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ZAMAK vs Aluminum TOM Bridge

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I plan to swap out the stock bridge on my SG Faded T with a TonePros. However, after communicating with customer service I learned that I'll have two options after NAMM 2018: ZAMAK (a zinc alloy and their current standard) or aluminum.

 

I'm not foolish enough to ask "which would sound better" because that would be entirely subjective. But I wonder if anyone here has experience with different bridge materials who could say something about qualitative differences in tone between heavier and lighter bridge metals. Also, does heavier lead to more sustain, or is the issue more complicated?

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Good question. I've often wondered the same thing myself.

 

Logic suggests there would be a difference between bridge materials. After all that's why traditional archtops use wooden bridges (though they are acoustic of course!).

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Guest Farnsbarns

Zamak is about the cheapest and nastiest metalic alloy in the world. It's very light, but that's because it full of air bubbles. It's incredibly brittle and generally not useful for load bearing components. I would never fit a zamak bridge, or indeed a bridge made by anyon who had previously marketed a zamak bridge. It is the metaphoric pig iron of today.

 

I think you need to say why you're changing the bridge for anyone to form any idea as to what would suit you best. I'd be aiming for nickel plated brass. All that said, I'd be surprised if you could hear a difference (until the zamak bridge collapses. You'll hear that.)

Edited by Farnsbarns

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Zamak is about the cheapest and nastiest metalic alloy in the world. It's very light, but that's because it full of air bubbles...

I had a 1973 Porsche 914. The 914 had very stylish door-flip-handles which were made from cast Zamak. They failed, structurally, to an alarming extent.

 

Zamak is just a different way to spell C.R.A.P.

 

Pip.

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I think you need to say why you're changing the bridge for anyone to form any idea as to what would suit you best.

 

Many people report better sustain with locking systems. I figured I would try one out and see for myself.

 

The basic tone of the stock aluminum hardware is okay with me, so maybe I'll go with TonePros' new aluminum bridge. GuitarFetish offers brass locking bridges and tailpieces as an alternative. Faber offers a third alternative.

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Many people report better sustain with locking systems. I figured I would try one out and see for myself.

 

The basic tone of the stock aluminum hardware is okay with me, so maybe I'll go with TonePros' new aluminum bridge. GuitarFetish offers brass locking bridges and tailpieces as an alternative. Faber offers a third alternative.

 

It's good to try things. But keep in mind that the stew that is this thing called "sustain" is made up of about 50 ingredients, and the mechanics of the bridge are probably negligible compared to everything else.

 

All the players I learned my legendary sustain [laugh] from didn't have locking bridges on their Les Pauls and SGs and Explorers. It's more what you do and how you do it than what you do it with.

 

rct

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Many people report better sustain with locking systems. I figured I would try one out and see for myself.

 

 

why not. Good idea. Let us know how it goes.

 

 

 

BTW I am trying out ideas to reduce sustain on my Gibsons (without losing output). Yes really. [biggrin]

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BTW I am trying out ideas to reduce sustain on my Gibsons (without losing output). Yes really. [biggrin]

 

Try Picato flatwound strings!!! [biggrin]

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I’m an old guy. I’ve been playing (for not much money) for 60+ years. I own 14 guitars. I don’t take 14 to a gig...sometimes two...lately one.  In my opinion...how you ( or I, or anyone) sounds has more to do with how you play, than what you play on. If you can’t manage to sustain a note on your Strat...unplugged sitting on the sofa...and your pedalboard will make you sound like your fave hero, I feel sorry for you. Sustaining that note with your hand is playing guitar...stepping on a pedal is...stepping on a pedal.  I’m not taking some kind of elitist attitude here and no one would likely ever refer to me as one of the greats of my time...just a guy that’s done this before...lots.  If you’re reliant on your “pedals” and can’t manage without them...learn to do just that. The time WILL come when it’ll be very handy. Y’all be well and play as often as you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I tired a Wilkinson GTB-lite that I believe is aluminum and found it too bright and metallic.  It took over the tone of the guitar.  Also it leaves something to be desired in the looks department.  

