How to Fix String Location on a Mis-Located Bridge?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by WretchedExcess, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    I've picked up a 4-string project bass that needs a little work. The existing bridge appears to be mounted a bit off to one side, causing the strings to be off to one side on the fretboard. Repositioning the neck doesn't fix the problem, so I need a bridge that allows me to move the strings to the side on the barrels without having them slide back to their original position.

    I'm looking for replacement bridges that have the following features:

    1. Fits under a P-Bass ashtray (bridge cover)
    2. Has threaded barrel allowing the string to be moved to the side
    3. Has slotted baseplate allowing the barrel not to be pulled back
    4. Fits the original fender 5-hole screw mount

    Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any bridges that have these type of adjustments that will fit into the original mounting holes. So it looks like I have to cross-off criterion #4. I'd be willing to settle for a bridge that matches 1, 2 and 3.

    It seems that all of the aftermarket bridges with slotted baseplates aren't designed to provide lateral adjustment of string position to make up for a malpositioned bridge. So far it seems the the best two options for slotted bridges with threaded barrels that allow you to correct the string position come from Fender:

    # 1: American Standard Bridge Assembly (2007-Present)


    #2: American Deluxe 4-String Bass Bridge Assemblies ('04-'10)


    So here are my questions:

    1. Do these bridges fit under an ashtray?
    2. Are there other bridges that I should be looking at?

  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Why not just relocate the current bridge to the right position?
  3. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    +1. you've already resigned yourself to drilling new holes, why not just use the existing one, but line it up right?

    or if you feel like getting a new bridge, just get one you like and line it up correctly...
  4. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    > Why not just relocate the current bridge to the right position?

    I've thought this through, and I'm not coming up with the simple answer. I'm thinking that just relocating the bridge would be a bad idea. It sounds like a good approach at first, but here's what I'm thinking:

    With a 5-hole mount, if you have to move the bridge laterally, you end up drilling 5 new holes that fall in between the 5 existing holes that are already pretty close together. The result is that you remove a lot of wood from one spot on the guitar, creating a channel in the guitar's body. You can't just go drilling new holes -- if the holes are close together, or if they overlap, then to be structurally sound you have to plug the existing 5 holes before you can re-drill.

    Once you have the existing holes plugged and drill new holes to move the bridge to the side, the bridge is now in a position where the existing ashtray won't fit over it, so now the ashtray also has to be moved.

    The problem with moving the ashtray is that you have to drill 2 new holes that are exposed on the face of the bass. Then you've got a problem with two extra ugly holes in the bass when the ashtray is put in place, with one of them always exposed in plain view, while the other one is covered by the ashtray. If you remove the ashtray, now you've got FOUR holes on the face of the bass, and it looks like ass.

    Making matters worse, when the previous owner added an ashtray cover to a bass that didn't come with one, he drilled HUGE holes and used MONSTER screws. (I wish that he would have moved the bridge before drilling the holes for the ashtray.)

    If you drill the extra holes for the ashtray, then you're faced wtih a bass that's got so many exposed holes that it's an ugly duck, and you need to plug the holes and refinish the front of the bass.

    Summing all this up, I think the idea of moving the bridge creates a lot of unnecessary work. It's a much better approach to find a new bridge that will fit under the ashtray, and allow the strings to be moved to the side without drilling 7 new holes.
  5. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    Thanks for the tip. I already have a bridge with threaded saddles. It doesn't fix the problem. When using threaded saddles on a bridge that has a non-slotted baseplate, the strings won't stay where you put them. What happens is that the threaded saddles get pulled back to the midline because of string tension. The result is that the threaded saddles won't stay where you put them unless you have a slotted baseplate to hold them in place.


    The slotted baseplate was created to fix this problem. That's why I've listed the slotted baseplate in my list of desired features. Unfortunately, the threaded barrels on a flat baseplate just doesn't work if you have to move the string very far sideways -- the string just creates too much return-to-center force. In my case, all of the strings need to be moved to the right, and the G string needs to be moved all of the way to the outermost height adjustment screw to put the G string in a reasonable location on the fretboard. Putting it out that far makes the string tension pull the barrel backtoward the midline, and the string location becomes bad as soon as you start playing. After not very long all four barrels become canted to the left. That wouldn't happen if the baseplate had slots to hold the height adjustment screws in place.

    I'm thinking the best solution is going to be the combination of threaded barrels to move the strings to the side, and a slotted baseplate to keep them there.

    What I'd really like to know is whether or not those two Fender bridges will fit under an ashtray, or if there are other bridges that I might need to consider.

    Thanks everyone for your help.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I'm pretty sure the those bridges do fit under the cover. Lots of American Standard owners add covers to their basses.

    As for other options, the only bridges that I know of that allow string spacing adjustment are the Hipshot A Style and the Schaller Roller Bridge. I doubt the Schaller would fit under a cover but the Hipshot might...
  7. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    FWIW, I have owned threaded saddle Fender bridges for years, and never had anything that ended up or resorted to anything looking like that picture ...

