In the following article we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most common guitar bridge types found on kit guitars. This isn’t an exhaustive list of guitar bridges, however the bridges listed below are what you will find on 99% of all kit guitars.
Your bridge is a super important component of your kit guitar and allows you to adjust your action, set your intonation and in the case of a tremolo bridge will allow you to integrate a whammy bar into your playing. It’s important to have a grasp on the capabilities of your bridge and also any potential limitations.
Fixed Guitar Bridges
The TE ‘Ashtray’ Bridge
The TE bridge sits on a large plate with either 3 or 6 saddle configuration and pre-mounted bridge pickup. This is a fixed bridge and as a result no springs are used. To dry fit simply screw the plate into place. Screws are laid out beside the pickup allowing you to adjust the height of your pickups.
The 3 saddle configuration holds two strings per saddle, meaning two strings are adjusted at a time. Many purists prefer this setup, due to the increased size of the saddles compared to a typical 6 saddle configuration. many consider the larger saddles capable of providing better tone and sustain.
Alternatively, the 6 saddle configuration allows for greater control over intonation as each individual string is able to be adjusted.
Gibson guitars utilise a fixed bridge known as the ‘Tuneomatic’ bridge which comes equipped with a stud mounted stop tailpiece. These require a little more work to install compared to the TE bridge, but I would still consider this style of bridge something anyone could install without too much difficulty.
Simply sit the bridge and stop bar over the pre drilled holes to check for alignment issues. Next fit the threaded posts the bridge is held in place with.
When it comes time to fit the bridge, remember the adjustment screws are mounted to the front of the bridge and not the back as per most guitars. The reason for this is the sharp decline the strings take from the bridge to the tailpiece making it difficult to fit a screwdriver and adjust your intonation.
Another consideration to keep in mind is the ground wire is often positioned against the bushing of the bridge post. While this can be removed after installing to allow for the ground wire it’s much better to install first.
The ST 6 saddle bridge
This type of bridge features either 6 (vintage) or two (modern) front mount screws to hold the bridge in place. The bridge is then attached to three coil springs that run through the body of the guitar allowing sufficient tension for playing using the tremolo bar.
(If you prefer your bridge to be fixed, you can purchase 5 springs which will generally adjust the tension so the bridge sits flat against the body of the guitar).
The saddles can be adjusted individually to correct intonation issues and can also be raised or lowered to adjust the guitar’s action.