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Bar bridge Vs Tune-O-matic

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Rob Williams, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Country Gent

    Jul 5, 2014
    SE QLD
    Howdy groovers,
    My 6120 has a Tru Arc rocking bar bridge. But I often 'feel' like I have intonation issues with the plain G. How do people with tune-o-matics find them with bigsbys? Do they bind much?
     
  2. blc45

    blc45 Country Gent

    Age:
    65
    Aug 23, 2011
    nc
    I personally don't have an issue with tune0-matics on some of the Gretsches I own. I generally find that the binding problems are in the nut more so than the bridge. Most people here will disagree I am sure. But each his own.

    But, by the same token I don't slam the Bigsby arm down to the wood either. Maybe that's why?
     
  3. Wozob

    Wozob Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2014
    The Netherlands
    Don't expect the strings sliding over the saddles of a TOM. Sometimes there's binding, but even if there's not there's a lot of friction between the saddles and the strings. The bridge assembly of a Gretsch is not solid. It exists of several parts that can bend over and lift, because they don't have a tight fit. The assembly is only kept in place by the downward pressure of the strings. Resistance of the bridge assembly against bending and lifting is usually lower than the friction between the strings and saddles. Even with rolling saddles that's often the case. A TOM will move slightly back and forth while using the Bigsby, but works totally fine.
     
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  5. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    My Falcon came with a True-Arc and .11s and the intonation was slightly off, because it has a pinned bridge base. The move to .10s (with a plain G) solved that ... intonation is spot on.

    My Panther came with a cheap TOM, which was a nightmare. It rattled and when using the Bigsby even the bridge base was lifted ... the base is pinned too. My conclusion is: a TOM is a suboptimal choice for bigsby equipped guitars. On the Panther I installed an ABM 2400 high end roller bridge (2014 model!), which is basically a TOM with roller saddles. But it is CNC-cut from bell brass and so a similar tone improvement as a True-Arc or Compton.

    So my question is: Did you try a .10-.46 string set already?
     
  6. englishman

    englishman Friend of Fred

    Age:
    59
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    As I'm fond of pointing out, Brian Setzer uses TOM bridges and doesn't seem to have a problem. Probably of somewhat better quality than they were supplied with... well, strike that, they probably get shipped to his tech with whatever he wants already there.
     
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  7. benjwri

    benjwri Country Gent

    Age:
    79
    Oct 27, 2011
    Central ON Can
    I would look at a TOM style with rollers. TonePros or lots of generic choices for much less money.
     
  8. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    I use a TruArc non-rocking bar bridge. I think it sustains better than a TOM and, a rocking bar bridge.
     
  9. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    When I got my 6120, I found the TOM to rattle some, so I ordered a Compton. I used it for awhile and had no problems. Then I guess I started playing around the 10th fret a lot more than normal or something, because I could hear some intonation issues. I took the stock bridge, messed around with the retaining wire some, and put it back on. It hasn't rattled since, and it stays in tune just fine, with some pencil lead in the saddle grooves. Coincidentally, I took the Compton and replaced the Gretsch rocking bar on my other 6120. Big improvement there too. It's a 6120 GA, and it's the same model that inspired Tim at Tru Arc to make his bridges to begin with . He noticed on his that the bridge was a 9.5 radius and the neck was 12. This caused some action issues. The Compton works great on that guitar and I haven't noticed any intonation issues there.
     
  10. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    ^ This. It seems all bridges used with a Bigsby/vibrato move with the strings; rollers, TOMs, Comptons. Bridges like the Tru-arc, Bigsbys, Jazzmaster/Jag and RBBs are all designed to, and even the locking bridges I've used still move. Like you say, it's ok though, the pitch changes, and hopefully the original pitch returns.

