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How to accurately install bridge on body that had another bridge?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mikeddd, Aug 7, 2012.


  1. mikeddd

    mikeddd Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    San Antonio, TX
    My title stinks but I didn't know how to paraphrase this issue.

    Backstory
    Long time ago I had a parts Jazz built for me. It was supposed to come with a Gotoh 201, but didn't. Came with a no-name bridge with screws in the 4 corners vs. 5 across like the 201 has.

    I recently bought a real 201 and had the body professionally repainted, but the holes from the old bridge are still there. I'm pretty sure the new bridge will cover the old holes and I don't care that they are there.

    What I care about is getting the new bridge properly aligned on both axis' (centered and straight). The old bridge holes sort of give me a beginning reference point b/c the old and new bridges are almost the same size. But I want it perfect. What is the best way to accomplish this? Thank you.

    *edit*
    Just realized this should probably go in "Hardware/Setup". Sorry about that. Mods, please move.
     
  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Ignore the screw holes. Place the new bridge such that the G string saddle, when extended 90% of its travel, is 34" (I'm assuming this is a normal 34" scale instrument) from the nut.
     
  3. mikeddd

    mikeddd Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    San Antonio, TX
    Thank you, ctmullins. For your kindness, I reward you with more questions. :D

    When you say "G saddle extended 90% of it's travel" do you mean towards the nut or away from the nut? And from where to where do I measure? FB side of the nut to...??? How do I ensure it's centered L/R and level? I guess I could just line it up on the bridge pup route. And yep, this is a standard 34" scale bass.
     
  4. suraj

    suraj

    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    towards the nut. Mark the center of both pup routes, join them with a pencil line and extend towards bridge area to get the centerline. mark the center on the bridge and line it up.

    Edit : make sure you clamp or double stick tape the bridge to drill its holes.
     
  5. cstar

    cstar

    Dec 21, 2011
    Some solid advice so far.

    He meant so that the g string saddle is about 90% of its travel TOWARDS the nut. As in, away from the rear of the bridge. I always measure the 34" to the center of the nut, but I don't know if that matters or is right.

    Aligning the bridge with respect to the pup routs is important, especially if you want the strings to sit well over the pup magnets (assuming you have pups with visible poles) but also check and make sure, when you get the bridge where you think looks right, that the string spacing is alright. You want the outer two strings to be about equally far apart from their respective sides of the fretboard... otherwise you might fret out easily on the high end, which sucks, and it may bother you visually too. Sometimes you have to compromise between string spacing on the fb and spacing over the poles if the routing is a little sloppy... I always favor the former, and although the strings sit a little funny over my poles, I never noticed a tonal difference, and I preferred that to a crappy feel / playability on the neck.
     
  6. mikeddd

    mikeddd Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    San Antonio, TX
    Thanks very much suraj and cstar. Great advice from all and I appreciate it! I also much prefer the feel of the FB/strings over the look of the strings over the polepieces. I've played basses that fret out before and can't stand it.

    I obviously want to get this right the first time so I'll be real particular with my measurements.

    Right now I've got a pile of parts; nothing is assembled yet. Tuners not on the neck and neck not on the body. Pups not in the body either...pile'o'parts. I guess I should essentially assemble the bass before measuring/drilling for the bridge?
     
  7. cstar

    cstar

    Dec 21, 2011
    You're welcome.

    I say assemble it completely minus the bridge, then see to locating the new bridge.

    I would even mount the tuners and the neck, provided all holes are drilled already for mounting the neck. How tight is your neck + neck pocket joint? The tighter it is the less play you will have when you are deciding where to put the bridge.

    My brother and I mounted the bridge on my Jazz wannabe and we got it darn near perfect (two sets of hands and eyes is ALWAYS a plus!) and we did it as follows:

    Mounted the neck first. The neck pocket fit was a little sloppy so we built up masking tape and thin picks on the sides of the neck heel to center the neck in the pocket... I wanted the slop evenly distributed on both sides of the neck. It really wasn't very sloppy as far as sloppy neck pocket fits go, but I didn't cut the body or make the neck so I wanted to be sure that I could have all the play I needed, so I mounted the neck right in the center. There was just the slightest gap all around the neck. (I've since changed the neck and it's now perfect, but anyway).

