Author Topic: Adventures in bridge building...  (Read 212 times)

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Offline Strangeman86

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Adventures in bridge building...
« on: May 07, 2019, 10:52:16 am »
Some context before I spew forth, I love to tinker.  Often while tinkering I get too excited and end up either cosmetically damaging something or breaking something.  Recently I decided to try a new bridge on my parts-caster... because I can't leave well-enough alone.  For a few years now I've been using a Hipshot hardtail bridge (fantastic, solid, relatively cheap and simple to use) and it's worked wonderfully other than one issue.  I use rather thick, custom-gauged strings and tune to E standard, and the Hipshot will not pull the low E string back far enough to intonate correctly (this guitar has been plek'd and set up by Glaser Instruments in Nashville, but even they couldn't get it to intonate 100% correctly).  I end up tuning that string a bit too noticeably flat so fretted notes ring true.  So I did some research and bought a Babicz Full Contact bridge (an opportunity to try out an aluminum bridge as well).  Just before I got the Babicz in the mail I decided to drop some size from my strings and that has just about cleared up the intonation issue, but new gear needs to be tried.  To stop this story from hemorrhaging more, I ended up losing some pieces to the Babicz opening the package but I didn't want to send it back. 

Now that all that is out of the way, I intend to compare the sonic differences that come to my ears with different components.

Stock Hipshot Hardtail:  Fairly balanced, good high-end presence and bite, solid low end and very stable.  Just a bit too bright on my guitar.

Hipshot Hardtail with Tusq saddles:  Lots of mids and low end, I can feel more vibration in the guitar's body, smooth and creamy high end (they're great if you have a super bright instrument but with an average to dark instrument they'll likely sound like mud).  For some reason these make the strings feel a bit loose (although, that may just be the way the vibrations feel with Tusq vs the stock steel saddles).

Babicz Full Contact base plate with Tusq saddles:  First thing I noticed was that my guitar was lighter (the Hipshot's base plate is solid brass, but I didn't think I'd notice the difference) and, acoustically, just a bit louder (I feel the most vibration through the guitar's body with this setup as well).  Plugged in this setup gives me great high-end presence without being too bright and a different character/timbre than the brass/steel (hard to describe, more on that in the future).  I have noticed that notes do sustain just a little bit longer.  I believe the Tusq is providing balance in the low-end and midrange here (I suspect that if I'd been able to use the Babicz's stock saddles it might have been painfully bright).  This is my favorite of the three setups.  The clarity is better than either application of the Hipshot, it's lighter and the lip on the rear-wall of the base (it almost looks like a car's spoiler, which may not appeal to everyone) is pretty comfy to rest my hand on.  My favorite feature, however, is the small allen screw on the bass-side of the base that puts a little lateral pressure on the saddles and prevents them from moving (I've never had saddles feel so stable/tight/firm/whatever).

I apologize for being long winded, I have no one in my life right now to nerd-out with.  I just hope that my mis-adventures can help some folks either avoid mistakes or make better decisions with their instruments in the future.  I hope the day finds you all well.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 10:57:28 am by Strangeman86 »
Currently torturing:  My parts-caster (roasted alder, rosewood over roasted maple, one humbucker - a DiMarzio DP202).

Offline Strangeman86

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Re: Adventures in bridge building...
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2019, 12:13:06 pm »
Now that I actually have a way to take decent photos, I thought I'd share the fruits of my labor.
Currently torturing:  My parts-caster (roasted alder, rosewood over roasted maple, one humbucker - a DiMarzio DP202).

Offline buddroyce

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Re: Adventures in bridge building...
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2019, 01:49:50 pm »
Thanks for sharing man! It's always great to read these kinds of posts as I always found it pretty useful to know what others have experienced with gear.

I always loved the TUSQ saddles. Did you file down the back of the low E saddle?
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Offline Strangeman86

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Re: Adventures in bridge building...
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2019, 08:51:26 am »
The outer corners of both e saddles actually.  I did that when I had these saddles on a Hipshot base plate so I could use all of the intonation range.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2019, 09:41:18 am by Strangeman86 »
Currently torturing:  My parts-caster (roasted alder, rosewood over roasted maple, one humbucker - a DiMarzio DP202).