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About bridges.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by kurosawa, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. There was a really cool article published in the Best Bass Gear e:bass blog, "Brass vs. Aluminum Bridge - Which Is Better?"

    The article notes that brass bridges (and presumably other heavy bridges like pot metal, predominantly zinc) give more sustain, and aluminum bridges are punchier (it also sounds to my ears like pot metal bridges are scoopier, and, I presume, brass also, but no reason is apparent).

    All I can figure out is that the higher the mass of the bridge, the more it acts as a storage device for mechanical energy. Of course, this would reduce the initial attack, as some of that energy would be stored, but later released for increased sustain.

    Anyway, read the article. At least it gives us SOME organized way to think about how bridges affect electric bass sound.
  2. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    All I got out of it was a bunch of gross over-generalizations.

  3. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    I see nothing conclusive in that article other than an opinion by a seller of said bridges. Anecdotal evidence at best.
  4. That's OK guys. Waiting for comment by someone who does physics.
  5. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    South Florida
    I would have liked for them to explain why those materials affect the sound the way they do. It's easy to say "Brass adds sustain because it does... duh!" I have not yet read an article that has scientifically and definitively proven to me that one metal (or wood, or electronic component) is the best when compared to all the others. I don't buy into the hype. Maybe it's just the skeptic me?
  6. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    That's because the writer of the article is the seller of the product, not a scientist. It's just conjecture; no data provided to prove anything.
  7. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    I quit taking this article seriously when the author stated:

    most of the string vibration stays within the bridge and is not transferred out to the body because of its high mass content.

    What a load of crap. Ever take a physics course? It would be the exact opposite.
  8. No. Mass has inertia. It takes energy to get the lump of brass vibrating because it has more mass. Makes sense. And it gives back the energy to the surrounding stuff. Also makes sense. All I know is that the massive ocean stores heat from the sun and releases it in a similar way, so that weather in the Midwest hits highs and lows that are unusual for coastal areas. Bent tin? Less mass. Anyone experience that as thiuddier? How about a wooden Hofner bridge? Just because the guy sells bridges doesn't mean he can't notice things.
  9. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    South Florida
    I'm reminded of an old thread on this forum where a member (forgive me for not specifically recalling who) did a blind test where he recorded a bass guitar made out of some specific tone wood, then took all the components from that guitar and bolted them to a plank of plywood and recorded that. There were more than just two samples, to try and eliminate the "lucky guesses". When the forum was asked to identify which recording was recorded with which "instrument", the average of the votes pointed to the conclusion that there was no discernible difference in tone.

    I know this is not directly related to the bridges in discussion, but I feel both these topics are related in a "myths of tone" kind of way. I'm not saying anybody is wrong or right; I'm only saying that people hear what they want to hear, more than what they actually hear.

    [/off topic post]
  10. F-Clef-Jef


    Nov 13, 2006
    Neenah, WI
    and that energy is being taken from where? The vibrating string.

    I have no problem with this guys conclusions (I really don't care about bridges very much) but to say that most of the string vibration stays within the bridge and is not transferred out to the body is just plain wrong. Or maybe it is just poorly worded. If he means most of the energy stays within the vibrating string, that would make sense. The less energy the surrounding support system absorbs, the more energy will stay in the vibrating string. Which is what we call sustain.
    But like I said, I don't really care much about bridges, as long as they don't scratch me!
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The article is crap. There is not one test, defensible or scientifically confirmable assertion in the entire article. It's a set of unsupported allegations from someone with a product to sell, and has zero credibility.

    It has just as much value as a post on this forum from some newbie who took up bass a month ago and claims that his new brass (insert name of miracle bridge, nut or headstock add-on) increases sustain, improves string tension and instrument balance, and very possibly cures the common cold.
  12. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I don't think you need to be a physicist to make a comment. I have upgraded bridges for years and I have come to the conclusion as well as many others they don't make much of a difference people comment about improved tone and sustain if you take a cheap bass and put a very expensive Badass bridge on it you will still have a cheap bass with a crappy sound. If you are the type that is constantly changing your string height and spacing certainly there are bridges out there that make it easier and as far as sustain I spend ninety percent of my time trying to get rid of it. The brass guys say ours is better the aluminum guys says ours is.
  13. There are two things about that test. First, I could tell and so could others. Second, compression, because without characteristics of attack and decay, it's not music. And bridges are all about that.
  14. What I *like* about the article is its non-technical description, because it sounds like he's talking about inertia.
  15. Yah, well then no subjective test, including going into a store to hear a bass or amp or effect, means anything to you, right?
  16. No, the article didn't conclude "better," it said brass sustains and aluminum preserves punch.
  17. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    You are correct about the article and excuse my rant I'm just so tired of these comparisons and studies about bridges. I have a Babicz Full Contact bridge in one of my Jazzes it is aluminum there is no extra punch and that's the reason I bought it after seeing some reviews on more punch greater sustain better tone etc... it is a very well made bridge but that's all it is and when folks ask me what upgrade do you "not" recommend I will always say the bridge.
  18. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Consider the very accurate question you just asked, in which you used the term "subjective".

    sub·jec·tive (sb-jktv) adj.
    a. Proceeding from or taking place in a person's mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
    b. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.

    Subjective means that it's ONE person's opinion, which is all the article is, and it's also all that listening to an instrument in a store is.

    By definition of the term used, they all boil down to simple personal opinion. That's all they can possibly be because they depend on the acoustics of the room, the hearing acuity of the person, the position of the person relative to the speakers, and the psycho-acoustics of the person listening. By psycho-acoustics, I mean that if they WANT to hear a difference, they will. The ability of want and preconceived notion to affect perception in humans is well known.

    Now, your opinion and mine might agree. We might both "hear" and believe that cab A or Bridge B is the best thing to happen to bass sound in history, and we might buy the device based on that perception.

    That doesn't for a moment mean that we have perceived accurately or that the device we prefer sounds different than any other similar device. We might be the only two people in the world who believe that. But if we're happy, that's what counts.

    The article in question is pure opinion, and does not even purport to offer real evidence. It just states "X is true" with no supporting evidence. It's a sales piece. It's intended to sell a product and offers no evidence to support its claims. I think that's pretty clear and pretty easy to understand.
  19. I truly dislike 90% of the post in this thread... all this "Prove it with Science" & "Blind Test" stuff... sheesh.

    Michael Tobias, Mike Lull, Carey Nordstrand, George F, and other Top Builders (and MYSELF) have all come to the same basic, general conclusion.

    High mass bridges sound "tighter" and more "focused", and tend to accentuate the bottm end. They also sound somewhat "compressed" in the mids.

    Low mass bridges sound more "open" or "loose / wide" and tend to accentuate the mids more and let the woods "speak" more.

    The above is all the "truth" I need to know. And I'm quite glad I hear things the same way top builders hear and describe things as well.

    My experience comes from when I owned an American Fender Jazz (the highest aftermarket bridge bass) - and tried all of the above bridges and came to that basic conclusion as well.

    No need for a double blind test, 2"x4" basses, chemisty sets or the like...

    Below are the generally regarded "high mass" and "low mass" bridges popular on the market:

    High mass: Brass Hipshot Style A & B, BadassII, Gotoh 201, etc....
    Low mass: Aluminum Hipshot A & B, and Bent Plate style bridges...

    Now let me guess - the next post in this thread is going to state "prove it", lol :rollno:

    PS - who cares about sustain. When was the last time you let a note ring out for 15 seconds?
  20. Maybe so, but him selling the bridges means he has an agenda, and any conclusions he comes up with are suspect.