What Is It?
The bridge is not necessarily an obvious upgrade to the less tech minded of us, however it is one of the biggest culprits for loosing tone, sustain and tuning. It’s also the first place we should look to make adjustments for playing comfortability.
The mass and contact of the bridge helps maintain the vibrations that travel around the instrument when we pluck a string. Therefore, the stronger and longer the vibrations, the stronger the signal produced. With weak or loose components, the vibrations are split and broken and therefore cut off sooner.
Many bass players choose to modify and/or upgrade their bass guitar’s hardware and components to get the sound quality and playability they desire. One of the bass bridges most commonly upgraded is the standard issue Fender P/J bass bridge. There are many options to upgrade this model’s bridge which clearly indicates a widely accepted flaw in the standard issue designs that other companies have found solutions to. The Tone-Up 3D Bass Bridge is a vintage looking, perfectly styled replacement bridge for Fender P/J style bass guitars… with a fabulous, extra feature (the 3D bit).
This 3D saddle has had a vast impact on my own, personal comfort when playing a Fender P style bass. Being mostly a Warwick player, I’ve found discomfort every time I’ve played a Fender style bass. The most significant realisation this 3D bridge upgrade has identified for me is that I never even knew what I didn’t like about playing these bass guitars… Now I do and I’m playing a Fender P that plays exactly as I’d like it to feel and sounds like the treat that classic P sound is.
So, how did that happen?
First off, I wondered why anyone would ever want to change the string widths of a bass guitar. Surely a bass is a bass, that’s how you buy it, that’s how you play it, that’s how you sell it. Wrong.
Researching string widths of some of the most popular bass guitars lead me to understand all of the above.
1. Fender – 19mm
2. Squire – 19mm
3. Warwick Corvettes – 16mm
4. 5 string Warwick – 15-16.5mm
- Musicman V – 17.5mm
The three millimetres between Warwick and Fender spacing causes obvious discomfort as movements between strings become bigger for both hands. Musicman players have the same relationship with Fender bass guitars for exactly the same reason.
The Tone-Up bass bridge is a replacement bridge for Fender bass guitars to literally make them more playable for every bassist that likes to play a variety of bass guitars without feeling that the small differences are too large to overcome.
Of course, just like bass guitars – bassists come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most of the criticism that Warwick and Musicman receive from bassists are geared around the string spacing being too tight. It’s not uncommon to find Fender receiving the same complaints for bassist on the tall, long digit side too. Playing fast, technically and deliberately is always going to see me on a bass with smaller spacing, however this can be difficult to slap and pop effectively. The Tone-Up 3D bridge can adjust from 16mm – 22mm giving the flexibility you need to find what works for yourself whether you’re Gerald Veasley slapping on basses with spacing between 14-16.5mm, or play wide spacing as Esperanza Spalding does with her double bass style on electric bass.
This bridge has through body or top string loading options – I’ll let you debate that one out yourself, however, the option is there for either preference.
Setting up the bridge is just the same as setting up your usual bridge with only one added step. The only thing you need to know is what spacing you want to set the saddles to and then they literally roll under each finger.
1. Set your string spacing
2. Saddle Height
Tune your bass between each step as you would after every adjustment you make.
The only real maintenance after your initial set-up is quite simple: When removing strings, you’ll have to make sure your rollers haven’t moved from pulling the strings through and re-measure the saddles prior to putting your new strings on. If you’re the type of person that likes to cut out steps… there’s a pretty simple way to keep the rollers where you left them too. Just apply a little dab of clear nail varnish either side of the roller on the saddle and they won’t move for a good while – and it’s not permanent. The bridge is made from a solid plate of stainless steel and a little nail varnish remover won’t stain but it’ll give you the freedom to change your string widths back again.
If you’re looking to play around with the styles in which you usually play and explore your own preferences with more flexibility and freedom to do so, the Tone-Up 3D bridge is highly recommended. The upgraded bridge is not only 3D but made of solid materials that will help you get the best tone, sustain and tuning stability from your bass guitar which makes it an obvious choice if looking to upgrade.