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Tele Bridge Base Plate Materials

There is quite some confusion about the Tele bridge base plate. everybody tries to explain the reason for this baseplate with only one function, but this baseplate has, in reality, 3 different functions:

    A. Ferromagnetic functions

    B. Electrodynamic functions

    C. All metal plates provide extra shielding.

#1 — Only the steel baseplates corresponds to function A, B, and C.

#2 — Brass, copper and aluminum baseplates have no ferromagnetic functions, and therefore, only correspond to function B and C

#3 — Alloys of the 300 series stainless steels have neither ferromagnetic nor electrodynamic functions and therefore, only correspond to function C.

Brass Base Platenotice that the base plate also serves as the ground for the bridge pickup.

Function A

Leo Fender used copper-plated steel baseplates on the Tele bridge pickup to stabilize and to increase the magnetic force of the relatively weaker Alnico 3 slugs. The ferromagnetic steel plate increases the inductance of the coil (like increasing the number of turns on the coil).

The steel baseplate also transmits from the steel bridge mount via the steel mounting screws some of the body vibrations into the pickup, resulting in that typical Tele twang. As a negative, this is also the cause of microphonic squealing at high volume levels.

Function B

Baseplates made of steel, copper, brass or aluminum are the cause of eddy current interference. Eddy currents shift the resonances toward the lows, resulting in a fatter, more pleasant tone, especially in the bridge position. If you don’t want to increase the inductance of the coil and the magnetic force of the magnets, aluminum and brass baseplates are ideal to fine tune the tone of single coil pickups.

These baseplates can be very effective on traditional single coil pickups with alnico slugs, but on many different designs, the result can be disastrous.

Also, the thickness of the baseplate is very important — if the plate is too thin, the effect is very little, but if the plate is too thick, you may end up with a muddy pickup. For excellent results, keep the thickness of the plate between 1/32” and 1/16” and make sure that the plate is firmly attached to the pickup.

Submitted by legendary pickup manufacture/inventor Bill Lawrence (RIP)

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17 Responses to “Tele Bridge Base Plate Materials”
  1. Tonetele says:

    I am building an Ash bodied/ maple neck Partscaster. The bridge p/up has a copper base. I have grounded it to the volume/cap/and tone then out to the output jack. Do I still need to grond the -ve wires to the bridge again after I’ve grounded them to the volume cap? It’s no big deal to do so , I’d rather do it before putting the bridge p/up in. What do you think?
    I also find this site really difficult to navigate and lose things all the time.Tonetele Australia.

    P.S. Can’t wait for my Keystones a friend is trying to get for me in the States right now. Hope Bill recovers and lives a long while yet. Cheers mate.

  2. corona blue corona blue says:

    Interesting, you say A3 magnets… are you referring to the early Broadcasters? I was under the impression the slugs were A5 in Telecasters.

  3. This is a wonderful and concise statement about base plates. I keep coming back to this submission over and over.


    PS, I’ve tried adding .050 inch plates where the threaded holes in the plate served to attach the pickup to the bridge plate, and also just one where the another means (Fender plastic base) held the pickup in and the plate attachment holes were drilled out oversized and attached to the plastic elsewhere. Result on the weird one? More inductance like the others, but no added twang. (I’m replacing that plate).

  4. ltbplayer says:

    I just installed a stainless steel base plate ( guess the manufacturer…) Am I losing some of the characteristics mentioned above? I don’t have that twang I was after, but still have stock MIM pups in the mix. Looking at Loller and Fralin as next step but wanted to get the bridge done first.

    Please give some feedback guys. Thanks.

    ‘I got no thing, if I ain’t got that twang!’

  5. muldoon says:

    Hi is there any company in the UK that supplies Tele harness W4wayswitch mod cheers Muldoon

  6. Eric Ellis says:

    To my ear, the base plate not only helps the twang factor ( a lot of that is the player anyway), but also gives the bridge pick up that Telecaster bite as I call it.
    Eric Ellis

  7. porfido porfido says:

    I need a copper base for a 1952 fender pickup

  8. gotw42 says:

    What tonal purpose does the metal bridge plate serve? Not the plate mounted on the pickup but the large rectangular plate that is visible, where your picking hand rests.

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