how does an aluminum TOM bridge/tailpiece sound different than "standard"?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by thorny64, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    How does an aluminum JR. style bridge/tailpiece sound different than "standard" zinc style? I see wilkinson makes a neat looking JR/PRS bridge/tailpiece combo and they make one out of aluminum and one that is not. The alumnum costs more, and they claim sounds much better. How does it sound different? Anyone know?

    I am helping a friend pick some hardware on a couple guitars he is building. Right now we know we want a non-vibrato bridge and likely one where the strings are loaded on top of the guitar. That leaves probably a hardtail strat/tele variant that loads from the top, the JR/PRS style and variants that are combinations of a bridge and tailpiece, or the regular tuneomatic scenario. I am not sure what to get really. I have used the tuneomatic style the most. Have not used the others extensively.

    Opinions?

    :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  2. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    the links didn't work for me?:confused:

    Sounds like maybe it is not something I would want anyway. I guess the "zinc" compounds are what I am used to so maybe I should just go with what I know. And the "normal" stuff is cheaper anyway.

    I thought maybe I was missing out on some secret of "tonal nirvana" but I guess not! :)

    Thanks for your help!
     
  3. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I haven't compared them. But if they made one that was brass or steel that's what I would go with.
     
  4. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

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    They were working earlier, let me try to fix them.

    Edit: Hmm, seems to be a TGP issue, links are correct.
     
  5. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

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    I have added a few aluminum tail pieces to guitars. I notice a little clearer/more pronounced attack from my pick on the string. I would use the word "crisper" to describe the tone.
     
  6. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    Not sur,e about the title of your initial post - I don't believe there are any aluminum tune o matic bridges. The stop tailpiece would be aluminum on Historics and zinc "pot metal" on standards, so it seems Gibson's marketing is meeting an expectation that the way the old guitars was made sounds different. Those links are helpful, demonstrating that the lighter tailpiece yields a more pronounced attack, a brighter tone, and a more "open" or acoustic tone (just a hint of berries and charred oak, with a buttery finish, of course). I can't help but wonder if the differences are from the weight of the tailpiece or the way it's installed - Tone Pros and Faber sell kits with different styles of locking studs along with the lighter tailpiece.
     
  7. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    OK - I changed / corrected the original post - referring to the JR style compensated bridge - some are aluminum, some traditional Zinc. Also comparing that to a regular zinc TOM too. Wilkinson makes one of the compensated JR-styled stop tail/bridge combinations. GFS sells it and it is not too expensive. I have seen the same bridge being sold elsewhere that isn't listed as being lightweight aluminum. I am considering a typical TOM too. I am undecided which route we should take, the GFS one, or virtually the same bridge in the zinc/pot metal route, or a regular tuneomatic.

    I have had the tone pros version of a tuneomatic (I think the metric version) on the Dean Hardtail I had and it sounded great. But I never had another bridge on that particular guitar (it came that way standard). My gut feeling is that it does not make that much difference tone wise from the same non-locking GOTOH bridge, but GOTOH bridges really fit well together and are well made.

    I think if you upgrade from a cheaper (thinner, less bulky) bridge you will notice a positive difference. I have a Korean Dean Icon that I liked the guitar but wanted to improve. It now has a larger (probably a chinese copy of a gotoh) metric tuneomatic bridge on it - cost about $15 mail order, and I think it improved the tone and was well worth the change. It was wider and bulkier, more substantial saddles. I wound up replacing pickups on the gutiar and putting on an ESP Earvana compensated nut (a "shelf" nut) on the guitar too - it is a GREAT guitar - I love it.

    But these are for two new builds, and the only thing we decided so far was it is going to be non-vibrato bridge and not going to be string through. One of the bodies is partially completed and is made of maple and zebrawood.

    :banana
     
  8. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    Here's an article from Stewart MacDonald by Erick Coleman that might help you:

    Stew-Mac Article

    FYI, I've used these pieces myself and like the improvements. YMMV.

    -jm
     
  9. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    The Stewmac curse! :) Everytime I go there I find more hardware, generally very good advice, and cool tools to buy! They are masters of marketing in showing how their tools makes your life easier and better. But, they do have excellent tips and their tools are great tools - they do what they say they do. Now I need the Mitchell Abrasive Chord (in 4 sizes of course) and the cool radius guage and other those jam nuts. My bridge project is going to be expensive.
    :jo

    I really didn't think the tonepros made a HUGE difference if you started with a similar quality non-tone-pros bridge before - such as the gotoh. But I guess I am finding that several "minor" tone improvements can be accumulative and add up to a larger improvement. Maybe there is a call for a gotoh bridge (noticeable improvement over cheap bridges), tone pros locks (minor), jam nuts (minor), aluminum tailpiece.

