that if anything is limiting adjustability, it's the springs. To be honest, I don't even see why these springs are necessary.

And I don't understand why a higher bridge has a greater range of motion. The bridge rocks until the posts hit the thimbles, not until the baseplate hits the pickguard, right?

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by Danley » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:49 pm

skern wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:31 pm
I don't understand why shorter screws gives you more action adjustability. It seems that if anything is limiting adjustability, it's the springs. To be honest, I don't even see why these springs are necessary.
Range of string height action adjustability - not intonation - is increased with shorter screws because of physical limitations. If you adjust the standard screws high enough, the ends will hit the strings - in particular with the low E and G strings, which are farthest from the tips of the intonation screws typically. If you don't cut the screw short, people wind up doing things to fudge it - like putting the string to one side of the screw, or otherwise compromising the setup. So if you do cut, the idea then becomes - figure out where your intonation roughly needs to be set, and (leaving a bit extra in case,) cut off the remainder, or enough of it. EDIT: It occurs to me you may be confusing intonation screws with height-adjustment screws, which would explain why you referred to the Mustang bridge saddles as having adjustable action even though that is atypical. Can you please post a pic. of the specific bridge you mean? (Since there are Mustang bridges that are height-adjustable?)

The springs are actually quite necessary, since without them the saddle can slip around and again buzz. It's wise to have quite stiff springs that are at or near the bottom of their compression when you get the intonation adjusted - I have just stretched springs w/ needle-nose pliers to give this effect. This gives you a very, very tight bridge that won't rattle.

In either case - the springs shouldn't interfere with adjusting the action, or that interference should be minimal/only outside of the intended range of operation. But limit intonation adjustment? I suppose long springs could do that, in which case I'd cut them to make them mostly compressed wherever I needed them.
And I don't understand why a higher bridge has a greater range of motion. The bridge rocks until the posts hit the thimbles, not until the baseplate hits the pickguard, right?
The movement of the bridge is limited to it knocking against the internal edges post/thimbles - which means that any amount of height you adjust the posts above the thimbles will still be limited by the bridge rocking within the same degree of an arc. However, because of geometry, the longer your bridge posts are, the more lateral distance the saddle will cover when it rocks.

Think about it this way - if I take a couple toothpicks and separate them at a 10 degree angle then measure the distance between the tips of each toothpick, the distance is tiny. Now if I take two meter sticks and separate them at a 10 degree angle, the distance between the points is much farther. Now - what if you take a laser pointer and point it to the sky, then move it 10 degrees to shine from one star to another? Now the distance is light-years.

What I was implying though is that while yes, longer posts will give you more range to rock - it isn't necessary to actually do that, because at their minimum, the bridge rocks about as much as it needs to.
King Buzzo: I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by timtam » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:36 pm

Import bridges come with 18mm M3 intonation screws. Buy 16mm M3 on ebay. That lessens the chances of the protruding screw length at the front of the bridge fouling the string. US bridge screws are 4-40 and 5/8" long (15.9mm).
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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by timtam » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:45 pm

You don't want the bridge posts to hit the front or back thimble walls with trem use. Once they do that the strings lose their grip on the bridge and slide on the saddles - you don't want that with a rocking bridge. When the trem reverses and takes the strings back to their start position, the strings then can not drag the bridge back to its original start position. So you eventually end up totally off-centre, as on the right below, de-tuned. So whatever the arc of bridge movement, you need it to be totally free, without hitting the walls. So in that sense the 'looser' the post-to-thimble fit the better. 'Enough' break angle / downforce to maintain friction - and therefore grip - between string and saddle is also desirable.

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https://hazeguitars.com/blog/setting-in ... or-mustang
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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by Danley » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:55 pm

timtam wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:45 pm
You don't want the bridge posts to hit the front or back thimble walls with trem use. Once they do that the strings lose their grip on the bridge and slide on the saddles - you don't want that with a rocking bridge. When the trem reverses and takes the strings back to their start length, the strings will not drag the bridge back to its original start position. So you eventually end up totally off-centre, as on the right below, de-tuned. So whatever the arc of bridge movement, you need it to be totally free, without hitting the walls. So in that sense the 'looser' the post-to-thimble fit the better.

