Need to find a bridge...

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Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:48 pm

:oops:

I don't know how the hell I managed this, but as carefully as I measured, and as slavishly as I stuck to the dimensions from those measurements, my neck angle is insufficient for the Nashville-style TOM bridge that I was going to use for this build! <grrrr....>

First, to make sure I "have my mind right" on this, by stretching a thread from the nut to the bridge, with the bridge at it's lowest possible height, fretting the "string" at the 1st fret, I'm measuring 0.045"/1.143mm clearance below the "string" at the 22nd fret. This tells me that when setting this up and putting some relief into the neck, my action is going to be too high and this bridge will have no adjustment to lower the string height. If I lay a straight-edge across the frets, I'm measuring a minimum height at the bridge position (for the "D" string) of .48"/13mm. The TOM I have measures .56 for the "D" string, so it's 0.080" too high - over 1/16"!

Actually, I do know how I managed this, as I just checked my original drawing which shows an incorrect bridge height. All my calculations are correct. They would be almost right on the money if this bridge was actually what I show in the drawing (0.486") vs what I'm measuring now (0.560").

So, I'm looking for a substitute bridge. It appears that any of the Tune-o-Matic style bridges are going to be too tall, and anything I jury-rig to make them fit (like recessing them into the top, or milling some stock off the bottom of the bridge) might make the break-angle too small (and bring in some other issues, like making it impossible to turn the adjustment wheels! :roll: ).

Two bridges look like they might do the trick.

The Schaller non-tremolo roller bridge and the Hipshot Baby Grand.

I'm kinda leaning toward the Schaller as the drawing on the StewMac page shows a height on the D/G strings of .466" which should leave me plenty of adjustment for height. I also like the variable string-spacing. The drawing of the Baby Grand on the StewMac page doesn't show the height, but inferring from the height of the mounting ears, which is shown, it should be in the range of 0.48" to 0.50". A little high, but probably adequate. I could also router out a shallow recess to lower the Baby Grand a bit if I had to, and would probably be virtually invisible once assembled.

Any thoughts on either of these, or any other bridge that I haven't considered are welcome.

Really frosts me that I made two potentially disastrous mistakes on this build, both of which I was able to repair to a like-it-never-happened state, then to encounter this screw-up! :evil:
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby David King » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:43 pm

I wouldn't worry too much about the break angle as it's not going to have much effect on the tone as long as you have 5º or more over the bridge.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:53 pm

David King wrote:I wouldn't worry too much about the break angle as it's not going to have much effect on the tone as long as you have 5º or more over the bridge.

Thanks, David. That's good to know. I'm still inclined to go with a different type of bridge instead of either hacking at the bridge I have in-hand, or hacking at the guitar body! I looked at some of the wrap-around bridges and they too all seem to be too tall. I'm not in the least concerned about having a Lester with something other than a TOM.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:59 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote: anything I jury-rig to make them fit (like recessing them into the top, or milling some stock off the bottom of the bridge) might make the break-angle too small (and bring in some other issues, like making it impossible to turn the adjustment wheels!


I would do one of those, so that the bottom of the bridge sits on the guitar top at its lowest adjustment - just make sure the recesses are large enough to be able to turn the wheel.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:14 pm

Steve, I haven't worked thru all the dimensions, but a Nashville style bridge is about 0.327 tall, the bushig is 0.120 and the adjuster 0.050. The saddles stand above that but I don't have one in front of me to measure. However the total height to the top of the frame at the lowest setting would be about 0.497. The original ABR style bridge is 0.350 for the frame and 0.100 for the adjuster, or 0.450 to the same approximate location. You would have to fill your Nashville stud holes and redrill them but some people actually do this thinking that the vintage ABR is a better bridge. You could also remove a little metal from the bottom of the frame to get it a bit lower. With the Nashville you could recess the studs.

You could also look at Fender style bridges, they tend to be lower, but that would be kind of a kludge. You could also bite the bullet, steam the neck off and reset it to the correct angle...

It seems like every build thread I get involved with I'm always harping about checking the neck angle, and checking it with the actual bridge that you are going to use. Every one of my build photo albums has numerous pictures of the neck temporarily in place with the bridge sitting on little blocks of wood to emulate all the hardware - and I'm constantly nagging people to check their geometry. I'm sorry this happened and before you do anything rash think thru all the options - I'd be very tempted to try to get the neck off.

Break angle shouldn't be a problem - if you are using a stop bar you can wrap over or under as required. I think break angle only becomes a big issue when you are dealing with a tailpiece and trying for a certain amount of down force on the top (like an archtop).

One last thought - StewMac has a low profile wrap around bridge - have you looked at its dimensions?
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:32 pm

Peter Wilcox wrote:
Steve Sawyer wrote: anything I jury-rig to make them fit (like recessing them into the top, or milling some stock off the bottom of the bridge) might make the break-angle too small (and bring in some other issues, like making it impossible to turn the adjustment wheels!


