Brass vs Steel vs Aluminum

Discussion in 'Tone Zone' started by ChasFred, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. ChasFred

    ChasFred Member

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    I have be considering swapping out the Zinc ( pot metal) bridge and tailpiece, with a brass or steel covered nickle ones. Has anyone done any tone comparisons?

    While my SG does sound good, I just think some better quality hardware might help enhance some more.
     
  2. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    So you're going to plug your SG into a 20-foot cord. The cord will go into, say a tuner pedal, then through a couple of effects pedals (even if they're off, the capacitance of the connections and wiring are present), through another 20-foot cord, into an amplifier, through an intentionally colored preamp circuit, through a master volume, through an unbalanced phase-inverter, then into a power amp, through an output transformer, through some more cabling, into an intentionally colored driver, usually at distorted levels, in a room (hopefully) full of bodies, with varying acoustic properties...

    and you want to know what a few ounces of metal at the bridge and tailpiece will do.

    OK.
     
  3. ChasFred

    ChasFred Member

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    Yeap, that's what I asked. I dont gig out, I am a house player. I do not use all the pedals and multi feet of cord that others may use. I also know that different metals have different musical qualities. Zinc being at the bottom of the list.
     
  4. flognoth

    flognoth Member

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    For what it's worth, my personal preference is brass saddles, steel bridges and bridge posts, aluminum tailpieces and steel tailpiece studs and bushings.
     
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  5. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Well, if you set eight or ten musicians at a big round table, and put down a
    pitcher of beer, and ask everybody to comment on this question...

    First thing is: get more beer.
    Next thing is: lots of us have ideas about what contributes to tone and sustain.
    Including the designers of your Gibson guitar. The guitar making business is highly
    competitive, and Gibson uses the materials they install for very good reasons.
    That's why your SG does sound good. Gibson is fighting for their life against other makers.

    Plenty of Gibson bashers will tell you that Gibson guitars are no good, and that they haven't
    been any good since _____________________ (your favorite year here).
    But it's all blowing smoke. Gibson makes excellent guitars. Your Nashville bridge and tailpiece
    are fine as issued and you can happily play them stock and get great tone and sustain.

    Having said all that, I'll recommend Tone Pros Bridge and Tailpiece. I don't know what
    metal they are made of, because I don't think the metal matters much. What I think matters is
    the coupling between the bridge and the studs that are anchored in the body. Tone Pros bridge
    has a pair of set screws that clamp the bridge tightly to the stud, and this is a good innovation.
    Good coupling equals good tone IMHO.

    These bridge parts are expensive, but are a definite upgrade. You pay a lot for a very slight
    difference in tone IMHO. I've done it. To me, this upgrade makes a dramatic difference on an
    Epiphone guitar, and a very slight difference on a Gibson. (because the Gibson already sounds great).

    For a player who is concerned that he isn't getting the best tone from his SG, I'll recommend
    that you swap not the bridge, but the saddles. Get a set made by Graph Tech, and install them
    and enjoy the new tech material and the self lubricating qualities of this innovation. There might
    be a very slight difference in your tone (not much) but I believe you'll break fewer strings.
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/acce...6775490-sku^H14007000000000@ADL4MF-adType^PLA

    A real stickler for tone might insist on bone saddles. That's another set you can buy and install.
    Or get a luthier to do it. The addition of bone saddles might affect your tone in a small way, like the
    Graph Tech material, which is supposed to be like synthetic Ivory. Bone is also self lubricating, and
    I have bone bridge saddles on my acoustic guitars (and a bone nut), for good reason.

    Note that I have not mentioned metal. I don't think Zinc or Brass (or Aluminum) makes any difference to your tone, unless you make your bridge saddles out of it, or make your guitar's nut out of it. Nickel plating or Chrome plating is only a superficial and aesthetic difference. Tone is unaffected.

    Gibson is using titanium now for these parts, and that might be the best way to go if you want modernistic technology. Bone is the way to go if you are tradition minded. Tusq is a great innovation. I've used Tusq nuts in three Epiphones and get great tone from the combination of a Tusq nut and a Tone Pros bridge. IMHO an upgrade like this will make a HUGE difference to an Epiphone, and will
    make a small difference (if any) to a Gibson.

