Choosing The Right Bridge For Your Electric Guitar

 

 

When you are building or modifying your electric guitar, you need to decide the bridge that you’re wanting to use before doing anything, as the style of the bridge determines forces you to make certain design choices so your guitar doesn’t wind up as expensive firewood.

Before we talk about  the things you need to think about when you choose a bridge, let’s discuss the bridges that are available, and get a little bit of a history lesson.

The electric guitar bridge has  been changing since solid body guitars were invented. The Fender Esquire and Broadcaster not only revolutionised general guitar design, but that guitar also revolutionised the way guitar bridges were designed. Since 1950, the guitar bridge has continued to evolve and be redesigned. Now, electric guitars are divided into several different types. For now, I’ll separate them into three types: Fender Style, Gibson Style, and Modern Style.

Fender Style Bridges

  • The Three-Saddle Telecaster Bridge

When Leo Fender started production on the solid-body electric guitar, he designed it with efficient production in mind. The Three-Saddle Telecaster Bridge is made from stamped steel, with three steel barrel-shaped adjustable saddles. This bridge is kind of unique because the pickup is mounted to the bridge itself. Later, the material of the saddles was changed to brass.

  • The Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge

In 1954, when Fender introduced the Stratocaster Bridge, they were trying to compete with the Bigsby-Style Vibrato system that was in use by Gretsch at the time. They were also attempting to correct some of the “mistakes” they made with the intonation system on the Telecaster bridge.

 

The Stratocaster’s bridge has a top plate made of the same stamped steel as the Telecaster bridge, but instead of being fixed and immovable as the Telecaster’s bridge, the bridge is allowed to come off the top of the guitar to facilitate vibrato. Connected to the bridge’s top plate, is a steel block that goes entirely through the body. Springs are then connected from the block to a claw that is screwed in to the back of the guitar, providing a counter-balance to the string tension. Instead of using the 3 brass barrel-shaped saddles that were in use in the Telecaster at the time, the Stratocaster used 6 stamped steel saddles, so intonation could be controlled more precisely.

  • The Stratocaster Hardtail Bridge

The Stratocaster was also made available in a non-tremolo version, called the “Hardtail Bridge” by enthusiasts. On this type of guitar,  a similar bridge top plate was mounted to the top of the guitar directly,  so naturally, there was no  tremolo functionality. The saddles were the same, and the strings were loaded into the guitar through the back, much like the Telecaster.

 


Gibson Style Bridges

  • The Trapeze Tailpiece

When Gibson introduced the Les Paul solid body guitar in 1952, They made a terrible decision when they designed the Trapeze Tailpiece bridge. They went with a solid steel bar, resting atop two posts with thumbwheels (to adjust the height), that were screwed into to metal “feet” (for lack of a better term), that , in turn, rested on the guitar’s top. This entire assembly was connected to a tailpiece that screwed into the butt of the guitar, where the strap button was located.  All these things are fine. The problem is in the way the strings are loaded into the metal bar: they load from the top back of the steel bar, travelling diagonally to the bottom front of the bar. Effectively making it a wraparound bridge with the strings extending to the nut  UNDER the steel bar. This makes the guitar uncomfortable and difficult to play. Please don’t replicate this terrible design. Be better than that.

  • The Wraparound Bridge

In 1954, Gibson came to their senses and designed a bridge that was better, The Wraparound Bridge. The bridge they designed was a nickel-plated aluminum bar that was mounted to two posts that screwed into bushings that were pressed into the body. There were also two set-screws that allowed some adjustment of the scale length of either side of the bridge.

 

  • The ABR-1/Stopbar

Also in 1954, Gibson introduced the Les Paul Custom, referred to as the “Black Beauty” by enthusiasts.  This guitar featured the same kind of stop bar studs mounted in the same pressed in bushings, but  this time, the strings went straight through the stopbar and over a the bridge, called an ABR-1(Adjustable Bridge-1). This bridge featured metal saddles mounted into a cast metal bridge base that mounted on posts that had thumbwheels screwed on to them.

 

Again, the stopbar tailpiece was largely the same as the tailpiece from above, just without set-screws.

  • The  Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge

In 1975, Gibson refined the bridge on their Les Paul Guitars again. This time, they changed the design to what would become known as the “Nashville” Bridge. It was slightly wider and thicker than the ABR bridge, with more room to adjust the saddles, so intonation would be easier.  Also, instead of threaded rods that were screwed directly into the top of the guitar, the Nashville bridge used bridge height adjustment posts screwed into bushings pressed into the top of the guitar.

