How much difference does an Aftermarket Bridge actually make?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Exo-Politician, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. So I am a serial tinkerer but have rarely touched the bridge on any bass except my Gibsons but lets be honest here. That bridge is shaged.

    The bass in question is an OLP Tony Levin which has been gutted and upgraded with everything imaginable except the bridge.

    Is there any real benefit of upgrading to a Schaller or Babicz?

    I don't really care for precision spacing or saddle height. I play with a very high action.

    Any advice?
    bluesdogblues likes this.
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Stay with the stocker. If it works, it works.
    bluesdogblues and hdracer like this.
  3. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    If the bridge is affecting the tuning, the playability, the weight or balance of the instrument, your sense of aesthetics, the string spacing or saddle height, change it.

    If not- Don't.
    StayLow likes this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    A significant change in bridge mass or density (like going from steel to wood saddles) will change how a bass sounds.
    Higher mass/density bridges are usually described as having more "piano like" harmonics and longer sustain. Lower mass/density is usually described as more "woody" and "vintage" sounding.
    Smooth_bass88 and bluesdogblues like this.
  5. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I think a different bridge could affect the tone of the bass. However, I have never perceived any change in tone by changing a bridge. At best, any change would most likely be subtle and not noticeable with a band.

    A good reason to change a bridge might be if the saddles move side-to-side while you play, or if it has sharp edges, or some other mechanical reason. But as for tonal improvements...if you believe it will help, then it probably will.
    StayLow likes this.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Only time I ever noticed a change in sound was with the Hipshot aluminum A bridge I tried a month ago on my AmStd Precision. Got much worse. I've now got the brass one on it, and I really don't notice a change in sound but it's a lot more user friendly IMHO.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    "Upgrades" aren't always improvements. Good point.
    StayLow, Bob_Ross and JimmyM like this.
  8. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I don't see the point.

    if it works it works
    StayLow likes this.
  9. OldDirtyBassist

    OldDirtyBassist Guest

    Mar 13, 2014
    Years ago somebody made me think a little more about aftermarket hi-mass bridges. They don't really change anything other than the bridge being more audible.
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC
    I'd probably stay with the stock one but it took me years of shaging around with a bunch of different after market bridges to come to the conclusion that "upgrades" often aren't.

    But if you're curious and you can afford it go for the swap. Trying it for yourself is the only way you'll really know and a gutted OLP is definitely a good one to be experimenting with. Buy something used and you'll get most of your money back if you don't like it.
    Efrain Reyes, jamro217 and StayLow like this.
  11. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I don't know if it's the bridge you're hearing so much as the sound of the string being isolated from the body. More mass at the bridge, just like more mass at the fret, will reflect the energy of the string more efficiently. Lower mass at either or both ends will let the wood emphasize/de-emphasize whichever frequencies it does. Neither is 'better', just different.

    Think about how pianos are strung. The strings are connected to a giant hunk of brass, essentially the heaviest bridge possible, because they want to get maximum sustain and rich harmonic overtones. Then compare that to an upright bass, where both ends of the string are stopped by wood. Because that design wants to emphasize fundamental and not overtones.

    If you want to sound more like a piano, then bigger frets and bridge are the thing to do. If you want to sound more like an upright, then lower mass at both ends is probably the thing to do.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  12. hopsbb


    Nov 8, 2014
    I've changed out the bridge on a Squier affinity p bass to a high mass style one with adjustable saddles and it definitely changed the sustain alot.To my ears anyway.

    Changed the bridge on a knockoff Stingray for a guy too and it was an improvement In sound as well.

    I think it helps.
  13. 7dollarbologna


    Apr 22, 2014
    Downtown Albuquerque
    Desert Eccentric
    Although I like the tone, stock Fender bridges are squirrley.
  14. Low Class

    Low Class

    Jul 4, 2005
    Aftermarket bridges can make a huge difference in tone and playability, but not always for the better. I've had BadAss bridges for example make some basses sound and play significantly better and then can do the opposite on others. This is basically true for any of the good aftermarket bridges. Also the type of material the bridge is made from makes a difference. Aluminum, brass, titanium, and steel can all sound different. Aluminum like used on the Hipshot and Babicz is my least favorite.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
    lz4005 likes this.
  15. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Or, to put it another way: If the factory bridge doesn't work, then an aftermarket bridge can make a difference
    ...but it would behoove the curious (and/or impulsive) tinkerer to first determine what about that original bridge isn't working before trying to improve [sic] things with a replacement.

    iow, if the bass has problems that can be attributable to a crappy bridge, yes, an aftermarket replacement bridge that isn't crappy can often be the solution. But if the bass has problems that might be due to other issues (neck, electronics, tuners, whatever) then replacing the bridge could just be throwing money away.

    When I was in college in the late 70s a lot of my fellow bass players were replacing their stock Fender or Gibson bridges with Leo Quan Badass bridges. Often this made a "difference"...but not necessarily an improvement, because there wasn't anything hellaciously wrong with the original bridges in the first place.

    OTOH, my roommate in the late 80s owned a crappy Mateo brand POS P-Bass copy with a totally rinky-dink stamped bridge. That bass had no firmness or clarity to its fundamentals, notes died almost instantly (no sustain), and in general sounded anemic and clanky. On a whim I replaced the cheapo bridge with an aftermarket bridge by, um, I think it was Allparts, nothing too exotic, just slightly more substantial (in hindsight it was similar to a current Hipshot Type B).

    Huge improvement. It suddenly sounded like an excellent P-Bass, with firm solid attack and sustain on every note. I even wound up using that instrument on a big-budget major label album a year later.

    So it depends...
    Efrain Reyes likes this.
  16. Argassab


    Dec 16, 2014
    Cayman Islands
    I changed the bridge on my frugal bass that had a li'l problem but was fixed just by putting a washer, I think I was just throwing away some cash.:thumbsdown:
  17. AdmiralB


    Nov 5, 2007
    I've never experienced a change in tone from hardware that was audible through amplification.
    StayLow likes this.
  18. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I suspect the difference is directly proportional to the amount of money spent.
  19. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC
    I dunno....can hear a difference and prefer inexpensive lightweight bridges.
    lz4005 likes this.
  20. AdmiralB


    Nov 5, 2007
    Through an amp? You've recorded stuff, made the change, and re-recorded?

    I'm not attacking, or even doubting. I'm honestly asking. If you have, you are more perceptive than me.

    I ask because I did this a couple years ago on another forum with a bunch of stuff, mostly pickups (guitar, not bass) and we were all amazed at how little - like, infinitesimal - difference stuff makes once you run through an amp and cabinet. Supposedly hearing is the sense with the poorest 'memory', don't know if that's true or not, but my experience supports it.
    StayLow likes this.