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Is the Tuneomatic bridge bad?

WoodenDuckMaker

Senior Member
Messages
1,978
I hear a lot of people complaining about Tuneomatic bridges, and see many people upgrading it and swapping it out for something else.

Is it really that bad? I figure if it was so horrible, Gibson would have switched to another bridge. Understandably, keeping the parts classic is important to the Gibson brand, but if it was that horrible and inferior, surely they would have at least made some slight changes to it to improve it.

I just don't know if spending money for a new bridge is worth it when I don't see anything wrong with the stock one.


 
Messages
11,600
I hear a lot of people complaining about Tuneomatic bridges, and see many people upgrading it and swapping it out for something else.

Is it really that bad? I figure if it was so horrible, Gibson would have switched to another bridge. Understandably, keeping the parts classic is important to the Gibson brand, but if it was that horrible and inferior, surely they would have at least made some slight changes to it to improve it.

I just don't know if spending money for a new bridge is worth it when I don't see anything wrong with the stock one.
Gibson has made many attempts to move away from the ABR-1 bridge over the years. But the instruments that cost the most usually have them for some semblance of "historical accuracy".

Personally, I'm not a fan of the ABR-1. I prefer the Nashville bridge, which is generally available on the USA line (as opposed to the more expensive Historic). YMMV.

Also, the bridge in the pic is from an Epiphone.
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,844
I hear a lot of people complaining about Tuneomatic bridges, and see many people upgrading it and swapping it out for something else.

Is it really that bad? I figure if it was so horrible, Gibson would have switched to another bridge. Understandably, keeping the parts classic is important to the Gibson brand, but if it was that horrible and inferior, surely they would have at least made some slight changes to it to improve it.

I just don't know if spending money for a new bridge is worth it when I don't see anything wrong with the stock one.


They're prone to caving in.
 

kracdown

Custom User Title
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,980
ABR-1 are fantastic.......... Have them on all of my Gibson guitars, even if they originally had nasville bridges on them.
 

Mike9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,957
Not a bad bridge at all once you get them dialed in. Yours might benefit from the Gotoh replacement. Wider, more, saddle travel, more stable and to my ears an improvement in tone.
 

theruley

Member
Messages
2,172
Nothing wrong with the tune-o-matic bridge. Abr-1 or Nashville, doesn't matter.

There are aftearket replacements, which can alter the sound and feel of the instrument, but there isn't any one that is superior over the other. Just "different"
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
36,219
I've never heard anyone say its bad. Who says its bad?

…Read that in George Costanza's mom's voice. Thats how I typed it.
 

=JL=

Member
Messages
984
Understandably, keeping the parts classic is important to the Gibson brand, but if it was that horrible and inferior, surely they would have at least made some slight changes to it to improve it.
They did, it's called the Nashville and it's fitted to most USA Gibsons. Stronger, more saddle travel and studs which don't bend.

If Gibson had stuck with the ABR-1 and someone like Callaham had invented the Nashville and charged 300 bucks for it everyone on here would be falling over themselves to fit it.

To anyone with even the vaguest engineering knowhow the Nashville is an obvious upgrade, but because it wasn't used in 1959 guitar players all over the world are throwing them in the trash.
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
36,219
The only bridge problems I have are on my guitar with a Nashville. Mostly attributed to the steep neck angle, though.
 

Larry Mal

Member
Messages
1,674
The ABR had some limitations to it, some models have clips that will retain the screws and they will rattle. I've heard the the short range of movement with the saddles on them can lead to some intonation problems also (I haven't experienced this).

But, you know, you buy a Callaham bridge or another expensive upgrade and you will get what they consider to be better metals and no wire clips to rattle.

The thing that really pisses me off about Gibson bridges is the incredible amount of tolerance they have. Nothing is held on to anything... the cheap bridges rock back and forth on the posts from the body, the posts in the body rock back in forth on the post holes there.

The tailpiece just falls off when the strings are off it. Why would they do that? What possible advantage is to that?

Here is a pretty crappy cell phone video I took of my Firebird (which is an amazing guitar) and the amount of tolerance that the bridge has:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p64DHt_Aw6g

Sure, the strings will keep the bridge stationary but there's no reason for it to move at all, and the case is certainly made that you would really want the bridge to be fixed so the string can vibrate as freely as it can without any of that energy dying in a bridge that can rock back and forth for no reason.

This is the Gear Page, so you'll not see any consensus here. But all the promise of the Nashville being a better bridge is immediately forfeited by Gibson's sloppy fitting of what is not a bad bridge loosely onto posts that are also loose, attached to a loose tailpiece.

So, no, the Nashville bridge itself isn't inherently bad, but there's a lot better out there that you can get your hands on, at a minimum, lock that **** down. Get something that actually tells you what metal it is, so you can think that at least they thought enough about the situation to cast it out of something that they thought would add tonal qualities to it, rather than whatever cheap alloy they have at the factory that Gibson gets the bridges from.
 

soulohio

Senior Member
Messages
11,002
I dunno... the cheap alloy could be part of the "secret sauce" for the tone. I replaced the stock alloy tailpiece on a Tokai les Paul with an aluminum replacement...I was aiming for more of a "Pearly Gates" sound...and it somewhat achieved that sound. The stock alloy (zinc?) was more focused.

Was that an improvement? depends...especially on your amp. If you play a rig that sends everything from your guitar into 4 stages of preamp....i doubt any alloy change you make will make a difference...maybe not even pickups...
 

Larry Mal

Member
Messages
1,674
Well, sure. When looking for a replacement bridge you'll need to either accept the word of the manufacturer or a forum person or something... there's no definitive research or anything. It's all anecdotal.

And the cheap alloy could be the sound you want! If you are happy with the way your guitar plays and sounds, then you would be a fool to go chasing something else just because it exists (possibly).

But like I say, I don't like the sloppy nature of Gibson's hardware, I can't see any reason not to have a tailpiece that locks onto the posts. Does it make it sound better? I don't know- it seems after I put a bunch of third party stuff that yeah, it seems a little better. But I also give it a setup, put on new strings... I can't remember what it sounded like before, I can't swear to it. But I sure don't see the point of not having a part of the guitar that's always on there always be on there.

And the large amount of play with the bridge posts and the bridge. That I can't tolerate at all. I can't think of any kind of way in which there isn't a serious ability to improve that situation. It may not have to be some $300 titanium saddled bridge, but it sure can just sit there rocking back and forth subtly.

I mean, ask yourself if your acoustic guitar's bridge could move a 1/4" back and forth but usually the string pressure kept it on there. What would that do to the sound of it?

I don't think it would do anything good to it.
 

Sconnie

Member
Messages
300
The Nashville version is a step back from the ABR-1 because the string will touch the bridge before the saddles, more string breakage etc. They shouldnt rock on their posts if there are made right. I love my callaham abr-1 and I dont even work for them haha.
 

Larry Mal

Member
Messages
1,674
Well, if this thread goes on long enough, I'll report on putting the Faber locking bridge and the ABR-1 conversion posts in my Firebird. I have the posts coming, so I'll switch that out later this week.

That'll tell me if the Faber posts will be more secure in the guitar, and if the bridge will be more steady with that situation. I mean, it'll lock- but I'll be able to gauge the tolerances even before I lock it down.

If that really does what I hope it will, then I'll likely use it on all my Gibsons.

I'm a fan of the ABR-1 the most over what I've tried, they work, the string doesn't lay on the rear, they look elegant. Quite unlike the "harmonica" bridge above- I almost don't care how that thing works at all, it's so god-awful looking...
 




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