I replaced it with a MojoAxe lightning bolt made of ZAMAC.  huge improvement.  Sounds like a guitar again and it looks great. Strangely enough it intonates better too. 

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1 minute ago, merciful-evans said:

See! I told you if we resurrected a 2 year old thread we'd catch the Sgt again.

Fuk

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Zamak is a high grade form of Zinc. Tone pros rocks because of the the little set screw that locks it to the bridge post. Great tone improvement. The string spread is a bit wider from E to E on the tone pros. Gibson specs are a 2 inch spread. measure your guitar E to E spread. make sure before you buy.  A Stainless Steel bridge will give you the greatest tone enhancing improvement. A stainless steel Nashville bridge   from"Philadelphia Luthier Supply".com  has a 2 inch E to E string spread.  An ABR-1 Stainless Steel bridge from "Calliham Guitars.com" you'll have to notch the bridge saddles. a set of nut files or take it to a shop will get it done.   both bridges ROCK.  Keep your OEM tail piece.  you might have to adjust your amp settings down a tad with the all the Clear Presence of tone enhancements from the stainless steel.  the OEM Zinc Gibson Bridges are there to sell the guitar. It gives you basic middle of the rode tone and if that's what you like COOL.  up grade or customize your sound with a different bridge of you choice. brass aluminum stainless steel and titanium are all upgraded bridge material from the  OEM ZINC

Edited by JWH
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On 1/4/2018 at 9:42 AM, jdgm said:

 

Try Picato flatwound strings!!! [biggrin]

Get a lighter tail piece. an aluminum Gotoh TOM tail piece is one of the lightest.  Light tail piece = less sustain.     A Heavy stainless steel tail piece = more sustain.  the Gibson OEM tail piece fall in the middle.

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On 1/4/2018 at 9:38 AM, merciful-evans said:

 

why not. Good idea. Let us know how it goes.

 

 

 

BTW I am trying out ideas to reduce sustain on my Gibsons (without losing output). Yes really. [biggrin]

Locking Tuners is the 1st hardware upgrade I install on my new guitars. Grover 502's drop in replacement.  you get less sustain with a less or lighter aluminum TOM tail piece.

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1 hour ago, JWH said:

Locking Tuners is the 1st hardware upgrade I install on my new guitars. Grover 502's drop in replacement.  you get less sustain with a less or lighter aluminum TOM tail piece.

 

Nylon saddles would give a better result, but finding them? They are either sold with  a new bridge or are expensive due to rarity.

I wish I still had access to a small milling machine. I'd knock a set up easily enough.

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I put the Pinnacle Machined Steel Nashville on both of my SG Standards. Notching and spacing were perfect. I don't know about increased sustain but I'd say they ring out a bit stronger than the ZAMAK. I wish I had tried the Bell Brass version on one of them to see if there is any difference. I love the fact that the saddles are adjusted by an allen wrench versus a phillips or flat head. I know I definitely will never have bridge collapse with the machined billet of steel construction.

Edited by SGgypsyboy

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10 hours ago, Dub-T-123 said:

I’ve actually been interested in getting old bridges like the one in this video since I saw it. Just don’t want to pay $1,000 for a bridge..

 

At least in this video the old bridge seems to sound better to me

 

https://youtu.be/d8NWQSjHQHs

 

Me too. Quite a difference! The modern bridge did have more sustain though, so it probably suits most players today better.

I'm still wondering how much the saddles have to do with this.

 

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There are some people who really put a lot of thought and money into using the correct materials for the hardware on their gibson. 
 

from what I understand the classic recipe is basically -

lightweight aluminum tailpiece 

steel tailpiece studs

zamak no wire ABR-1 with large brass saddles 

brass bridge studs and thumb wheels 

 

If you have all the correct parts in place, the resonant frequency of the guitar should be closer to that of its vintage original equivalent 

 

It would be awesome if Gibson made an exact reissue of the bridge hardware just like they did with the plastics on the Historic series

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