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AinsleyWalker

Jazz Bass bridges - What's the issue?

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I've always heard Jazz bass bridges are terrible, my friend changed his to a Badass bridge  a few years back and that seems to be very common if I'm not mistaken.
Can anyone explain why?
I've just bought a MiM 5 string jazz and I'm wondering whether I should considering replacing the bridge.

Edited by AinsleyWalker

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They were probably fine, until the internet told us they weren't ....

A high mass bridge will change the tone of the bass, but it's only an improvement if you prefer the change.

If you like the tone of what you have, there's no guarantee you will like the 'improved' tone. The only real test is your ears, if you can do side by side tests, you can judge if it's a change that suits you.

There's probably millions of Jazz bass' running the original bridge without issue.

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People were upgrading bridges long before the internet was even a twinkle in Berners-Lee's eye.

The idea is that more mass in the bridge gives a better transference of energy from the string into the body and back again. Thus improving the tone. If you are recording then this might be a worthy upgrade, depends on your sound, but in a semi-pro band crashing through the usual fare it's probably not worth the trouble.

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In my experience, a heavier bridge is about different tone, not necessarily better tone.

I had a Precision a few years back that had, to my ear, a nasty undertone to some of the notes, it wasn't a rattle or a buzz, it was a very subtle but once heard very annoying artefact. I 'upgraded' to a Badass II, and it got a whole lot worse.  

Given all the variables - type of bass, woods, PUPs, strings, amp, style of play - a new bridge can go either way. Only one way to find out though!

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30 minutes ago, hooky_lowdown said:

Wait ... does this mean the bridge on my P bass is terrible. Looks the same as a jazz bass bridge. Sounds good to me though. 😉

The interwebz says it's inferior, so your ear may need upgrading.

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21 minutes ago, AngelDeVille said:

The interwebz says it's inferior, so your ear may need upgrading.

What??? Next the interweb will be saying my technique needs upgrading ... in truth it does! Damn internet. 🙈

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I’ve never heard of that myself, I’ve had well over 30 fender jazz basses ,  and never had a problem with one bridge , perhaps I’ve been lucky 🙂

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I’ve found that the bridges such as Badass seem to slightly scoop the sound a bit, making the low end bigger & tighter and making the top end crisper. All this is very slight I should add, I’d never be able to tell in a band mix, and probably wouldn’t be able to tell on someone else’s bass either, only in my own that I’m very familiar with. But to me this takes away what a Precision is famed for, mids, however it emphasises what the Jazz is famed for, that scooped sound.

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The bridge works in combination with the body, the strings, the neck etc. The change in mass tunes the whole system (a bit). Some say they are able to hear it.

From acoustics point of view, the most important thing is to have the bridge - as well as all other parts - tightly screwed. If anything is loose, something is lost. Usually it is sustain, that is affected the most.

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@JapanAxe @King Tut BBOT? Bent bit of tin lol? I've tried doing some googling of that acronym but all I'm getting is vague forum posts or 'baked beans on toast' haha

@hooky_lowdown whatever sounds best to you man! I'm just clearing up a decade-long held misconception I've had :)

 

Thanks for all the responses, been very helpful. I'm pretty happy with the tone of my new bass (besides how bright the new strings are :( but they're wearing in nicely)  so I'll probably leave the bridge!

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14 hours ago, King Tut said:

All those classic recordings with J's and P's wit BBOT bridges . . . . Oh my they sound dreadful 😉

Just need to purchase the upgraded recordings.  All the bass tracks have been digitally enhanced to himass bridge sound rather than BBOT bridge sound.

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16 hours ago, King Tut said:

All those classic recordings with J's and P's wit BBOT bridges . . . . Oh my they sound dreadful 😉

Like roundwound strings. Who needs those? Flatwound strings, now that's the sound of a bass! Or who needs pneumatic tyres when solid rubber tyres work?

BBOT bridges sound fine. They were cutting edge technology when they were introduced. Then amps and cabs started to evolve and the possibility of making something better arose.  Upgrading a bridge doesn't imply the previous version sounded bad, but we are an inventive lot, so if we can make things "better" we will, and sometimes "better" really does sound better.

