Guide to Guitar Bridges, Pins & Bridge Parts

electric guitar bridge

Guitar Bridge Parts and related accessories for your stringed instrument. You’ll also find other guitar parts, bass guitar parts, and amp parts in case you need any replacement.

If you play the guitar, then usually the most common thing that you have to deal with on a regular basis is around maintenance of strings.

But then, a guitar is a complex instrument (construction wise) and consists of several parts. And if your instrument is an old one, there are chances that you may need a replacement part.

Here we will talk about the Guitar Bridge and its various Parts.

Guitar Bridge Parts

What is a Guitar Bridge?
Simply put, it helps the strings to vibrate more freely and create an audible sound.

Stringed instruments produce their sound through a mechanism which makes the strings to vibrate. However, that aspect alone may produce only a faint sound because it all depends on how much the strings are able to vibrate.

That is why a bridge is used so that the strings vibrate freely and also does that over a larger surface so that an audible sound is produced.

Benefits of Bridge

  • The bridge is an important part of the guitar and helps to generate a good sound from the instrument.
  • Even the choice of the material of the guitar bridge pins affects the sound that is produced from the guitar.
  • If the bridge is too heavy, too weak or not connected properly to the strings or top, it will affect the acoustic characteristics of the guitar.
  • Bridges also play an important role in how the guitar looks; the overall finish of the guitar (especially in classical guitars).

How is it Constructed?
There are a couple of ways in which a bridge is incorporated on a guitar.

Usually, Bridges are made of a single piece of material (mostly wood), that fits between the strings and the resonant surface.

However, it may also be made of multiple parts.

Using the Saddle
Here the bridge incorporates a separate bearing surface (saddle) on which the strings rest.

The saddle is usually a harder material than the bridge itself, such as bone, ivory, high-density plastic, or metal. The saddle has shallow grooves in it, at least for the treble strings, to prevent them moving around during hard playing.

Another Variant
Here, the sound plate is usually curved instead of flat. Instruments such as arch-top guitars and mandolins have a bridge comprising a base and a separate saddle that can be adjusted for height.

On classical and flat-top guitars the bridge could be held on to the top by string tension (known as a floating bridge) and requires a separate tailpiece.

You can find an assortment of Guitar Bridge Parts and accessories here, besides other guitar parts, bass guitar parts, and amp parts.

Guitar Bridge Pins

Here we take a look at the various types of Guitar Bridge Pins and how they impact the tone of your guitar.

Bridge Pins & Tone
We have seen the importance of the bridge part, and why they exist on a guitar.

The job of the bridge pin, on the other hand, is to hold the string in place at the bridge.

Depending on the material used, these can increase sustain, give you more clarity, and even a better overall volume.

Guitar Bridge Pins

Types of Bridge Pins

  • Fluted bridge pins have a groove cut in them which provides room for the string to pass between the pin and bridge.
  • Solid bridge pins require notches in the bridge to accommodate for the strings diameter.

Because the bridge pin material can effect the tone and sustain on an instrument, some may desire to experiment with different bridge pin materials.

Common Bridge Pin Material
The most commonly used materials include:

  • Wood- Ebony, Boxwood, Rosewood etc.
  • Bone – FWI, Mammoth Ivory, Bone
  • Plastic – Tusq, ABS etc.
  • Metal – Alloy, Brass

The most common ones (and among the least expensive) are the plastic pins.

But then there are other types as well, such as Bone, Ebony, Fossilized Walrus Ivory (FWI), Mammoth Ivory, Walrus Jawbone, and Buffalo Horn. These are among the better pins that are available on the market today.

These are a bit expensive but then you can expect increased sustain, more clarity, and overall volume from your guitar.

Here’s how the various bridge pins can impact the tone (with plastic as a reference):

  • Tusq: can add a moderate amount of treble, sustain, clarity & volume to your Martin.
  • Bone offers everything Tusq provides, but in bigger doses.
  • Ebony can add bass and warmth to your Martin, along with a significant increase in sustain & volume.
  • Buffalo Horn sounds almost identical to bone, and is a great choice if you want a dark looking pin with bone tone.
  • Walrus Jawbone offers the fundamental tone of bone but with better overtones & fatter harmonics.
  • Mammoth Ivory can add sustain, volume, and a transparent richness to your guitar, with an increase in harmonics & overtones!
  • Walrus Ivory provides the greatest increase in volume, sustain & clarity among all the pin choices. Some high end guitars actually ship with FWI as standard equipment!
  • Buying Bridge Pins
    Bridge pins come in different colors and can be made of different materials. You can choose from different materials such as ABS plastic, man made ivory and man made ebony, and they all have their own unique sounds and characteristics.

    Bridge pins made from man made ivory and ebony are more expensive, but they give a lot more characteristic and nuances to your sound. These man made alternatives are free from inconsistencies and impurities that really allow your guitar to resonate at its full potential giving rich harmonics, enhanced tones and improved sustain.

    Cheaper options are fine and do the job very well but you don’t get the extra qualities from the bridge pins that are made from the more advanced materials.

    Bridge pin are available in various sizes as well, so just make sure you get the ones with the right dimensions (just check your old ones)!

    Changing Your Bridge Pins
    Changing your bridge pins doesn’t have to cost much and it’s also relatively easy to accomplish.

    Here’s a nice video that shows you how to get this done.

    If you are experiencing flying bridge pins, it is usually an indication that the bridge plate is worn out and needs repair. You can find a huge selection of Guitar Bridge Pins here.