Image
https://hazeguitars.com/blog/setting-in ... or-mustang
Good illustration and brings an element in I had not considered (mostly because I haven't experienced detuning with my setup, where the posts *may or may not* be contacting the thimble - yet still stays centered in any case. I will have to check.) That aspect again lends more toward having a higher overall bridge/saddle combination, since for let's say 1mm of string movement, the bridge would rock through a smaller arc with the bridge set higher vs. lower; thus less likely to contact the edge of the thimble.

So to distill a bit - Individual saddles: higher = better; Bridge posts/overall combined height: higher also = better. Probably means a shim in a lot of peoples' setups (the conclusion a lot of people arrive at without even giving this much thought to it, for a variety of other reasons.)
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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by skern » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:29 pm

Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:49 pm
It occurs to me you may be confusing intonation screws with height-adjustment screws, which would explain why you referred to the Mustang bridge saddles as having adjustable action even though that is atypical. Can you please post a pic. of the specific bridge you mean? (Since there are Mustang bridges that are height-adjustable?)

What I was implying though is that while yes, longer posts will give you more range to rock - it isn't necessary to actually do that, because at their minimum, the bridge rocks about as much as it needs to.
My mistake. I understood you correctly, but I accidentally wrote action adjustability instead of intonation adjustability. (And yes, my Squier VM Mustang does indeed have action screws.) Now I think I know what you're talking about. As the saddle is raised, the intonation screw starts to angle upwards. If it angles upwards too much, it will contact the string.

Yeah, subconsciously the bridge rocking made sense, I just couldn't quite wrap my head around it. But your analogy helped. Thanks!

On a separate but somewhat related note, I've noticed that, for the most part, the tremolo doesn't return to pitch because there's not enough tension from the springs. I know this is true because it only happens when I bend the whammy down. And it'll come back to pitch if I give it a quick upward flick afterwards, which means it's not because a string was binding. Also, it returns to pitch after upbends, because then the strings, not springs, are responsible for bringing it back to pitch. So I thought maybe there's a way to add springs to the plate. Here's a picture of what I'm considering. What do you think?

Image

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by Danley » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:38 pm

Interested to see how it will perform that way; for whatever reason I've noticed getting the vibrato to work properly (aka stay in tune/float) with the springs on the lower tension notches is a gamble and tends not to work, meaning more tension seems to benefit these. While I haven't concentrated too much on why that is, my theories surround the fact that the springs are actually pretty slack at the top of their travel using the low tension notches, and the fact that the anchoring of the springs (hook/loop of metal) isn't really optimal for that scenario either. In any case - I wouldn't be surprised if your setup didn't work somewhat better (contingent on the condition of the knife-edges etc.)

However, I think there's a possibility that the black springs might bind on the stock springs and offer inconsistent tension as a result; things look like they could shift and vary a bit, might be negligible but I'd experiment (if I had the time) with either shortening some stock springs or finding stiffer ones of the same length rather than piling them on.
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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by Matt_A » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:16 pm

skern wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:29 pm
Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:49 pm
It occurs to me you may be confusing intonation screws with height-adjustment screws, which would explain why you referred to the Mustang bridge saddles as having adjustable action even though that is atypical. Can you please post a pic. of the specific bridge you mean? (Since there are Mustang bridges that are height-adjustable?)

What I was implying though is that while yes, longer posts will give you more range to rock - it isn't necessary to actually do that, because at their minimum, the bridge rocks about as much as it needs to.
My mistake. I understood you correctly, but I accidentally wrote action adjustability instead of intonation adjustability. (And yes, my Squier VM Mustang does indeed have action screws.) Now I think I know what you're talking about. As the saddle is raised, the intonation screw starts to angle upwards. If it angles upwards too much, it will contact the string.

Yeah, subconsciously the bridge rocking made sense, I just couldn't quite wrap my head around it. But your analogy helped. Thanks!

On a separate but somewhat related note, I've noticed that, for the most part, the tremolo doesn't return to pitch because there's not enough tension from the springs. I know this is true because it only happens when I bend the whammy down. And it'll come back to pitch if I give it a quick upward flick afterwards, which means it's not because a string was binding. Also, it returns to pitch after upbends, because then the strings, not springs, are responsible for bringing it back to pitch. So I thought maybe there's a way to add springs to the plate. Here's a picture of what I'm considering. What do you think?
Is the post in the foreground of that picture leaning to the left?