 

ps spelling, again!!!

Edited by chris_b

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I've owned a three or four Fender basses (I still own an old Aria P) and have always swapped out the bridges.  Despite all these arguments about better sustain/weight distribution/transference of tone etc.etc. I could honestly say that I failed to hear anything different tonally, so in my opinion this argument is a nonsense.

So dear reader, you're asking why did I swap out the bridges, then?  Initially, visual aesthetic; I prefer a big ol' chunk of bridge under my right hand.  Next, as I play close to the bridge and mute a bit, it's just more comfortable (I have cut my hand on the Fender grub screws previously).  That's it really.  A Badass (or similar), doesn't really offer much in the way of adjustment over the BBOT.

As an aside, changing the bridges on my Gibson Thunderbirds was always the first thing I'd do...the Hipshot and Babicz replacements were head and shoulders over the stock three-pointer.

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20 hours ago, chris_b said:

but in a semi-pro band crashing through the usual fare it's probably not worth the trouble.

Like Jamerson, Jaco and John-Paul Jones?

(And probably loads of other semi-pros that start with 'J'..)

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18 hours ago, hooky_lowdown said:

Wait ... does this mean the bridge on my P bass is terrible. Looks the same as a jazz bass bridge. Sounds good to me though. 😉

knowing leo fender, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t exactly the same part 

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In fact, these modifications depend a lot on how precise and accurate your ears are.

But, please don't fall into the audiophile stupidity. The change will be very very very slight, or more precisely subtle, but certainly audible ... to a certain degree (almost worst all of the time).

The better idea, before changing parts on your instrument that will cost you big money for small improvement, is to ask yourself : What don't I like in this instrument ? Once you have the answer, try to find an instrument that suits better your taste, you'll save a lot of money.

I've "upgraded" lots of gear (I've also been an audiophile, you know these guys listening to cables, but not to the music) in the past to eventually always go back to the original parts and tone.

Now, if I don't like it, I get rid of it, because it's the way it was designed, so I won't improve it, but rather degrade it. Simple and effective.

I have always this sentence of one of my teachers in my mind : There's no bad gear, only bad users.

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22 hours ago, hooky_lowdown said:

Wait ... does this mean the bridge on my P bass is terrible. Looks the same as a jazz bass bridge. Sounds good to me though. 😉

Yep, you'll need to upgrade your Precision to a Jazz.

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49 minutes ago, Bassfinger said:

Yep, you'll need to upgrade your Precision to a Jazz.

Ewww... as if....

 

Got rid of my last Jazz... have never owned one longer than a month.... never again.

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On 13/12/2019 at 11:32, NancyJohnson said:

I've owned a three or four Fender basses (I still own an old Aria P) and have always swapped out the bridges.  Despite all these arguments about better sustain/weight distribution/transference of tone etc.etc. I could honestly say that I failed to hear anything different tonally, so in my opinion this argument is a nonsense.

As an aside, changing the bridges on my Gibson Thunderbirds was always the first thing I'd do...the Hipshot and Babicz replacements were head and shoulders over the stock three-pointer.

This ^    On both counts :)

With my unquestioned qualification to an opinion by being a crazy b*****d who will mod pretty much anything with anything:

- functionally and sonically, there is nothing wrong with the standard bridge.  The Jazz and the Precision aren't world leaders for no reason

- yes, a different bridge will look different, it will feel different and it may sound different.  Not better, just different

- if you have to drill different screw holes, you will almost certainly reduce the resale value of the bass, however fancy a bridge you put on.  If you swop to a 'drop-in' bridge and subsequently want to sell, put the original bridge back on and sell the new bridge separately

 

The Gibson three-point bridge is one of the worst designed bits of metal I've ever come across relating to bass guitars.  What on earth were they thinking!!!!  As @NancyJohnson says, there are improved drop-in one's available.  Same advice if you come to sell, though.  Put the original one back on and sell the better one with it as an extra or separately.

 

That's my view, anyway ;)

 

Edited by Andyjr1515
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