General tech questions

Compton Bridge Idea

1

Got a new 6120 with pinned bridge, sounds great. I do believe in "if it aint broke don't fix it" so why would I need a compton bridge and if I did take the plunge, which one??? I am trying to stay stock on the string sizes and would not be changing the set sizes, Now which metal to use? I do like the looks of them, But is it a problem with a pinned bridge? Just like to get ideas, Anyway Nothing is bad on this axe, the sustain is already amazing and I really can't see it sounding any better than it does,, But If you know tell me please!!! Thanks a million!

2

Not a problem on my pinned bridge. I like the Aluminum one.

3

I got a brass one on my old guitar, no pinned bridge though. All in all I like it, but got some sympathetic string overtones behind the bridge, which I fixed by applying a little rubber cement on the strings there. It also doesn't "rock" which I also fixed by filing the bottom into a V... but that's me being a fanatic.

4

Why file the bottom of a Compton bridge into a "V" when you can simply buy a Tru-Arc bridge that actually works like a rocking bar bridge is supposed to work, and it actually looks like it belongs on a Gretsch guitar because that is the way that Gretsch has always built those bridges?

People complain about the incremental cost of a Tru-Arc over a Compton bridge...but, is an additional $40 something to complain about on a product that is of superb quality materials and is precision made? $40 of additional cost on a guitar that costs $1500, or $2000, or $3000? Why not go with the best on a luxury item like a Gretsch guitar? They are worth it and you know the integrity and the quality of the guy who makes them. (I am not implying anything here about the integrity or quality of the maker of the Compton; just saying that the guy who makes the Tru-Arc is known for his ethics and contributions to the GDP and to the Gretsch/FMIC brand in general. So, I think we should reward that.)

I don't get it.

5

@Ric- because I didn't have a hundred dollars laying around, but plenty of metal files which I am good with. Took me 10 minutes to make my own. I also didn't want a bridge that I had to mount crookedly on my guitar to get to intonate. Us poor boys we sometimes have to improvise. $44 shipped, or $90+shipped. Big difference.

6

A difference of $46 to get a product that actually looks historically correct, and that supports a guy that has contributed more to Gretsch guitar knowledge than anyone I know, is a pittance.

And your concerns about having to put a crooked bridge on your guitar to make it intonate properly are lost on me. Any bar bridge works that way and, historically, that is the look of Gretsch guitars.

Check out Eddie's bridge.

And apparently, Duane Eddy thought enough of the Tru-Arc to request it for his signature model guitar. And FMIC/Gretsch thinks enough of it to put it on some of their most expensive models. It is simply the most elegant solution to the neck/bridge radii dilemma.

So, buy a few less beers over a couple of months and you have that $46 saved up. That's all I'm saying.

7

I don't like a crooked bridge:D I also like (close to)perfect intonation. One might get lucky with a bar and have it intonate well, but more often than not it's a compromise. Even the Compton I have on my old guitar is like that, and that's always been a turn off. However, my Nashville TOM on my SSL intonates perfectly, and doesn't rattle... oh but the loss of sustain just makes me feel so inadequate in the World of Bar Bridge Tone that sometimes I can't sleep at night.

We can go on and on... you like a bar bridge, I don't as much. I haven't played a show yet where people have come up to me afterward and said "man your guitar sounds pretty good, but it'd sound a lot better with a bar bridge!" The general concensus seems to be my guitar sounds awesome. I sleep well.

8

I found my dad's old guitar in my grandmother's huge basement and the strings were all over the place so i took them off. but when I took off the strings, I learned that apparently the bridge of this particular acoustic guitar was held on only by the pressure of the strings. i was wondering how much it would cost to have the bridge PERMANENTLY on this guitar? Id appreciate some help from someone. thank you. :)

9

Liz C, Gretsch has historically used a "floating" bar bridge on many of its guitars. It really isn't a major problem for most guitarists. When changing strings, you simply don't take all of the strings off at the same time and the string tension will hold the bar bridge in place while you change the strings one by one. However, many people do take off all of the strings and the bridge at the time that they change strings as it gives them an excuse to once again check the guitar's intonation once they have the guitar restrung with new strings.

In answer to your question, although having a "floating" bridge isn't usually a problem, some people feel more secure in having their bridge affixed in some manner to the top of their guitar. Some do this with double-sided tape, some with a bit of sticky violin resin, and some people even go to the extreme of having their bridges "pinned" to the top with an appropriate and small "pin", such as a very small screw or brad.

