My Fender basses sound better if I loosen the bridge screws a hair

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by fretno, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Fender 5 screw type..just back them out a wee bit the bridge sits flatter on the body and the bass sounds better .Cranking them down always raises the front of the bridge , it doesn't sound bad but it seems to sound better when it's not cranked in and it certainly sits better . string it up and just back them off a hair . Crazy ?
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Sounds like a bent bridge.
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Nope, you aren't crazy. How well the bridge is seated on the body can definitely affect the sound of a bass. Most likely, your bridge is fine, but the top surface of the body has a slight convex curve to it. It isn't flat, and the bridge will rock slightly depending on how you tighten the screws. If the bridge is rocked forward, the saddles are pressing down on the plate directly onto the wood. You'll get a little extra clarity and high end. If the back screws are tightened first, leaving a small gap under the front edge, it introduces a small amount of springiness and squish between the saddles and the wood. This softens the tone, adding a bit of mush and reducing the clarity.

    This poor fit between the bridge and the body is a common problem on Fenders and Fender clones. It's one of the frequent reasons why one Fender will sound better (or just different) from another. It's also a big driver behind the sales of aftermarket bridges, even though it isn't really the fault of the bridge itself.

    Try fitting a shim under the back edge of the bridge on your bass. Make it just thick enough that all the screws lock down tightly, with no rocking or gaps. It will probably sound even better yet.
    Pilgrim and megafiddle like this.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    my routine trick with teles (which can have the same problem, the mounting screws being way in the back push up the thin bent-steel bridge in the front) is to take the thing off, flip it over, support the corners and carefully hammer it in the middle until it's ever so slightly concave underneath.

    that way, when i put it back on the instrument, the corners hit wood before the flat area with the screws does, and cranking the screws right on down to the wood means the four corners of the plate are also sprung tight against the wood.
  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    My guess is that its rocking back and forth on the bridge ground. Try removing the bridge and fanning out the wire into individual strands, and make sure the insulation isn't sitting above body level.
    walterw likes this.
  6. NoBlackTShirts


    Feb 23, 2010
    NICE !! Thanks!
  7. NoBlackTShirts


    Feb 23, 2010
    No, if you screw down just one side of anything, the other side will rise. The OP is just the first guy to notice the relevance to bridges.
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