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Bridges : badasses, kickasses and hi-masses

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I’d read and heard discussions around the hi mass / stock bridge upgrade subject and pulled the trigger on a hi mass fender for my jazz. 
After installing it yesterday and having a noodle on it, I have to say that there is a difference in the sound.   I really only went for the fender option as it was the cheapest as I didn’t want to invest cash to find no difference at all but I’m now wondering would a more expensive version of an upgrade be a more noticeable difference.

 

Ive never been one to get drawn into buying a bass and making lots of hardware changes to it, as I’ve been more content with a good set of Ernie balls , a good amp and four fingers and a thumb to play it with for finding my sound.  I’ve a harmonic booster and a b3k for a gritty edge and that’s about as effected I am. 
 

Anyone have good bad or indifferent experiences from bridge upgrades ?

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Posted (edited)

I changed out the BBOT on a Jazz bass for a Babicz.

Much as I like the Babicz for it's engineering, functionality and complete lack of sharp edges, I have to say I didn't notice any glaring differences or improvements in the tone, sustian or overall playability of the bass after I fitted it.

YMMV.

Edited by Cato
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1 hour ago, hooky_lowdown said:

What specifically is the difference in the sound you get?

High mass bridges should add sustain, but not necessarily affect the sound.

It sounds fuller to me.  Maybe that’s another mans sustain - but my point is that it sounds different. 
 

The choice of bridges now is a bit mesmerising and I read good things about a lot of bridges but didn’t wanna drop top dollar for something I then regretted. So it’s  been an experiment of a sort that left me wondering would the badass II be as much better as it is more expensive than the fender?

I really didn’t expect to feel any better about it so I’m surprised....

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I had positive results from putting a BadassII on a Squier 70s VMJazz. Sustain and playability were definitely better. 

That said,  I set it up to within an inch of its life after fitting the new bridge. I marked, cut and filed each saddle using the string as a guide, then did neck relief, action and intonation.

Any of the adjustments might have also improved the sustain and playability as well.

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I used to have an obsession about swapping any BBOT to something more substantial.  I then realised that my basses work for a lving (at least they used to) so in the context of a band I could never hear a difference so I stopped doing it.

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Posted (edited)

i have tried a few different bridges, my favourite was the fender vintage threaded saddle BBOT,but my fernandes the revival has a badass

my latest bitsa has a fender Hi mass

my squier silver series has a fender vintage bridge

 my old hondo professional has a vintage fender bridge these are all p basses and they all sound good to me .

though i will say the fender  hi mass for £30 is a nice bridge and im very happy with ,the bitsa which will be my gigging bass whenever gigging comes back around.

Edited by stu_g

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I've given up with expensive upgrades. 

There's a general concensus about what should, and shouldn't, be good. Certain standard bridges that people swap for other bridges as an upgrade, certain body and neck constructions that are better than others, a pecking order of parts if you like, to achieve that holy grail of bass attributes, sustain. 

I recently bought an early 70s Kay bass, widely regarded as an utter piece of shite, and not without reason, a plywood neck screwed to a thin plywood body. The original bridge had been replaced with a cheap BBOT with the wrong string spacing. I fitted a Squier Bronco bridge as it had the correct spacing, these were routinely upgraded as they were considered a very poor design. I've refinished it with several thick layers of poly which should dull it's tone as well.

Out of the 15-20 basses I own the Kay has the longest sustain and is the most resonant, it rings like a bell when played unplugged.

This makes a mockery of all the accepted theories of bass construction and hardware. 

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Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, it always comes down to 

A = (B - C)/D

I’ll leave you guys to figure out what that means 

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The only bridge I have changed on a bass was installing a Babicz bridge on my Gibson EB3 as the original three point bridge was infuriating to intonate.

I haven’t noticed an increase in sustain as much as I can actually now adjust the action and intonation of each string individually. It has made a massive difference to the instrument. 

I have never had any issues with traditional Fender style bridges. If the stock bridge on a bass works in the sense that I can easily adjust the action and intonation then I generally don’t see any need to replace it. 

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I’ve always used badass bridges on my fenders/squiers that came with cheap bbots from the factory and I think there is probably a difference in sound, but I’m not sure whether it’s down to sustain. The decision to get rid of the first bbot was taken on functional grounds - I got fed up of it either rattling, bits working loose and altering the setup in transit, or grub screws sticking up and tearing chunks out of my hand and/or gig bag. The decision to go for the badass was taken mainly on aesthetic grounds - I just like them. The difference in sound, if any, is probably due more to the way I play when I have confidence in the hardware on the instrument than it is the mass of that hardware.

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On Mex Fenders I usually change the base plate of the bridge to Gotoh, as it has the grooves for the saddles to sit in. Just makes sense to me that given I’m applying downwards force into the strings that there is something on the bridge designed to hold them in place. 