    The aluminum bridge I was thinking of is this one. What about when your bridge and tailpiece are the same piece and made of aluminum?
    http://store.guitarfetish.com/wiliadinwrbr.html

    Anyone have any experience with it? The only JR I ever had, had a badass bridge on it. I have not played this type of bridge. How do they sound?
     
  10. JLee

    JLee Supporting Member

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    I swapped the stock zinc Gotoh tailpiece on my Tokai Love Rock for a lightweight aluminum Gotoh tailpiece. My findings were the same as Bob V's. In my personal case, the guitar went from having a overbearing low end and a very aggressive attack to having a clearer, airier tone and attack. The difference was immediately noticeable and along with the electronics and pickup swap, it was the last push the guitar needed to gain a more vintage style tone and really give me what I was personally after.
     
  11. merkaba22

    merkaba22 Member

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    I swapped the Nashville TOM on my vintage 1988 Gibson for a TonePros and found there was an improvement w/o first tightening the set screws that showed to me that the material of the TP was better, tightening the set screws only improved it more. I want to improve this more with the CV Guitars TOM steel studs and thumbwheel upgrade -- my experience is that this too will improve the character of the instrument based on the following:

    I got that Wilkinson the Guitarfetish sells and found it a bit big (visually) for the Les Paul Jr Nashville I had and upgraded to the comparatively smaller Pitgtail -- and, although pricey, found the combination along with the improved steel riser posts, made a significant difference in tone, sustain, clarity and responsiveness that justified the price for me.

    Every improvement, may it be small, adds up quickly and is well worth it, especially on cheaper instruments that are inherently good otherwise.

    That said, it is always the biggest improvement of tone that comes from the amp -- although there may be exceptions, a $200 guitar through a $5000 amp sounds sooooo much better than a $5000 guitar through a $200 amp ...

    YMMV.
     
  12. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    You are talking to a guy that builds amps :)
    No argument there! I spend more of my time on my amps than I do on my guitars - but I am trying to remedy that.

    I got a decent improvement putting a Gotoh or Gotoh clone on my dean icon (upgrading that thin little bridge that came with that). I also routinely upgrade the bridges on my beloved Electra MPC guitars with the same Gotoh or Gotoh clones (like GFS and other sell). They are pretty well made, have a bit more mass and width, and DO make them sound better. The stock japanese electra bridges were fine, but are smaller, and frequently the saddles are worn and sometimes siezed up or broken when you find them. So I change them out for those reasons too.

    But the market has broadened somewhat, with a lot more choices and many of them at pretty good price points too. So I thought I would ask people that had "been there" and "done that" so that I may make a more educated choice.

    I am still not sure what I will choose to put in it. There are so many unknowns as far as what this will sound like with the different woods involved and all (zebra wood and maple body). If I go with a regular Gotoh, any upgrades (saddles or tonepros, aluminum tailpiece) would be easy to do later since the metric tonepros appears to be Gotoh parts with set screws.

    Actually, for that matter, the tuning keys affect tone too. I am considering Wilkinson EZ locks for the keys.

    Thanks!
     
  13. angus99

    angus99 Member

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  14. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    Wow - Nice stuff!
     
  15. maellaguitars

    maellaguitars Member

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    There are aluminum TOM bridges (only ABR)

    http://www.pigtailmusic.com/Products.php
     
  16. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    :joI did not know that (obviously). But geez, two bills for a bridge?
     
  17. thorny64

    thorny64 Supporting Member

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    Wow - that is a LOT. Definitely too much for my limited funds.

    But, I suppose if you gotta have exact parts for your 50s Paul - that'll be the ticket. I can see if you have a $5K or more reproduction, that'll work too.
     
  18. maellaguitars

    maellaguitars Member

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    Don't worry, I learned it here in the TGP! You have lightweight alloy bridges of Graph Tech (Resomax) too, but I don't know how it sounds.

    I've spent much time searching lightweight parts... enjoy
     
  19. cap'n rory

    cap'n rory Member

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    I followed angus99's lead and did the same to my 82 335 and used the Faber parts. Many other changes took place at the same time including a stellar refret with 6130 wire and a change of pots to 500Ks. Don't know which change did the magic, the pots or the bridge/tailpiece swap, but that is one fine 335 now.
     

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