Magazine article Guitar Player

5 Things about Bridges

Magazine article Guitar Player

5 Things about Bridges

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I AM YOUR ANCHOR, I AM YOUR ROCK

Which is to say, solidity is important. This is the body-end termination point for your strings' speaking length, and their vibration needs to pass through the bridge to get into the tonewood in the body. Therefore, the quality of the body's resonance is going to be in great part determined by the composition and quality of the bridge (and tailpiece, if the), are separate units). For that reason, the bridge is an essential link in the tone chain, ranking right up there with your guitar's pickups and the wood the body is made from in setting the core tone of the instrument, especially if you want to hear deep, harmonically rich resonance throughout the body of the guitar. As such, the bridge's solidity also greatly affects sustain.

LACK OF SOLIDITY CAN ALSO BE IMPORTANT IN THE TONE EQUATION

Lightly coupled and less-than-rocklike bridges can also contribute positively to the signature tones of several seminal guitars. For example, Gretsch guitars mounted with a Bigsby B3 or B6 vibrato tailpieces--which lack tension bars--will have fairly low string tension over a floating bridge, and the relatively light coupling of this setup is an important part of the jangle content in "that great Gretsch sound." Similarly, Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars are made with vibrato units that present low string tension over moving "rocker" bridges. You can buy a device to increase string angle over the bridge, and therefore tension, which the maker purports will "improve tone," but the only certain thing is that it alters the tone. Many fans of these guitars will tell you such an alteration robs the instruments of some of their distinctive sonic character.

COMPOSITION AFFECTS TONE

Bridges and bridge saddles made from different materials resonate differently, and therefore make your guitar sound different. …

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