  • The Bisgby Vibrato Tailpiece

Sometimes, Gibson used the Bigsby B-7 Vibrato tailpiece on Guitars as a custom upgrade. In this case, the B-7 was used in addition to the ABR-1. The strings are held by pins on the vibrato bar. They then wrap around the vibrato bar and under the tension bar before going over the ABR-1.

 

  • The Lightning Bar Wraparound Tailpiece

On other Gibson Solid-body guitars, notably the Firebird I and and the SG, Gibson used a wraparound-style tailpiece with a compensated ridge on the top of it that sort of resembles a lightning bolt, thus giving it its name – The lightning Bar Wraparound. The purpose of the lightning bar is to have a wraparound tailpiece that is better intonated than a conventional wrap around bridge.

  • The Maestro Vibrola

Gibson used another vibrato system called the Maestro Vibola. These were used on solid body guitars that had flat tops, like the SG or the Firebird. There were two styles, long and short. The short version is a flat metal spring screwed to the top of the guitar. A notched metal bar is slid onto the spring, to hold the ball ends of the strings. Attached to this bar with a screw is the vibrato arm.

 

Good luck finding it to buy, though. It doesn’t even seem like Gibson wants to sell these without guitars attached.

The long version just has a frame attached to the back that has an engraved cover screwed to it.  Again, you probably can’t find a place that sells one of these, but here’s a link for educational purposes.


Modern Bridges

Starting with Leo Quan’s Badass Bridge in the 1970’s, there has been a huge amount of  innovation in after-market guitar bridges. Let’s look at a few of these before we move on to what to consider when designing your guitar for a particular bridge.

  • Leo Quan’s Badass Bridge

In 1972, a guitar player and repair man named Glen Quan wanted more precise intonation for his Les Paul Junior, so he designed a bridge that could be installed on a vintage Gibson that used a wraparound-style bridge, but without having to drill new holes in your guitar – the Badass Bridge.

  • The Floyd Rose Locking Vibrato System

In 1976, a guitar player named Floyd Rose was tired of playing like his heroes Jimi Hendrix and Richie Blackmore, only to have his Stratocaster go out of tune as soon as he used his vibrato bar.  He went to work to try to lock the strings in place at both the nut and the bridge, so his guitar would be less likely to go out of tune.

Here is a link to an example of this bridge.

  • The Wilkinson Product Line

Another major manufacturer of after market  guitar parts is Wilkinson. They have replacement bridges for Telecasters Stratocasters and guitars that have wraparound tailpieces. Wilkinson Telecaster bridges attempt to correct the intonation problem of three-saddle Telecaster Bridges, while retaining the Vintage aesthetic. They have two models available, one with machined, compensated saddles, the other with saddles that swivel.

 

Here’s a link to an example of the machined bridge.

 

Wilkinson also makes bridges for modern Stratocasters that use two bridge posts.  There are several models available.

Here’s a link to an example of the most famous version of that bridge.


In addition to their Fender-related products, Wilkinson offers a wraparound replacement that uses sliding saddles that are locked into place with a set-screw. These bridgesare commonly used on PRS guitars that use wraparound tailpieces.

  • The TonePros Product Line

Becoming more popular as an alternative to Gibson-Style bridges and tailpieces, TonePros offers a full line of ABR-1’s, Nashville Bridges, and stopbars that lock into place on their respective posts by means of set screws. The wraparound replacement is a good idea in theory, but in my humble opinion, it falls short of being practical.  It has nice adjustable saddles, but the locking mechanism is hugely annoying. The posts for the wraparound are capped by discs that are to turned with the flat side of an adjustment tool. When the guitar is strung up, the only way to adjust the action is to use the end of this same tool and, as if you are using a crescent wrench, rotate the post….and here’s the kicker: FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE POST. So you are expected to risk jamming and marring the top of your super cool guitar with the finish you spent so much time on….no thanks.

 

Here’s a link to an example of one of those.

  • Others

There have been countless manufacturers of after-market gutiar bridges and tailpieces, and most them are variations on the above themes, with minor aesthetic differences. My advice is to learn all you can about all kinds of bridges and learn their look and feel.

 

Things To Consider Before Purchasing Your Bridge

There are some structural as well as aesthetic considerations to be aware of when  you are choosing a bridge or a bridge upgrade for your guitar:

  • Does your playing style or genre of music demand a particular type of bridge?

