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Upgrade for Wilkinson bridge?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MtnGoat, Apr 3, 2001.


  1. MtnGoat

    MtnGoat

    May 7, 2000
    MA/NH
    I've currently have a Wilkinson bridge on my bass and was considering an upgrade. I don't really have any problems with the Wilkinson, but somebody mentioned to me that there are others out there that are much better--any thoughts??? Does anybody have a suggestion for a better bridge that can be mounted using the same holes?
    Thanks for the input.
    Digs
     
  2. Considering what you've said about your bridge, I think you should define, for yourself, what "better" is and how that would affect your bass. IMO the Wilkinson is one of the better aftermarket bridges and is designed to overcome some of the undesirable characteristics of the stock stamped bridges. There are lots of bridges out there, some cost more, some cost less, but if you don't have a particular problem with how yours works or makes your bass sound, why change?
     
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Good question, Hambone. I have a few Wilkinson-equipped basses and I like the fact that they have adjustable string spacing. They're also quick release for easy restringing. The only problem I've had is with the sharp edge on the E string side of the bridge.
     
  4. MtnGoat

    MtnGoat

    May 7, 2000
    MA/NH
    Hambone,
    yes, I agree, If it ain't broke, don't fix it. However, it is often difficult to know that something isn't as good as it could be without first experiencing something better. This bridge is cool and all, and it is very adjustable, but I have never adjusted the string spacing in 8 years of owning this bass and I was told that there are better bridges out there that are much more solid and provide better sound. This bridge is on a neck-through fretless 4 string and I just want to max out the performance on this bass.
    Can anybody suggest something better, or is this as good as it gets? I'd also be interested in adding piezo pickups at some point.


    Digs
     
  5. IMO there is a level of product available out there that is represented by several manufacturers. This would include Leo Quan, Gotoh, ABM, Wilkinson, and Schaller. No doubt there are others but I haven't had much experience with them. These bridges all have slightly different approaches to the same task but none can do the job demonstrably better, just different. You can get more or less mass, or adjustability but it's going to boil down to personal preference. I happen to swear by ABM and Schaller - they sound good on my basses and I like how they work. YMMV!
     
  6. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    I am not a big fan of the Wilkinson bridges. The fact is that on every one of the basses I've played with them, the bridge saddles were so loose that you could slide all the strings around with a fingertip. This HAS to cause a loss of sustain and tone. Then there is the problem that Brad mentioned with the sharp corners. Last thing I want is to puncture my hand on the hardware of the bridge.

    As for suggestions, I like the ABM and Hipshot bridges I've seen recently. My personal favorite is no longer in production, the Kahler. It was great, you could adjust string spacing to your heart's content, and once you set it up it does NOT move. Transfers all the string vibration right to the body. A bit fiddly to set the intonation and height on, but not too tricky once you get used to it. I've got them on my two main basses and love them to death. Damn shame Kahler got out of the hardware business and is making golf club shafts instead. I do believe that Warmoth has a small stock of them, but only sells them with their Gecko kits :(.
     
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I'm not sure if there are bridges "better" than the Wilikinsons, I have them on a Surine 7, Zon Legacy fretless 5 and the 84 Tobias. It's already a pretty high mass bridge, I suppose you could cut up your bass and install a 2Tek;)

    Unlike Gard I've never had an issue with saddles moving. The sharp edge is a problem only when I have my forearm parallel with the strings. The edge is at the back of the bridge so it shouldn't be a problem for regular play.
     
  8. Churchbassist

    Churchbassist

    Nov 3, 2001
    Iowa
    I too have a Wilkinson bridge on my Carvin LB-75 and absolutely hate it. It is very adjustable but as a previous threader stated the individual saddles are loose and thus noisy. I'm looking for a good replacement and possibly go with a new bridge for ferrules (string through body).
     
  9. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    USA
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    I had a Wilkinson Bridge on an old five string I sold. I didnt like it because as the others stated, it buzzed like crazy killing thus sound and sustain especially on the B string. It seems to have some kind of design flaw. I havent had this problem with much less expensive bridges.

