Fixed Bridge VS Floating Bridge

andrew_cojo

Member
Messages
5
I've been looking at getting a Gretsch Electromatic with a Bigsby lately, but my only concern with getting one is that it has a floating bridge, which can be annoying when restringing a guitar, as you have to find the right spot to place the bridge for the guitar to be properly intonated. What are the pros and cons of having a floating bridge? If there are no pros, then what would you suggest I replace the bridge with?
 

GtarMkrJed

Member
Messages
169
If the Electromatic that you are looking at has a floating bridge, then it is likely one of their hollow body designs, which means there is no center block for a fixed bridge to anchor into. The hollow body with floating bridge allows the top plate to vibrate freely, more like an acoustic would. The simple "fix" is to change your strings one at a time and leave the bridge in place as you do it. Or, you can temporarily tape the bridge in position if you want to remove all the strings at once. I have multiple hollow body archtops with floating bridges, and don't find it much of an inconvenience keeping the bridge in place when changing strings. If it does shift on you, it's not too big a deal to tweak the position to regain your intonation.
 

ElectroDux

Member
Messages
736
I have a hollow body with a floating bridge - a wooden mandolin bridge to boot. I also have a bigsby on that.

My solution was to take the time to get it in the proper spot so that was intonated best then I ran just a touch of water based rubber glue around the edge and wiped most of it off. The remainder dried clear and its been that way for about 20 years.

I am careful re-stringing it but have had no issues to date.

I did this previously and had no trouble removing the bridge and the glue residue. No idea if twenty years has changed anything but as it was archival glue I would think I'm safe.
 

AdmiralB

Member
Messages
3,065
I've got several Gretsches; most have the pinned bridge. On the others, I pinned one bridge myself, so I've only got one 'floater' left (A Duane Eddy). And I'd pin it too, if I wasn't continually on/off the fence about keeping/selling it.

Honestly it's not that big a deal. The bridge never moves under tension, and it really only takes a minute or two to re-set it into position after a string change.
 

AdmiralB

Member
Messages
3,065
Bend your"E" above the twelfth and it'll move.
Care to place a wager on that?

Seems like I'd know more about how my guitar behaves than someone who's never seen me or it...but the older I get, the less sure I am about anything.

And I can always count on the internet to tell me what I'm doing wrong.

I pinned the bridge on my Duo Jet for that very reason. But the finish on it is a lot 'slicker' than the DE.
 
Last edited:

AdmiralB

Member
Messages
3,065
I think pinning is definitely the way to go, as a rule. But you either have to be using an adjustable bridge, or you have to pick a setup and stay with it.

My guitar came with a bar bridge. Not only did it not intonate (apparently Duane is a wound G guy), it rattled - the grooves were too large for the strings. So I've been through several bridges, and finally got one I like (and intonates well).

But if I pin it, then the next guy who wants it "just like Duane's" is gonna be angry. If I knew I'd never part with it, that'd be one thing. But it's a 'sometimes food' for me.
 
Last edited:

poolshark

Supporting Member
Messages
3,157
I guess I prefer floating, just because it works fine and most come that way. Pinning is a very permanent modification, and since I've never had problems with a floating bridge moving under tension, I never bother. I remove all strings during a change, so I just mark the edges of the bridge feet with some masking tape. Clean it up, replace the bridge as marked, string, tweak a little, done. Easy peasy.
 

ylo

Member
Messages
691
I have a Duojet with a floating bar bridge. I just put two little arrows made out of black tape on the guitar right and left of the bridge to indicate the proper position. The bridge DOES sometimes move a little, but is easy to move back.

Thanks for the idea of using rubber cement, I may give this a try. I'm loathe to drill any holes in my nice guitar to pin the bridge.
 

Riscchip

Supporting Member
Messages
2,047
I cut two strips of masking tape, one low tack (like drafting tape or delicate surface tape). I glue them back to back with a small amount of super glue. I put the stickier side against the bridge, the low-tack on the body. The whole thing is trimmed so you don't see it.

It's homebrew, partially low-tack double sided tape, essentially. It takes very little "tack" to keep the bridge from slipping.

I've done this on Electromatics only, and it's probably worth changing the tape out periodically because any tape can create blemishes if you leave it on too long, but the bridge won't budge when playing or fall off when you remove the strings, but comes off easily if you want it to.
 
Last edited:

PeterPSZA

Member
Messages
1
I've been looking at getting a Gretsch Electromatic with a Bigsby lately, but my only concern with getting one is that it has a floating bridge, which can be annoying when restringing a guitar, as you have to find the right spot to place the bridge for the guitar to be properly intonated. What are the pros and cons of having a floating bridge? If there are no pros, then what would you suggest I replace the bridge with?
Put a reliable tuner on your guitar and then pluck a harmonic at the 12th fret of any string. Observe the note on the tuner. Now pluck a full note note on that same string at the same 12th fret and again observe the note accused by the tuner. If the two notes are the same, the intonation on your guitar is correct. However, chances are, they're not the same. If they are, try different weight strings and they won't be anymore; adjust the truss rod and the intonation will also change slightly. The floating bridge allows you to control the intonation of your guitar as you make adjustments to other aspects of the guitar, just like the tuning knobs allow you to tune the guitar. Of course, a floating bridge can give you more headaches when changing strings, but then you have to decide if your priority is a guitar that makes it easier to change strings or one that sounds better.

Fixed bridges were introduced kind of along the following rationale: Guitars are inherently sloppy instruments, anyway. Play a note and all sorts of harmonics (same and different notes) all up and down the neck spring into sound. Our brains usually ignore all that anyway. As long as there's a truss rod, the intonation is not likely to be that far off anyway and so... who cares? Besides, we don't usually see the big guitar players using floating bridges. A fixed bridge works for them, so why not for the rest of us, right? So--as the thinking goes--let's make it easier for when we change strings.

Hope this helps
 
Last edited:

larry1096

Member
Messages
1,350
Put a reliable tuner on your guitar and then pluck a harmonic at the 12th fret of any string. Observe the note on the tuner. Now pluck a full note note on that same string at the same 12th fret and again observe the note accused by the tuner. If the two notes are the same, the intonation on your guitar is correct. However, chances are, they're not the same. If they are, try different weight strings and they won't be anymore; adjust the truss rod and the intonation will also change slightly. The floating bridge allows you to control the intonation of your guitar as you make adjustments to other aspects of the guitar, just like the tuning knobs allow you to tune the guitar. Of course, a floating bridge can give you more headaches when changing strings, but then you have to decide if your priority is a guitar that makes it easier to change strings or one that sounds better. Some people suggest changing one string at a time, but that defeats the purpose of the floating bridge.

Fixed bridges were introduced kind of along the following rationale: Guitars are inherently sloppy instruments, anyway. Play a note and all sorts of harmonics (same and different notes) all up and down the neck spring into sound. Our brains usually ignore all that anyway. As long as there's a truss rod, the intonation is not likely to be that far off anyway and so... who cares? You don't usually see the big guitar players using floating bridges. A fixed bridge works for them, so why not for the rest of us, right? So, let's make it easier for when we change strings.

Hope this helps
I'm not entirely clear on the relationship between the truss rod and a guitar's intonation; could you expand on that a bit?

Thanks,

Larry
 




Trending Topics

Top