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Electric Guitar Manual

Fixed Bridge Guitar: Types

CHARACTERISTICS of the Different Types of Fixed Bridge for Electric Guitar Les Paul (Tone-o-matic), Telecaster, and Automatic Tuning.

Something important to take into account when buying a guitar is the Type of Bridge that it has mounted. Since we would have to adapt its characteristics, to our needs, or personal demands. In this first part of the topic, we will deal with Fixed Bridges for Electric Guitar.

With this type of bridge we will enjoy tuning stability at a low cost. Since these bridges do not incorporate any type of mechanism, such as a Vibrato system, which could make the instrument more expensive or out of tune, the fixed bridge is limited to holding the strings, modifying their height, and adjusting the intonation.

Fixed Bridge Guitar

This does not mean that a guitar with a fixed bridge can be more expensive than one with a floating bridge. But it is true that the same guitar with a fixed bridge will be cheaper than if it were mounted with another type of bridge, especially if we compare it with a floating bridge.

Types of Fixed Bridges for Telecaster

A type of fixed bridge is the one that we can find in the Telecaster Models, but there are different types for this guitar model.

Vintage Telecaster Bridge

The typical vintage Telecaster bridge consists of only three saddles, each saddle supporting the pressure of two strings.

This is beneficial for the sustain of the instrument, as the saddles have greater contact against the bridge, due to the greater pressure that two strings can exert against the saddle. But the intonation of the guitar is less precise than in bridges with individual saddles for each string. As a result, we may notice pitch drift, especially when playing lower down the fretboard, and mostly with powerful distortion effects.

Types of Fixed Bridges for Telecaster

Modern 6 Saddle Bridge

With single saddle bridges (Modern), we wouldn’t have that problem. Since this one better maintains the intonation of all the notes in any part of the fretboard. Therefore, this type of bridge offers us another point of versatility, as it works optimally both in clean sounds and in extremely distorted sounds.

How to Setting Intonation Vintage Telecaster Bridge?

To adjust intonation on a Telecaster with a Vintage Bridge, we can tune only the 1st, 6th and 4th strings (image below left). Or we can also compensate the intonation of both strings of the same saddle, with which all the strings would have a very slight deviation.

You can look at the Electric Guitar Setup page, so that you can perform a perfect fifth of your guitar, also called an octave, or guitar intonation.

Setting Intonation Vintage Telecaster Bridge

To achieve the same curvature of the strings with respect to the radius of the fingerboard in vintage-style Telecaster bridges, we will have to uneven the saddles of the outermost strings a bit, so that they take on curvature and are not staggered (image above right). At this point, the single-saddle bridge would also be more accurate.

The typical flange of the classic Telecaster bridge, can be annoying for some guitarists. This flange was originally used to hold the famous Ashtray that covered the bridge. It was called an ashtray because most guitarists removed it, and it ended up being used as an ashtray.

Telecaster Ashtray Bridge Cover

On the other hand, the modern bridge does without this flange, improving comfort for the right hand.

The normal thing in the Telecaster models is that the strings are introduced from behind the guitar. But we can find models that do it from the back of the bridge.

Most likely, this is a resource to lower costs. But his thing is that the strings are inserted behind the guitar, so that the saddles have more pressure, and to offer us more options in a supposed change in the Telecaster-style bridge model.

Different Desings of Telecaster Bridge

Tune-o-matic Fixed Bridge

Another type of fixed bridge is the Tune-o-matic or Tom, typical of Gibson’s Les Paul and SG models, made up of two pieces: the tailpiece, and what would be the bridge itself, in which the saddles. In this type of bridge, the height of the strings would be setting in bloc, and the intonation would be adjusted individually.

tune-o-matic fixed bridge (Tom)

We must be careful when we remove all the strings from the guitar, because the pieces of the bridge are loose and we can throw them against the ground (image above right).

If we place the tailpiece fully against the wood, it favors the sustain of the instrument, because the strings would press more strongly against the bridge. But the strings are likely to hit the back of the bridge, and this can cause string breaks or bridge deformation.

Stopbar height - why shouldn't the string touch the bridge?

So one way to keep the tailpiece all the way down can be to pull the strings over the tailpiece, like Joe Bonamassa does.

Top Wrapping Guitar Strings on Tune-O-Matic Tailpiece

In this way the strings would press with less force on the bridge, and the tension of the strings of a certain thickness is decreased. Consequently, manageability is improved, and the execution of bendings is facilitated. But the sustain can be affected, and the finish of the tailpiece.

Ibanez Tight-Tune Fixed Bridge

Ibanez Tight-Tune Fixed Bridge

Ibanez has developed new designs of the classic Tone-o-matic, such as the Ibanez Tight-Tune. With a new style of tailpiece, and with blockers for all the pieces of the bridge, avoiding any kind of annoying vibrations.

Automatic Tuning Fixed Bridge for Electric Guitar

But for high-tech, there’s the Evertune Electric Guitar Fixed Bridges. A bridge that tunes your guitar automatically, and without any kind of power supply.

Automatic Tuning Fixed Bridge for Electric Guitar: Evertune

Some springs continuously maintain the tension of the strings, preventing the instrument from going out of tune. The price is expensive (between $200 and $300) and the installation is somewhat complicated, due to the need to make a recess in the wood.

The ESP LTD EC-1000, or the MH-1000 EVERTUNE have this type of bridge as standard, and EMG active pickups, but the price is well over a thousand dolars.

Evertune Fixed Bridge Electric Guitars

Floating Bridge Guitar: Types

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