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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Differences between modern tele bridge and 3 barrel bridge?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Tele The Truth, May 19, 2006.

  1. Tele The Truth

    Tele The Truth Tele-Meister

    Jan 13, 2006
    East Coast
    I realise that the modern tele bridge and a compensated 3 barrel bridge are two different designs, my question is more about tone and sustain. What would I expect to "hear" if I swapped from a modern to a compensated 3 barrel (like they sell at stew mac)? Also, will I be able to get the same 'set-up'? I usually dial in the action fairly low.

  2. Fourth Feline

    Fourth Feline Tele-Holic

    Sep 9, 2005
    Yorkshire, England.
    Bridge differences.

    I recently changed my standard 6 steel saddle bridge (on an '86 Squier) to a Wilkinson 'Danny Gatton' compensated 3 brass saddle type. The difference in sustain, tone and feel is amazing.

    The sustain is improved accross all strings.

    The top three strings sound richer and yet the whole guitar has aquired a 'Twang' I have never heard before.

    The action can still be set slick and low with perfect intonation, yet the solid contact between the 3 saddles and bridge plate means that they stay in place better and feel more solid when muting the strings with the picking hand.


  3. lostpick

    lostpick Tele-Afflicted


    You will hear the other 40% of tone you have been
    missing. The vintage bridge drives the body and strings
    harder. I just made the move and will never go back.
    I found a double thick bridge plate and stew mac comp
    saddles...BUT.....all that overbulk in the hadware has caused my lowest possible saddle height to still be too high.... but the guitar is playable and some high action players would probably tell me to leave it alone. If you
    can get the saddles to sit high on the bridge by tilting the neck back with a shim, you will bump it up a notch....
    high saddles have a pleasant spongy, live feel and
    very resonant tone.....overall it seems like a natural
    compression effect that fattens up your tele's sound
    and adds depth and resonance to the twang

  4. Fourth Feline

    Fourth Feline Tele-Holic

    Sep 9, 2005
    Yorkshire, England.
    Re: bridge plate thickness.

    I found the Wilkinson 'Danny Gatton' compensated bridge to actually have a thin plate. Choosing this brand/option may prevent any other shimming of the neck etc. being needed. In fact it went straight onto my guitar with only minimal adjustment to the intonation screws and the height screws were quick to set also.

    I feel the thinner plate also helped add to the 'twang' compared to the previous thicker one. Although mine is a top loader anyway.


  5. kerc

    kerc Tele-Holic

    Jul 16, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    Re: bridge plate thickness.

    Thinner plate does add twang.

    I have an Allparts bridge, and a much thinner original Fender bridge. I A/B them and found that the difference is quite noticeable. I ended up installing the Allparts bridge since I like the nice balance between twang and heft I got with it.

    I still have the Fender bridge...Who knows, it might end up on my Squier 51 or something...


  6. lostpick

    lostpick Tele-Afflicted

    I like thick plates....

    I think it "eq"s or tames the twang in
    a refined way that I prefer to a thinner plate.
    I got a tubbier, less tinny twang...
    AND......more sustain and compression effect.
    I put the thick plate with comp saddles on a MIM TSBurst and just added a thicker then
    would be suggested steel plate on the bridge pup under side and it sounds better then many
    AM Teles......a $30 mod paying back hundreds
    in sound quality....I feel you need lots of bridge mass to to wake up a MIM body because of the deadening thick poly coating..

  7. Dazed and Confused

    Dazed and Confused Tele-Meister

    Nov 18, 2005
    Would a 3-saddle be too twangy for blues/funk/jazz?

  8. editorjuno

    editorjuno Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    90+ percent of the time....

    ...when a Tele bridge is swapped out, a new set of strings is put on, and fresh strings make a bigger difference than any bridge change. Yes, there is a real difference when a thin steel bridge plate is used: a slight increase in "twang" effect, which is imo offset by the way the flanges impede right hand technique and by susceptibility to microphonic squealing at rock & roll stage volumes, not to mention the loss of intonation precision.

    I don't think there's any Telecaster option that's had its virtues more exaggerated than the vintage-style bridge. Imo a good-quality (e.g. Gotoh, certainly not the Chinese parts used on Squiers and entry-level MIMs) modern L-shaped, non-ferromagnetic bridge with elongated Strat-style saddles is the better choice for most Teles and playing styles.

    Of course I realize that I'm swimming against a "vintage" tide that been running for about a quarter-century and that an old-timey bridge has become pretty much a badge of authenticity for many players, but I've left Leo's "ashtray" behind and have never even been tempted to look back since, because my guitars simply became better instruments with modern bridges.

  9. Maestro

    Maestro Tele-Holic

    editorjuno I simply could not agree more.
    6 saddles gives you good intonation with 3 it's always 'just' not right. And that's a pitty.

  10. aunchaki

    aunchaki Friend of Leo's

    Mar 12, 2006
    Central New York
    Re: 90+ percent of the time....

    This might well be true. I've been switching between a Wilkinson Gatton 3-saddle and the heavy brass 6-saddle that came on my Squier (one of those Chinese parts!). I like the sound of both. I haven't committed to one or the other yet.

  11. editorjuno

    editorjuno Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Re: 90+ percent of the time....

    Are you sure that Squier bridge is really brass? Some modern-style Tele bridges aren't -- e.g. the Fender MIM Standard's bridge is actually chromed steel but otherwise resembles the brass Gotoh pretty closely. The bottom line is that if it's magnetically attracted to the pickup poles it ain't brass. If your Squier Tele has a brass bridge, that's pretty impressive for such an economical guitar -- the Gotoh aftermarket bridges aren't cheap at retail, even via mail order from Warmoth, AllParts, or Stew-Mac.

  12. Tedd

    Tedd TDPRI Member

    Jun 2, 2006
    new york
    I've tried replacing the original 6-saddle on my Nashville (this must be done!) with a "modern" from Stew-Mac and also found the profile to be too high (I'd rather not shim the neck). Any suggestions where to find a lower-profile modern-style bridge?

    With the 3-saddle Wilkinson Compensated, would I need to file string grooves into the saddles? They seem blank in the photos I've seen.

  13. editorjuno

    editorjuno Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    I know of no lower-profile modern bridge that's up to the Gotoh in overall quality -- most of the similar-looking Tele bridges I've seen (mostly on eBay) are chromed steel and just as thick as the Gotoh, but not nearly as well made (e.g. the one on the MIM Standard Tele).

    If you have access to a shop with a surface grinder, you could probably take off as much as 1/32" from the bottom of your Gotoh without weakening it too much at the bend. Shortening the saddle height screws and/or carefully drilling shallow "dimples" into the bridge plate where those screws contact it might also help -- but shimming the neck is a much easier remedy and it's readily reversible.

    I've got one of those Gotohs on my MIM Deluxe Nashville and it fit perfectly from the gitgo, even before I shimmed. I suggest you try shimming the neck a little if your Gotoh is too tall for the guitar -- a really thin shim (I used ordinary washers on the two neck screws closest the body) should be enough to get things to line up just fine, and I found that shimming actually improved the way my Nashville played and sounded. I realize you'd "rather not," but if my experience is any indication there's really no down side to giving it a try.

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