Stock Fender bridge VS upgrade bridge??

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by carl h., Aug 2, 2009.

  1. Is there something flawed in the stock bridge that everyone seems to be upgrading to heavier bridges? I've searched and searched here, with many hits on which bridge to get but no answers to the why. It's quite possible I've been looking in the wrong area, but I decided to just post the question and get the info.

    I'm a noob here and to electric guitars, but have been a working musician since 82 and been playing bass since 98. If there is something tangible to be gained I'm all for upgrading, but if it is just for looks, I don't really care. I'm all about maximizing performance and who cares what it looks like (within reason).

    Somebody set me straight on this one, please.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    IMO, a lot of the time it's all in people's heads. They want a "better" sound from their bass, and they read on the internet that such and such a bridge made all the difference; so they do the same, and magically it sounds better. But if they were blindfolded, they probably could not hear a difference.
  3. bui


    Feb 24, 2009
    From what I gather, people change it:
    1) To change the balance of their bass
    2) For aesthetic reasons
    3) More contact to the body for a different sound
    4) Adjustability, as compared to the stock bridge

    For me, I've been perfectly happy with the stamped tin foil bridges on my Fenders.
  4. Band Dad

    Band Dad

    Dec 5, 2006
    San Mateo, CA
    I do like the looks of the new ('08) Fender high-mass bridge. I'd flip to that on looks alone if I could find one.
  5. Brent Hahn

    Brent Hahn

    Jul 25, 2009
    Every Fender & Fenderesque bass I've played with a big, aftermarket machined bridge has been pretty dead. I recently bought an old Ibanez that had one, swapped the bridge for a stock Fender, and there was an instant huge improvement.
  6. +1

    Now, please realize that comments like this are one side of the coin. You are going to hear a lot of "the bigger and thicker the better." You will hear it from Badass fans who install one on every bass they ever play.

    As for me, I think a Badass might sound good on some basses, but other basses are just as good off (or better) with the stock Fender bridge.

    I had a Badass on a Jazz, and I couldn't get the action low enough (not unusual with the Badass). I wrestled with the idea of going back to the stock bent-L with grooved saddles for fear the tone would suffer. Finally, I chose playability over tone and put the stock bridge on. Guess what? No tone change whatesoever. Sounded just as good as it did with the Badass.

    I had an identical experience with the Gotoh 201.

    I guess you really have to try it for yourself and decide.
  7. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    While some players claim they hear a difference with a more massive bridge, many of us don't hear any difference at all. Sometimes people just need to customize something, and a bridge is a cheap and easy thing to do. To each his own. I'd not pay more for a bass with an aftermarket bridge, nor have I felt the need to upgrade any of mine. I own Jazz and Precision basses, and have been playing since 1967 ... maybe I'm just too old to care? :meh:
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I've been playing on and off since 1967, and IMO there is no reason to get rid of a stock Fender bridge unless there is a specific problem you are trying to solve. Leo Fender's bridge is very simple, but it works great and does its job elegantly.

    The only real problems I can think of that would incline me to change one is (1) if I needed more weight at the lower end of a bass, or (2) if there was some specific mounting issue that couldn't be compensated for by the saddle design or adjustments available on a Fender bridge.

    That said, I agree that the new Fender bridges with a bit more mass are attractive and functional. It was probably time for them to come out with a minor modification like that.

    I think most people change the bent metal bridge because they want a different look, and after changing the bridge, they convince themselves that the sound is different.
  9. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I've jumped on the high mass bridge train, because of better adjustment and sustain. However, I really didn't notice a difference. I'm convinced that a good setup, the right set of strings, and maybe a new set of pickups are the 3 main things if you want a difference in tone and feel.
    Just my $.02
  10. When you swap a bridge you tend to have to make various adjustments (and usually a BRAND NEW set of strings) that probably make more of an impact than the bridge itself. That being said, I have a Gotoh on the way to replace the stock bridge on a retro 70s Squire J-Bass that I recently got. Here is my ONLY reason - I don't like the fact that a stock bridge permits side to side movement of the saddles. The old school fix was a cable tie wrapped around the G and E screws and yank it tight until all 4 saddles were right against each other. On my other basses (which have either been built from scratch or extensively modded) I have a Badass II, a couple Schallers.
  11. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've tried oodles of bridges and the original style Fender threaded saddle bridge is my all time favorite.
  12. julo


    Jan 18, 2005
    Boulder, CO
  13. I changed the stock Fender bridge on my 73 Precision to a Badass because it wouldn't stay put - I had to leave a screwdriver sitting on top of my amp to jack up the bridge saddles between numbers when the fret buzz got too much!!.

    However, I later swapped the Badass for a lump of Gold Plated brass (I don't recall the manufacturer) and the guys in the band remarked (without me mentioning anything) on what a great tone I was now getting....
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've remedied that with a dab of clear nailpolish on the saddle height adjustment screw threads.
  15. nagruv5150


    Apr 1, 2009
    Gadsden, AL
    I was considering the badass for my Ibanez, but got impatient and cheap and decided to file my Fender style bridge down to get the action as low as I could, then raise it to a comfortable level. As it was, the saddles bottomed out and the action was still higher than I wanted it, now the screws actually make contact. I don't really care about more mass at this point, but have been looking for a bridge that would give me more adjustability (side-side and up/down) should my playing style change. I also hate it that I can't remove a string completely without cutting it with this bridge. I like to screw with my pup's every now and then and it would be nice.
  16. I say get a Kahler tremolo!
  17. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    If anything I'm a fan of mono string bridges especially on 5-strings just because I feel that the strings are isolated from each others vibrations. To me they seem punchier and cleaner on the low strings. However, I do not have comparison recordings to back that up or compare. If it was really the case I think you'd see more builders using them. You do see them on some models like BTB, upper Schecters, and some models from higher level builders.

    I've not been able to notice a great change in tone or sustain from stock to badass or hipshots, etc. For me it's more about top-loading strings, etc.
  18. Good info. So far, adjustability seems to be the biggest reason with lateral stability an added benefit.

    To those recommending bridges without sharing their reasons, how about telling us what you hope to gain or actually gained when installing the new bridge you recommended? Did it work out as you had hoped? did anyone else notice?
  19. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I noticed maybe a tad bit more of sustain, but nothing to write home about. I'd say try it. If anything you can sell it.
  20. bassbombs84


    Dec 26, 2008
    i've personally gone through 2 fender stock bridges. i like my action high and after a while the saddles began to slip and lower with my playing. this wreaked havoc on my setup/intonation. with the addition of the badass on my 78 p-bass and a gotoh 201 on my hotrod mexi-p these issues came to and end. basically they hold up better and do give a little added sustain. :bassist: