Elliot Easton's Tiki Lounge

What’s the big attraction to bar bridges?

1

Not intended to start a big magilla over this, but don't you guys want a guitar that plays in tune all the way up the neck? I get that it works well returning to pitch with the Bigsby, but seriously, a well lubricated tuneomatic saddle and nut slot work fine and the guitar will play in tune! Even Setzer uses a tuneomatic and he gets a pretty good Gretsch sound and is in tune! To be fair, I'm not a fan of one piece wraparounds on Gibsons either. I know that one of your prominent sponsors makes these bridges, so believe me when I say that there is no disrespect intended. I just want to understand why so many of you guys are willing to give up intonation adjustment for whatever magic this type of bridge supposedly provides. Does it make that much of a difference or is the Emperor walking around in his boxer shorts?

2

To me it's not so much the sound but the feel of a bar bridge. I almost always have my palm resting there and it's very comfortable, for which I'm willing to sacrifice a degree of intonation. It's close enough and I love the simplicity! I've never minded the straight saddles on acoustic guitars either.

3

I use both, but I have noticed that the bar bridges intonate better with bigger string sets with wound G strings.

4

It's a simple decision for me - I like the feel, I like the mass, and I can't hear the difference in intonation anyway! ;)

5

Thanks for those polite and intelligent responses. I was afraid that my question would cause a real sh*tstorm, but that certainly isn't my intention! Both replies make a lot of sense, but even Martin are using a bit of compensation on the B string. Being out of tune drives my ear crazy.

6

exactly!..hard enough to get a moving saddle bridge sounding perfectly intonated…ever try to play against a bass clarinet?..u need all the tweak u can get.. then some...ridiculous..a string gauge change kills the bar equation

but love'm that its cool for..ez

cheers

ps- nice mg reference..and i dont mean booker t

7

Plus, the type of metal used in the bar bridges changes the sound. Example is stainless is great for Dynas while aluminum is to bright, IMO.

I don't know if you get that difference with just saddle replacement in a TOM type bridge, as the mass is less.

8

After a few years of using bar bridges on my Gretsch guitars, I switched just this year back to TOM ABR bridges. Like you, guitars playing out of tune make me crazy and "close enough", just wasn't. A TonePros (good) or a Faber (better) bridge won't rattle and sound great.

I file the saddles to match the fretboard radius, but I recognize that not everyone is comfortable doing this. I think for many, the bridge/fretboard radius matching that a Compton or Tru-Arc offer are part of the attraction, as is the choice of metals.

9

You're right about the tuneomatics. If they are lubricated and properly cared for, they function just fine.

But I prefer a Tru Arc on a Gretsch, especially with a Bigsby. I have a brass one on my 6120, and a stainless steel one on my Duo Jet. I can't say with absolute certainty that they sound better (although I think they do!), but I like the simplicity of the bar. No saddles, no retaining wire. Less to worry about. Not to mention that they look cool.....

10

exactly!..hard enough to get a moving saddle bridge sounding perfectly intonated…ever try to play against a bass clarinet?..u need all the tweak u can get.. then some...ridiculous..a string gauge change kills the bar equation

but love'm that its cool for..ez

cheers

ps- nice mg reference..and i dont mean booker t

– neatone

Yiddish creeping in-it's the Brooklyn in me!

11

You're right about the tuneomatics. If they are lubricated and properly cared for, they function just fine.

But I prefer a Tru Arc on a Gretsch, especially with a Bigsby. I have a brass one on my 6120, and a stainless steel one on my Duo Jet. I can't say with absolute certainty that they sound better (although I think they do!), but I like the simplicity of the bar. No saddles, no retaining wire. Less to worry about. Not to mention that they look cool.....

– JetBoy55

That's kind of what I figured. I can't go into a session with a dodgy guitar that isn't in REALLY good tune. It's how I make my living. A cool looking bridge would not be high on my list of priorities when I need the magic to happen.

12

Not intended to start a big magilla over this, but don't you guys want a guitar that plays in tune all the way up the neck? I get that it works well returning to pitch with the Bigsby, but seriously, a well lubricated tuneomatic saddle and nut slot work fine and the guitar will play in tune! Even Setzer uses a tuneomatic and he gets a pretty good Gretsch sound and is in tune! To be fair, I'm not a fan of one piece wraparounds on Gibsons either. I know that one of your prominent sponsors makes these bridges, so believe me when I say that there is no disrespect intended. I just want to understand why so many of you guys are willing to give up intonation adjustment for whatever magic this type of bridge supposedly provides. Does it make that much of a difference or is the Emperor walking around in his boxer shorts?

