Does anyone make a MODERN tune-o-matic?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by LaXu, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    Ok, the Gotoh bridge on my LP copy is pretty worn. The bridge itself has too large post holes so I had to do the Tonepros mod on it to keep it from moving. I've also broken or lost a few of the C-clips that hold down the saddles and have had to replace them with pieces of guitar string because nobody in Finland sells replacement parts for TOMs and I can't find C-clips that small in any hardware store.

    While I could just buy a new bridge, I was wondering if there's anything more modern out there. I mean just think about it: the methods for holding the saddles down on tune-o-matics is ****. A piece of wire or C-clips, both can rattle if loose and can be fiddly to remove and reinstall should you need to reverse a saddle.

    So what I'm looking for is a tune-o-matic bridge that has a smarter way for holding the saddles in place. More intonation range wouldn't hurt either but is not required. If the bridge is available in various measurements (drop in replacement) that'd be good too. Any ideas?
     
  2. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

    Messages:
    19,562
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Location:
    upyerasskickinfootballs
    There's 4 methods that I know of to hold in the saddle screws. There's string tension- as in the original ABR-1, The wire retainer as in the revised ABR, The "C" clips, and the bent "staples." Out of those 4 methods, I prefer the "C" clips.

    I have a Schaller made "Nashville" bridge- it uses the "staples." In all, it shouldn't be much of an issue, the only reason I know about this stuff is because I replaced all my saddles with Graph Tech saddles- otherwise, there's no reason to mess with the saddle screws- and there's plenty that have never left the housing of the bridge.
     
  3. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    I was merely hoping to avoid the problems caused by those methods. Just more fragile, not particularly well fitting parts to worry about.

    The best I've seen is a Yamaha tune-o-matic used on older models and current SG2000/3000 models. The saddles are held in place similar to the way rimless eyeglasses use. Works a treat. It's a shame those bridges are not available as aftermarket parts..I've got one extra but it's wider than the Gotoh with smaller posts.
     
  4. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

    Messages:
    1,760
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Location:
    3rd stone from the sun
    Steve Rowen at Pigtail makes a fine non-wire ABR clone that the parts fit tight with no fasteners. High quality stuff
     
  5. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

    Messages:
    19,562
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Location:
    upyerasskickinfootballs
    I'm just having trouble understanding why you're having trouble, period. The ordinary stresses on either the snap ring or the "staple" generally don't cause them to fail. Occasionally you'll run across a rattling ABR-1 wire. I've got several guitars with snap rings that have been taken off once in 15 years, I adjust intonation when they need it, and they're completely stable...
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

    Messages:
    1,624
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC

    +1 on Steves parts. His work is top-notch. Makes my work go smoother.........:cool:
     
  7. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    Just would prefer parts with as few wearing parts as possible. I've encountered the rattling retaining wire and C-clips on several tune-o-matics so far. Was mainly wondering if there was a unit that was smarter in that sense that I could avoid yet another thing to fix on a guitar. The Pigtail bridge sounds like a good idea but the price is pretty ridiculous IMO.
     
  8. steve rowen

    steve rowen Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, Co
    You get exactly what you pay for. A vintage ABR-1 that's clean and not sway-backed will run you about $1000 currently. I provide an identical product that would fall into a catagory of about 5% or less of vintage ABR's where everything came to gether just so. I'm not in the comodity business, that's why people like Tom Anderson, Ron Thorn, Jack Briggs, Scott Lentz, Johan Gustavsson, and a few others of similar ilk, use my hardware as standard equipment on their instruments.
     
  9. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    I'm not questioning the quality of your stuff, but $200+ (plus shipping and taxes etc. which would propably make it 300€) is more than I'd be willing to pay for a bridge. Personally I'm not too interested in vintage accuracy.
     
  10. steve rowen

    steve rowen Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, Co
    Well it's not just vintage accuracy. Making a part that is of correct materials that fit together precisely, increases the contact areas that vibration is transmitted through, as opposed to a bunch of little razor edges. Mass and contact area, are two of the major components in the physics of luthiery. I'm the only manufacturer that I'm aware of, that's making hardware entirely in the USA so unlike my counterparts, I have a different cost structure. There's a lot of great looking Korean guitars hanging on the walls at various outlets, that from a distance look pretty good to me, but they don't perform in the same league as the instruments I mentioned in my previous post. Thats not to say that they're not servicable instruments. You complained about the servicability of a comodity product, and how it doesn't perform up to your expectations, but at the same time, you don't want to spend the money for a product that has the issues engineered out of it. I'm a one man business, and it took a year of working on the ABR style tunamatic, and tooling cost equivelant to an addition onto your home, to offer this product to a fairly small market. It sells for a reasonable return on investment. Gibson guitars, which have much deeper pockets than I do, tried a few years ago to return to making a wireless ABR-1, and gave up. The screws and saddles, have to be made to much tighter tolerances in order to make a bridge where they snap in, versus those held in by a clip that falls off or rattles. As one other poster put it it, there are only about four ways to do this. No one else wants to be saddled with the quality control require to go the retainerless route, that's why I'm the only one making it. That's also why I'm the only one offering a tunamatic in hi-tensile aluminum. If cost is your primary concern, buy another new Gotoh, setup your guitar, and then superglue everything in place, that's what a lot of people do.
     
  11. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,649
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, Marin, Chico, CA
    A little bridge humor, Steve?

