Gretsch Guitar Bridges
Even before World War II, Gretsch began using distinctive and unusual bridges on their high-end models. The Synchromatic line, for example, featured the Synchrosonic bridge, which sloped dramatically toward the tailpiece. The lower-end models, on the other hand, made do with a plain wooden compensated bridge.
The company's electric guitars continued the trend, with budget models such as the Clipper keeping a plain wooden bridge while the mid- and upper-level models were found with a wide variety of distinctive bridges. Meanwhile, the flat-top Ranchers had an unusual triangular bridge all their own.
The Gretsch Bar Bridge – basically a straight bar the strings break across – is common on '50s and '60s Gretsches and remains a favorite for many users as it tends to work well with a Bigsby and its heavy mass seems to contribute to tone.
There are actually at least five different types of bar bridges. The first variety, used in 1957 and early 1958 has a ½" thick bar with straight ends. Holes for the adjustment wheels were offset drilled (making the bar slant) to help with intonation. Ball ended type stud screws allowed the saddle to rock in the bridge base for Bigsby use.
The second variety is much more common, and is easily spotted by it's round ends. It is no longer offset drilled.
A third variety, introduced in 1964, uses a much thinner bar.
In the '90s, Gretsch used a bar bridge similar to the second style. In 2004, a new version of the rocking bar bridge was introduced.
The Bigsby compensated bridge was a metal (usually aluminum) version of the traditional wooden bridge that Paul Bigsby designed specifically to work with his Bigsby whammy bars. These are being reproduced today.
In the '50s, many Gretsch guitars were fitted with the Melita bridge (right), which is one of the earliest examples of a fully adjustable bridge. Intonation on each string could be set and locked in place.
Floating Sound Unit
The Gretsch Floating Sound Unit (AKA Tuning Fork Bridge) was a late '60s bid to accentuate harmonics and increase sustain. A regular bridge was fitted behind the FSU to control string spacing.
Floating Sound Units were wildly unpopular and have often been removed, but no less an authority than Chet Atkins believed that a properly set-up Floating Sound Unit really worked.
In the late '50s, the Gretsch Space Roller bridge became the factory's fitment of choice on most guitars. While not fully adjustable, string spacing can easily be set and they work well with Bigsbys.
Rosewood with rosewood adjustable saddle
Ranchers, along with their Town and Country relatives, used an unique rosewood bridge with adjustable saddles.
Synchromatic archtops and early electric guitars used this distinctive stairstepped bridge.
Just a basic wooden bridge, with offset saddles to carved in to compensate for intonation. Sits on a wood base.
ABM/Gretsch Adjustamatic Roller
This bridge, used by Gretsch on many guitars in the '90s, was very similar to Gibson's Tune-a-matic, except the saddles had small rollers on them in an attempt to avoid binding. Many players found it to be needlessly complex and prone to inducing buzzes and rattles.
Typical flattop bridge with pins securing the strings, used on the 6003 and other flattops.
Quite a few Gretsches in the '70s used the BadAss bridge.
Your standard, Gibson-style Tune-O-Matic bridge. Gretsch used these in the '70s on some models, and again in the modern era, particularly on Electromatics.
Simple Gibson-style stop tailpiece used on some Korean-made guitars.
Synchrosonic (Melita reissue)
A modern-day Melita reissue branded as Syncrosonic. Not to be confused with the Synchrosonic stairstepped bridge used on jazz-age Synchromatics.