– Elliot Easton

I'm the biggest fan of a well built tuneomatic bridge, the thinner and brighter ABR-1 wire bridge. Tonepros makes one of the better ones that do not rattle out of the box. They have very tight tolerances on all moving parts and set screws for the posts. Well done these AVR-II tonepros. That said, if you are anal retentive about your tuning and like me use a Peterson strobe tuner on your pedal boards plus have the istrobo app on your iphone, most bar bridges will drive you crazy. But.. the one bar bridge that has great intonation design, is the Tru-Arc Serpentine. The standard tru-arc wasnt working out for my grigsby that I built, but once Tim made me the alum Serpentine, problem solved and I still had the increase in mass for sustain and string to body coupling I wanted from the bar bridge, as well as a help mate to making a stupid break bar Bigsby B-7 work for this build. Get a serpentine...

here's a photo of it on the Grisby with no strings as I was installing a chet wire arm last night on that blasted B-7. Feels much nicer now and the 1" spring is king!

13

Some guys really love the bar bridges.....swear by em. Some guys need perfection. With effort, both can be achieved. The heart wants what the heart wants. Silk panties on rockettes....they KNEW they were wearing them. No one esle did,but their confidence showed. Apples,oranges,kiwis. Love what you want and itll show.

14

I like bar bridges for a few reasons. One is the simplicity---one moving part. Two, the neck radius matching makes a difference. Three, as to intonation, the majority of acoustic guitars have a bar bridge. You can get a Tru-Arc Serpantine to help with the intonation. Fourth, the material does make a difference So you can further tailor your sound, and the mass does help with sustain. Finally, I've had enough with fiddly rattle-o-matic bridges.

Of course, you're the one with the succesful music career, so, what do I know?

YMMV.

15

It's my perception that the more hollow an instrument is, the "wider" the note is, and "perfect" intonation, if such a thing exists, becomes less important - ever see an adjustable bridge on an acoustic archtop, flattop or classical?

Add to that the differences in finger pressure on the fretting hand when playing live, and I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. In general, I like bridges with fewer moving parts anyway, like a wraparound, or a three-saddle tele over a six.

I also feel the additional mass of a TruArc gives me a bit more sustain, which is useful for the types of music I play on my Gretsches (I prefer Jets and trestle braced hollowbodies)

Walter Broes mentioned that for him the bar bridges can choke the strings on bends. That doesn't seem to happen to me, but I rarely play more than full step bends.

One of the useful things is to aim for is best intonation on the B and A strings. The rest end up very close.

They don't work for everyone, but it's worth your while to try one.

16

I'm the biggest fan of a well built tuneomatic bridge, the thinner and brighter ABR-1 wire bridge. Tonepros makes one of the better ones that do not rattle out of the box. They have very tight tolerances on all moving parts and set screws for the posts. Well done these AVR-II tonepros. That said, if you are anal retentive about your tuning and like me use a Peterson strobe tuner on your pedal boards plus have the istrobo app on your iphone, most bar bridges will drive you crazy. But.. the one bar bridge that has great intonation design, is the Tru-Arc Serpentine. The standard tru-arc wasnt working out for my grigsby that I built, but once Tim made me the alum Serpentine, problem solved and I still had the increase in mass for sustain and string to body coupling I wanted from the bar bridge, as well as a help mate to making a stupid break bar Bigsby B-7 work for this build. Get a serpentine...

here's a photo of it on the Grisby with no strings as I was installing a chet wire arm last night on that blasted B-7. Feels much nicer now and the 1" spring is king!

– TheNocturneBrain

Being in good tune is not an indication of anal retentiveness-it's an indication of a good ear. Anyway, even if I was lax about being in tune, producers and engineers are not. I could never get away with iffy tuning and you can be sure I wouldn't be called back for more sessions! The Serpentine seems like a great idea. What gauge of strings is it made to work with, as it will only truly intonate with one gauge.

17

More mass usually sounds better. That's why Tuna-matics sound wimpy. Melita's have good mass too though and can be intonated. Players tend to have strong opinions about things like this, but not many will buy half a dozen bridges and swap back and forth to see which actually sounds best on a particular guitar. Sometimes it's surprising.

18

I intonate about three bar bridge guitars a day and I'm amazed at how well they tune all the way up the neck with .11's. 10's need more bridge angle and the G tends to be two cents out at the octave, 09's way worse.