    Once the neck was mounted, snugly but enough so that a light tap with my palm could skoot it around, we mounted the pickups. Of course by this point the tuning pegs were also mounted.

    Next we took the bridge and leveled the bottom on some sandpaper on a really true table top. Good idea to make sure you get a nice contact between the bridge and body. When we put my bridge down, it sat dead level, like a rock.

    Then: we drew a centerline with the pups as described before and got a rough idea, visually, of where the bridge would be. Then we brought the g string saddle out to about 90% and used a 35" rule to measure 34" from the point of string contact at the saddle to the point of contact at the nut. I go for the middle of the nut but I don't know how orthodox that is. I just figured that is where the string really contacts the nut best.

    Then: Having two sets of hands, I held the bridge down with my fist and we very loosly strung up the G and E strings. I mean super loose. Just enough to get them taut enough to not slop about. Like this we were able to get an idea of the string spread at the estimated bridge location. We could also move the neck a little, and so we were able to distribute the alignment slop between the pups and fingerboard real well. Honestly, they're both pretty darn good.

    We got lucky on the first try. It looked awesome so we used a sharp little awl to mark one of the five outer holes. Probably the one near the g string saddle. I don't remember. I would use a transfer punch now but I did not have any then. We drilled a pilot hole and screwed the first bridge screw down, with the bridge in place... if you do it this way, and you did a real good job with locating that hole, you can now rotate the bridge around this screw and get it exactly where you want it.

    If any of that is poorly written or otherwise clear, please say so.;)
     
  8. cstar

    cstar

    Dec 21, 2011
    Oh and I mounted the pickguard and control plate after because I think that's least important. If you have to fill a few screw holes to get the pickguard where you want it this time, I say it's worth it.
     
  9. mikeddd

    mikeddd Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    San Antonio, TX
    Excellent step-by-step, cstar! I understood everything you wrote. Thanks much. I know the PG and CP will be last b/c never on any Jazz I have, have they sat in the same place twice. My neck is not drilled yet for the neck screws; I'm really starting from scratch. The neck pocket fit is tight. I can just barely pick up the neck and body as one unit with no screws in it, then the neck slides out.

    I feel much more comfortable with this now. Still nervous though...I'll be measuring 42 times and drilling once.
     
  10. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Great advice, guys! Good luck with your project, mikeddd!
     
  11. For alignment, I use a string. Tape it in the center of the headstock so that it crosses the nut in the center, aligns with the fret markers on the neck (if you have them) crosses the center of the pups and mark a line on a piece of tape at the tail of the body. This will tell you if the neck is in alignment, if the pups are centered and where the center of the bridge should be. Like others have said your distance will be 34" to the G saddle at 90% of of it's extension. Getting the bridge on perfectly square is sometimes a problem, you will just have to figure that one out for yourself.
    Rocky
     
  12. mikeddd

    mikeddd Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    San Antonio, TX
    Thanks for the tool tip, JLS. Though I have a drill press, I may invest in one of those bits.

    Rocky, that string idea is pure gold! Thanks from a fellow San Antonian!
     
  13. Mike, I sent you PM.
    Rocky
     
  14. mikeddd

    mikeddd Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    San Antonio, TX
    PM replied, Sir. :)
     
  15. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast

    When I mounted my bridge I ran a long piece of string from the E tuner, through the E nut slot, over the E bridge saddle, through the hole on the bridge for the E string, then through the hole for the G, over the G saddle, to the G nut slot and to the G tuner. This allowed me to maneuver the bridge back and forth so I could get the E and G the same distance from the edges of the neck. I had a centerline for the bridge already marked, so making sure it was square was pretty easy.

    I just set it so that 34" was at the middle of all the saddles travel. It is a fretless bass though. Check my build thread, specifically this post: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f57/1...ree-pine-body-790365/index2.html#post11314820
     

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