bridge metal?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassicsax, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. bassicsax


    Jul 29, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    Im sorry if this has been layed out in another thread but i had trouble finding this in a comparison form... how do the different metals bridges are made of affect the tone of the bass compared to eachother... like how would a zinc bridge compare to an aluminum or a brass bridge? like i said im sorry if this has already been covered but its been overwhelming comparing different bass bridges... thanks for your help...
  2. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    first off, plenty of folks will say that as long as the bridge holds together and doesn't rattle, that none of it makes much sound difference.

    IIRC, according the leo quan's descriptions of the different metals he made the prototype badass bass bridges out of, harder stuff like brass and steel made the treble frequencies sustain longer than the bass frequencies, while things like aluminum or even hardwood sounded nice but had less sustain.

    he says the zinc alloy he settled on had plenty of sustain but still balanced bass and treble.
  3. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    For whatever reason, Ive found Leo Quans baddass bridges overly trebly with whats often been called the "baddass zingyness". So to me his idea for better balanced lows thru highs doesnt work well. Regular himass bridges have a more neutral, or balanced sound to them to me. Brass bridges can be very nice for a little accent for bell like tone, but too much brass, like with trabens extra big brass bridges do end up being treble oriented to me.

    Ive only has one aluminum bridge, a wilkenson. It to seemed neutral or well balanced to me tone wise.

    Except for the two specific examples, I find himass bridges the best sound wise. The thin fender like ones to me lack bass and sustain.

    I have noticed that replacing low qaulity overly short bridge screws with better qaulity longer ones helps the sound and felt body resonance. I also dont like 3 screw bridges. Maybe enough to hold it on, but I think 4 and 5 give better coupling with the body.

    I have not noticed any tone change between round bridge saddle ones and the more squared off saddle, or roller type saddle ones.
  4. Hi.

    As a someone who can't tell different body/neck woods out of a recording, I'm hardly a person to tell anyone which metal behaves in which way in transferring the vibrations.

    If I had to choose, brass would be #1 just because I happen to like brass items. #2 would be Titanium for the "unusual" factor.

    LOL, hadn't heard that.

    As an engineer, the relative ease (=cheapness) of casting and at least 1/5 of the cost of the material just might have had something to do with the "settling on" as well ;).

  5. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I'm not an engineer, but I have studied the subject of statics, which is the branch of physics that deals with objects that don't move and the stresses upon them.

    Based upon the insight I get from that study combined with 20 or so years of playing and modding different basses here is my opinion:

    Higher mass at the vibrating string ends does equate to more upper harmonic content in the vibration of the string. (more trebles,"zing" and piano-like sound) Assuming 2 conditions"

    1. The string is fresh, consistent in quality and of the type that can produce these upper harmonics. (roundwounds)

    2. The structural integrity of the instrument is solid enough between the anchoring ends to not absorb any of those upper harmonics. (the neck having the smallest cross sectional area has the most potential to be the weak structural link, therefore many models add reinforcing to the neck to help achieve this tone)

    Therefore: Higher mass bridges and denser fingerboard woods will have a noticeable effect on tone unless you are putting them on a weak instrument or are using dead strings.

    However, the difference between metal A and Metal B when compared to the difference in density of a stock bridge vs, high mass (which results in only moderate improvement BTW)...... I have my doubts as to whether that much difference would be audible unless you were comparing DRASTICALLY different metals.

    I agree with the poster above who suggests that ease of manufacture of one material over another probably was the deciding factor. Leo Quan was not selling 100% pure snake oil by any means, but there was enough in the mix you could taste it.
  6. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Love it! :D, now off to the bomb shelter!

    I have had a Zinc HM bridge, A brass HM bridge and the stock folded steel bridge on my old G-3. It always sounded like my old G-3 except for the brass which was not string through, seemed to lack some of the original initial attack punch. In my case me thinks it had more to do with not being string through. But we'll never know for sure, will we? I did notice that the zinc, because of the molding process has square saddles with void areas underneath so the mass of each saddle is about the same as a saddle made of rod. The enclosing sides of the plate assembly also are hollow, only the tail end is solid. Inexpensive but does the job nicely, allowing string through. Identical bridge I have seen on some high end basses. Some Carvin's for instance.

    I think of the tiny contact patch on the saddles and reason that different metals have a tiny impact on the tone. Round saddles may have more impact because of larger contact patch than many cast saddles that seem to have a tiny pointed contact point molded in. Strings do more for sound IMHO.
  7. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    FWIW I changed a brass Hipshot bridge for an Aluminium one and I'm under the impression that there weren't any difference with fresh string.
    But sound memory being 10-15 seconds , I should have recorded the two to be totaly sure.

    I changed the bridge and the Tuners in an attempt to lower the weight of the instrument.
  8. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    It's not only the material of the bridge which keeps me busy. There are a few different styles. There is the simple L-plate, made out of steel. This works well on a Fender. There are some very heavy bridges, machined from a solid piece of metal, like Badass bridges. Ibanez uses another style on some Soundgear models. Each string has its own little bridge, bolted onto the body. I'm sure each style has advantages and disadvantages, but I played them all and couldn't tell the difference nor from the sound, nor from the sustain. There are so many other variables, like stiffness of the neck, choice of wood, pick-ups and strings, that it is impossible to just tell which bridge is better.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

  10. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    Word? :confused: ?
  11. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    "word" means " i understand, or agree". its urban slang.
  12. I've worked on a few friends basses and I'm always amazed and how loose their bridge screws are. So those folks with simple "L" bridges might be well served to check the tightness of the screws... cheaper than buying a new bridge if they feel their tone is a bit floppy.
  13. SolidFooting


    Jun 6, 2011
    What's the best metal for bridge?

    ;) j/k
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    So this is a flaw with bent plate L bridges only? I know that's not what you mean.:D Any string through the tail bridge, by nature of where the tension is applied, the tail, is prone to this. Most of the stress is vectored right at that line of screws, pulling them up; add vibrations and they will begin to unscrew themselves, unlike a string through body where most of the stress is vectored downwards to the back of the body. Granted, a high mass may absorb and dissipate the vibrations better resulting in less load on the screws and IMHO sucking sweet tone out of your strings :bag:. Softer wood bodies are likely most prone. All bridge screws and any other screws on an instrument should be checked periodically.
  15. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    It also means I had a lazy moment!:D
  16. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    23 ft below sea level
    ^ Right, urban slang, yep. That's the problem if you aren't a native speaker, I guess.
  17. I once had a conversation with Dave from Hipshot concerning bridge metal and his opinion was that brass gave better low end response than aluminum. It was also easier to chrome-plate. As far as sustain was concerned he felt that was dependent on the degree of vibrational loss, not only to the bridge, but to the whole structure, including neck joint, tuners, nut, etc.
    @ Jay2U: Nederlander?
  18. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Yeah HM vs. LM is a real bone of contention. I was kidding around, truth is no one can prove or disprove with enough hard evidence to sway any one else's opinion. I just can't resist my stirring the pot sometimes. I have a sick sense of humor. LOL
  19. FBS1996


    Feb 14, 2011
    :bag:I thought this thread was gonna be a "What's the best bridge for metal?" thread.
  20. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Nope. This.


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