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Modern Tele Bridge (six indepenant saddles) vs Tradition Tele Bridge(3 bar saddles

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by chemobrain, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Galibier_Un

    Galibier_Un Tele-Meister

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    Scale length is 25.5 on all Teles. Softness of feel is related to string break angle which can be tuned via neck shimming. Break angle also affects sustsin.

    Saddle location (intonation) is set for the neck in question (scale length), irrespective of bridge choice. Hopefully, the bridge is located correctly.

    Three saddle bridges seem to have many more options in terms of material choices. I've found this to offer a significant (tonal) tuning element.

    On one build, I was struggling with this. I went through a set of 1/4" brass (uncompensated) saddles from a CV Tele, some brass compensated saddles, some RS Guitarworks, chromed steel, compensated saddles, and finally, some CJ Tooling compensated saddles. This made be a believer, and for the $30 cost (CJ), it took me off the pickup swap bandwagon.

    There don't seem to be as many material options in six saddle bridges, so if you're picky about dialing in your tone, then this might be a consideration.

    If one's only objection with traditional Tele bridges is intonation, get a tutorial from someone with experience, and optionally get one of the manny high quality compensated saddle sets - that, or give up fretted instruments ;-)

    ... Thom
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
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  2. dobrojoe

    dobrojoe Tele-Meister

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    Something that nobody has mentioned yet, the effect of having a bridge with a round profile (as in the vintage brass bridges) and a sharp profile (as in some compensated bridges and six-saddle bridges. As a string vibrates against a sharp, the effective length of the string is constant. On a round profile, the effective string length is getting slightly longer and shorter as the angle of the string meeting the round profile changes. You can hear an extreme example of this effect in the Indian sitar and it is this that gives it its distinctive sound. The bridge shape 'blurs' the sound and contributes (amongst other things) to the Tele 'twang'. I much prefer the sound of my '52 re-issue Tele with vintage saddles to my more modern one with sharp compensated saddles - which I 'downgraded' from an original six-saddle bridge. Although they are both Fender Telecasters, they are quite different guitars - but then, there are many other factors at play also.
     
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  3. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

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    No difference in scale on a tele between the modern bridge and old style. Assuming of course that both are 25.5 inches.

    In tone and feel, pretty big difference IMO. For me, for my ears and needs. It could be very different for you. My preference almost always is the old 3-saddle setup. The only exception being the Babicz bridge which is might cool.
     
  4. Crazy John

    Crazy John Tele-Meister

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    The difference to me is purely one of aesthetics. I'm an old school guy and (IMO) nothing looks better than that vintage bridge with the 3 saddles. Nothing! It's 100% original Tele. I do use compensated saddles with my Tele's for "spot on" intonation. 6 saddle bridges do, arguably, intonate better than compensated saddles, but the 6 saddle bridge just doesn't look right on a Tele any more than wheels from a Volkswagen would look on a '63 Vette.

    Crazyjohn
     
  5. Crazy John

    Crazy John Tele-Meister

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    You have to take "break angle" into consideration as well...
     
  6. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Afflicted

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    This is backwards. Longer scale length INCREASES string tension. The longer a string of the string of the same thickness is, the more tension has to be applied to get it to the same pitch. Think about detuning a guitar a half step down on a 12 string to lower tension. If you want it back to E standard, what do you do? You apply a capo, thereby SHORTENING the scale length. Also, if you go back and forth between a tele and a les paul (or any gibson scale guitar) with the same thickness strings, you can clearly feel that the Les Paul has less tension.
     
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  7. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Afflicted

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    To me, first and foremost is the materials. Many of the modern ones are made of garbage materials, while vintage is usually high quality brass. However, you can get well made modern 6's out of brass, or otherwise high quality metals. But, many of these comparisons are made between well made 3 piece saddles and crappily made 6 piece saddles. If you level the playing field there, most of the tonal difference goes away.

    Next is intonating ability. Obviously the 6s win there. However, they do now make high quality compensated 3 piece saddles that are good to the point where the difference doesn't matter unless you are going to the level of having those weird Steve Vai frets. The vintage style non-compensated can be gotten very close when adjusted by somebody who is very experienced using them. THe biggest problem the 3s have is that most of the time people doing the setup aren't familiar with the process of setting 3 piece saddles up, and do a crappy job. But, yes, for intonation 6 > compensated 3> traditional 3.

    Next is how it feels on your hand. Some prefer the way the modern feels, and many think they're easier to palm mute with. Some it doesn't matter.

    Next is force applied to the plate by each piece and break angle. 3s apply twice as much force at each contact point to the body, since two strings are pushing down and they're at a sharper angle. Theoretically this could make for a more resonant guitar, that also maybe sustains slightly less. In practice I don't think this really matters, but reasonable people disagree here.

    Finally is aesthetics. Let's be real here, this, for most people, is actually 100% the entirety of the reason they make their choice. They justify their choice of saddles with the above reasons, but those are all pretty minor, and the look is what people tend to care about the most. Some people like the traditional look. Some people either like the modern look, or don't care enough to change it if their guitar comes with modern saddles.

    Also, it costs Fender more to do the factory setups on the traditional 3s, because they require a bit more time and expertise. So, it's a bit of a cost cutting measure to use the modern saddles, which anybody with even a little set up experience can do fairly quickly.

    I myself like the compensated 3 piece saddles. It's the right compromise for me. You get 95% of the intonation quality of the modern bridge, with 95% of the look and feel of the vintage 3s. If you buy ones made of quality brass it has the tone. I don't mind how they feel on my hand either way.
     
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