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Watersilk

R7 - Wired ABR1 Bridge?

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Some time ago I changed the Gibson ABR1 bridge in my R7 to a Callaham machined steel bridge. Today, I was just looking at the original bridge that came with the guitar and I was surprised to find that it's a wired version.

 

8mz8Kj8.jpg

 

M6AePcQ.jpg

 

 

The model is a 2007 R7 VOS, which I bought secondhand.

 

Can someone tell me if a wired ABR1 would have been fitted as original specification to this guitar at the factory when it was new?

 

Also, would a wired ABR1' have been fitted as original hardware to Goldtop's by Gibson in 1957?

 

Finally, is there a difference in 'performance' between wired and non wired ABR1 bridges?

Edited by Watersilk

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I am not an expert on original or historic re-issues of '57s. But a little internet searching resulted in the following:

 

No wire from 1954 - 1962

Wire from 1962 - 1975

Nashville bridge from 1975 on. But of course there are models still made with ABR-1 bridges and not the Nashville wider style.

 

But based on that it seems strange that yours had a wired bridge.

 

Perhaps others that own them and know more about them can shed some light on the subject.

Edited by Twang Gang

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I am not an expert on original or historic re-issues of '57s. But a little internet searching resulted in the following:

 

No wire from 1954 - 1962

Wire from 1962 - 1975

Nashville bridge from 1975 on. But of course there are models still made with ABR-1 bridges and not the Nashville wider style.

 

But based on that it seems strange that yours had a wired bridge.

 

You ask about the difference between them - the wire was there to hold the saddles and screws into the bridge when changing strings or taking the bridge off. The more modern ABR-1s without the wire have a little clip that keeps the screw and the saddle in the bridge even if there are no strings holding them down.

 

Perhaps others that own R7s and know more about them can shed some light on the subject.

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...The model is a 2007 R7 VOS, which I bought secondhand. Can someone tell me if a wired ABR1 would have been fitted as original specification to this guitar at the factory when it was new?

 

Also, would a wired ABR1' have been fitted as original hardware to Goldtop's by Gibson in 1957?

 

Finally, is there a difference in 'performance' between wired and non wired ABR1 bridges?

Answering your questions in order;

 

First recorded use of a non-wire ABR-1 in a reissue (AFAIK) was in 2002. Yours? No idea, I'm afraid, but I would have thought Not. Does it matter? It has a Gibson ABR-1 and, believe me, if you are a player you want a wire there. My guess is that the guitar was bought to be used and as such a wire-ABR-1 is a no-brainer. Seriously. Wireless ABR-1's are fine for authenticity but a disaster in real life. Which is precisely WHY the wire was introduced...

No. The wire was introduced in 1962 (as Twang Gang has already mentioned).

Saddle-loss-as-a-result-of-string-breakage-apart, you mean? No. No there isn't.

 

Pip.

Edited by pippy

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I am not an expert on original or historic re-issues of '57s. But a little internet searching resulted in the following:

 

No wire from 1954 - 1962

Wire from 1962 - 1975

Nashville bridge from 1975 on. But of course there are models still made with ABR-1 bridges and not the Nashville wider style.

 

But based on that it seems strange that yours had a wired bridge.

 

Perhaps others that own them and know more about them can shed some light on the subject.

 

Thank you for the reply Twang Gang. This is what I thought, that the wire was a later edition and not present on the fifties models; that's really why I posted the questions here, i'm wondering if this bridge actually came with this guitar when it was new, or had the last owner swapped the original bridge for this one...

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...I'm wondering if this bridge actually came with this guitar when it was new, or had the last owner swapped the original bridge for this one...

As I said in my earlier post it is likely that this bridge is a replacement; possibly by someone who used this guitar 'live' and couldn't prioritise "historical accuracy" over practicality.

Lose a bridge saddle as a result of a string breakage and the guitar is, to all intents and purposes, useless.

 

Pip.

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Answering your questions in order;

 

First recorded use of a non-wire ABR-1 in a reissue (AFAIK) was in 2002. Yours? No idea, I'm afraid, but I would have thought Not. Does it matter? It has a Gibson ABR-1 and, believe me, if you are a player you want a wire there. Seriously. Wireless ABR-1's are fine for authenticity but a disaster in real life. Which is precisely WHY the wire was introduced...

No. The wire was introduced in 1962 (as Twang Gang has already mentioned).

