Fender and bridges

Hi all :smile:

I’ve been told for years about the bridge on Fender (and Fender-like) basses. The old school vintage-style bridge is supposed to sound weak and give poor sustain as well as some parasite noises. I’ve been told a million times that a Badass (well named in the case of the course :slight_smile: ) or Hi-Mass bridge is way better.

I play on a Fender Precision, currently fitted with the stock vintage-style bridge. I’m not unhappy with it but it sometimes makes some parasite noises from the E string (not a real issue to be honnest). I’m wondering if someone has some experience with those Badass/Hi-Mass bridges and if someone already swapped a vintage-style bridge for one of those more modern pieces. If yes, what do you think about this upgrade ?

thanks :wink:

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Yeah, I raised that question (concerning my P-bass) once with the guy who occasionally adjusts my basses and makes sure they sound good, and he just looked at me with that “are you out of your freaking mind” expression on his face. He really wouldn’t deign it with a real answer either but just muttered something about “that’s how it’s supposed to be” :grin:

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I think if you already have a dense body (mahogany, ash, etc.) you aren’t going to notice much, if any, difference from a bridge that weighs a few more ounces. If you have a less dense body (basswood, poplar, etc.) you might have quite a noticeable difference. I changed the bridge on my Mikro for aesthetic reasons and didn’t think to get a recording for an A/B comparison but I think… maybe… it sounds a little more mellow now (though that could also be the strings wearing in).

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Yeah, what we can hear here and there about those bridges is very confusing. My Precision has an ash body, and the sustain is not bad at all.

About bridges, I’m wondering too if converting a bass to string thru body would have a real positive and noticeable impact.

Those upgrades are cheap and easy, that’s at least a good point … assuming this is really upgrading the instrument :slight_smile:

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Such an “upgrade” would likely also be irreversible - I’d keep that in mind!

On the other hand, heavy modding is what gave Jaco Pastorius his “bass of doom” :grinning:

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I don’t really mind drilling holes on an instrument, that’s also what gave me my #1 and beloved Telecaster … but I don’t want to drill holes for a non-upgrade :slight_smile:

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Disclaimer: I have not tried this modification myself.

But, I have read extensively about it. It’s a rabbit hole. Responses are split three ways…
Those that swear by them.
Those that say they can’t tell any difference.
Those that say it has made a difference on some basses and not on others.
There were also a few that said they don’t care one way or the other because they look BadAss. But, I’m not counting them.

As for Fender, they seem to have gone to high mass bridges on their basses a long time ago. I couldn’t find a specific year, though. According to the people that tried swapping out the bridge on a modern Fender Bass the response was overwhelmingly a choice to go back to the original Fender high mass bridge.

For some context. I got all this from going through multiple threads on the TalkBass.com forums.

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Thanks ! if I try to sum up what has been said for now, this bridges seem to be either an upgrade or not depending on the bass itself. I might give it a try one day, because I’d like to make my own opinion, but I’d leave the stock vintage-style bridge for now :slight_smile:

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I’ve never swapped a bridge on a bass, I just take them how them come… (so far)

My thought on the matter, for a Fender-style bass anyway - I play Fenders when I want to recreate Fender tones, which were created with the original bridges, so there’s no point in “upgrading” it to be less similar to the basses I’m imitating.

But that’s for me, for the specific reason I play Fender basses (which is not always).

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sure, it makes sense ! in my case I don’t try to replicate a specific vintage (or let’s say “classic”) tone, I just happen to like PB tones in general :slight_smile: (I might say I like PB pickups tones) but I agree on the fact that a Fender is supposed to sound like a Fender, and the classic Fender bridge certainly plays a role in that tone.

Anyway I’ve seen Bobby Vega with a 60’s JB fitted with a Badass bridge. pretty confusing, isn’t it :slight_smile:

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That’s a pretty awesome looking bass. It’s just so damn ragged.

