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How important is the bridge?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Vespa_One, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Vespa_One

    Vespa_One Tele-Meister

    305
    Feb 14, 2017
    United States
    I built a guitar and put a cheap ($3.99!) HARDTAIL bridge on it. The guitar plays and sounds great.
    I went in thinking that if the guitar turned out nice I could upgrade the bridge.

    Seeing how it plays nice, is it worth it/necessary to change it?

    What are the advantages of expensive bridges?

    What differences would I notice from a $3 bridge to a $200 bridge?

    Excuse my ignorance on the matter. Part of me wants to say if it aint broke don't fix it.
     

  2. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Tele-Holic

    Age:
    65
    521
    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    I think you answered your own question.
     
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  3. Budda45ftw

    Budda45ftw Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    123
    Aug 21, 2017
    Rochester NY
    Tone is in the hearing, not the wallet
     

  4. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 27, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    Marty (guitarbuilder) has always said the the $10 bridges on eBay are what he buys. And I agree. As nice as something like a Hipshot looks I refuse to spend that kind of money. Also, there have been lots of threads where builders have made their own from scrap they have lying around. I've been using GFS Strat trems and Wilkinson Tele bridges for a while and I have zero issues with them.

    The problem with your post is it opens a whole subjective debate on why $200 ones are better or why they aren't..:)
     
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  5. hemingway

    hemingway Friend of Leo's

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Exactly. The bridge is a chunk of metal. If it's solid and you can intonate it to your satisfaction then it's fit for purpose. On a lot of guitars "upgrading" is all in the eye of the beholder.

    However, some guitars, notably some jazzmasters and jags, seem to come with pretty wobbly bridges. So an upgrade might make things a little more playable and solid, and maybe add some sustain?

    But . . . there's that eye of the beholder thing creeping up on me again, and I would love to put a Mastery bridge on my teles . . . if only coz it would look so damn cool. To me. No one else would care.
     
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  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Cheap import saddle height screws sometimes loosen up from vibrations. That can be corrected with some locktite materials. Castings can be rougher and plating can be thinner too. None of those are deal breakers if you can live with them. As mentioned I built a bunch of guitars with duo sonic bridges and after market saddles. I just can't brag about how much I spent on them to my friends (who couldn't care less about it anyway) :).

    All that said, a nicely machined bridge would be nice if I only had one single guitar for 10 years like in the old days. So in the end it is really up to you and how you want to spend your hard earned money.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  7. kLyon

    kLyon TDPRI Member

    96
    Mar 21, 2011
    US
    It all depends on how deep the river is)
     

  8. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

    Mar 30, 2011
    Oklamerica
    $200 bridges are WAAAAYYYYY better... for the person selling $200 bridges ;)
     
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  9. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Holic

    652
    May 11, 2011
    North of Boston
    I think that simplicity rules regarding bridges. The fewer screws, springs, etc., the better. Price-not so much.
     
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  10. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Meister

    Age:
    25
    440
    May 1, 2017
    Denver, CO
    Depends. As far as a hardtail, anything sturdy with tight tolerances on the intonation mechanism, you're fine. These can be had for cheap. Fit and finish are the most important thing here, and not the literal finish haha. What you may gain with modern interpretations of vintage designs would be comfort. The vintage style Fender tele bridge plate and saddles that came on my '62 AVRI tele were atrocious, I can't believe they ever got away with that sh*t. I put a Glendale rig on that one because it was a spare-no-expense dream guitar as a tribute to an important person in my life, but I digress... Many cheap bridges can be had with shorter narrower saddle screws and de-burred edges, this is what you need the most IMO.

    For strat-like trems, I honestly heard a huge difference with a steel inertia block and stamped steel saddles when I made the change. It suddenly sounded like a strat, rather than just a guitar. Again, you don't need to spend a lot but I recommend worrying a bit about the material. Cast zinc is structured like a sponge, and soft too. Mechanical resonance of the string notwithstanding, this kind of metal dampens vibration to a degree. How audible the difference is is subjective, but keep in mind that pre-CBS strats used steel.

    Personally I try to find a middle ground if I'm unhappy with a bridge: affordable, comfortable, and as much steel as possible even with a hardtail. With Fender bridges, always start by just changing the saddles then work your way out if you're still unhappy.

    The bridge is still secondary to pickups as far as impact on tone. Go for comfort, sturdiness, and smooth operation.
     