    Electric Guitar Bridges

    Electric Guitar bridge – various options that are available for your electrics.

    Most guitar players own multiple instruments, including both acoustic as well as electrics but then when it comes to replacement parts, there are always plenty of options when it comes to the electric guitar, and the same applies to the bridge as well.

    One of the reasons many guitar players prefer electrics is because it is so much easier to adjust or replace the hardware to match your own playing style; a similar thing on the acoustic guitar would require lots of effort.

    Electric Guitar Bridge

    About Electric Guitar Bridges
    Bridges for electric guitars are categorized as “vibrato” and “non-vibrato” (aka hard-tail).

    Vibrato bridges have an arm (aka vibrato or whammy bar) that acts as a lever that the player can push or pull to change the strings tension and, as a result, the pitch, producing the vibrato effect.

    Non-vibrato bridges supply an anchoring point for the strings but provide no active control over string tension or pitch. These guitars have more reverb in their sound, because of the string resonance behind the bridge.

    Please not that some prefer to use the word Tremolo or Vibrato.

    Vibrato vs Non-Vibrato Bridges
    Which one is better?

    Well, that depends on your playing style and your preferences.

    However, from the build and maintenance perspective, it is seen that generally a non-tremolo bridge provides better tuning stability and also a solid contact between the guitar body and the strings.

    Here’s a nice video that shows how to adjust the bridge on an Electric Guitar.

    Buying Options
    Retailers now stock all types of guitar bridges including tunematics and stop tail pieces, original Fender Strat tremolos, hard tails, Fender Tele bridges and other styles.

    In terms of brands, the more popular brands include Gotoh, Schaller, Fender, and Tone Pros. You can checkout more Electric Guitar Bridges here.

    Acoustic Guitar Bridge

    Acoustic Guitar Bridge – make sure it’s fixed in place firmly without any gaps…

    Ensure No Gaps
    From a maintenance perspective, you need to ensure that there is no gap between the bridge and top to get a cleaner sound. As small test that most players do is to slide a thin paper beneath the bridge to check how much loose the bridge is.

    Acoustic Guitar Bridge

    And it is not that it only affects the sound, neglecting it means it may become looser over time and cause more damage to the guitar if it breaks free and tears fibers from the top.

    Even if it doesn’t happen to that extent, a loose bridge gradually shifts forward and ruins the looks and finish of the instrument.

    Possible Causes for the Gaps
    There are several reasons why the gaps may occur over time. Some of the reasons are:

  • Dryness and Heat which is known to affect wood
  • Damaged bridge plate
  • A loose X-brace
  • Insufficient glue used when fixing the bridge
  • Bridge glued to a painted surface which makes it difficult to affix
  • Eliminate Buzz
    Most guitar players experience buzz when playing the guitar and usually this problem is noticeable especially during summers when the temperature is high.

    To some extent the buzz can be eliminated if you try to raise or lower the acoustic guitar bridge, but then there could be other reasons for it.

    If the ringing only occurs on open strings, the problem could be associated with the nut or may be a few strings are bad. Some of the windings on the lower strings, particularly where they attach under the bridge, may not be proper.

    Here’s a nice video that shows how to adjust the acoustic guitar bridge.

    Classical Guitar Bridge

    Classical Guitar Bridge – Various options available in case you want to replace the bridge of your Classical Guitar.

    Classical Guitar Bridge

    Buying Options
    Though you always have the option of creating one for your guitar, you could save a lot of time by order one of the pre-made bridges. The readymade ones can fit most classical guitars (with some small adjustments) and it looks great too.

    Some of them could be a bit pricey but then it saves a lot of your time.

    Most guitar players prefer the ebony classical bridges because of their excellent overall quality; you just have to polish it further.

    One thing worth checking, when ordering these bridges, is whether the saddle slot is already cut or not, because if you are looking to fine tune the intonation, this could be a problem!

    Here’s a video that shows how to build a Classic Guitar Bridge.

    Here’s another video that shows how to make an adjustable saddle for classical guitar.

    Bass Guitar Bridge

    Bass Guitar bridge – various options available to bass guitars.

    If you have always wondered why your jazz bass gives that buzzing sound, then adjusting the bridge can make a considerable difference to the sound produced. It can transform your guitar and make it sound like a different bass, something that you like to play.

    Bass Guitar Bridge

    Bass Guitar Bridge Adjustments
    You can always try to do this on your own, however if you’re pressed for time, a better option would be to get it done by a guitar technician (You may have to pay around 100 bucks).

    Here’s a nice video that shows How to Adjust Bass Guitar Bridge / Saddle. You can adjust the bridge saddle on a bass guitar by turning the saddle screws, so that you bring the bridge pieces up.

    In case you don’t want to pay a guitar tech and want to set up your bass all by yourself, here are a few tools that will help.

    A capo, 32nds ruler, alen keys and feeler gauges, will come in handy to do the Bass Guitar Bridge adjustment all by yourself.

    To Conclude
    When adjusting the guitar, you should always trust your ears and go with whatever sounds the best. You can get the action as low as possible, if that removes the buzzing. Basically, you do the adjustments depending on where you are getting the buzzing from.

    Usually, on the lower frets you have to adjust the truss rod, and for the higher ones you should try raising your saddles.

    But then there are many players who like a bit of buzz from their guitar sound. So it all depends on your specific bass and sound preferences, when you are adjusting the bass guitar bridge.

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