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Posted (edited)

I have changed bridges in basses and guitars before but if there was a sound difference it was because the bridge was broken in the first place!

i have always changed one for ease of use, adjustment, better comfort, aesthetics etc, never sound

Edited by Woodinblack
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1 hour ago, Woodinblack said:

I have changed bridges in basses and guitars before but if there was a sound difference it was because the bridge was broken in the first place!

i have always changed one for ease of use, adjustment, better comfort, aesthetics etc, never sound

Totally agree. 

After experimenting a lot, the only reason I change a bridge now is for mechanical improvements (string top loading or better ability to hold intonation etc) or for aesthetics. Tone wise it is minorly noticeable, if it all. 

I am fond of Hipshot hardware. It seems well made. 

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The BBOT type bridges are simple function.

And at least, even with the cheapest of basses, have a barrel saddle. compared with BBOT saddles of say an early strat, or shared saddle of a tele.

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IMO it is not the mass of the bridge that makes the difference (after all the extra mass over the BBOT in relation to the weight of the body is minimal) but the fact that they tend to be better engineered, especially with regard to reducing lateral movement of the saddles.

Of course if you play with heavy-weight flats it probably doesn't matter what bridge your bass has.

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5 hours ago, BigRedX said:

IMO it is not the mass of the bridge that makes the difference (after all the extra mass over the BBOT in relation to the weight of the body is minimal) but the fact that they tend to be better engineered, especially with regard to reducing lateral movement of the saddles.

+1.  I think this is the biggest improvement from an engineering/physics perspective that has been made since the initial design.  Beyond that, I'm not sure whether adding mass to the bridge makes much difference at all.

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On 03/10/2020 at 16:16, Lfalex v1.1 said:

I had positive results from putting a BadassII on a Squier 70s VMJazz. Sustain and playability were definitely better. 

That said,  I set it up to within an inch of its life after fitting the new bridge. I marked, cut and filed each saddle using the string as a guide, then did neck relief, action and intonation.

Any of the adjustments might have also improved the sustain and playability as well.

I'm struggling to see how a new bridge could improve playability. A thorough set up maybe. On a badass you can only adjust saddle height and intonation (ok string spacing through filing the saddles) so surely, offering the same adjustments,  a bbot bridge would offer the same playability?

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16 minutes ago, King Tut said:

I'm struggling to see how a new bridge could improve playability. A thorough set up maybe. On a badass you can only adjust saddle height and intonation (ok string spacing through filing the saddles) so surely, offering the same adjustments,  a bbot bridge would offer the same playability?

Not if you play by the bridge and the bolts dig into your hand when you are playing.

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13 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

Not if you play by the bridge and the bolts dig into your hand when you are playing.

Fair comment!

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I'm changing the bridge on my MIJ Jazz simply because the cheapie one that's fitted now is uncomfortable with the grubs sticking out, and the spacing is wrong. I'm not expecting an improvement in tone except maybe that the strings will sit directly over the pickup pole pieces.

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On the grub screw length problem, you can buy shorter ones.

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Bridges have a big effect on tone, but which is the right bridge for your bass is largely a matter of taste. What I will say is that on a Fender bass the BBOT bridge makes it sound the most" Fenderish", if that makes sense.

Big heavy bridges take away from the classic sound of a P or J in some way or other.  Some fancy bridges manage to retain the sound of Fender better than others and are just fine, but some are just too hifi sounding, for my taste at least. It's  trade off, in the end. The Fender Hi Mass is probably a safe bet, and a Badass or replica is also  a very acceptable substitute. 

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Si

15 minutes ago, Misdee said:

Bridges have a big effect on tone, but which is the right bridge for your bass is largely a matter of taste. What I will say is that on a Fender bass the BBOT bridge makes it sound the most" Fenderish", if that makes sense.

Big heavy bridges take away from the classic sound of a P or J in some way or other.  Some fancy bridges manage to retain the sound of Fender better than others and are just fine, but some are just too hifi sounding, for my taste at least. It's  trade off, in the end. The Fender Hi Mass is probably a safe bet, and a Badass or replica is also  a very acceptable substitute. 

I agree re BBOT most of the time, but which ‘big heavy’ bridges take away from classic Fender tone if Fender Hi Mass and Badass don’t? 

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I have recently changed the bridge of my MIJ Jazz from a threaded saddle BBOT (similar to the one pictured) to a Fender HI Mass. No question that the latter might be the better bridge from an engineering standpoint. Saddles do not shift or move about, solid feel, and all that jazz.

 

I am sure there is some difference in sound, but I found it to be negligible, and not necessarily an improvement. I would say that a hi mass bridge emphasises the character of the string over that of the tone wood, which I suppose makes sense. I did not find any meaningful differences with regard to sustain, but this bass did have sustain for days even before. 
 

Possibly, and I really am not sure about it, there is an impression of increased sustain because of an overall slower attack compared to a lighter bridge. In any event, for me it’s absolutely not worth it unless you find it aesthetically pleasing.

59F8E837-074D-4C8E-ACDD-4F5CBE186D4B.jpeg

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