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Will a new bridge help me balance my Precision?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Sparkdog, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    I bought a new Fender Tony Franklin fretted Precision recently. This is easily the best of the P's I have owned, but it has one issue I would like to solve.

    The body is very lightweight alder (total weight is between 8 and 8.5 pounds) while the neck is a really dense hunk of maple...feels great, sounds great, but has this REALLY substantial heft to it.

    The bass doesn't neck dive, but it's also a challenge to get it to hang at the 40-45% angle I prefer. I've messed around with strap height but that doesn't really solve it.

    One thing I thought about was changing out the bridge for something with more mass, that would add some weight at what seems like the perfect area to offset the neck's weight. The stock bridge is a vintage style standard bridge, same as what they use on the American reissue basses I think. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, it's very solid and stable, but no real mass there.

    Hipshot makes a Fender mount A style bridge that's a direct replacement (I don't want to mod the bass at all). Anybody else make a high quality bridge that will add some weight without drilling any new holes? Leo Quan seems to have vanished, don't know what's happening there.

    Am I thinking about this the right way, or is there a better way to accomplish the balance I'm looking for?
  2. Tommygunn


    Nov 8, 2008
    Houston, Tx
    I know you might be hesitant about drilling new strap pin holes so I'd go for the biggest bridge you can. The Leo Quan Bad Ass II bridge, that thing is kinda heavy so I'd bet it would help.

    Edit: They can be had on ebay and always check the classifieds here
  3. I think you might get a better result by moving the strap button up an inch or two from the center of the body. I haven't compared how changing a bridge affects balance, but I'm guessing that it doesn't add enough weight to change it significantly.
  4. IMO it's always better to REDUCE, rather than increase, weight when possible. And given their location, which is out at the end of a long lever, your tuners will have a lot more influence than your bridge.
    Having said that, I have that A style bridge you refer to. FYI it weighs 9 oz., where a 'normal' A style weighs 9.6 oz. The weight reduction comes from extra milling needed for screw clearance.
    A Badass weighs about 8 oz, and your run-of-the-mill Fender bridge is around 4 to 5 oz.
  5. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Ultra-light tuners might be the better option.

    What type strap are you using? If it is a smooth material then replace it with one that has a suede lining this will help keep it in place.
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    lightweight keys are your answer.
  7. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    I have a few different straps: leather with smooth underside, leather with suede underside, Comfort Strapp. The suede one does help hold the bass in position, but it also tugs on my shirt and tries to strangle me before the set is over...that drives me NUTS!

    I'm in total agreement about keeping the weight down, I love light basses and refuse to own one over 9 pounds. I think I'm going to try adding another strap button a couple of inches higher before doing any other changes. I'm not too concerned about adding a second hole and putting another Straplok button there, then I can use either one.

    I'm a little more reluctant to change the tuners, these are vintage style Fenders and really nice ones at that...smooth and rock solid. I think modern looking tuners would be out of place on this instrument, but does anyone make a vintage looking lightweight model?

    Thanks for the help guys.
  8. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
  9. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I use Gotoh Res-O-Lite 350 tuners to better balance an instrument. Four of them weigh about as much as three Hipshot Ultralights.
  10. bassman10096


    Jul 30, 2004
    Rebalancing a bass is one of those great high school physics kinds of problems. It's about leverage, which is determined by the weight X distance from the fulcrum (balance point). Reducing weight at the end of the long, long neck is far more effective than adding weight near the butt of the bass. Think about how much more weight you'd have to add to the bridge than the amount you'd reduce from the tuners to get the same result. Plenty of good suggestions for ultralight, high quality tuners here already. Changing the location of the fulcrum is often harder (once the top strap button is already located on the horn), but the idea of advancing the bottom button up, around the curve of the bottom of the bass a little is intriguing. The other approach, that I've found most effective and least troublesome, is to use a 4" width leather strap with a suede back. The added friction does a lot to stick the bass at the angle where I want it, plus reducing or eliminating shoulder fatigue after a long gig. Italia makes fantastically nice leather straps like this and always has 2 for 1 sales on its website.
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i have and like those keys on my older american standard p-bass, and they do indeed make the difference in balancing my nice and light instrument, stock low-mass bridge and all.

    they also look stock from the front and cover any holes from the old keys. (they're not going to cover all the holes from big vintage-type keys, though).

    however, they have one flaw, which is that the little tension screw likes to back out and fall off, taking the little specially-shaped collar with it. (this is why fender has stopped using them.) the fix is, as soon as you get them, undo that little screw and drip some green loc-tite onto the threads before screwing it back in.
  12. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    For anyone still following along here's an update and another question:

    - I took the bass to my tech and asked him for his suggestion. He told me that he's had good luck with moving the rear strap button a few inches higher on the butt of the bass, provided the bass is not severely neck heavy and prone to diving (mine isn't). The caveat is that he felt it would improve the balance , but probably not completely solve it.

    I had him install a second Straplok button about 3 inches above the original position, and he was right...better, not perfect.

    I also took the suggestion about the Italia strap. I actually own a pair of 4" Italias already, but I had special ordered those with smooth undersides. I bought a new one (and got a second for free!) with the suede underside. This also improves the hang. BTW, if anyone makes a better strap than Italia I've never seen it, they are absolute works of art and the most comfortable I've tried.

    SO...I would say the new strap button and strap have solved 95% of the balance issue. Question time!

    - Assuming the poster above is correct and the Hipshot Type A is 9 ounces, would swapping the stock Fender bridge potentially give me the other 5% I'm looking for? We're only talking about an increase of 5 ounces or so, but I really don't need much.

    I know I'm being pretty anal about this, but this bass is so close to being the utterly perfect instrument for me, getting rid of the minor annoyance the balance thing represents would make me a very happy camper.

    Thanks all...
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i still suspect that the keys are the answer, not the bridge, given the leverage differences involved.

    plus, wouldn't it be nice to fix the problem by removing weight rather than adding it?
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Take two tuners off and see how it balances. That's about what it will be like with the Hipshots.

    It'll be even "better" with the Gotoh 350s.

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