Saddle-loss-as-a-result-of-string-breakage-apart, you mean? No. No there isn't. NO! THERE ISN'T ! ! !

 

Pip.

 

 

Does it matter? I will most probably still be alive tomorrow morning, the sun will most probably rise, the guitar will most probably work, with or without the wire. No, it's not life-threatening.

 

Thank you for your reply.

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Does it matter? I will most probably still be alive tomorrow morning, the sun will most probably rise, the guitar will most probably work, with or without the wire. No, it's not life-threatening.

 

Thank you for your reply.

Sensible approach, Watersilk!

 

msp_thumbup.gif

 

Pip.

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As I said in my earlier post it is likely that this bridge is a replacement; possibly by someone who used this guitar 'live' and couldn't prioritise "historical accuracy" over practicality.

Lose a bridge saddle as a result of a string breakage and the guitar is, to all intents and purposes, useless.

 

Pip.

 

The fact that the addition of the wire makes the bridge a more practical design makes me pleased to have posted this question here. It's also interesting to me, that the last owner could have fitted this bridge as an improvement over the original.

 

When you buy a secondhand guitar from a shop you are cut off from it's history, to some this would not be of interest, to me it is. Joe Bonamassa is a player, he appears to show an interest in the previous life of his guitars, I'm sure like many of us here, we see ourselves as caretakers of these instruments, an episode in their life; we play them, enjoy them and at sometime, hand them on to someone else. Because these guitars are not exactly knocked out on a production line and each one is different, they do have an identity, a personality, surely you can understand that some people will show an interest in their instrument beyond playing it.

 

I have now learnt that the bridge may not be the original one and it may have been fitted to protect the loss of a saddle. That's rather like replacing the jack plate with a metal one for reliability.

 

Thank you.

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When you buy a secondhand guitar from a shop you are cut off from it's history, to some this would not be of interest, to me it is. Joe Bonamassa is a player, he appears to show an interest in the previous life of his guitars, I'm sure like many of us here, we see ourselves as caretakers of these instruments, an episode in their life; we play them, enjoy them and at sometime, hand them on to someone else. Because these guitars are not exactly knocked out on a production line and each one is different, they do have an identity, a personality, surely you can understand that some people will show an interest in their instrument beyond playing it.

I couldn't agree more and I understand to a point perhaps beyond that which you mention.

My first Fender guitar - a rubbish but very collectible instrument nowadays (Swinger) - was owned by a musician who played on The Beatles 'Penny Lane' album cut. My '95 R0 was pretty much custom built from 25% through its build process by a VERY famous UK-based blues-rock guitarist and I had always longed to know the history behind my now-ex '64 Strat in the years between its manufacture and my buying it in Dec. 1979. History is utterly fascinating and I wish I had written provenance for the interesting bits I've owned over the years.

 

A non-wire ABR-1 is available to buy. If you want one go ahead and buy one. Fit it.

 

Pip.

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I couldn't agree more and I understand to a point perhaps beyond that which you mention.

My first Fender guitar - a rubbish but very collectible instrument nowadays (Swinger) - was owned by a musician who played on The Beatles 'Penny Lane' album cut. My '95 R0 was pretty much custom built from 25% through its build process by a VERY famous UK-based blues-rock guitarist and I had always longed to know the history behind my now-ex '64 Strat in the years between its manufacture and my buying it in Dec. 1979. History is utterly fascinating and I wish I had written provenance for the interesting bits I've owned over the years.

 

A non-wire ABR-1 is available to buy. If you want one go ahead and buy one. Fit it.

 

Pip.

 

It's odd how some bad guitars end up being collectable!

 

Buy a non-wire ABR1? After what you have now told me about the wire! Good heavens!

 

Everytime I see that wire, I will think of your words! :)

 

Cheers!

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I've always wondered about the wired bridge, my 67 ES 330 has one and I never connected it with "saddle loss prevention". My new Memphis ES 335 has the skinny bridge with no wire. It's an expensive guitar, why no wire? I briefly had a late sixties ES 335 Light burst recently that did have the wire, I believe it did come from the custom shop. Nice guitar but the neck was just a tad too skinny for my fingers. I've heard of some players that had trouble with the wire causing a "rattle"...Mike

post-89356-041356900 1519252594_thumb.jpg

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I couldn't agree more and I understand to a point perhaps beyond that which you mention.