    The thing I like about good roller bridges is the roller moves with wound strings, the ones most likely to have some hangups. They continue to roll after the bridge has reached its "rocking" range. Less friction is the better thing. The bridge (given the nut is made correctly) is the only reason why Bigsbys have the reputation they do: "don't dive bomb with it"---well you can, I do. It can work...

    So while TOMs are great, I'd say they aren't giving you the full range of Bigsby movement AND the best tuning stability. For guys that just put a little shake and dip in, they seem to be more than adequate, and pretty reliable, IMHO. Maybe I haven't spent enough time with a TOM.

    Tone is another thing altogether. I think solid bars do have more sustain, greater volume acoustically. I don't pay attention as much to the tonal color anymore, its just not that important to me. Cheaply made zinc stuff from China is a 'sound', aluminum is a 'sound', brass, etc. I have my favorites and stick to them, usually steel and aluminum, sometimes brass.

    Long post short, I like the solid bar bridge over a TOM for it's simple construction-- rattle free, and also it's contribution toward tuning stability. I like the increased sustain. I dislike the downgraded intonation adjustment. A Tru-arc Serpentune is being made for my next build...compensated for an unwound G....;)
     
  11. MikeSchindler

    MikeSchindler Synchromatic

    506
    Feb 3, 2014
    Pennsylvania
    I love Bar bridges for their simplicity , tone and vintage look but the bar bridge is never going to give you spot on intonation..ever. I don't care if it's a Tru Arc or Compton.Some people get closer than others at intonation with the bar bridge either because they have a trained ear and or good tuner. Some players just don't hear the intonation issues like others do and that explains some of these YouTube videos where these people will play the tune and be completely sour...though they themselves think it's great. The tru arc and Compton serve a purpose and that is to bring the proper radius back into the picture. These bridges are also made of different materials which can give you a bit of variety in tone and sometimes better sustain..just a bit.These bridges solve many playability issues but intonation won't be one of them. Again you can usually get these pretty close especially if you use a wound G. I still use my bar bridge on my 6122 and I play live frequently. No issues and again I have it set up pretty good and have more than decent intonation for all intents and purposes. On my sslvo my TOM does not rattle at all. I think it's in the luck of the draw with those. I tried a bar bridge on it and would rather keep the original TOM on there. The best thing to do is try other bridges, find the one that works with your guitar and there you go.

    BTW St John with TruArc I think it was the other way around. He noticed that the neck was 9.5 and the bridge was more than 12 radius causing bad action and playability/ tuning issues. That was the case with my sslvo. I filed the saddles on outer strings down a bit to better match the neck radius ..it did help. Gretsch makes great guitars but again, I have no idea why in the world they would be satisfied with an improper radius that has caused so many issues with so many players. I was one of them. This I can never understand.

    But good news...Recently I purchased a bar bridge from Gretsch because it looked to be a better radius than my existing one. The radius was measured and is exactly 12.. A big improvement for Gretsch. So I replaced my older 2004 one...but be prepared .. I had more issues...the holes are honed bigger than the older ones so they will not fit the older bridge bases screws. Too much play back and forth...tuning and intonation nightmare. You have to have the updated new correct base as well...or did what I did ..wrap the existing screws half way up with tape to secure the fit...this way on the bottom you have room to adjust up and down with thumb wheels. Most dealers aren't even aware of this...when I purchased mine he said it would work with all older Gretsch bases so I didn't buy the base. I really didn't want to sand it to fit it and since mine is great I figured no issue...until I tried putting it on there..I was like..you got to be kidding.lol. All this and I paid what for this guitar? in saying this , despite all these little annoying things..other makers have their own issues as well and nothing sounds, looks or plays like a Gretsch when it's set up right.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  12. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I tried a solid (Compton) on my 6128 and always noticed the intonation being slightly off. It doesn't bother everyone, but it sure bothered me. First I went with a TonePros and that took care of the intonation, but I always found myself monkeying with the slots.

