Choosing A Bridge

Choosing a Bridge

Choosing a bridge is an important part of the project – it can have a significant effect on sustain and tone and needs to be well-made if you want your strings to be correctly aligned. My thinking was “standard strat with vintage tremolo = one type of tremolo.” Not so.

Here, the string spacing is important – this varies from model to model and the MIJ (Made in Japan) strats seem to have a whole range. See this Fender Strat String Spacing Guide for measurements (courtesy of Callahams) – I’ll be updating it in metric soon if it’s not done already.

String spacing is dictated by the screw holes where the bridge is fixed to the neck – not the saddles. This article, again from Callaham, describes how to measure your string spacings.

Measuring the bridge mounting holes

Measuring between the outermost bridge mounting holes

As I don’t have an existing bridge, I’m relying on the  manufacturer’s routing / CNC template accuracy and measuring the distance between the 2 outermost fixing holes. Measuring the bridge screw holes reveals:

  • from the top E to the bottom E screw hole measures 56mm
  • the distance between the screw holes – as far as I can make out – is just under 11mm

This ties in nicely with Callaham’s note that some of the Japanese have 2 7/32 inches spacing = 56.35 mm.

* Note that with these vintage tremelo-routed guitar bodies the two outermost holes i.e. top and bottom E are the mounting holes – the 4 screws between them I generally leave half-screwed in to provide stability – it’s the outer two that do the work.

This is in contrast to other bridges e.g. the Highway Strat which has two separate mounting holes at either side of the bridge:

Highway Strat 2 Pivot Bridge

Highway Strat 2 Pivot Bridge

 


So now that’s been sorted, which bridge? Well prices vary from £10 or so up to £Stupid. The project is not going to be a cheap one and the body and neck are good quality so I don’t want to mess it up with crap hardware BUT I have to be realistic – it’s my first assembly so let’s not go to town too much in case it all goes belly up!

I’ve researched up and down the forums and as you’d expect there are lots of conflicting ideas – at the end of the day it’s down to everyone’s personal taste.

I think I’ve finally settled on the Wilkinson tremolo though – under £30 (at least from www.axesrus.co.uk – I’ve seen them more expensive elsewhere, including fleabay).