If you are feeling ambitious about "pinning" your bridge, you may want to consult this excellent thread containing step-by-step instructions about how to pin the floating bridge on your guitar created by GDP'er Ratrod (link).

By the way, welcome to the GDP, Liz. It is always a pleasure to see some members from the distaff side of things around here. I hope that you enjoy your time spent here.

10

It wouldn't cost much - glue or double-sided tape would both do the job - once you've decided what strings you're going to use on it, then it's a moment's work to find the right position for the bridge.

The disadvantage of fixing it like this is that you can't switch to lighter or heavier strings without unfixing the bridge first - otherwise it would be slightly out of tune with itself. That's why the bridge is floating in the first place: to allow the guitar to be properly adjusted for the sort of strings being used.

11

@Judd, I don't know many people who have had persistent intonation problems with a rocking bar bridge, but I will happily concede that it may occur for some. Yet, if extraordinarily precise intonation is something that you are striving for, and you aren't able to get that with a bar bridge, then you are right to look at the Adjust-o-matic bridge. But, your earlier post was suggesting that you would instead opt for making filing mods to a Compton bar bridge rather than just buying an Adjust-o-matic bridge. So that wasn't clear to me. I recognize that there is additional cost with an Adjust-o-matic bridge, but, if precise intonation is really the goal, then that seems like a worthwhile investment.

12

I conatacted Blackrider about this. They sell both the Korean made Electromatic version and the Japanese made Pro-line version of the Gretsch Adjustomatic bridge. They promise no rattles with the Pro-line version.

13

Without getting into competitive discussions about this vs that, on which my opinion can be fairly guessed, let me make an observation.

Look at the saddle on an acoustic guitar. It runs at an angle.

Look at the fixed bridge posts tapped into the top of any Gibson or similar electric guitar: they're positioned at a bias, with the bass side further toward the rear of the guitar. And the relative positioning is pretty universal across the industry, for the same reason fret positions are universal: given a particular scale length – and assuming a desire on the part of builder and player for the guitar to play in tune – the physics and the math involved don't change.

The positioning of the fixed bridge studs happens to provide the best possible intonation when using a straight-line bridge. Builders do this because: A) it's traditional; 2) if you're using an adjustable saddle bridge (like a TunaJustaSynchroMatic) you get maximum forward-and-backward adjustability on all strings; iii) you get the best possible intonation when using a straight-line bridge.

Nother words, except on Fender-type bridges with their individual spring-loaded saddle pieces mounted on a plate, an angled bridge is the norm.

Until early 2009, I'd never known anyone to express a preference that a bridge be positioned at right angles to the strings. I'd always just thought that a bridge should be positioned so it worked properly.

Whether the necessary longer-bass/shorter-treble bias is achieved by angling the base and bridge together, or by designing an angle into the string-bearing surface of the bridge so that the base can sit at 90° to the strings ... the result is the same insofar as intonation is concerned.

That is, if you're talking about floating-bridge guitars. The downside of building the angle into the bridge itself is that when you mount it on fixed bridge studs – which are already at an offset, see – you double the "compensation." Don't see how that guitar could be in tune.


As to your question, Mark - why should you change the bridge on your 5120? If what you have is working for you – "sounds great" – you shouldn't. If and/or when you hear a problem, that's when you start worrying about it.

Would it sound better with a different bridge? What do the different metals sound like? You'd have to try the various candidates to really know.

But if you're happy, it ain't broke and you can't fix it!


Judd, I quite agree that if meter-precise not-a-cent-off intonation is the requirement, an adjustable-saddle bridge will be necessary. And a good one works fine. I have a bunch of them.

But I've found, personally, that the intonation problems I create with my "technique" (unintentionally pushing strings sideways within a chord, fretting hard enough to bend the string down against the fingerboard so that the fret bends it out of tune) – exceed the compromises caused by a straight-line bridge.

I wouldn't have believed that had I not proved it to myself. After 40-some years of playing and tech-ing on guitars, I thought the bar bridge was a joke when I started shopping Gretschs, and absolutely knew that I'd be replacing it with a Tuna-Matics when I bought one – but I just didn't have any intonation issues. And I liked the tone and feel.