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by skern » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:10 pm

timtam wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:36 pm
Import bridges come with 18mm M3 intonation screws. Buy 16mm M3 on ebay. That lessens the chances of the protruding screw length at the front of the bridge fouling the string. US bridge screws are 4-40 and 5/8" long (15.9mm).
My screws appear to be 16mm. Perhaps even shorter might be better?
Image

Matt_A wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:16 pm
Is the post in the foreground of that picture leaning to the left?
It was leaning a bit, the tailpiece didn't fit on immediately, but i just squeezed the two posts lightly together and that was enough to get the tailpiece on.
Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:38 pm
However, I think there's a possibility that the black springs might bind on the stock springs and offer inconsistent tension as a result; things look like they could shift and vary a bit, might be negligible but I'd experiment (if I had the time) with either shortening some stock springs or finding stiffer ones of the same length rather than piling them on.
Yeah, I totally agree, it doesn't look that great. Well, I'll try it out for now and see how it goes. I also might try putting a spring diagonally across so it wouldn't contact another spring.

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by andy_tchp » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:01 am

I don't love the look of that.

I'd run the extra spring inside the main one if you want to use two. They'll follow the same path and won't foul each other/the routing of the body that way.
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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by skern » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:43 am

Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:49 pm
The springs are actually quite necessary, since without them the saddle can slip around and again buzz. It's wise to have quite stiff springs that are at or near the bottom of their compression when you get the intonation adjusted - I have just stretched springs w/ needle-nose pliers to give this effect. This gives you a very, very tight bridge that won't rattle.
What about using a nut, like this? I got the idea from the Staytrem (second picture). The saddle feels very secure. Perhaps the nut might rattle loose over time, but probably nothing some Loctite couldn't solve. Originally I thought of adding it to prevent the 1st and 6th string saddles from pivoting outwards, but it seems like it also removes the need for a spring. I may be wrong, though.

Image

Image
andy_tchp wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:01 am
I don't love the look of that.

I'd run the extra spring inside the main one if you want to use two. They'll follow the same path and won't foul each other/the routing of the body that way.
Yeah, it's no good. I took them off. I thought about running the small springs inside the larger ones, but opted not to because it seemed extremely difficult to get them on. But, it might be doable. I'll either try that idea, or try running some slightly longer and more tense springs I have (Strat springs) diagonally across. First I have to file a knife's edge on the pivot holes. No reason to get it all set up with springs just to have to remove all of it to file the edges.
Last edited by skern on Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by Danley » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:48 am

skern wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:43 am
Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:49 pm
The springs are actually quite necessary, since without them the saddle can slip around and again buzz. It's wise to have quite stiff springs that are at or near the bottom of their compression when you get the intonation adjusted - I have just stretched springs w/ needle-nose pliers to give this effect. This gives you a very, very tight bridge that won't rattle.
What about using a nut, like this? I got the idea from the Staytrem (second picture). The saddle feels very secure. Perhaps the nut might rattle loose over time, but probably nothing some Loctite couldn't solve.
I think it would be better to find some nylon and make yourself a suitable bushing such as Staytrem uses, rather than deal with a metal nut that can rattle etc. I'd try to use any more flexible material than metal (and I'd probably still use a spring; depending on how tight the threads are on that saddle to the screw, it still may rattle without one.)
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Re: Mustang bridge height vs saddle height

Post by skern » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:00 pm

Danley wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:48 am
skern wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:43 am
Danley wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:49 pm
The springs are actually quite necessary, since without them the saddle can slip around and again buzz. It's wise to have quite stiff springs that are at or near the bottom of their compression when you get the intonation adjusted - I have just stretched springs w/ needle-nose pliers to give this effect. This gives you a very, very tight bridge that won't rattle.
What about using a nut, like this? I got the idea from the Staytrem (second picture). The saddle feels very secure. Perhaps the nut might rattle loose over time, but probably nothing some Loctite couldn't solve.
I think it would be better to find some nylon and make yourself a suitable bushing such as Staytrem uses, rather than deal with a metal nut that can rattle etc. I'd try to use any more flexible material than metal (and I'd probably still use a spring; depending on how tight the threads are on that saddle to the screw, it still may rattle without one.)
You mean something like this? Or do you mean I should somehow make my own? The hardware store just happened to have these nuts that fit the screws, and their outer diameter is small which means they don't pop up above the bridge plate. It seemed like a good fit. Honestly I just didn't want to use the springs because it makes it a lot more annoying to install the saddles.

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