I would do one of those, so that the bottom of the bridge sits on the guitar top at its lowest adjustment - just make sure the recesses are large enough to be able to turn the wheel.

Well, I don't think that would work very well. The top is veneered, so if I made the recess large enough to get to the wheels, it would expose a ring of plain mahogany in the middle of this highly-figured veneer. I could recess the Baby Grand bridge a bit, but only because I could do it in such a way that the recess would be completely obscured by the bridge.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:44 pm

Freeman Keller wrote:Steve, I haven't worked thru all the dimensions, but a Nashville style bridge is about 0.327 tall, the bushig is 0.120 and the adjuster 0.050. The saddles stand above that but I don't have one in front of me to measure. However the total height to the top of the frame at the lowest setting would be about 0.497. The original ABR style bridge is 0.350 for the frame and 0.100 for the adjuster, or 0.450 to the same approximate location. You would have to fill your Nashville stud holes and redrill them but some people actually do this thinking that the vintage ABR is a better bridge. You could also remove a little metal from the bottom of the frame to get it a bit lower. With the Nashville you could recess the studs.

You could also look at Fender style bridges, they tend to be lower, but that would be kind of a kludge. You could also bite the bullet, steam the neck off and reset it to the correct angle...

It seems like every build thread I get involved with I'm always harping about checking the neck angle, and checking it with the actual bridge that you are going to use. Every one of my build photo albums has numerous pictures of the neck temporarily in place with the bridge sitting on little blocks of wood to emulate all the hardware - and I'm constantly nagging people to check their geometry. I'm sorry this happened and before you do anything rash think thru all the options - I'd be very tempted to try to get the neck off.

Break angle shouldn't be a problem - if you are using a stop bar you can wrap over or under as required. I think break angle only becomes a big issue when you are dealing with a tailpiece and trying for a certain amount of down force on the top (like an archtop).

One last thought - StewMac has a low profile wrap around bridge - have you looked at its dimensions?

Go ahead, Freeman - beat me up a little more!! :lol:

Seriously, I'm already really kicking myself. I really don't want to re-set this neck. Not only is the angle cut into the body, but it's also cut into the shoulders of the tenon where they butt against the edge of the body, plus I have two wedges under either side of the FB to fill the gap between the FB and the body due to the angle (see picture below). The bridge I have I think I got on sale from GFS so I'm sure I don't have more than $20 invested in it, and going with a different bridge is really NBD at this point. This build has really gone extremely well, and is looking really good. Once I'm past this little screw-up, I should be home free.

Also, I mis-spoke - this is an ABR bridge, not a "Nashville". I always get those two types reversed. The low-profile wrap-around that StewMac sells doesn't have any dimensions on it, but I'm sure they'd be happy to check it for me. However, that bridge is not available in gold, and everything else on this build (including the Evo frets) is gold! :roll:

So the details on this bridge are consistent with the measurements you cite for that Nashville bridge - the body is .337 and the adjusting wheels add .101 for a total of .438. However, the saddles stick way the hell out of the top. Really hard to measure, but about an additional .110 inch best as I can tell. I measured the entire stack using a granite reference plate, a height-gauge and a piece of .009" E-string and that came to .560". I was looking earlier today at the Gotoh ABR bridge from StewMac which is .344 for the body and .095 for the wheel, giving .439, and the saddles seem to sit much lower. If they aren't much more than a 1/16 that might work, but it'd be close. I have a StewMax membership so I could order it and return it if it doesn't do the trick.

I'm still kinda leaning toward that Schaller. As expensive as it is, I think it will be low enough to get me out of trouble, and it's not a bad-looking bridge.

FB Wedge.JPG
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:22 am

I would be interested in seeing one picture, Steve. Put your bridge on top of the adjuster wheels (no need to install the studs) at the scale length and lay a straightedge on the frets. Take a good close up of the end of the straightedge relative to the bridge. Make sure the truss rod is adjusted totally neutral (no relief).
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Fri Aug 16, 2019 11:49 am

I realize the price of these bridges is high, but have a look at the Babicz Full Contact Hardware bridge.
It may adjust a bit lower. You do not have to use the spacer plates shown. You also do not have to use their tail piece.


http://fullcontacthardware.com/fch-tune-o-matic-bridge
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:54 pm

Steve, I went back and re-read your first post. It sounds like your fret plane (a straightedge laying on the frets) is right at 0.500 at the bridge location. That is a pretty common height for Fender type bridges (which is what your Schaller is). That would also work with any of the other Fender replacements, but in my opinion, these would all look wrong on a Gibson style guitar. I'm not sure I see any advantage to a roller bridge on a non trem guitar but it wouldn't hurt anything.