My first Fender guitar - a rubbish but very collectible instrument nowadays (Swinger) - was owned by a musician who played on The Beatles 'Penny Lane' album cut. My '95 R0 was pretty much custom built from 25% through its build process by a VERY famous UK-based blues-rock guitarist and I had always longed to know the history behind my now-ex '64 Strat in the years between its manufacture and my buying it in Dec. 1979. History is utterly fascinating and I wish I had written provenance for the interesting bits I've owned over the years.

 

A non-wire ABR-1 is available to buy. If you want one go ahead and buy one. Fit it.

 

Pip.

 

Knowing that the wire was a later edition to the ABR bridge in the 60's, I assumed it was added because production standards had dropped and therefore tolerances were not as tight; therefore fixing a problem that shouldn't have arisen in the first place.

I changed the bridge because this guitar is heavy and dense, I felt it could do with more sustain and attack. The tone was there, which is why I bought the guitar in the first place. The Callaham bridge has increased sustain and the guitar is livelier, but no wire! I tried the same modification with a lighter Japanese Tokai, it made that guitar sound like a banjo!

Losing a saddle due to a string breaking has never happened to me, probably because I haven't been playing non wire bridges long enough or hard enough, but I think a string breaking in the middle of a gig would be a show stopper anyway, surely a reason to reach for the spare guitar; but I understand your thinking, if you're on stage, you need the confidence that everything is going to stay put, where it's supposed to be for functionality.

Thank you for explaining the reason for the wire, I truly thought it was to correct a design/production fault.

Ted McCarty was certainly a clever guy, but I think he took a wrong turn with the evolution of the bridge. Wraparound bridges can function at a higher level, especially those which don't have moveable intonation screws with separate saddles.

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I've always wondered about the wired bridge, my 67 ES 330 has one and I never connected it with "saddle loss prevention". My new Memphis ES 335 has the skinny bridge with no wire. It's an expensive guitar, why no wire? I briefly had a late sixties ES 335 Light burst recently that did have the wire, I believe it did come from the custom shop. Nice guitar but the neck was just a tad too skinny for my fingers. I've heard of some players that had trouble with the wire causing a "rattle"...Mike

 

Yes, I've also heard people complain about the wire causing rattles. I've been playing a Hamer for years, it has an ABR bridge with a wire, I never heard any rattles coming from that bridge or from the guitar. It's a beautiful guitar, just so alive and dynamic.

Pip's explanation of the need for a wire was the first time I've heard this. It has reminded me that we should never guess why something is the way it is, better to try and discover the reason, I'm now going to look into this, because what's the use of spending a lot of money on a new bridge that doesn't have a wire, when the design needs one for practicality?

An ES 335, I'm just guessing, but wasn't that model introduced towards the end of the fifties? If so, Gibson would have fitted a wireless bridge because that's historically correct, rather like the nylon nut that both my R7 and R9 had. Those nuts now live in the cases where they belong.

The ES 335 sounds nice! All I can afford at the moment is an Epiphone Dot, about three times the price of that Callaham bridge!

Edited by Watersilk

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I am not an expert on original or historic re-issues of '57s. But a little internet searching resulted in the following:

 

No wire from 1954 - 1962

Wire from 1962 - 1975

Nashville bridge from 1975 on. But of course there are models still made with ABR-1 bridges and not the Nashville wider style.

 

But based on that it seems strange that yours had a wired bridge.

 

Perhaps others that own them and know more about them can shed some light on the subject.

 

Thank you for the figures Twang Gang. I have been doing a little research on the use of wired bridges on reissues and according to one person's opinion, Gibson have gone through phases with their historic reissues, alternating between fitting non-wired and wired ABR 1's. 2003 to 2008 are mentioned as wired years, so my 2007 Goldtop fits into this 'wired' period.

 

fb5Zz8L.jpg

 

 

I think that the wired ABR 1 bridge I removed from this guitar is the original bridge, it was covered in the same gunk as the rest of the metal hardware on the guitar, as Gibson did, it displays very bad tarnishing which is uneven, looking induced, rather than natural. As Pip stated, Gibson non-wired ABR 1 bridges are not popular with working musicians, but this guitar doesn't bear the marks of a working life, there are no scratches or dents at all, just a strange mark on the top, either a finish imperfection, forearm wear or repaired damage, but this is the only place, the rest of the guitar is perfect.

