Gibson Thunderbird Bridge Saddles: radiused on every model?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Pier_, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    Hi everybody!

    a month ago or a bit more I became the owner of a wonderful Gibson Thunderbird dated 2006, vintage sunburst and with the black case (with black/grey fur inside).

    it's a thunderous bass, I love it, but while doing the setup I noticed that the saddles (which, as you probably know, can't be set singularly) are radiused. the G saddle is shorter than the others, D and A are the tallest, and E saddle is a bit shorter than A and D.

    I checked the saddles by dismounting them, and they are numbered, so they are placed in the right spot :p

    this creates a small issue: it's impossible to set the action low, because as soon as the G and E string are low (I like "easy buzzing" setups), D and A are still too high and far from buzzing.

    I should add that this bass sounds better with an higher and "clean" action, and I'm loving it as it is, but I was wondering if every Three-point-bridge from Gibson has the same characteristic.

    I have a couple of friends owning a Gibson SG bass and a Jack Casady, and they both confirm the thing: the saddles are radiused and it's impossible to have a "balanced" setup, unless using "balanced strings" with smaller D and A.

    so, is this common on all the three-point Gibson bridges or only for some years? I find hard to check the online pictures :p
  2. My 2004 Thunderbird is exactly this way as well. I also own an SG bass, but, the saddles seem to be the correct radius. I bought a Babicz bridge to replace it, but, also recently bought another black 3 point, which appears to have the same saddles as my SG bass. I'm going to try both to see which I prefer.

    Don't the SG bass & the Thunderbird have the same fretboard radius?
  3. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    as far as I know, yes. unfortunately the Gibson website is not working...
  4. I suppose you could make the notches in the A and D saddles deeper. Just go slow. It's a lot easier to remove a little more material then to put some back after you go too far.
    megafiddle likes this.
  5. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    The Tune-o-Matic bridges also often have too small of a radius.

    Bridges with non height adjustable saddles are typically notched lower as necessary, as part of a setup.

    This can be done most simply by adjusting the bridge so that the two outer strings are the same height above the last fret, and then adjusting the notches of the two inner strings to match. So all the strings will be at the same heght at the last fret, and the understring radius will now match the fretboard.

    Once the correct radius at the saddles is set, the action can be adjusted by setting the height of just the outer strings. The inner strings will follow in perfect progression.

  6. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    T-Bird 2.JPG I can't speak for every model Gibson (they aren't exactly big on leftys), but the bridge on my '13 T-Bird is certainly like this. I never paid a lot of attention, since it pretty much came the way I like it from the factory :wideyed:, so I just play it. Now, guess I'll have to look at the bridge a little closer...:whistle:
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  7. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    yes, it could be done. I did the same thing on some Fender (and "non Fender") basses on the G saddle, because too often, even on high-end models, there's the need of a shim under the neck or the G won't go lower than 2,5mm of action (which is a cliffhanger action, for my taste :p ), and I preferred to "sand" the saddle instead of shimming the neck, on some basses.

    however, I won't do it on this Tbird, I'm not a fan of this kind of "irreversible" modding, in particular on instruments like this.
    I was only wondering if it's the standard on all the Tbirds, or if it's only related to some productions.
  8. Pier_


    Dec 22, 2013
    Roma, Italia
    here's a pictures of the bridge, hope it helps!

    Attached Files:

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