Originally Posted by MikeM
...The recordings also showed that i picked harder on the bridges that i wanted to sound better, i suspect the same thing is happening here.
I know what MikeM means about biasing an experiment to hear what you want to hear. Still, I doubt that you could double the sustain on a Jazz bass by simply picking on it a little harder.
Besides, while I don't have much comparative experience with bass hardware, I do have a lot of related experience from guitar tech work. I've installed a ton of aftermarket hardware on electric guitars, mostly for other people. And all of that experience supports the OP's Badass/Babicz comparison.
IME, the differences that many people report from otherwise identical parts made from different materials (ie; brass vs steel saddles, aluminum vs steel tailpieces) are pretty minimal. I tried various saddles while searching for more sustain on my first good bass- a '64 P-bass. Although I had high hopes going in, none of them panned out for me on the gig. Whatever minor differences I might have heard, were more in the area of tone than sustain. And IMO, those differences were small enough, that there may have been some wishful thinking going on there.
However, the differences in sustain that I've seen from lockdown hardware, have been consistent enough, and large enough, to be indisputable.
I first noticed it on a cheap import guitar with a cast ashtray bridge that had setscrews in the side rails. Tightening those screws, squeezed the bridge saddles together and locked them into place. You could pretty much change the amount of sustain on that guitar from Strat to Les Paul levels, just by tightening the setscrews. Since then, I've installed TonePros locking parts on Gibsons and Epi's (and played with some import knockoff parts as well), and the results have been remarkably consistent.
My bass experience is limited to a single example, but the results were the same. When I was building the bass that's pictured in my sig, I used a Gotoh bridge that uses allen screws to lock the saddles down. That bass has crazy sustain too, even though the Gotoh is made from cheap cast pot metal, and it's light as a feather.
Based on my experience, I would venture a guess that this is all about mass, not some sort of "vibration transfer" voodoo. But I'm talking the combined mass of the body and the bridge parts, not the mass of the bridge alone.
With the benefit of hindsight, this makes perfect sense to me. On a loose-saddle bridge, string tension is the only thing holding the saddles down. It only seems reasonable that if you're yanking on the strings with a force that's measured in pounds, increasing the mass of the saddles by fractions of an ounce, isn't going to make a huge difference in sustain.
But when you anchor the saddles down hard against the body, plucking and vibrational forces have to act against the mass of the whole instrument. No wonder sustain improves- the vibrational energy you impart to the strings has to work against pounds of mass, not ounces...
This could also explain why the OP felt more vibration through the body, with the Babicz bridge. Less energy is lost, and so there's more left to transfer into the body. Once again, the bass in my sig supports that theory. It's quite heavy, and in theory, it should feel and sound pretty dead. Instead, it's surprisingly "alive" and resonant...