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Aluminum bridge vs Brass bridge - what can I expect?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jul 18, 2012.


  1. Hipshot and a few others offer some material choices within several given bass bridge designs. It seems like the saddles stay the same (brass?) no matter which bridge material is selected by the buyer.

    All other things being equal, what different experiences should be expected between aluminum and brass bridge bodies? Tone? Feel? Volume? "Punch"? Sustain? Y'know .. the usual stuff.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Certainly one will be a smidge heavier than the other. Don't expect any night/day tone changes.
     
  3. PBnJBassist

    PBnJBassist

    Mar 8, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    Totally agree. Might be subtle to almost no change in tone, but that depends on your ears and if you are hearing a difference, or thinking you are hearing a difference.

    Personally, I go with aluminum because it weighs less and is cheaper (most of the time) than brass counterparts.
     
  4. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    As long as it is almost the same aim of a HiMass bridge, combining the two of'em (think about the Squier Classic Vibe/Fender Modern Player bridges) is a take on the opportunity to blend modern stability to traditional resonance (again, especially if bodytonewood happen to be unconventional: e.g. basswwood in alder place)

    Cheers,
    Wallace
     
  5. sps500

    sps500 In Memoriam

    May 19, 2008
    I think on one of Mike Tobias videos he prefers the Aluminum bridge mainly because he says there is more zing. I think it's all personal preference. My 0.02's.
     
  6. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    color.
     
  7. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    Infact, when I cited the Squier Classic Vibe bridges, I had to admit that, if Butterscotch '50s Precision, Fiesta Red '60s Precision, '60s Jazz, James Johnston Jazz and both Matt Freeman Precisions all respect the mentioned HiMass bridge with brass barrell saddles, the former Lake Placid Blue '50s Precision and Sonic Blue '60s Precision sported simpler stainless steel HiMass bridges, very same model/shape but with no brass barrell saddles

    So is it just a matter of coherent Classic Vibe aesthetics, then on?

    Cheers,
    Wallace
     
  8. Aram

    Aram

    Feb 2, 2003
    New York, NY
    I have A/B'd Hipshot A-style brass and aluminum bridges on two different basses (Nordstrand 6er and F bass 5er) and brass won hands down both times. On the Nordstrand it improved the "meatiness" and fundamental of the low strings in a palpable way, both in feel and sound. Somehow I felt more connected to the bass itself with the brass bridge, especially when digging in.

    On the F bass, oddly, it was the high end that was altered: it's an ash/ebony bass, and with the aluminum bridge the G and D strings had a bit too much "zing", and a little bit of a "gank" sound when played aggressively. The brass bridge evened out to string-to-string response, again, by giving the high strings more fundamental and softening the harshness of the upper strings. Also, because this bass is a very light 5er (well under 9 lbs), the brass acts as a counterweight and improves the overall balance.

    Those two quasi experiments were enough to sell me permanently on the merits of brass as a bridge material. There's a reason some of the heavy hitters in the bass world, like Fodera, Smith and Spector, often (if not always) use very heavy brass bridges.

    I've also come to believe that the other points at which the string makes contact with the bass (i.e., nut and tuner), are extremely important and often overlooked as well.

    Just my .02 centavos.
     
    TonyP- and bdplaid like this.
  9. Thank you all for the cogent thoughts on this topic. It's been super helpful. I've built a few Telecaster guitars and I know that material selection for both the saddles and the bridge plate itself change the character of the guitar quite a bit. So much so that some custom bridge builders offer some pretty sophisticated bridge and saddle systems for the Tele that include the ability to intermix various materials on a per-string basis. Titantium, aluminum, brass, steel, stainless steel are among the choices, all of which affect the sound of each string enough to justify their existance.

    I'll file this info you've provided away to be used in the construction of my latest bass (I've dubbed the Race Bass). It's a 2-channel (aka "stereo") bass with no on-board preamp - pickup feeds are shot straight out of the output connector in one of it's modes, there are a few signal routing choices available via a simple switch array. And so on and so forth ... neck is made of this - body is made of that - frets are this - nut is that - bla bla bla .. you know the rest. Using EMG systems nearly exclusively due to their excellent connector/solderless methods.

    The electronics are sortof ~beside the point~. Getting the core of this bass settled is the first aspect I need to address. Wood/Nut/Bridge/Frets are the bones of any bass. The Electronics are an entirely separate department.

    Thanks once more for the help in getting my mind settled on what type of bones to build this bass with. I am going to use a brass bridge system, maybe one that I can have some individual choices on saddle material, as well as choices on stringing methods (string-through or quick change). With choices like those available to me I can begin assembling a database of information that will include stringing method and saddle material per-string with various string brands and guages.

    This new bass is all about development. Hence .... Race Bass!

    :)
     
  10. cnltb

    cnltb

    May 28, 2005
    I think (IME) you get more top end from an aluminium bridge which is one reason I personally like aluminium much better than brass.
    The weight is another argument for aluinium I recon.
    A link that might give one A BIT of an idea;
    http://www.comptonbridges.com/soundclips
     
  11. WOW! That link is pretty amazing. It really demonstrates the differences quite well. The aluminum and stainless nearly sound the same as one another. The brass souds like the sound was run through a HiPassFilter (HPF) when the aluminum and stainless sound more ~scooped~.

    The brass is certainly fatter sounding, nearly like a guitar made of mahogany (brass) vs alder (aluminum). That's how I would characterize these demos. The aluminum sounds like an alder body, when the brass sounds like a mahogany body. This sortof concurs with the way those materials sound when I "clink" on them with a wrench or other hardened tool.

    Brass = less bottom, darker on top, but much fatter around the middle - much more "twangy". Clearly sounding like a HPF was used.

    Aluminum/Stainless = Fuller bottom, brighter top, less fullness in the middle.

    Granted, this is with a semi-hollow body guitar but nonetheless it shows what the differences are. The snapshot of the frequency analyzer graphs sorof verify these observations as well.

    Thanks for posting this. You've added more to my database! I now have more tools at my service.
     
  12. cnltb

    cnltb

    May 28, 2005
    You're most welcome! :)
    I personally like aluminium as to my ear it sounds the most open.
    Not scooped, just well balanced.
     

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