Telecaster Bridge Question

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by dc_jcm800, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. dc_jcm800

    dc_jcm800 Member

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    I have a question for the Tele players regarding the bridge.
    What, if any, is the major difference between a modern 6 saddle and the traditional vintage type?
    For those that have played or own both styles, are they drastically different. Are there more or less problems between the 2 and can the traditional be as stable? Are there limitations between one or the other?

    The reason I ask is I'm looking to build or buy a Tele. I had one when I was 16 a long time ago. There are so many nice bridges being built.

    This guitar would be a regular gig instrument covering rock, jazz, country. So I'm really intersted in how well the guitar stays in tune and intonates.

    I am fully away of the capabilites of the Tele and Esquire sonically so I'm going to decide on a pickup config later. (maybe toward an Esquire though.)
    I'm not hung up on being a purist and staying vintage only.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Bluewail

    Bluewail Tone curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    My semi-informed opinions. YMMV
    1. Intonation - in theory the 6 saddle bridge should intonate more accurately but with compensated saddles like the Glendale, Barden & Wilkenson, it's not really a factor
    2. Materials - The tone of traditional brass saddles versus modern steel is different. Steel has more attack, brass is a bit mellower with a softer attack. The bridge plate makes a difference too. The heavier modern plates don'y seem to transmit as much of the overtones to the guitar. The thinner box bridges seem to enhance the overtones and also add punch to the pickup, kind of like a pickup baseplate does.
    3. 3 Saddle vs 6 saddle tone - Hard to explain but the 3 saddle seems to couple and transmit vibration better. Perhaps it's the fact that there's twice the string tension holding down the saddle. Maybe the fact that the strings ring sympathetically with each other. Or maye the whole design is just simpler? I don't know but I can sure hear the difference and IMHO the 3 saddle is the clear winner.
    Conclusion: Go 3 saddle traditional box bridge with intonated saddles. In this regard I cannot recommend the Glendale stuff more highly.
     
  3. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    All right on.
    If your caught in between in your decision this is your best option.
    I have Bras traditional and compensated steel on another.
    Both are nice and intonation is not a problem at all on either one.
     
  4. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Teles come in different styles and types because players come that way, as well.

    Which version you eventually settle on will be primarily based on your own tastes. Unfortunately american made Teles cannot be readily interchanged between these 2 styles, as the through holes are located differently. The mount holes are also different in number and position.

    No short cuts. You will have to try both styles, for yourself, first in stores and hopefully elsewhere in the real world, in anger. As far as intonation, the die cast tuners associated with the modern bridge style are not too good - the brass barrel saddles can be reworked or modded to give as good a compromise up and down the board as one can find, I think.

    Not long ago, my only Tele was a stock Am Se modern style one, now virtually every T style guitar I have has the vintage style, except a few. Zero Teles with stock Am Se or Am Std bridge + saddles out of dozens, zero.

    If you can't decide, buy a MIM Ensenada Fender Tele or 2; those can be swapped back and forth as they all (Except the Nashville Power Tele, 72 Deluxe and Thinline, Jim Root and similar non traditional and older, Toploaded MIM Teles) use the common 'vintage' reference points. In the end, only you can decide because, when all the pros and cons of the 2 designs have been hashed through, all you have is words.

    Bubbanov
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  5. dc_jcm800

    dc_jcm800 Member

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    Excellent!!!
    Thank you.
     
  6. Roo_D

    Roo_D Supporting Member

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    My own personal experience...

    The six saddle will intonate more accurately however if the traditional 3 barrel is done right it will work just fine and certainly offers its own sonic character. I always liked the 3 barrel but in general had ergonomic issues with the "ash tray" aspect of the bridge - mainly from a picking standpoint and to a lesser degree the sharp adjustment screws would butcher my hand. When I finally got a hold of the "cut down lip" type bridge I found it was an improvement and of course once adjusted the screws can be filed down. Last year I finally put on a Glendale bridge with virtually no ash tray "lip" as well as "oversized" brass saddles and I am absolutely pleased with it and can't imagine going back to a standard or six saddle for any reason. There are several quality after market Tele bridges out there in addition to Glendale - Callaham, Joe Barden, among others, in both six saddle and traditional configurations - and you will get wide and varied opinions as to their respective pros/cons. Ultimately you are more than likely in for a bit of research/experimentation to find what best works for you own needs.

    Good luck!
     
  7. dc_jcm800

    dc_jcm800 Member

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    That Glendale stuff looks pretty sweet.

    How about string changes or if a string breaks while at a gig? Any tuning issues or hassles?
     
  8. Bluewail

    Bluewail Tone curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    Nope, none whatsoever.
     
  9. 12guitdown

    12guitdown Member

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    Everything has been well explained here and my vote is for the 3 pc. brass/compensated.
     
  10. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Bluewail nailed it. I never thought much about the 6 barrel setup in my G&L ASAT Classic until playing a tele with Glendale vintage style bridge and saddles. The feel and sound of the Glendale stuff seems a big step up. Not exactly sure how or why, but who cares. I'm putting the same setup on the G&L.
     

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