Someone who is in a band in which they play nothing but Rolling Stones and Beatles songs probably has no need for a locking tremolo system. On the other hand, someone that wants to play Steve Vai or Van Halen songs would be ill-served with a Bigsby equipped Guitar. Think about what genre you play, and what kind of bridge your favorite players have.

 

  • Do you demand a certain sound from your bridge?

The bridge has a lot to do with the overall tone of your guitar. There is a certain “thickness” that comes from non-tremolo bridges. Listen to a lot of guitars and pay attention to what style of bridge they have. Start to from an opinion of the quality of the tone of different bridges.

 

  • Do you need to choose your bridge for ease of string change?

For normal utilitarian guitar players that are playing three or more nights a week, it can be difficult to successfully deal with a broken string in the middle of a song. If you’ve ever had this happen to you on a Bigsby or Floyd Rose, you know what a nightmare it is. The whole song grinds to a halt, your guitar is horribly out of tune, and the audience gets annoyed as you spend ten minutes retuning your guitar. With a Telecaster or Les Paul, this is less of a problem, due to the fixed nature of the bridge. When a string breaks on one of these guitars, you can at least finish the song more or less in tune and spend less time changing your string.

 

  • Do you use one guitar to play in several different tunings?

If you are a player that plays in several different tunings on one guitar, the fixed-bridge options will better suit you. These bridges don’t require unlocking the nut to retune, and the tension at the bridge stays more of less the same. Tremolo bridges are based on a delicate balance between the string tension in the front of the guitar and the spring claw in the back of the guitar.  If you change the tension of even one string by detuning it, the guitar needs a new setup.

  • Does your neck need to be set at an angle for the bridge to work properly?

If you’re planning to use a wraparound tailpiece or a Bridge/Stopbar combination on your Telecaster, I’ve got some bad news: you’ll have to re-rout the neck pocket so the neck learns back at about a 5 degree angle in order for the bridge to work out well for you.

 

Same thing if your planning on using a Stratocaster-style hard tail bridge on a Les Paul -style guitar. I’m afraid you can’t. Not without major modifications to your Les Paul or your bridge, to correct the 5-degree neck set.

 

  • Does your guitar need to be routed to accept your new bridge?

If you are planning on putting a Floyd Rose Licensed tremolo on your standard  Stratocaster-style guitar, you’re going to have to have a router and some routing guides in order to make the tremolo function properly. Also, to install the locking nut, you will need to rout away some of the wood behind the existing nut.

 

  • Does the bridge allow you to properly intonate the guitar?

If you are fine with a vintage-style bridge that does not allow for precise intonation, that’s one thing. If it annoys you to no end, consider one of the replacements that allows for more rigorous intonation.

 

  • Does your bridge choice force you to make other hardware choices?

If you are using a locking bridge, and the locking nut offends your aesthetic sensibilities, You will need locking tuners and a graphite  nut. So do your research and make sure you have all the hardware that is required by your bridge choice.

  • Does your bridge choice satisfy the aesthetic requirements you demand of your guitars?

Make sure you enjoy the look of your guitar’s bridge, because you’ll have to look at it for as long as you own your guitar.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it: an overview of the types of bridges that are available for solid-body electric guitars, and some things to keep in mind while choosing one. Think about the structural, hardware and aesthetic things you require, plan carefully, and make something great.


 

When you are building or modifying your electric guitar, you need to decide the bridge that you’re wanting to use before doing anything, as the style of the bridge determines forces you to make certain design choices so your guitar doesn’t wind up as expensive firewood.

Before we talk about  the things you need to think about when you choose a bridge, let’s discuss the bridges that are available, and get a little bit of a history lesson.

The electric guitar bridge has  been changing since solid body guitars were invented. The Fender Esquire and Broadcaster not only revolutionized general guitar design, but that guitar also revolutionized the way guitar bridges were designed. Since 1950, the guitar bridge has continued to evolve and be redesigned. Now, electric guitars are divided into several different types. For now, I’ll separate them into three types: Fender Style, Gibson Style, and Modern Style.

Fender Style Bridges

  • The Three-Saddle Telecaster Bridge

When Leo Fender started production on the solid-body electric guitar, he designed it with efficient production in mind. The bridge is made from stamped steel, with three steel barrel-shaped adjustable saddles. This bridge is kind of unique because the pickup is mounted to the bridge itself.  Later, the material of the saddles was changed to brass.