    "Saddled" with .... (GRIN)

    Steve makes incredible bridges.

    Dana
     
  12. steve rowen

    steve rowen Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, Co
    A little bridge humor?
    Why not!
    SR
     
  13. SkatePunk

    SkatePunk Member

    Messages:
    225
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Huge thumbs up from me on the Pigtail Wireless ABR-style bridge!
     
  14. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    I'm sure it makes sense from the small business point of view, but I'm looking at it as a consumer - a new Gotoh is about 30€, so 200+€ for a bridge is a large jump that I have a hard time to justify to myself. I guess I should've just left it at "it's out of my price range." ;)

    I was mainly looking to find out if there was a unit that didn't use C-clips or retainer wires available for a little more than what a Gotoh costs.
     
  15. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

    Messages:
    1,119
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    LaXu: I feel your pain. Really, what is new on the aftermarket in the way of bridge designs to replace the ordinary TOM? Roller saddles? And what do roller saddles accomplish if I don't have a trem? Let's see, what else is "new" -- Tone Pros? Well, it's a start, a baby step.

    I've thought that by now we'd see the kind of innovation in bridge development that has occurred in pickups or tuning gears, for instance. I mean, it's kinda nutz that a precision-made version of the original ABR1 -- the Pigtail -- is the best available solution to the problems you mention at the top of this thread. It may not be what you consider a modernization, but it's all there is on the aftermarket that's worth a damn (along with hardened steel studs and bushings).

    I don't own any Pigtail products (yet), but I truly admire Steve's commitment to finally solving numerous issues that for decades have been plaguing many guitarists' quest for tone. IMO Steve's replies in this thread are execeptionally well reasoned. He conveys his experience of challenges an innovator must overcome in order to bring an genuinely improved product to market. :AOK
     
  16. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    That's what I'm talking about. In fact I'd say it extends to Floyd Rose bridges too. While there are many good, improved versions of the strat trem, the Floyd Rose has been pretty much the same since the beginning. Sure, it keeps your guitar in tune when you abuse the trem, but the thing has like a hundred small parts and is a total intonation adjustment nightmare, unless you have the non-universal, hard to find tool.

    The manufacturers are to blame too. While the Tonepros bridges have gained popularity bit by bit, the tune-o-matic has become near synonymous to a fixed bridge. Manufacturers use it because it's cheaper than other designs despite them not being any more complicated in reality. TOMs are even stuffed on guitars where they do not belong, for example Carvin recesses them to avoid having to angle the necks - that to me is a good example of using the wrong bridge for the guitar. Why not just use a lower profile bridge?

    Oh well, maybe in another 50 years we'll have at least locking tuners on every guitar.
     
  17. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,649
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, Marin, Chico, CA
    I hear you.

    IMO, I think there are engineereing issue with using a lower profile bridge for the Carvin guitars. There's a lot of downward pressure on them - the Vintage ABR-1's collapse in the middle all the time - the one on my '59 Dot Neck did that. It's cheaper for Carvin to carve a little wood than to design other solutions.

    Carvin is probably not on the leading edge of design either (GRIN) they'd be looking for a lower cost solution, much like yourself.

    Steve is designing and building a more sophisticated, detailed solution. And a higher cost one.

    If you're gonna put an ABR-1 on a Carvin, I understand going the lower price way. I myself going to buy one of Steve's bridges for my Dot Neck, 'cuz I like 'em (they transmit ALL the tone to the body), 'cuz the guitar's worth it, and 'cuz I'm a gear slut.

    And I got $80 in the tip jar last weekend, which helps offset the cost (GRIN).

    Thanks all - good thread for me!

    Thanks, Dana
     
  18. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,792
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    I don't even own a Carvin, just using them as an example of "tune-o-matics where they shouldn't be" - to me a Strat type fixed bridge would suit those models much better because it's lower height by design. The tune-o-matic is taller hence the need to either angle the neck, raise the neck above the body (looks ugly most of the time) or recess the bridge into the body. Surely the strat type fixed bridge can't be much more expensive than the TOM?

    BTW, here's a pic of the Yamaha unit I was talking about:
    [​IMG]
     
  19. steve rowen

    steve rowen Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Location:
    Denver, Co
    I have some things in the works to offer a more comodity friendly product, but the problem from that perspective, is getting exceptance of new ideas. There is a perspective that musicians are an artsy open minded lot, which may be true in some context, but the fact is that most guitar players feel naked unless they have a LP, Strat, or Tele strapped on. It's tough to do products and a re-education process as well. The most minor deviation from classic appearance can sink the ship as far as new products go. Someone mentioned pickup innovation, but there again, 90% of the comments are with regard to these pickups sound just like Eric's, Jimmy's, or Jeff's PAF's in His burst on such and such album. Some of the big hardware makers have endless pages of bridges etc, that I never see on any guitars. That tells me to be carefull about what choices I make, as I may be thowing money down a hole.
     
  20. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,649
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, Marin, Chico, CA
    I was using Carvin as an example too, but I didn't write that very clearly. That Yamaha guitar looks nice - spruce top?

    Pretty cool. I've never seen another aftermarket bridge like that one myself. From an engineering perspective, it looks like it would do the job - nice big thumbwheels too, easier to work than the old Gibson ones.

    Anybody else ever seen one?

    Is that an RF model?

    Thanks, Dana
     

Share This Page