    I came across one of these in the past, I think they may have been issued on an import Fender at one point .. if I remember correctly, the outside holes lined up with the 5 hole mounting pattern, but you would need to drill the middle holes using your existing bridge as a template, them just not use the forward two .. then you could also use the intonation screws, threaded saddles, and saddle height screws from your existing bridge as well ... just a thought if you end up needing another option ...

    Edit to add: .. it helps if you remember the link ...
  8. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    In other words, you haven't had a bass where somebody at the factory really botched the bridge position when they installed it. ;)

    It does happen. This is why there are good Fenders that cost more on the used market, and not so good Fenders that can be had on the cheap because they need work. I got this bass for a song because it's a project bass that had a lot of different problems and needed some TLC.

    This isn't really a problem with the bridge itself, it's more of a problem with somebody putting the bridge in the wrong place when they installed it. The threaded saddles allow you to make minor adjustments of string location, but they're not intended for making major adjustments to compensate for a Mexican worker doing a bad job at putting the bridge where it's supposed to go.

    When the malpositioning of the bridge isn't bad, it's easy enough to provide minor lateral string adjustment using the threaded barrels. One might make the point that the only reason that Fender even makes bridges that have multiple string guides is because it helps them to cover up sloppy QA at bridge installation. If the guy installing the bridges doesn't put the bridge in the right place, the multiple string guides in the saddle can be used by the guy at the setup station to cover up the problem.

    When the bridge position is really far off, even the bridges that have 3 to 4 notched string guides in the barrels don't provide enough compensation. You need to end up using the threaded barrel, but then you're going to need the slotted baseplate to keep the barrels from migrating back to the midline.

    Mounting bridges in the wrong places does happen on the imported Fenders. The workmanship in the foreign made basses just isn't quite as good as it is on the American basses.
  9. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    That's what I'm hoping to hear -- now I'm hoping that someone with one of these two bridges on their American bass can give me a definitive answer on that.

    I think I remember hearing somewhere that a Hipshot won't fit under the ashtray. I'm also worried that if the hipshot bridge doesn't have enough lateral adjustment then it would have to be mounted off-center under the ashtray, and then clearance under the ashtray could be a real problem. That's why I'm hoping that the Fender bridges will fit under the ashtray -- they seem to provide a lot of adjustment to compensate for sloppy bridge installation.

    What is most amazing to me at this point is that the Fender bridges look like the best solution, and they're some of the cheapest options available in a multi-featured bridge. Who would have expended Fender to make the cheapest fix?
  10. sloppy_phil


    Aug 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Not actually named Phil
    You should try posting in one of the Fender bass clubs, since I imagine plenty of Am. Std/Dlx owners will be seeing your post
  11. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Seek out the Precision Bass Club thread and ask in there...
  12. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    i wonder if a schaller roller bridge would fit.
  13. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    Just for fun, could we see a picture of the bass?
  14. This is what I'd like to see. The only way a threaded saddle doesn't work is if you are moving the string further away from the intonation screw. The saddle will be pulled by the string in this direction. That's why most bridges position the intonation screws to the outside of the bridge. It allows the saddles to be pulled together, regardless of where the string sits on the saddle.
  15. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Fill the holes. Put the bridge in the right place. Throw away the ash tray.
  16. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    I guess I need to jump on the 'lets see the whole bass' bandwagon ... from this picture, the only thing that is out of aligment are the intonation screws, which would be corrected by moving the strings about 3 threads to the bass side ... the strings are running parallel to the side of the bridge plate ... so we need to see the entire run of the strings to make any sense of it ... JMHO
  17. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Thanks for your very thoughtful answer to my question.

    I'd rather just fill the old holes, put the bridge in the right place and use the ashtray as an ashtray.
  18. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    And then either:

    * leave two big ashtray screws in place that are not evenly spaced on each side of the relocated bridge, (UGLY!) or

    * leave two big holes in place that are not evenly spaced on each side of the relocated bridge, (UGLY!) or

    * refinish the bass to cover up the big holes that are left behind from the ashtray.

    I'm thinking that getting a bridge that actually works to move the strings sideways will require less modification to the guitar, and will look better when I'm done.
  19. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    I understand the obsession with photos here on TB, buI honestly don't think you need any more photos to understand what's happening. Just think about Newtonian vector forces on a string and the situation becomes clear.

    The picture that I posted contains enough information to fully explain what's happening -- the bridge was installed too far to the left, and the strings are located too far to the left on the fingerboard. (E string too close to the edge, G string too far from the edge, all strings moved too close to the E side)

    The photo shows that I'm trying to move the strings to the right on the threaded barrels, and that the tension on the strings is trying to pull the saddles back to the left. All of the barrels are being pushed to the left by string tension. A grooved baseplate is needed to stop the lateral motion of the height adjustment screws that are sliding on the smooth baseplate.