Just to confuse the issue even more is the (relatively) new Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass that comes stock with a BadAss bridge.

geddybass

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I have the Hipshot “Kickass” bridge on my J-Bass. It’s kind of an updated
badass. It’s constructed well, and it’s a reversible mod. Mine bolted right on using stock screw locations. I can’t swear to any tonal change, but the bass is very resonant. Also, the saddles are adjustable, so you can customize your string spacing as well. Maybe it’s worth taking a look. :grin:

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Bobby Vega is a funky mother f**er!! He’s had that bass since the 60’s.

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Looks as if it was either in a forest fire, or somebody used it as a pizza peel :laughing:

:slight_smile:

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Hey all ! It’s me again, straight from the bridge-thing rabbit hole. I’ve decided I had to do some experiments by myself, so I picked up a Fender Hi-Mass brass bridge for my 2004 MIA Fender Precision. I chose this model because it’s not too expensive, it’s a Fender so I won’t have compatibility issues, and it has good reviews on the internets. Looked like an obvious choice to me.

The saddles and the bridge itself are both solid chrome-plated brass. Measured at 250 grams, this is a massive piece of metal : it’s 3 times heavier than the stock vintage-style bridge.

here is a picture to show the difference in size (and overall look) between the two bridges :

I find this hi-mass bridge a bit bulky. Even if the finish is pretty good, I prefer the look of the vintage bridge, but, hey, that’s not the most important.

So, I recorded the same short bass line with the stock bridge and with the new hi-mass one, after a proper setup. Everything other than the bridge is exactly the same. The lines have been recorded with my Line6 UX1, Ampeg B15 modeling with a flat EQ, and of course no effect or compression or anything.

Stock vintage-style bridge :

Hi-Mass bridge :

So, obviously there is a difference, but it’s not a revolution as I’ve read sometimes. Here is my review on different points :

  • The more obvious thing is a better overall clarity. The harmonics are more present and more “detached”, which is something I like.
  • The instrument feels more living (/raw/wild), it vibrates more, which again is a thing I like.
  • Probably a consequence of the two previous points, the instrument is more sensitive to dynamics. Again, I like that.
  • I’ve read everywhere that a heavy bridge gives a longer sustain, and this point is not a simple one. I see clearly on the DAW that the sustain is not longer, but very strangely it feels longer. Don’t know how to explain that …

Here is a screenshot, the top track is the one with the vintage bridge and the bottom track with the hi-mass :

We clearly see that there is no noticeable difference in sustain, but we also see that the resonnance frequency has changed : take a look at the damping wave on the last note.

EDIT : I was talking about the full length of the note, but I wonder if what we mostly hear/feel could be the first volume drop (first phase of the damping wave) ? if yes, then the effective sustain is indeed longer and it would explain why I feel a difference.

So to sum up, there is a difference with this hi-mass bridge and it goes to the direction I like, so I don’t regret. But the difference is relatively small : I’m pretty sure a volume pot value change would have more effect for exemple.
Also the gain in clarity, dynamics and vibration is not desired by everybody. For exemple for a bass player who would play old-school music, or seek for a vintage-style sound, this bridge swap would be counterproductive.

here is my review at this point !

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Great post, @terb :+1:

I like the look of the high-mass bridge, but even after I listened to both tracks, I had a very hard time hearing a difference. I played them a couple of times, and I think the high-mass bridge might sound a little clearer . . . but I’m not sure. :thinking:

You’ve obviously put a great deal of thought into this test, so thanks for your efforts!

Cheers, Joe

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yes, another way to say that would be that there is more treble (and I think a little bit more hi-mids) and more punch with the hi-mass. the vintage bridge sounds a little bit more mutted. but that’s relatively subbtle, and it may be more obvious for me as the playing feeling has also changed a bit.

you’re very welcome !

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Interesting test @terb, thanks for sharing! I’ve never actually swapped a bridge on one of my basses so I haven’t had any personal experience with that. Yet! So many gear rabbit holes to fall into…

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Killer content. Have I mentioned before that I love our forums?

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yes, but this one might not be the more interesting IMHO :grin: to be honest I’ve been a little bit disapointed with this bridge swap, I expected more of a difference !

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