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Done with the 201

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Thunderthumbs73, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Bought a Jazz Bass, used, equipped with the Gotoh 201. I've never liked the bridge, because even after shimming the neck (a pro guitar tech did it) to a reasonable degree, the action is still too high even with the saddles almost touching the bottom of the plate, and tweaking the truss rod to a reasonable degree.

    Ultimately, I feel what has made this Gotoh bridge fundamentally the wrong bridge is that its base is simply too thick, for a lack of better word, and requires that the strings must sit farther off the fretboard at their lowest setting, than a typical Fender bridge at it's lowest setting.

    I'm a slap guy, and not a "gonzo showy physicality" slap guy- think: Level 42's Mark King, instead of Flea. So I feel with this Gotoh 201, I have to impart too much energy to get the slap sound I want because the strings are always too high off the fretboard. I don't want to "fight" this bass any more, and it needs to play as easily as my others. With the Gotoh, I can't get the finesse I want, like I can with other non-Gotoh-equipped basses that have the correct setups for my preferences.

    So in lieu of selling the bass, I'm finally done with the 201...

    Would love to find out if some of the highest quality Fender brand replacement bridges (aside from the bent plate stock MIM type models as OEM) would be a direct, drop in fit requiring ZERO modification or alteration. I'll have to dig around here, Fender, StewMac, Allparts, etc... and see what I can find.

    As I understand it, the Gotoh (the ONLY good thing about it) WAS a direct fit, drop in replacement, so I should have no bridge screw hole mess to deal with once I take this thing off. If you've been down this road, and upgraded a standard Fender MIM bridge on a P or J to a Fender American Deluxe bridge, or other upgraded Fender direct fit drop in bridge, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, I've always felt the standard bridge was fine and didn't need upgrading. At this point, I'll upgrade with a different Fender bridge, or return the bass to the original-spec Fender bridge. A bass played with a "lesser" bridge (for those who subscribe to that idea) is MUCH better than a bass played with a "better" bridge that isn't played at all, and just sits.

    Well, I've vented and made a decision about a piece of hardware that has long frustrated me, so that's 1/2 the battle, community advice or not. One way or another, for under $100, I'll make this bass play the way I've always needed it to. Thanks for reading.

  2. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Hipshot A-style or B-style are excellent bridges. I prefer the A-style (mostly for aesthetic reasons).


    That said I would look into two things before swapping the bridge:
    1. Different Saddles. The Gotoh saddles are needlessly huge. A set of vintage style threaded saddles would do the trick and allow for lower action.
    2. More neck shim. I know you had a pro do it, but if your saddles are touching the bridge plate and the action is still too high, the shim isn't enough or isn't positioned correctly.
    2a. Bonus Item: fret leveling. Most Fender necks develop a rise towards the end of the fingerboard (aka ski jump) and this rise necessitates higher action to prevent buzzing. If the rise isn't too severe a fret leveling can fix most of it and facilitates lower action.
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Babicz bridges are amazing, that would be my recommendation. They sell for about $90 on ebay http://www.ebay.com/itm/Babicz-Full...-Bridge-Chrome-Finish-Brand-New-/231156057619
  4. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have to admit, I'm a little surprised a professional tech couldn't get this bass playing the way you like with shimming. I've used 201s on various parts basses over the years and have never had trouble getting a nice, low action on any of them.

    That said, without seeing the bass I simply have to take your word that it's not working out sooo... the drop-in replacements from Hipshot are all top-drawer and the bridges used on U.S. made Fenders are fine as well. You're not likely to go wrong with either of these choices.

    Best of luck with your bass. I'm sure you'll get it worked out.
  5. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I think this "needlessly huge" aspect is important, and I've thought about trying to grind them down, flatten the bottoms, get new Saddles (then have to think about thread type, etc, etc, etc...) I meant to put the Saddle profile/spec aspect in the original message.
  6. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Flattening the bottoms is actually not a bad idea. It would have no effect on the functionality of the saddles, but would allow you to get lower. And you have little to lose, since you've already written the bridge off anyhow.
  7. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    My thought is that I SHOULD consider shimming as a viable option, true. I also kind of think that I shouldn't have to shim the neck pocket either "so much" or "too much" and maybe at a certain point, by looking at the neck pocket as the "fix", is it a bandaid on a more fundamental problem which is the bridge, itself? Dunno. It's just that this the only bass out of 8 electric basses which has a real playability problem, AND it's the only one of them all that has an aftermarket, non-stock bridge.

    I'm not tuned to any "agenda" or liking or disliking parts/brands/etc... or "original-vs-custom" or any of those things. I just want a playable, enjoyable bass that isn't right now, and the most sure-fire way I know how to achieve that is simply to drop $30-$40 on a standard Jazz Bass bridge, and be done with it.

    Well, thanks for the thoughts and Pro-201 sentiments. I'm sure it's a great product for many. It seems impeccably built and finished. I just don't feel any longer that it could at some point in the future be the bridge for me.

  8. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    I have a Fender bent-plate you can have. PM me if you want it.

  9. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    It's possible your tech shimmed the entire neck pocket to compensate for the thickness of the 201 baseplate. However, it sounds like what you really need is an additional shim at the heel of the neck pocket. This can be done in minutes with nothing more than a piece of cardstock (cut business cards work fine).

  10. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Have you tried shimming the pocket yourself? This might be a good thing to do on a number of levels; first of all, you may find that you can fix the problem for no money at all and second, you may learn a lot about the relationship between your neck and bridge - information you can take with you to any other bass that you're tinkering with.

    Shimming is not a band-aid by any means. It's a normal and accepted way to set up bolt-on basses. Lots and lots of Fender basses leave the factory with shims and it's something they've done since the beginning. In this, the modern age with CNC milling of necks and bodies you would think the need for shims could be engineered out of Fender's instruments, but it's just not the case. Shims work, and there's no real reason to shy away from them. They're also totally reversible if they don't do what you want them to do.

    Incidentally, this isn't based upon any agenda either. I have no stake in this (I don't own stock in Gotoh, I swear!), but I'd hate to see you out even the paltry $30 if it's not necessary. That's a set of strings!
  11. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Wow... Testing1two did that a lot better than I did!
  12. Britbonic

    Britbonic Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    Many many threads here on merits of one bridge vs another.

    I had a very similar experience to yours with a newer Fender AVRI 74 Jazz. The bass played and was set up pretty nicely when I received it but a little bit of truss rod and other tweaking got to where the action was perfect but the stock saddles couldn't drop any lower. I had looked at all the usual options including Hipshots, Babicz and others but in all cases the plate is thicker than the stock Fender bent plate.

    I ended up adding neck shim and swapping out the stock 70s saddles for the older vintage style ones with the threaded barrels. IMO, the vintage style are far superior since you can adjust string spacing, center over pickup poles and most important set the strings such that the saddles are tightly connected to one another!

    I didn't end up keeping the bass so still have a vintage style bridge with threaded saddles if you'd like to check it out.