Brass vs. Steel bridge saddles on a hipshot vintage bridge...has anyone here A/B'd?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by cnltb, May 10, 2019.

  1. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Title says it all...
    I am wondering if anyone here has tried brass vs. steel saddles on a steel plate bridge( in my case it's the Hipshot vintage bridgein stainless steel) and what you have found.
    Did you prefer one material over the other and if so , what was it you liked?
    Since this MUST have been asked before in this or similar form, feel free to point me in the right direction in case you know where!
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    I have A/B'd on steel vs brass saddles on a generic bridge. If there was a difference I couldn't detect it. I wasn't using headphones to test with - perhaps I might have heard it if I had used phones.
    cnltb likes this.
  3. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Not on Hipshot specifically but I've used both and couldn't tell any appreciable difference.
  4. JGR

    JGR The "G" is for Gustav Commercial User

    Jun 29, 2006
    President, CEO, CFO, CIO, Chief Engineer, Technician, Janitor - Reiner Amplification
    I put threaded steel saddles on the B and E of my NP5 (Hipshot bridge) and left the brass saddles on the A, D, and G. Very subtle but adds a bit of brightness/harmonics.
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Like the other guys, I haven't specifically tested the Hipshot bridges & saddles. But I design and machine up my own bridges and many customs for clients. I've done direct side-by-side comparisons of saddles made from aluminum, brass, and stainless. Exact same part, machined by me.

    There is a difference in sound between them, but it's small. The harder the metal is, it gives you a slight extra tingle up in the high frequencies. But you'll only hear it (barely) if you're using clean roundwounds, a wide range Hi-Fi pickup, and a stiff-frame bass. Most normal basses and playing conditions, you won't hear the difference.

    The reason isn't resonance through the metal, or anything like that. If the saddle is made from harder metal, like mild steel, stainless or hardened steel, you get a harder, sharper edge right at the fulcrum point. That allows a bit more ringing of the high frequency overtones. Again, you'll only notice it in particular Hi-Fi conditions.

    If the saddle is made from softer metal, particularly aluminum, that edge gets slightly mashed and rounded by the string. That high frequency ring gets dampened, just a little bit.

    If you are trying to build the ultimate Ping Monster, where you do extensive tapping and harmonics and tones that make dogs jump, go with steel saddles. For everything else, go with brass. Or steel. Whichever you think looks cooler.