Here’s a link to an example of this style of bridge:

http://www.mojotone.com/guitar-parts/bridges-tremolos-tele/Fender-Vintage-Tele-3-Saddle-Bridge-Assembly.html

  • The Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge

In 1954, when Fender introduced the Stratocaster,  they were trying to compete with the Bigsby-Style Vibrato system that was in use by Gretsch at the time. They were also attempting to correct some of the “mistakes” they made with the intonation system on the Telecaster bridge.

The Stratocaster’s bridge has a top plate made of the same stamped steel as the Telecaster bridge, but instead of being fixed and immovable as the Telecaster’s bridge, the bridge is allowed to come off the top of the guitar to facilitate vibrato. Connected to the bridge’s top plate, is a steel block that goes entirely through the body. Springs are then connected from the block to a claw that is screwed in to the back of the guitar, providing a counter-balance to the string tension. Instead of using the 3 brass barrel-shaped saddles that were in use in the Telecaster at the time, the Stratocaster used 6 stamped steel saddles, so intonation could be controlled more precisely.

Here’s a link to an example of that style of bridge:

http://www.mojotone.com/guitar-parts/tremolo/Fender-Vintage-Strat-Tremolo-Bridge-Assembly.html

  • The Stratocaster  Hardtail Bridge

The Stratocaster was also made available in a non-tremolo version, called a “hardtail” by enthusiasts. On this type of guitar,  a similar bridge top plate was mounted to the top of the guitar directly,  so naturally, there was no  tremolo functionality. The saddles were the same, and the strings were loaded into the guitar through the back, much like the Telecaster.

Here’s a link to an example of that style of bridge:

http://www.warmoth.com/Strat-Flat-Mount-Bridge-Vintage-Spacing-Chrome-P118C703.aspx

Gibson Style Bridges

  • The Trapeze Tailpeice

When Gibson introduced the Les Paul solid body guitar in 1952, They made a terrible decision when they designed the bridge. They went with a solid steel bar, resting atop two posts with thumbwheels (to adjust the height), that were screwed into to metal “feet” (for lack of a better term), that , in turn, rested on the guitar’s top. This entire assembly was connected to a tailpiece that screwed into the butt of the guitar, where the strap button was located.  All these things are fine. The problem is in the way the strings are loaded into the metal bar: they load from the top back of the steel bar, travelling diagonally to the bottom front of the bar. Effectively making it a wraparound bridge with the strings extending to the nut  UNDER the steel bar.  This makes the guitar uncomfortable and difficult to play. Please don’t replicate this terrible design. Be better than that.

Here’s a link to a picture of that bridge:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8903114@N07/3093035697/in/photostream/

  • The Wraparound Bridge

In 1954, Gibson came to their senses and designed a bridge that was better. The bridge they designed was a nickel-plated aluminum bar that was mounted to two posts that screwed into bushings that were pressed into the body. There were also two set-screws that allowed some adjustment of the scale length of either side of the bridge.

Here’s a link to an example of that bridge:

http://www.allparts.com/Featherweight-Stop-Tailpiece-Nickel-p/tp-3407-001.htm

  • The ABR-1/Stopbar

Also in 1954, Gibson introduced the Les Paul Custom, referred to as the “Black Beauty” by enthusiasts.  This guitar featured the same kind of stop bar studs mounted in the same pressed in bushings, but  this time, the strings went straight through the stopbar and over a the bridge, called an ABR-1(Adjustable Bridge-1).  This bridge featured metal saddles mounted into a cast metal bridge base that mounted on posts that had thumbwheels screwed on to them.

Here is a link to an example of that bridge assembly:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/gibson-abr-1-guitar-bridge

Again, the stopbar tailpiece was largely the same as the tailpiece from above, just without set-screws.

  • The  Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge

In 1975, Gibson refined the bridge on their Les Paul Guitars again. This time, they changed the design to what would become known as the “Nashville” bridge.  It was slightly wider and thicker than the ABR bridge, with more room to adjust the saddles, so intonation would be easier.  Also, instead of threaded rods that were screwed directly into the top of the guitar, the Nashville bridge used bridge height adjustment posts screwed into bushings pressed into the top of the guitar.

Here is a link to an example of that  bridge assembly:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/gibson-nashville-tune-o-matic-bridge

  • The Bisgby Vibrato Tailpiece

Sometimes, Gibson used the Bigsby B-7 Vibrato tailpiece on Guitars as a custom upgrade. In this case, the B-7 was used in addition to the ABR-1. The strings are held by pins on the vibrato bar. They then wrap around the vibrato bar and under the tension bar before going over the ABR-1.

