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High Mass Bridges vs. Vintage Bridges

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by grobe, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. grobe


    Apr 9, 2009
    I recently tried a Gotoh 201 and ended up disappointed with it. :meh: I actually prefer the feel and sound of the stock vintage bridge on my MIM 60's Jazz. I really did not notice much difference in sustain like many people boast. The sustain of my bass is great with both bridges. I also prefer the softer feel of the cheapo vintage bridge vs. the higher tension of the 201, and I've tried both round core and hex core strings with both of the bridges, and my favorite combo was hex core with the vintage bridge - the feel here was perfect. And I even prefer the tone of the vintage bridge. The 201's tone was much heavier/bassier sounding than I suspected - too "heavy metal" sounding for me.

    Anybody in agreement with me on this?

    (I'm just bored right now. Looking for something to talk about).
  2. I'm with you.

    Many people just don't get the high-mass bridge thing.

    Then again, many people swear by high mass bridges.

    Of the dozen or so basses I have experimented with high mass bridges, most came right back off (though a couple remained because I thought perhaps I heard just a slight difference or improvement). I think it really depends on the bass and the player.

    Don't think there's something wrong with you because your high mass bridge didn't rock your world. Let your ears and fingers be your guide.

    If this thread runs its usual course, be prepared for some pretty amazing scientific and theoretical positioning on the issue.
  3. I agree, but that's just my personal preference, as it is with all this kind of thing. I do find it amusing sometimes how a lot of folk will think that a new piece of hardware will automatically make their good bass a teriffic one. Sometimes before they even have the bass in their hands. I suspect a lot of people have had a similar experience as yours, hence all the Badass II bridges I always see for sale.
    Lumdingo likes this.
  4. CPplaysBASS


    Mar 17, 2007
    I have '08 and '09 MIA Fenders with the high mass bridge. While I wouldn't go so far as to say I prefer the older type bridge, I'll go on record to say the high mass bridge makes no discernable difference when compared with my pre-2008 Fenders.

    I bought into the high-mass hype until I bought a used MIM 50's P-Classic with the traditional type bridge. That bass has just a much "magic" as any bass I've ever played, so the secret lies elsewhere than the bridge (and it sure ain't in my fingers either ... lol)

    I agree that in my own experience, I get just as much sustain with the traditional bridge as I do with the high mass (same strings on all my basses).

    Of course a flimsy bridge made of tin would have a negative impact, but no issues here at all with the traditional Fender bridge, and I would not pay extra for a bass because it has a high-mass bridge.
  5. MooseLumps

    MooseLumps Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    I'm running all high mass bridges right now, G&l tribbie, ATK, Fender Roscoe Beck signature are all high mass from the factory. I do have experience with one high mass switch, though...

    My sx jazz copy came with a crappy fender knockoff bridge. Not that the fender design is bad, but the bridge itself. The saddles would slide back and forth, the back plate was bending, the chrome was coming off, ect. I made the switch to a knockoff high mass bridge from eBay (almost identical to the guitar parts resource high mass bridge). It's been a treat. It has grooves in the plate for the grub screws to track in and so they don't slide side to side. It's much sturdier and less prone to losing its finish. It does need to have the E string hole bored out a little, but you get what you pay for I guess.

    As for sound. It really made harmonic content in this bass pop. It did little for the base tone or sound, but the high end seemed to open right up. It was not a miracle, it was just a change into a quality component from a terrible one.

    To sum, my experience has been limited, but I think that there is something to be said for a firm anchor at the bridge. It does not have to be a BA II or anything, but you will suffer if you have a poor bridge.
  6. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    I personally dont hear much difference between my fender and gotoh 201, maybe a more natural sound on the stock bridge is anything. But hey, I paid 40 bucks for that piece of metal, might as well slap it on. Its mainly for aesthetics.
    RiZzBot likes this.
  7. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    High mass bridges IMO= Snake oil.
    spaceman likes this.
  8. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    So far, i'm in the minority here.
    I prefer a high-mass bridge. I tend to play more on the trebley side.
    To me, it does improve sustain and punchiness.
    I've got BAII's on a couple and the stock Fender on one.
    I seem to reach for the basses with the high-mass most often
  9. grobe


    Apr 9, 2009
    Interesting that people don't hear a difference. I thought the difference in tone was substantial. It just happened that I much preferred the vintage bridge.
  10. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I've used the BAII, MIM bridge, MIA stringthru bridge, Fender vintage bridge, and a Hipshot "A" style.

    I think it's a cosmetic thing. It's like buying aftermarket rims and swearing that your car handles better.

    I do think the Hipshot is cool, but $100 cool???

    I did not like the BAII. It sat high and required the saddles to be grooved.

    I think the Fender vintage is the best bang for the buck.

    Just my .02
    ColdEye likes this.
  11. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    To my ears it is substantial
  12. Now that you mentioned it, the reason I so quickly removed most aftermarket high-mass bridges was because they didn't sound as good as the original, which was usually the standard bent-L design.

    Even the Hipshot Ric replacement bridge was a bust, and it is specifically designed to improve that specific bass. I found nothing about it an improvement.

    In my experience, either the bridge is not nearly as significant as people think it is, or the original bridge design is well thought out and a good match for the bass from the beginning.
  13. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    I play both standard P bridges and high mass P styles all the time. I like them both. However, I prefer the high mass. My fave is the stock Ibanez's around '81-3 that were gold on the Roadstars and Blazers. The massive bridges seem to have a thicker, richer note for me. Maybe a tad more sustain, but the standards sustain well enough. The stds just sound higher pitched to me. More nasally. The massive ones don't slide around like the old Fenders either. I like the extra weight also on the end of a P body as it just seems to feel more solid.
  14. Remus_Redbone


    Dec 27, 2010
    Western AR
    This is definitely one of those mods that provides mixed results. The "science" behind the high mass bridge is simple; if you can get enough mass where your strings attach to tbe bass, the strings won't induce vibration into the neck / body, which tends to "soak up" the string vibration. The question is, how much mass is required? It's different for different basses. Some won't benefit at all unless you add kilograms of mass and some will benefit from just a sligbt increase. The truth is that some basses could possibly benefit from a decrease in bridge mass if that decrease changes the resonant frequency of the body to something below / above / between the notes being played. It's the same application as a fat finger or vice grips on the headstock. Since vintage bridges are already firmly attached to a chunk of wood that weighs several pounds, a different bridge that weighs a few more ounces provided by a high mass bridge usually won't make much difference, but it CAN on some basses.
  15. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    IME upgraded bridges can make a real difference on cheaply made basses. I put a HipShot type B bridge on a very cheap Danelectro P-clone solid body and it was a true improvement.

    On decent Fenders I've never experienced substantial need for an upgraded bridge - I think the old bent-metal thing is just fine. The new HMV bridge is good, too.
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    These days I am really liking these olp/mm style bridges. They look good, they sound good, and they are easy to adjust. I have tested them against some other bridges and these sound better to my ear.

    TheDominoKid and Oldschool94 like this.
  17. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    Love that headstock! Kudos!
  18. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    let's be clear, here; both of these are the threaded-rod saddle vintage bridges, which are a much better design (in terms of both stability and tone) than the later run-of-the-mill bridges with the one big groove per saddle.
  19. I've got a Wilkinson bridge I pick up on eBay for my P-Bass. Brass saddles, and it looks exactly like a vintage-style bridge. Sustains like a mofo! :D
  20. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    From reading your post you obvioulsy state you dont like the fuller sound of high mass bridges compared to the thinner sound of basic bent metal fender style bridge. Nothing wrong with that just personal pref for thinner sound.