    So I went with an ABM roller - found it for $75 at Elderly.com. Now they're up to $129. It's machined from good tone metal and doesn't suck tone. The only one I've been able to find has the 12" radius, so you have to watch that. You 6120 might have a 9" radius. Other roller brands that are probably good are Schaller, Wilkinson and Tone Pro.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
    Charles Conner likes this.
  13. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    The shop version of the ABM 2400 is only available with a 12" radius. Other radiuses require a custom order with a "custom" price ;)
     
    stevo likes this.
  14. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Country Gent

    Jul 5, 2014
    SE QLD
    Yes, I currently use 10-46 strings....
     
  15. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    In this case and still intonation issues, I myself would get an ABM 2400 ... expensive, but simply great.
     
  16. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Country Gent

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    I use a bar bridge placed at an angle, and tune the G very slightly flat. Seems to work, but I never play open chords.
     
  17. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Good to know - I might take them up on that one day!
     
  18. Charles Conner

    Charles Conner Gretschie

    Age:
    75
    112
    May 19, 2016
    Maryland
    I heard about the ABM2400 here on Gretsch-talk ... it's a great bridge. I have the bridge base on my 5120 pinned (screwed on). I need to use an adjustable bridge with rollers and I have tried a few different ones. I'm now using the ABM2400 roller bridge. I also have a Gibson Les Paul (LPR7) with a vibrato, so I've always used a roller bridge on that guitar also. Just for kicks, I tried the ABM bridge from my Gretsch on it. It is such an improvement that I've ordered another bridge. Check on Ebay, I found ABM2400's for $109.00. The pole spacing is the same as the abr-1 bridges and the spacing is slightly adjustable by a few millimeters on the bridge with elongated holes and set screws. They have a 12" radius. A couple of the guys here say they sound as good as the Compton bridges. It's NOT A TONE SUCKER, it will brighten up the tone. You'll even enjoy using your mud switch again, if you have one.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
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  19. Charles Conner

    Charles Conner Gretschie

    Age:
    75
    112
    May 19, 2016
    Maryland
    If the bridge radius is a little longer than the fingerboard radius, wouldn't that work out ok ... because the low strings are usually set to slightly higher action than the high strings? However, I wouldn't go the other way, with a shorter radius bridge on a longer radius fingerboard.
     
    Wozob likes this.
  20. dilver

    dilver Country Gent

    Feb 16, 2009
    NJ
    I've got Faber ABR bridges on my SSLVO, Black Phoenix, and Hot Rod. On each of these guitars, I can completely deck the Bigsby arm and have it come back in tune every time. It's all about set up. Lots of folks here dismiss tune-o-matic bridges and I can understand why (rattles, tone suck, don't like the feel of the saddles, etc). The stock Gretsch TOM bridge is pretty crappy, even on prolines.

    But if you get a quality bridge and take the time to properly cut, file and polish the nut and bridge slots, and properly wind strings around tuning posts, they can be completely stable. People that just don't want to deal with the hassle, don't have the tools, or experience doing their own set up work can just drop on a Compton or Tru-arc. I never did get a chance to try the Serpentune Tru-Arc, which, from what I understand, helped with the g string intonation.
     
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  21. Wozob

    Wozob Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2014
    The Netherlands
    Yes, you're right. First there's an offset between the radius of the bridge and the radius of the fretboard, making the radius slightly bigger. Then what you said. Higher action on the bass side than the treble makes the radius again slightly bigger. Also a lot of string sets have the highest tension on the D and G strings, which gives a lower amplitude of the vibration. Another reason why the bridge can have a larger radius then the fretboard.
    A 12" TOM works fine on a 9,5" fretboard, I only wish that Gretsch used some better quality. And a 14" Gretsch Rocking Bar works fine on a 12" fretboard. Heck, even a 14" bridge could do fine on a 9,5" fretboard.
    I never understood the whole radius mismatch thingy anyway. We're talking about action differences of about a sheet of paper or two.
     
    Charles Conner likes this.