19

Billy, remember in the '70's when Carruthers, Schecter and all those guys were putting brass nuts, saddles and bridges on everything? More mass, right? 12 LB. Les Paul Customs-more mass, better sustain, etc. Right? Most people eventually came to the conclusion that it was all bullish*t and went back to bone nuts, aluminum stop tailpieces etc. Sometimes more mass is not the most desirable thing. There are so many other factors to consider and it really depends on the guitar. Collings put a different type of metal stop tailpiece on their semi-hollowbodies than they put on their solidbodies and Bill Collings has a good reason for doing everything he does to a guitar. I don't really think any of this can be stated as hard fact. "Sometmes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you" (The Big Lebowski)

20

I intonate about three bar bridge guitars a day and I'm amazed at how well they tune all the way up the neck with .11's. 10's need more bridge angle and the G tends to be two cents out at the octave, 09's way worse.

– Curt Wilson

Fair enough, but I don't want to play .011's and I can't compromise on intonation.

21

Thanks for those polite and intelligent responses. I was afraid that my question would cause a real sh*tstorm, but that certainly isn't my intention! Both replies make a lot of sense, but even Martin are using a bit of compensation on the B string. Being out of tune drives my ear crazy.

– Elliot Easton

There's something about the B string itself that drives my ear crazy. It drives my tuner crazy - seems to have a harder time locking into it than it does the other strings. When it's in tune, and the intonation is set correctly, it just seems a little "off" when I play chords up the neck. Eddie Van Halen once said that it's a flawed design, and that he always had to keep the B string slightly out of tune so it would be in tune while playing chords up the neck. A friend of mine explained this phenomenon to me and it involved math so it went right over my head.

22

That's kind of what I figured. I can't go into a session with a dodgy guitar that isn't in REALLY good tune. It's how I make my living. A cool looking bridge would not be high on my list of priorities when I need the magic to happen.

– Elliot Easton

Well, I made the "cool" comment in jest. I have never had tuning or intonation issues with the Tru Arc. I also do studio work (although not on your level, obviously). Mostly soundtrack type stuff. So, yeah. It helps if I'm in tune also.

23

There's something about the B string itself that drives my ear crazy. It drives my tuner crazy - seems to have a harder time locking into it than it does the other strings. When it's in tune, and the intonation is set correctly, it just seems a little "off" when I play chords up the neck. Eddie Van Halen once said that it's a flawed design, and that he always had to keep the B string slightly out of tune so it would be in tune while playing chords up the neck. A friend of mine explained this phenomenon to me and it involved math so it went right over my head.

– stratman

I know what you mean about the B string. If you tune it perfectly and then play an A chord at the second fret, the 3rd degree of the chord (the B string) will sound sharp. I always tune the B string a cent or two flat so it sounds sweet. It's called tempered tuning. Piano tuners do this as well. They tune the upper register of the piano ever so slightly flat so that it will sound sweet to the ear. And really that's all I'm talking about-having it sound sweet to my ear. I've never explored the Feiten tuning system or anything like that. I embrace the guitar's idiosyncrasies and have learned how to make it work for me.

24

Being in good tune is not an indication of anal retentiveness-it's an indication of a good ear. Anyway, even if I was lax about being in tune, producers and engineers are not. I could never get away with iffy tuning and you can be sure I wouldn't be called back for more sessions! The Serpentine seems like a great idea. What gauge of strings is it made to work with, as it will only truly intonate with one gauge.

– Elliot Easton

I have 10's on my telecasters with the tru-arc and 11's on my SSU and Hotrod. This "Grigsby" which is a bastard 50's gretsch roundup meets bigsby was set up with 12g thomastik flats, then I went to 10g Thomastik flats, and now I just put 11g roundwound nickels.. Serpentine works well with all of these thus far but I think I'm going to 10g heavy tops w these pickups

25

Duh because it is what came stock back in the day, on some of the classic instruments they copy now. That's probably the main reason it's still prevalent. The Melita or any other bridge on an OLD Gretsch doesn't matter really, because the old Gretsch fingerboards have the slots cut so far off scale (any scale) that they can't be intonated right anyway.

They largely fixed this problem on the 60s Corvettes. If I need good intonation up the neck, I'll play those, or just grab a Tele. Otherwise, I still have a rockin' good time on my old Jets. It's not that I don't notice--I do. I'll even detune a string or two to make it work. Good enough for my brand of rock-n-roll--at least up to about the 12th fret or so :)

Anyway dude, that's what a Bigsby's for!


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