    So I recommend you spend the money on a professional setup job for your Gibson, including a fret level and polish job, and buy a ten pack of new sets of strings and change them often, and just
    play the hell out of it. *grins

    Try top wrapping your strings, you might find that you don't have
    to buy a new bridge. This is the stock Nashville bridge, sounds great to me.
    Body 5b topwrap@100.jpg
     
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  6. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Oh and about the pedals... you might find that a few pedals can enhance your
    SG's tone all out of proportion to the cost of them. Pedals are fun. And they solve problems.

    Much more fun than tearing a fine guitar apart, trying to re-design it.
    if you buy a pedal and later decide you don't care for it, you can sell it and get another one.
    If you want more sustain, I recommend the MXR Dyna Comp. You can have a lot of
    fun with that. Eighty bucks... cheaper than a new bridge.

    If you want Overdrive, I recommend the Boss Blues Driver. So many guys think that
    they have to rip their pickups out, and install whatever, trying to increase the out put of
    their Gibson pickups, when all they need is this fine blue pedal. *grins

    We see so many posts where guys complain that their pickups are wimpy, or muddy,
    or both. To me that's all blowing smoke too... Just get an EQ pedal and completely
    control the tone of your guitar. A lot cheaper than new pickups, and you can turn it off
    or sell it if you decide it isn't what you hoped.
     
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  7. flognoth

    flognoth Member

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    Everyone is going to have their own opinions and preferences. Tone and feel preferences are subjective.

    For the sounds and feel I enjoy, I remove the electronics and hardware and replace them with ones I prefer. That's based off of trial and error / experimentation.

    That's my preference, just like that scene from High Fidelity...
     
  8. Norton

    Norton Active Member

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    Go check out Compton bridges. They make replacement bridges for gretsch guitars out of a wide variety of metals. Sound samples are right there....if you can't hear the difference then don't worry about it.

    Of course, listening to those samples on real speakers and not through the speakers on your laptop or phone is a good idea.

    Most of this kind of "argument" seems to be fueled by folks that are almost gleeful in their dismissal of any "perceived difference" of guitar parts etc...as snake oil and/or unnecessary $$$$ tossed down the proverbial drain.

    I say who cares?

    Cheap ceramic pickups can sound great....but they don't sound or react like a paf clone....or a dimarzio super distortion.

    Back to the OP's question....changing out your bridge setup....bushings screw posts saddles etc....can have a huge shift in what your guitar sounds like.

    It's not going to turn your SG into an oboe....but your guitar's voice could shift to a brighter voice with more attack or a softer attack with a deeper overall voice depending on what material you choose etc.

    Does it "matter"?

    Who cares? If it matters to you go for it.

    Compton bridges sound samples. Good luck with the swap.
     
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  9. ChasFred

    ChasFred Member

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    Hey Col Mustard, as always you offer the most sage advice. Everyone has given me good input. So far the only changes I have made are strictly cosmetic. In the end I may very well end up doing nothing at all . . . except I am going to change the wiring from modern to 50's, as soon as I mod the circuit board I got from Dave Johnson last week. Thanks everybody.
     
  10. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Well and I think Norton's got a good point to make.
    If I seem to be gleeful about things like that, it's not intentional.
    I have several guitars that I have modded extensively, and I actually enjoy
    doing it, even if there isn't much 'perceived difference" in the end. *grins

    When he suggests that you listen to sound samples carefully prepared by the
    maker of bridges, that's exactly what you were asking about. Good answer!

    So don't let me irritate anyone... I tend to offer a cautious tone when I think someone's
    proposing unnecessary mods to a fine instrument. I love to gut an Epiphone and rebuild
    it with good parts. I have two of them that can take their place onstage beside instruments
    costing eight times more, and not give up a thing.
     
  11. ChasFred

    ChasFred Member

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    I took no offense at all. This has been a very good thread/conversation.
     