Here’s a link to an example of this tailpiece:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/bigsby-b7-vibrato-kit–arch-top-solid-body-guitars/300207000375000

  • The Lightning Bar Wraparound Tailpiece

On other Gibson Solid-body guitars, notably the Firebird I and and the SG, Gibson used a wraparound-style tailpiece with a compensated ridge on the top of it that sort of resembles a lightning bolt, thus giving it its name.  The purpose of the lightning bar is to have a wraparound tailpiece that is better intonated than a conventional wrap around bridge.

Here’s a link to an example of this tailpiece:

http://www.amazon.com/Gibson-Lightning-Bridge-Tailpiece-PTTP-070/dp/B004MDFVUK

  • The Maestro Vibrola

Gibson used another vibrato system called the Maestro Vibola. These were used on solidbody guitars that had flat tops, like the SG or the Firebird. There were two styles, long and short. Thie short version is a flat metal spring screwed to the top of the guitar. A notched metal bar is slid onto the spring, to hold the ball ends of the strings. Attached to tis bar with a screw is the vibrato arm.

Good luck finding it to buy, though. It doesn’t even seem like Gibson wants to sell these without guitars attached.

For the sake of education, here’s a link to a guitar wearing one:

http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Firebird/Gibson-Custom/1964-Firebird-III.aspx

The long version just has a frame attached to the back that has an engraved cover screwed to it.  Again, you probably can’t find a place that sells one of these, but here’s a link for educational purposes:

http://www.amazon.com/Gibson-Standard-Maestro-Electric-Guitar/dp/B0010X3RW4/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1311036288&sr=1-1

Modern Bridges
Starting with Leo Quan’s Badass Bridge in the 1970’s, there has been a huge amount of  innovation in after-market guitar bridges. Let’s look at a few of these before we move on to what to consider when designing your guitar for a particular bridge.

  • Leo Quan’s Badass Bridge

In 1972, a guitar player and repair man named Glen Quan wanted more precise intonation for his Les Paul Junior, so he designed a bridge that could be installed on a vintage Gibson that used a wraparound-style bridge, but without having to drill new holes in your guitar.

Here is a link to an example of that kind of bridge:

http://www.amazon.com/Badass-Around-Bridge-Adjustable-Saddles/dp/B002M3ODII/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1311037137&sr=1-1

  • The Floyd Rose Locking Vibrato System

In 1976, a guitar player named Floyd Rose was tired of playing like his heroes Jimi Hendrix and Richie Blackmore, only to have his Stratocaster go out of tune as soon as he used his vibrato bar.  He went to work to try to lock the strings in place at both the nut and the bridge, so his guitar would be less likely to go out of tune.

Here is a link to an example of this bridge:

http://www.amazon.com/Floyd-Rose-Licensed-Trem-Chrome/dp/B0006ZNB8W/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1311038296&sr=1-2

  • The Wilkinson Product Line

Another major manufacturer of after market  guitar parts is Wilkinson. They have replacement bridges for Telecasters Stratocasters and guitars that have wraparound tailpieces. Wilkinson Telecaster bridges attempt to correct the intonation problem of three-saddle Telecaster Bridges, while retaining the Vintage aesthetic. They have two models available, one with machined, compensated saddles, the other with saddles that swivel.

Here’s a link to an example of the machined bridge:

http://www.allparts.com/Wilkinson-Staggered-Saddle-Telecaster-Bridge-p/tb-5129-001.htm

Wilkinson also makes bridges for modern Stratocasters that use two bridge posts.  There are several models available.

Here’s a link to an example of the most famous version of that bridge:

http://www.amazon.com/WD-Music-Products-Wilkinson-Tremolo/dp/B0006ZP9W8/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1311038472&sr=1-1

In addition to their Fender-related products, Wilkinson offers a wraparound replacement that uses sliding saddles that are locked into place with a set-screw. These bridges are commonly used on PRS guitars that use wraparound tailpieces.

