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Are bridges that important?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by punk in drublic, Oct 15, 2002.


  1. punk in drublic

    punk in drublic

    Sep 18, 2002
    just curious as to why so many people change the bridge on their bass? does the bridge influence the sound that greatly and if so, how? also, is the cost of replacing a bridge justified with the end result sounding that much better?
     
  2. This is a can of worms. I personally have noticed some improvement in tone by changing bridges, but having said that, I still prefer an original type bridge on a Fender style instrument. I just think it suits them. Many people cite increased sustain as the reason for changing the bridge, and then in the next breath will say they play in a punk or metal band. Hello? What's all the new-found sustain for?
     
  3. Has anybody seen the bridge?


    Accuracy in intonation is a good reason to change a bridge also.





    Where's that confounded bridge?
     
  4. TWISTED

    TWISTED Guest

    Sep 8, 2002
    Perth, Australia
    You can get rid of some fret buzz by raising the strings at the bridge. That can affect the basses sound immensely. I have picked up some axes in stores and every string buzzed on open fret. Why they don't fix them or even try the instrument before they put them on the wall I don't know.
     
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    This is very complex, but for some basses a heavy bridge is not the best solution, light bridges can have sonic advantages too.

    There was a great article in a German magazine a while back, maybe I can translate it later for you.

    I think the most important things are 3D adjustment possibilities and rattle-free construction, the rest is mostly hearing the grass grow...
     
  6. TRU

    TRU

    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe

    I agree. I changed the original fender-type bridge to a brass Gotoh 201 and it changed the sound more than I ever expected. My bass lost its warm lows and clear highs to a very prominent mid-range honk. You know, I couldn't hear if the strings very new and fresh or not. The sustain did not get any better. So I'm back to the stock bridge.
     
  7. Unless you are Kurt Cobain, there has to be something to break up the verse chorus verse.

    Oh, those metal string thingies? Yeah, they probably have some influence over sound considering they stop one end of every note you will ever play on your bass.
     
  8. If I don't like the sound of a bass I just sell it and buy something I like. I tinker with the bridge if the fine tuning is out or the strings arn't the proper height. Some people are always changing pups or bridges. This is about the same as tinkering with your car or something. If you like that sort of thing its a way to change the sound of your bass and on a cheap bass that is just a collection of thrown together parts, changing the bridge could improve the tone. But on a quality instrument I would hesitate to start tinkering with things. jmho
     
  9. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    It is a very subjective thing. Many people think a heavier bridge sounds better, but I read in Bass Player that Fender thinks the traditional Fender bridge sounds better, and that is why they still put them even on their high end American basses.

    I've personally had mixed results changing bridges. I put a Badass bridge on a MIJ Jazz, and it really improved the sound, so I decided to put one on the Yamaha I had. It sounded worse. The Yamaha had a basswood body, while the Fender had alder, so maybe that was why I got such different results.
     
  10. It would be interesting to hear the comments any of our luthier members have on this subject.....maybe ask the same question in the luthier's corner forum.
     
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    IME changes in tone are subtle, but perceptible with bridge changes. I've noticed more of a change in the feel of the bass than the tone when changing the bridge.

    Sustain is highly overemphasized. How often, in the course of playing music, ANY kind of music, do you actually use that 20 second sustain? Answer: FRIGGIN' NEVER. :)
     
  12. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I'm convinced it's one of those mojo issues, subject to a lot of self-deception and placebo effect. If it's there, secure and intonates, I'm happy.

    That said, I've spent the last few weeks trying to get a vintage bridge set up on a '54 RI Precision, and I can assure you that there was such a thing as progress in bridge design. The original two-saddle '50s Fender bass bridge is an absolutely amazing nosebleed to get set up properly.

    It can be done, but don't make other plans for a week.
     
  13. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Yes, when this "sustain" argument gets dragged out, it's like everyone drops about thirty IQ points.

    My favorite was the guy who went on and on about chasing more sustain and then revealed he played with a bridge mute.

    Granted, a bass with more sustain will have a different waveform in the useable first few seconds than one with less sustain, but like at least 95% of the tech arguments one encounters on these boards, it's just not a meaningful, measurable factor.
     
  14. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Nigel Tufnel likes it.
     
  15. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I dropped a new brigde onto one of my basses because of string issues (a non-tapered .130 wouldn't fit) and I agree with Phil, it FELT different. The feel was improved massively. The bridge was only slightly higher mass, and I'm not a sustain guy, but there was enough difference to surprise me.
     
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I knew I wasn't the only one! :) Did you notice a difference in regular usable tone also?
     
  17. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    No, just playability.
     
  18. JOME77

    JOME77

    Aug 18, 2002
    Georgia
    I've put together 5-6 Warmoth basses and have tried different bass bridges to see if I could really tell any difference. I've also replaced bass bridges at customers requests. I've installed the Schaller (roller-type), the ABM w/o intonation screws & springs (allen screw locks the saddle into position in milled track), Wilkinson (extrusion type with individual saddles), Hipshot (type A), Hipshot (type B) and of course the old and new Leo Quan BA. These are all high quality bass bridges and sound wise I can honestly say I really didn't hear any difference. I would say that the best reason to change a bass bridge is to gain set-up options. Features like a bridge with adjustable string spacing, or locking saddles, or ball-end hook type (in lieu of feed-thru), or no sharp edges are features in my opinion that are worth upgrading bridges for.
     
  19. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Everyone who has posted here so far has very valid info, IME.

    To me, the metal composition and the mass of bridges is what makes playing bass so interesting, just like woods.

    Massive, heavy, strings-through-body, brass, bridges are great for transmitting the tonewood characteristics, especially on a neck-through-body bass.

    But if you want some "punk spank" and to capture more of the sounds of the strings, pickups, and fretboard, it's hard to beat a bolt-on neck with a traditional, surface, bridge. I've played a bass with an aluminum bridge, (as in "feather light" but not "cheap") and I would like to have such a bass if I could have afforded it just because it is gives a very different sound.

    Just as a point of reference, take a look at this site -
    http://www.bunker-guitars.com/bass_bridge.html

    This guy makes high-end bridges and you may learn more than I can tell you by visiting the site or contacting him.