 

soRluuh.jpg  I can hear Pip saying, does it matter? Yes! I love this guitar and I was interested to know the original specs it left the factory with. Along the way I have learnt a little about the ABR 1 bridge too. :)

Edited by Watersilk

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Very nice guitar. About identical to mine. It was purchased in 2009 and definitely came with the wired ABR 1.

 

Yes, Goldtops are really lovely, a few years ago I found a nice Traditional which I almost bought, I tried to reason with myself, why buy another Les Paul just to have a Goldtop model? It was £1,200 which was a very good price for a new Traditional, it was an older stock guitar, I believe the Gold colour had been discontinued a few months before, plus the price of the new stock had just risen dramatically.

 

It was one of those rare times that a sensible decision was perhaps the wrong one; at least one I regretted.

 

Years later, when I asked for two guitars, one with P90's and another with Humbuckers to demo a Blackstar Artisan combo amp, the salesman grinned as he handed me a 1959 Les Paul Special, "it's the only guitar we have that has P90's, then there is this rather nice Goldtop for the Humbuckers!"

 

The unrequited love for the Goldtop Traditional came to the fore, that missed opportunity! Here then was a rather nice Custom Shop Goldtop, perhaps there was a reason for missing the Traditional?

 

There wasn't a scratch or a dent, just an area of imperfection, or a surface repair? The owner I was told was retiring in France and selling a few guitars. compared to my R9, it's quite different, heavier, denser wood and of course a very bulky neck profile that more than fills my small hands, this time I was trying to let my heart have a bigger say in the deal, I think what did it for me, was the colour of the back, that gold-brown with brown control plates; stupid really, the colour has nothing to do with it's performance as an instrument. So, £800 more than the new Traditional and she was mine.

 

Funny really, I think of sunbursts as jeans and tee shirts, while Custom's and Goldtop's as suits; while a pair of jeans look best when they are well worn in, a suit just doesn't look right if it has holes!

 

7c1koR5.jpg

 

This is a VOS model, so I needed to polish all the gunk off, plus the hardware was heavily tarnished. When I changed the pickups to a Tom Holmes set, I specified shiny covers, (non-potted of course like the original Burstbuckers fitted to that model) also a machined ABM aluminium stopbar and of course that Callaham steel (non-wired) bridge, both of which are shiny. I also changed some of the screws to natural Stainless ones; so now a nice shiny Goldtop!

 

wf20SdM.jpg

 

Having done some more research on the non-wired/wired bridge, I have have a clearer idea of what this is all about.

 

The ABR1 is supposed to be made of Zinc, but I believe that it's more likely that it is some kind of Zinc alloy; if so, the hardness of the material would depend upon the ratios of the metals employed in the alloy. These bridges would have been cast, it's a fairly cheap process but doesn't produce 'exact' forms. Machining a bridge bar from a solid piece of metal controlled by a computer, produces a much harder and more exact form with tighter tolerances. The saddle intonation screws are I believe a push in fit, therefore, pushing then into a softer, alloy 'cast' bridge bar might not be a secure fit, while pushing them into a CNC 'machined' steel bar is a completely different prospect, they 'should' snap securely in. However, it could be argued that removing the intonation screws and refitting them many times could enlarge the groves and leave them lose, ready to pop out when a string beaks!

 

Really though, how many times are you going to remove the intonation screws to change worn-out saddles? I think this is the reason why machined bridges such as ABM and Callaham's don't have or even require a wire; perhaps the early ABR1's also didn't need a wire because they were harder? I do remember reading somewhere that the earlier ABR1 bridges were a different shape to later ones, this suggests a different mold and different manufacturer.

 

Whatever the story is, my reasoning for using the Callaham bridge had nothing to do with wire, I was after more sustain and vibration transfer into the body; which this bridge clearly does, in comparison to the original Gibson-branded 'cast' bridge.

 

If you are reading this Pip, I think you could gig this non-wired bridge with confidence.

Edited by Watersilk

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...If you are reading this Pip, I think you could gig this non-wired bridge with confidence...

I'm sure you could.

And I sincerely hope you get the opportunity - it would be very fitting that the guitar gets some proper play-time.

 

Pip.

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I'm sure you could.

And I sincerely hope you get the opportunity - it would be very fitting that the guitar gets some proper play-time.

 

Pip.

 

Yes, it will, for me, if a guitar doesn't inspire, it stays in its case, this one just begs to be played now. Actually, to be fair, this one was also a player before I modified her, she's just even better now.

 

Thanks for your input :)

Edited by Watersilk

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