While I was still skeptical about it (years before Tru-Arc), I compared all five Gretsch bridge types on the same guitar, on the same music, through the same amp, with the same strings, on the same night. The Rocking Bar sounded best to me. I started evangelizing for bar bridges before I'd ever thought of Tru-Arc.

The inspiration for Tru-Arc had nothing to do with intonation or sound – it was simply to make a bridge that better matched the radius of some Gretsch fingerboards. I thought that would provide more consistent action across all strings (in most cases, permitting lower overall action) and a more even feel. The fact that the various metals had such an effect on tone and response was as much of a surprise to me as it was to others.

It was also a surprise when it sounded different than the Gretsch bar bridge it's based on.

The fact that it did taught me that one chunk of metal may not perform the same as another chunk of metal, even when they're chunks of the same metal.

It's not necessary for everyone to have a Tru-Arc on their guitar. I'm content to take my chances when guys try them and compare them to other bridges. I know they may not work in every case. I know they're pricey.

But all bar bridges are not created equal – and, given the time and labor that goes into them, Tru-Arcs cost what they have to. Can you really pass judgment on the performance, tone, or value of a product you haven't tried yourself?

14

Proteus - I wouldn't have believed that had I not proved it to myself. After 40-some years of playing and tech-ing on guitars, I thought the bar bridge was a joke when I started shopping Gretschs, and absolutely knew that I'd be replacing it with a Tuna-Matics when I bought one – but I just didn't have any intonation issues. And I liked the tone and feel.

I hate to admit it to you but I have this same hang-up on bar bridges. When I hear people raving about Tru-Arcs I am always questioning how it is possible that a non-intonatable bar bridge is considered an upgrade. I really can't get my mind around it, especially with the G string. How does it work? I hope you take no offense to the question. I love the clear tone of a Tru-Arc but I am not a good enough player to compensate for intonation issues. If I line up all the saddles on an Adjustomatic or Syncro-sonic bridge the guitar will not be intonated properly. I don't understand how a bar bridge is any different. I feel like I'm in the minority here and am still learning about guitars and how they work so please forgive my ignorance and brashness.

Have you ever considered manufacturing a Hagstrom style bridge like this one from Guitarfetish? Bridge It seems it would retain most of the benefits of a bar bridge but also give the player the ability to fine tune the intonation. This Guitarfetish bridge is not a perfect fit for a Gretsch but it is very close. I experimented with it and had to add a little bit of mousepad foam in the posts to give it a tighter fit. The Gretsch bridge base has slimmer posts than the holes on the bridge. If you were to manufacture one of these as a direct drop in for a Gretsch I would probably buy 2 or 3 of them from you.

Again, I'm not trying to be confrontational. I have been curious from the beginning about Tru-Arcs and happy for you that most players consider it an upgrade. I'm very glad you chose to come back and post here again. I really missed your insight and humor!

15

Think this through.

If you own a guitar that has fixed posts that are angled and intonates with a bar bridge then how in the hell is increasing the angle 2X with a Compton non compensated bridge or any other simple slanted bridge going to work? Seriously? Maybe if you play with 9's or 7's or intonation isn't a factor, it isn't going to work on a slanted base.

16

Buddy, thanks for the welcome-back - seems it's back down the rabbit-hole for me!

And believe me, I'm not a "good enough player" to compensate for intonation problems. I actually think my playing sloppiness pushes strings further out of tune than poor intonation would. Maybe bars work for me for that reason, and if I was better - I'd hear more problems. (Then again, many better players - Chet and Paul Yandell among them - have gotten along OK with bar bridges.)

Now, all of a sudden, this occurs to me: I rarely play all six strings at once in a pure major or minor barre chord. I play a lot of partial chords and unorthodox inversions, often include open strings that aren't strictly in the base chord, and/or play harmonically dense chords that naturally include a certain amount of dissonance.

Maybe all of that serves to mask what I'd hear as more annoying intonation discrepancies if I were playing more straight majors and minors across all 6...

(But this is just a random morning-in-the-hotel-room theory, which I can challenge to myself by remembering how many open G, E, and C chords I use.)

17

I think I read somewhere one time that it is impossible to intonate exactly a six string guitar, no matter what kind of bridge, compensated nut, or what kind of who's system. So you get the strings intonated perfectly, then strum a chord, any chord, and you're out of tune. I know we all have things that bug us, but the best advice I can give is buy a tru arc bridge and just play the thing. You might be surprised at how true the tru arc is.


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