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  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    Makes me think of a possible derailing side question that I had noticed about that same idea:
    When did the old days shift out of one guitar into having fleets of guitars? Who did the convincing of a whole guitar buying demographic? Was it seeing famous players' 'rig rundown'-equivalent back in the year "1982"? See band rigs now and 'this is the A cabinet, the B cabinet is identical and is on a truck to the next show. We have twenty guitars in each cabinet..."
    MTV and songs like 'get a blister on your thumb"? Seeing all those videos of all the guitars (of which a surprising number were Teles).
    Or when Asian import guitars settled in during the 1970s-80s?
    Famous players used to trade guitars among each other as if they only ever kept one or two guitars they played regularly or later-famous guitars were traded among the players on whims.

    .
     
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  12. Ripradiant

    Ripradiant Tele-Holic

    844
    Jul 31, 2014
    Alberta Canada
    I wonder where "authentic Fender" bridges are made and what the cost of production is for each unit?
     
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  13. Bob M

    Bob M Tele-Holic

    652
    May 11, 2011
    North of Boston
    Actually I saw them being made in Corona on the factory tour. They had a big old press spitting them out.
     
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  14. Mxrk

    Mxrk TDPRI Member

    76
    Nov 17, 2016
    Tampa
    I'm agreeing with guitarbuilder. Tone isn't why I've replaced bridges, but cheap components can rattle and buzz, and lead to overall saddle instability. Loctite is good, but I've had bridges that still rattle around. Also, sharp edges and exposed screws can really affect your playing.

    If your $3 bridge isn't exhibiting any issues, cling to it with your life, in my opinion. More expensive bridges do all the time.
     

  15. Budda45ftw

    Budda45ftw Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    123
    Aug 21, 2017
    Rochester NY
    Now a 200 dollar pickup, on the other hand.......
     
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  16. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    66
    Oct 11, 2006
    Greater Boston
    If it works fine for the first six months, just leave it be.
     
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  17. parademe

    parademe Tele-Meister

    192
    Feb 7, 2013
    Berlin, Germany
    Darn. My Tele's sporting a GE Smith type half-bridge. I guess that makes me walking the plank...
     

  18. parademe

    parademe Tele-Meister

    192
    Feb 7, 2013
    Berlin, Germany
    Sconnie likes this.

  19. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    I did the same thing, was building a prototype guitar and bought a $4.98 black bridge from China. It took three weeks to arrive, but that price included shipping!

    Figured it would be fine for the prototype and could be replaced. Well the bridge is just fine and I ordered more.

    One area that I would not go cheap on is the tuners, With the bridge order I got a set of Gotoh-like tuners for $6.95, they are truly crap and not even worth the $6.95

    As far as the cost of parts on a guitar build, remember most inexpensive manufactured guitars do not have "name" brand parts on them.

    The only real reason you would want to put name brand components on a build is if you're planning on selling it. In that case the purchaser has a better idea of the "value" of your build.

    At least in my mind....
     
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  20. kLyon

    kLyon TDPRI Member

    96
    Mar 21, 2011
    US
    Nail head hit.
    It's called Consumer Capitalism: our economic system, increasingly our political system, and - sadly - almost our religion.

    (Before I go any further, I'll confess to being no better than any excess described or alluded to: I have way too many guitars, basses, and amps...)

    I work with one of the top bass players in Turkey. He always plays the same bass; has for years. I spent a couple of days in his family's apartment in Istanbul this spring and, guess what? It's the only one he has. (Or had, I should say: I'm afraid that me always showing up with different guitars played Serpent in Eden and he recently got another. Now he has two.)
    And this is a top guy in a rich country. He has a great place, a nice car, lives very well with his wife and young daughter in one of the best parts of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Great, great player.
    One bass.
    Why?
    It's all he needs.
    Of course, without the continual printing and spending of money our economic house of cards would fall.
    Manufacturers got to manufacture, stores got to sell, people got to buy.
    Perhaps since this is, they tell me, an ever-expanding universe, this obvious Ponzi scheme is sustainable. Who knows?
    It certainly defies logic as it defies gravity.

    But back to the bridge: you're all right about that, too: unless it has tricky vibrato-type functions, it's not that complicated. Occam's Razor applies.
    Sounds good, intonates correctly?
    Fine.

    If only governments and economic systems were so simple)
     
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