Setting up a Fender bass bridge

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BobArctorParis, May 9, 2022.

  1. BobArctorParis

    BobArctorParis

    May 9, 2022
    Hello!

    I've seen some topics about this and hesitated a bit before posting, but it seemed that no definitive answer was brought and I didn't want to dig up an ancient topic so...

    I recently purchased a Fender JP Jazz Bass which has a bridge that looks like this :
    [​IMG]

    There are grooves of different diameter in the saddles, and I'm wondering if there is a manual somewhere that gives which grooves to use to have optimal string spacing.

    The E string could be a little more on the left (in the central groove of the left saddle), but after trying that, the general spacing felt odd. Also the G string is a bit too much close to the void (and I could maybe move it left, but was afraid to mess with the string spacing in the absence of guidance/manual).

    I could not find a technical paper/schema of that bridge with recommendations for string spacing. It must exist somewhere but I wasn't able to find it.

    Should I just experiment? Or are there general spacing rules for that kind of bridge (like: "if you use central grove on the left saddle, then it's central on the 2nd, left on the third and so on..."). Or should I just fetch my tape measure and verify string spacing (which I don't know about: don't know where to measure, don't know what the measure should be)

    Thanks!

    Some other pics with the current string spacing and alignement to mics:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2022
    JRA likes this.
  2. Set the spacing for what feels good to you.
     
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  3. I try to set each string so they fit as exactly as possible between their two magnet poles in the pickups, that's all I look at, in your case it seems to look good.
     
  4. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    No one will die, or be forced to skip a meal due to your string spacing choice. You might not even notice - there is no risk here; try whatever spacing you want, it’ll be OK.
     
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  5. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    That's all well and good, but...

    My experience with these threaded saddles is that there is only one set of grooves where the spacing is the same between all strings, and that is the 'inner' ones.
    upload_2022-5-9_12-30-12.png
    On the original threaded barrels where all of the grooves were the same size and pitch you could adjust the whole lot side to side and maintain spacing, but on these where the 'threads' are different pitch even that is not possible, for obvious reasons.

    Personally I would replace those saddles with either some threaded barrels...
    upload_2022-5-9_12-40-0.png
    or, even better, some with a single slot that is pre-engineered to give the precise design spacing, such as these from Gotoh:
    Bass Saddles アーカイブ - G-GOTOH
    upload_2022-5-9_12-47-0.png
     
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  6. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    Welcome to TB! Looks like the spacing is good from side to side on the fretboard, too.

    Are you sure you didn't just want to show off pics of your bass? Lol!
     
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  7. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn My adopted daughter Supporting Member

    I have *this* bridge on all 4 of my P’s - cause I like (similarity) in spacing. The Vintage High Mass & the Amer. Deluxe have the same saddles… the Am Dlx is the ‘bent plate’ version. I use the ‘inner-most’ grooves on all 4 because that’s what my hands like :thumbsup: Pick which ones work best for you! ;)

    90422EB4-C9A7-49E7-AAC4-5ADE9FB4936E.jpeg
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2022
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  8. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn My adopted daughter Supporting Member

    FWIW:
    American Deluxe

    2CE6A654-9EEC-4C47-9CF8-89F33A763BB6.jpeg

    Vintage Hi-Mass
    1E623477-B8A7-4C9D-BC6E-DB6A2F2E8E87.jpeg
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2022
  9. BobArctorParis

    BobArctorParis

    May 9, 2022
    Thanks for all the infos!

    I tried to move just the E string to the left
    4558176.jpg
    And this provides the position where the strings are most aligned with the borders of the neck, and in the middle of the pickups magnets. E and A are a bit far from each other but it's not that noticeable.

    I then tried the other position that has been suggested as optimal:
    4558176-inner.jpg
    Which gives the most "correct" string spacing at the expense of:
    - the higher on the neck, the closest strings are to the border of the neck
    - outer strings are not aligned anymore with the middle of the pickup magnets.

    Not sure which one I'll roll with :)
     
  10. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Suspended Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    NYC
    I personally don’t like my E string flopping over the side.

    Your pickup height relative to action height will have more of an effect on sound rather than string spacing.

    String spacing is a personal preference.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2022
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  11. Tim Lombardi

    Tim Lombardi Guest

    Apr 26, 2022
     
  12. Tim Lombardi

    Tim Lombardi Guest

    Apr 26, 2022
    What I would do as I have done is replace the bridge with a Fender high mass bridge. Excellent investment. Fender P bass US101162.JPG Fender P bass US101162.JPG
     
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  13. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Yes it is, but it should not be dictated by the stupid design of the bridge, as in the case of the OP. There is only one possible setting where spacing is equal. Any other groove selection will result in unequal spacing. That bridge is an engineering joke. Think of all the swarf and worn tools generated in cutting those 14 grooves. Unless one has a preference for unequal string spacing, 10 of those grooves are useless.
     
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  14. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    I just found a new nickname for my former co-workers.

    Thanks, Steve!
     
  15. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Suspended Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    NYC
    You're quite right. 10 slots are useless on a new Fender.

    I wonder if the design is meant to accommodate the wide variations of vintage Fender bass necks?

    I had a new HiMass bridge installed on my 1969 Telecaster bass. Of course the neck width is 1.75 inches, but using only the inside slots results in the G string being too far inside the fretboard for me. The G and D strings are placed thus. All strings are over their respective poles. The slots allow to move three places. And the variance is negligible at the 12th fret. [​IMG]
     
  16. Don't worry about the pickup pole pieces alignment. Center your outer strings so they run parallel with the edge of the neck, and adjust the inner strings so they are as close to equidistant between all the strings as possible.
    Maybe your neck is slightly canted off center?

    Addenedum: The reality is humans are very adaptable to small physical differences on instruments. After a bit of playing time, you subconsciously adjust to whatever the differences are, and it becomes an unnoticed thing.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2022
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  17. When was that bridge new, in 1969?:)
     
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  18. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Suspended Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    NYC
    It was relic'd. ;)
     
  19. BobArctorParis

    BobArctorParis

    May 9, 2022
    Naaaah I would have posted this one if it was the case!
    DSC05188_orig copy.JPG
     
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  20. BobArctorParis

    BobArctorParis

    May 9, 2022
    Yeah that's the exact feeling I had too (I remember saying "C'est une blague ou quoi" which roughly translates to "Well that must be a joke!"). Hence my search for an instruction manual or an engineering sheet or something that I maybe did not understand in the first place. I'm a vanilla guy so the stock bridge is going to stay (I found an acceptable compromise), but I must admit it's poorly engineered.
     
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