  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Active Member

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    When I have a bland sounding guitar that I want more punch, more tone that grabs me and says keep me here on the wall and played not sold off to a crazy new owner I start with swapping caps. SGs do best for me with 0.033uF in higher voltage packages. If that doesn't lift it above mediocrity I either put a fixed resistor across the volume pot lugs to lower the effective pot resistance or put a new higher kohm volume pot in to brighten the guitar. If the pickups are really muddy and a higher kohm volume pot doesn't make them bright enough I put a 0.047uF cap in series with the hot lead of the too-dark pup or inline with the switch to fix both. Only then do I chase the pickups. The other stuff, is pointless to change, but there are a lot of believers of the material religions.

    Pots and caps together can vary with normal production accepted tolerances by +/- 15% so that the range from one guitar to another can be 30% different - that might be important for tone.

    .
     
  13. Gillean

    Gillean Well-Known Member

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    Up to this day, I'm still not sure what model of bridge should I get to my Gib SG Special 2011.

    My bridge was exploding strings some months ago and I had to rectificate my saddles and they are OK now, according to my luthier, next time it happens I will have to, at least, buy new saddles. Having that in mind I want to get the best replacement I can when the time comes, I mean, I could get only new saddles, but its my favorite guitar and I want to spoil her.

    In resume, can someone tell me the exact model should I get from tone pros?
     
  14. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    you might use your stock Nashville bridge and only replace the saddles
    with self lubricating parts like this:
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/acce...hville-post-2000-gibson-set?pfm=item_page.rr1

    If you want the great TonePros bridge,
    here's the description from the company website
    http://www.tonepros.com/lpm04-tonepros-standard-tuneomatictailpiece-set-small-postsnotched-saddles/

    and here it is offered by Musician's Friend.
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/acce...tic-tailpiece-set-small-posts-notched-saddles

    I don't know if they ship to Europe, but dealers in the EU ought to offer these parts. Good wishes to you in your search. Remember one of our mottos here:

    THE QUEST FOR TONE HAS NO FINISH LINE
    SO IT'S TECHNICALLY A DEATH MARCH
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
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  15. flognoth

    flognoth Member

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    I swap out the pots and caps before I change pickups. To me it makes a huge difference in tone and opens everything up. Then I can hear how the pickup actually sounds.

    Gibson historically uses 300k pots (in most of the non Custom Shop guitars) which can suppress the high end tones and muddy the sound. 500k or 550k pots are good replacements in my opinion. I prefer audio taper over linear taper pots.

    I agree with jvin248 and I try to match pots and get ones that are as close to specs as I can. I typically go with .022uF caps. A lot of people also go with .015uF in the neck and .022uF in the bridge.

    A lot of people have different preferences for bridges. I like the Faber ABR-59 bridge, they should be easy to get in Europe. Faber is a German company. Pigtail and Callaham also have good reputations. Everyone has different ones they like. Hearing sound samples are always good too.
     
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  16. Gillean

    Gillean Well-Known Member

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    thank you col., thank you for the info and thank you for being the great human being that you are. You are the man.
     
  17. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they are here in Europe

    https://www.thomann.de/gb/tonepros_lpbm04_b_tuneomatic_set_black.htm?ref=search_rslt_Bridge_213610_0
     
  18. Norton

    Norton Active Member

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    I wasn't taking pot shots at col mustard....or anyone in particular. Just a general observation.

    As long as you get a bridge that's set up for metric it should fit perfectly on your Epi sg.

    The pots and wiring scheme (50's/modern/independent volume ) all have a HUGE impact on the top end and how your volume and tone interact. There's a fantastic series of videos from a repair shop in Michigan on YouTube that lets you see and hear the differences in action.

    A great setup with a properly dressed nut and saddle slots is also really tough to over emphasize.
     
  19. Gillean

    Gillean Well-Known Member

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    I still havent bought a new tailpiece... but I need!

    Can someone confirm to me that a 2011 SG has 6 mm holding pins. I`m not in my town right now, I can measure myself and I believe i will buy a new one here in Barcelona.
     
  20. satchmodog

    satchmodog Member

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    So far I haven't replaced any bridges, but I have replaced a lof of nuts on my guitars and bass. Each plastic or bone or god knows what else was replaced by brass and I have been very pleased so far. The sure do seem to give you extra sustain, especially on the open notes. But this is an interesting thread since I bought another beat to death strat for a project and it's bridge is really scuzzy.
     

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