    I rellay like the old Leo Quann BA II And the Schallers I have
     
  10. OK - With the score standing 3 for and 3 against the Wilkinson there's two solutions to keep all of the adjustments you have:

    Schaller
    ABM

    These are the only 2 that I've seen that allow for string height, intonation and string spacing adjustments. The Schaller will run between $30 and $60. The ABM is much higher $50 - $125.

    I happen to own several examples of the Schaller and 1 ABM. Both are very nice, both do the job superbly and both are worth their price.
     
  11. Churchbassist

    Churchbassist

    Nov 3, 2001
    Iowa
    Thanks Hambone for the info. Where's the best place to get one of those bridges?
     
  12. I've bought 3 Schallers and all have come from ebay. There is one particular seller in NJ that puts 'em up for $40 BIN and I've gotten them through regular bidding for $35. Beats StewMac every time. The ABM's I've seen come from All Parts but the import guru's at Custom Shop Parts have an ABM knock-off that I've got my eyes on for only $30!! How bad can it be if it functions the same for ¼ the price? One of my new projects will likely get one.
     
  13. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    A note on the Kahlers, we at Warmoth have gotten them to do a production run of the bridges just for us - and now that supply is not so scarce, we can sell them _sans_ bass if you want. I think they start at around $90 though.

    www.warmoth.com

    (Although you won't find them on the web site just yet, they are in stock...)
     
  14. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX

    !

    Which begs the question...Khaler, or ABM?

    Hmn...(I must ponder, I've got a bass project up coming.)
     
  15. Churchbassist

    Churchbassist

    Nov 3, 2001
    Iowa
    I need to know the following before furthering my interest in the Kahler bridges:

    > Overall dimension of the bridge? (the Wilkinson is huge so will the Kahler cover the old area?)

    > String spacing?

    > Does it come gold plated?
     
  16. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    EXCELLENT!!! Thanks for the heads up. Any in black??? :D
     
  17. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    We currently have chrome and black, although I'd call the black "black chrome", since it's more of a metallic dark grey. Looks very cool, and we had the saddle-screws (from both bridges) black oxide coated from their original raw steel finish so they'll last longer and look cool.

    We weren't too happy with the first couple of gold plating we saw and rejected them. We just got a new gold sample a couple days ago which looked very nice, now we just have to see how much it costs! I'd expect the gold bridges to be another couple months away.

    I don't have the dimensions in front of me right now, but I'll check one at the shop today. It will be a little weird to measure, though, because of the parallelogram-shaped baseplate that the saddles hang over.

    String spacing, though, is continually adjustable and I'm sure has a similar range of adjustment to the Wilkinson, if not more.
     
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings

    This is pretty baffling... I've never had any extraneous movement or noise from a Wilkinson bridge. None. If everything is adjusted properly and the setscrews are tight and the strings are installed properly I'd be interested in seeing how you could get buzzing or how it could be loose.

    My saddles have never moved side-to-side and each saddle is shaped like a "V" and the string can't go anywhere except to the bottom of the "V". BTW some Wilkinsons don't have the sharp edge on the low side, my Zon Legacy fretless 5 for instance. The bass also sustains like crazy, stays in tune and doesn't buzz in the slightest.

    With the strings in the right place ( for proper downforce) and the saddles having both screws making good contact with the bridge base... how do you get "buzzing"? Just curious... I've yet to see where buzzing like this wasn't easily remedied.

    Sometimes it's easier to justify a replacement if the original is "bad";). IME Wilkinson bridges are straightforward (simple), very adjustable and do what they're supposed to do.
     
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    BTW I don't work for Wilkinson and sorry if I killed this thread;)
     
  20. theJello

    theJello

    Apr 12, 2000
    I replaced the wilkinson on my pre gibson tobias basic. I agree they stink. Maybe back in the early 90's they were ok. But now with ABM's, hipshot, and schaller. No contest.

    I replaced mine with a schaller 2000 series. These things are incredible. Better than the ABM in my opinion. Very easy to adjust the string spacing and everything. Many more string spacing options than the ABM and all around easier to adjust. And the finish on it is beautiful. The way the quick release is also very cool. You just have to see it. Sorry to sound like I work for them or something. I dont.:D

    Also, the holes match up perfectly with the Wilkinson. It has 5 mounting holes though. But you only need the outer 2 and the center 1.