Gibson bridges typically want the fret plane about 5/8 at the bridge location. Your challenge will be to find one that can be adjusted or installed lower. If you have followed Gibson design your fretboard radius is 12 inches - most ToM's are fixed at that radius. If you have made the f/b anything other than 12 you need to find a bridge with individually adjustable saddles.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:55 pm

Freeman Keller wrote:I would be interested in seeing one picture, Steve. Put your bridge on top of the adjuster wheels (no need to install the studs) at the scale length and lay a straightedge on the frets. Take a good close up of the end of the straightedge relative to the bridge. Make sure the truss rod is adjusted totally neutral (no relief).

Ask and ye shall receive...

Bridge_Problem.JPG
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:06 pm

Freeman Keller wrote:Steve, I went back and re-read your first post. It sounds like your fret plane (a straightedge laying on the frets) is right at 0.500 at the bridge location. That is a pretty common height for Fender type bridges (which is what your Schaller is). That would also work with any of the other Fender replacements, but in my opinion, these would all look wrong on a Gibson style guitar. I'm not sure I see any advantage to a roller bridge on a non trem guitar but it wouldn't hurt anything.

Gibson bridges typically want the fret plane about 5/8 at the bridge location. Your challenge will be to find one that can be adjusted or installed lower. If you have followed Gibson design your fretboard radius is 12 inches - most ToM's are fixed at that radius. If you have made the f/b anything other than 12 you need to find a bridge with individually adjustable saddles.

Yes - despite deviating from the Lester "standard" in that the body is flat-fronted - no carve - everything else is slavish to the LP, including the FB radius.

Actually, the fret plane is at .470, arrived at by stacking up setup bars and feeler gauges until they touch the bottom of the straightedge which I just now re-checked while the straightedge was taped to the neck.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:15 pm

Gordon Bellerose wrote:I realize the price of these bridges is high, but have a look at the Babicz Full Contact Hardware bridge.
It may adjust a bit lower. You do not have to use the spacer plates shown. You also do not have to use their tail piece.


http://fullcontacthardware.com/fch-tune-o-matic-bridge

The site doesn't list any height figures, so I emailed them to ask about that. They look enormous though! :)
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:50 pm

Steve Sawyer wrote:
Freeman Keller wrote:I would be interested in seeing one picture, Steve. Put your bridge on top of the adjuster wheels (no need to install the studs) at the scale length and lay a straightedge on the frets. Take a good close up of the end of the straightedge relative to the bridge. Make sure the truss rod is adjusted totally neutral (no relief).

Ask and ye shall receive...

Bridge_Problem.JPG


OK, that just confirms it. My rule of thumb which has worked for every guitar I've built with about any kind of bridge you can name is that if the straightedge just hits the top of the saddles at their very lowest position then you will have enough travel to adjust to reasonable action and still have some adjustment in the future when things change. That assumes what I would call "normal" action specs - low relief, maybe 15 to 20 thou at the first fret and 60 to 100 at the 12th. You might be able to make yours work but it would be marginal, I doubt that you would be able to lower it in the future. Remember that you can carve the saddle slots a little deeper but again, that isn't going to buy you much.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:25 pm

I don't know how your bridge is made/how much leeway there is, but maybe you could take about 1/8" off the bottom where it rest on the wheels, and 1/16" off in between. Then again, I've heard that some of these bridges can sag with time, so thinning it sure wouldn't help that.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby John Violette » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:29 pm

See this post for an example of countersinking the bridge and how it worked out.

https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php ... m-22/page4
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:50 pm

Peter Wilcox wrote:I don't know how your bridge is made/how much leeway there is, but maybe you could take about 1/8" off the bottom where it rest on the wheels, and 1/16" off in between. Then again, I've heard that some of these bridges can sag with time, so thinning it sure wouldn't help that.

That's one of the options I'm considering. Also one of the reasons I'm thinking of going with a Fender-style bridge! :D
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:52 pm

John Violette wrote:See this post for an example of countersinking the bridge and how it worked out.

https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php ... m-22/page4

That too is an option if I go for a Nashville-style TOM (I think I have that right now - the kind with the bushings! :D ). Because of the adjusting wheels, that would be a problem for an ABR style bridge.

Also, it shows too that I could go with a string-through design instead of a stop-bar. I did that on my last build (a Tele) so I'm good with that process...
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:04 pm

Another option which has not been mentioned is filing the saddles down to a height that would work.
I looks as though you have about 1/8 inch from the bottom of your straight edge, to the top of the saddle.
You can file the grooves down another 1/16th and be really close.
You just have to watch the break angle to the rear, but as long as the strings clear the body of the bridge before going to the tail piece, you will be fine.
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Re: Need to find a bridge...

Postby Brian Evans » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:46 pm

Curiosity made me go measure a few guitars... Two Gibson style, a 1961 Melody maker, string height over the body is .73", mid 90's SG is .68". A Tele-style with a plate bridge is .375" over the plate, which is itself .125" thick, for a total of .500". The Tele bridge is adjusted well into the middle of it's range, not extra low at all, because the neck is shimmed at an angle of sorts. You could recess the tele bridge flush and lower it's saddles you could probably get down to .325" over the body.
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