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Gibson Basses and the Supertone 3-Point Bridge: Is It Snake Oil?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by DrSpunkwater, Feb 13, 2013.


  1. DrSpunkwater

    DrSpunkwater

    Sep 17, 2012
    The Gibson 3-point bridge: I don't recall that I ever had great trouble with it on my SG bass. My tech insisted that the bridge was fine as is, and he was right. But true to my nature, I had to mess with it. There's just something I have in my head about getting the best possible sound I can out of my bass.

    The first thing I did was remove the front screw and stack a rubber and steel washer under the front of the bridge, thus converting the bridge to 2-point. With this simple mod, I noticed that the bass felt more "solid." Afterward I got some nylon washers to extend the length of the strings, which worked all right, but not great. Later I purchased a Gibson mod bar off ebay, and this was probably the best thing I could have done. This extended the ball ends of my strings far enough that the windings didn't ride on the saddles any longer.

    Then I decided to use Rotosound 88s.

    Anyone who's used Rotosound 88s knows what huge honking strings they are. My tech even remarked how enormous they were and asked for the gauges as he filed a wider slot for my G string. I love these strings, but they're a pain in the ass to intonate, especially the E string. And I couldn't get things just right.

    On a whim, I decided to buy a Supertone 3-Point Bridge. I don't know why, I guess because everyone raves about how great it is opposed to the stock Gibson bridge.

    When I got the bridge, I was disappointed there was no manual or anything included that might explain the installation and usage of their bridge. But I'm a smart enough guy that I can figure it out myself, and I did. And then I was equally disappointed when I found I needed to cut the screw on my E string so it would intonate properly. This was appalling, considering the cost of the bridge. It's bad design plain and simple is what it is. But I did it, and fought like hell with the bridge, trying to make it work with my strings. I never could get those 88s intonated properly on it.

    Eventually I switched back to the rounds and rode with the Supertone for a while. But I was dissatisfied because I wasn't getting the same deep bass sound that I got with the 88s, so early this month I turned back to the stock bridge and had an idea: Let's thread those 88s through the nylon washers and then slide on the mod bar. So I did, and then put it on the bass. A little tweaking, and boom: Bass was intonated properly, and has never sounded better. A revelation, if you will.

    And now I have a Supertone bridge I don't really want. What a waste of money.

    Sorry for the long post. I just thought it'd be fun to share my experiences noodling around with a Gibson bridge. Does anyone else out there feel that the Supertone bridge isn't all it's cracked up to be?
     
  2. That bridge, along wth a Di Marzio Model 1 and a great setup made an Epiphone EBO go from decent for the money to awesome @ any price.
     
  3. DrSpunkwater

    DrSpunkwater

    Sep 17, 2012
    Eh, I don't know if there's a difference between Epiphone and Gibson bass bridges. Regardless, I think you'd have been better off removing the front point and saving yourself some money.
     
  4. Venom of God

    Venom of God

    Oct 8, 2007
    Australia
    I don't understand the hate for 3-point bridges? I have a stock Gibson one on my Tbird and have never had an ounce of trouble with it. Is it meant to be a tonal thing? I've had a few different bridges on different basses over the years and honestly the only improvement I've ever noticed on any of them were a high mass Gotoh I put on a Fender J, and that was only because the stock Fender one pretty much fell apart.
     
  5. When I got my Supertone it came with a little envelope with longer and shorter screws. I remember having to change the E or the G screw or both. Hipshot will send you some if asked.

    That being said I really have no problem with the 3 point. Once you learn how to use it it's fine.
     
  6. DrSpunkwater

    DrSpunkwater

    Sep 17, 2012
    There was no envelope with longer and shorter screws included with my bridge. I find that kind of inconsistency troubling, to say the least.

    The hate for 3-point bridges is more or less due to that front screw. It's impossible to precisely machine a bridge that distributes weight equally on all 3 points, so what happens is all the tension is distributed on the front point. Also, the ball ends are extremely close to the saddles, especially on your E and A strings. Some people say this kills sustain and hampers intonation.

    There's no improvement in tone with a Supertone. Some people will swear up and down that there is, but it's a bunch of BS. The bass sounds every bit as good with the stock bridge.
     
  7. fjadams

    fjadams

    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    I put a SupetTone on my Epiphone Flying V mod. I think it is somewhat better than the original, more adjustment anyway.

    On my Gibson SS Thunderbird I have the original. When it goes in in for paint and a little electronic upgrade I plan to keep the original bridge. Don't really see enough improvement to warrant the extra $110.
     
  8. hdracer

    hdracer

    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    $110????
    I have never paid more than $85 for one, and I have three of them.

    The reason I use them is for the adjustability and to get proper intonation.
    I can set individual string height and spacing.

    With some strings you can not get the E string to intonate properly because the windings go on the saddle with the stock bridge.

    Every on I received came with two sets of screws and washers to go under the bridge for models with the bushing flush with the body.
    The screws have different pitch threads, two metric two SAE.
     
  9. takeout

    takeout Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Kansas City area
    I just got one for my Jack Casady (soon to be installed). The three-point on this is crazy - like, maybe even installed too far forward by 1/4" or so. Difficult to intonate properly (the G saddle is the furthest back - crazy), needs a mod bar to keep windings off the saddles (which makes string changes a pain).

    IF the three-point is mounted in the correct location, I suspect it's fine. I've yet to own a bass where that was the case though.
     
  10. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Soooo... is the lesson here boys and girls avoid Gibson basses?
     
  11. hdracer

    hdracer

    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    No

    Just because the bridge isn't perfect?
    How many Fenders (and a lot of other brands) have aftermarket bridges on them?
     
  12. So far I haven't run into a stock bridge on any bass that I can't work with. If I can intonate it and get a decent setup, I'll play it. That includes Fender bent metal, my Casady's 3-point, my EB0's bar bridge, Univox floating bridges, etc.

    I'm sure I could work equally well with the aftermarket ones, but I don't see the point in paying extra money when I don't need one.
     
  13. DrSpunkwater

    DrSpunkwater

    Sep 17, 2012
    Washers? I never got any washers. Inconsistency much?
     
  14. I use the stock three point bridge that was put on my Jack Bass in 1998. It has perfect intonation on each string. I don't get the need to change them out.
     
  15. I use roto 88s and the stock 3-point on my SG. I had some trouble nailing the intonation, but have never had any issues re: sustain or any of the issues others here complain about. 1 trip to an excellent luthier and mine sings.
    I know you want to do it yourself, which is admirable, but the tech visit only cost me $58.
     

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