Here’s a link an example of that bridge:

http://www.allparts.com/Wilkinson-Nickel-Stop-Tailpiece-p/tp-3691-001.htm

  • The TonePros Product Line

Becoming more popular as an alternative to Gibson-Style bridges and tailpieces, TonePros offers a full line of ABR-1’s, Nashville Bridges, and stopbars that lock into place on their respective posts by means of set screws. The wraparound replacement is a good idea in theory, but in my humble opinion, it falls short of being practical.  It has nice adjustable saddles, but the locking mechanism is hugely annoying. The posts for the wraparound are capped by discs that are to turned with the flat side of an adjustment tool. When the guitar is strung up, the only way to adjust the action is to use the end of this same tool and, as if you are using a crescent wrench, rotate the post….and here’s the kicker: FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE POST. So you are expected to risk jamming and marring the top of your super cool guitar with the finish you spent so much time on….no thanks.

Here’s a link to an example of one of those:

http://www.allparts.com/TonePros-AVT2G-C-Bridge-p/gb-2578-010.htm

  • Others

There have been countless  manufacturers of  after- market gutiar bridges and     tailpieces, and most them are variations on the above themes, with minor aesthetic differences. My advice is to learn all you can about all kinds of bridges and learn their look and feel.

Things To Consider Before Purchasing Your Bridge

There are some structural as well as aesthetic considerations to be aware of when  you are choosing a bridge or a bridge upgrade for your guitar:

  • Does your playing style or genre of music demand a particular type of bridge?

Someone who is in a band in which they play nothing but Rolling Stones and Beatles songs probably has no need for a locking tremolo system. On the other hand, someone that wants to play Steve Vai or Van Halen songs would be ill-served with a Bigsby equipped Guitar. Think about what genre you play, and what kind of bridge your favorite players have.

  • Do you demand a certain sound from your bridge?

The bridge has a lot to do with the overall tone of your guitar. There is a certain “thickness” that comes from non-tremolo bridges. Listen to a lot of guitars and pay attention to what style of bridge they have. Start to from an opinion of the quality of the tone of different bridges.

  • Do you need to choose your bridge for ease of string change?

For normal utilitarian guitar players that are playing three or more nights a week, it can be difficult to successfully deal with a broken string in the middle of a song. If you’ve ever had this happen to you on a Bigsby or Floyd Rose, you know what a nightmare it is. The whole song grinds to a halt, your guitar is horribly out of tune, and the audience gets annoyed as you spend ten minutes retuning your guitar. With a Telecaster or Les Paul, this is less of a problem, due to the fixed nature of the bridge. When a string breaks on one of these guitars, you can at least finish the song more or less in tune and spend less time changing your string.

  • Do you use one guitar to play in several different tunings?

If you are a player that plays in several different tunings on one guitar, the fixed-bridge options will better suit you. These bridges don’t require unlocking the nut to retune, and the tension at the bridge stays more of less the same. Tremolo bridges are based on a delicate balance between the string tension in the front of the guitar and the spring claw in the back of the guitar.  If you change the tension of even one string by detuning it, the guitar needs a new setup.

  • Does your neck need to be set at an angle for the bridge to work properly?

If you’re planning to use a wraparound tailpiece or a Bridge/Stopbar combination on your Telecaster, I’ve got some bad news: you’ll have to re-rout the neck pocket so the neck learns back at about a 5 degree angle in order for the bridge to work out well for you.

Same thing if your planning on using a Stratocaster-style hard tail bridge on a Les Paul -style guitar. I’m afraid you can’t. Not without major modifications to your Les Paul to correct the 5-degree neck set.

  • Does your guitar need to be routed to accept your new bridge?

If you are planning on putting a Floyd Rose Licensed tremolo on your standard  Stratocaster-style guitar, you’re going to have to have a router and some routing guides in order to make the tremolo function properly. Also, to install the locking nut, you will need to rout away some of the wood behind the existing nut.

  • Does the bridge allow you to properly intonate the guitar?

If you are fine with a vintage-style bridge that does not allow for precise intonation, that’s one thing. If it annoys you to no end, consider one of the replacements that allows for more rigorous intonation.

  • Does your bridge choice force you to make other hardware choices?

If you are using a locking bridge, and the locking nut offends your aesthetic sensibilities, You will need locking tuners and a graphite  nut. So do your research and make sure you have all the hardware that is required by your bridge choice.

  • Does your bridge choice satisfy the aesthetic requirements you demand of your guitars?

Make sure you enjoy the look of your guitar’s bridge, because you’ll have to look at it for as long as you own your guitar.

Conclusion

So there you have it: an overview of the types of bridges that are available for solid-body electric guitars, and some things to keep in mind while choosing one. Think about the structural, hardware and aesthetic things you require, plan carefully, and make something great.
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