Harmonica Bridge Replacement?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Cableaddict, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    Question for any Norlin owners who successfully managed to replace the harmonica with an ABR-1, or other narrow bridge.

    How did you pull it off?

    1: You moved the bass insert?
    2: You made a Dan Erlwine type offset thumbscrew?
    3: Dumb luck?
    4: You just live with slightly off intonation?
    5: Who cares, my amp goes to eleven!

    Also, what replacement fits on the original posts, or what replacement posts fit in the original inserts, or ......
     
  2. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    And a related question:

    On a '73 SG with a repaired headstock break, if I drill out the insert holes, will the Gibson gods let me into Heaven when I die?

    I think not. I think they'll just shrug and say, "Who cares, my amp goes to eleven!"
     
  3. Rox

    Rox Active Member

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    If I had a Norlin with a Harmonica bridge, I'd keep it on there because they are the mutts nuts.
     
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  4. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    Nah, it's well established that they suck a lot of tone.
     
  5. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    Right answer.
     
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  6. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    Not as much as modding a guitar to put on something else.

    Some of the best tone you will ever hear out of an SG was from this guy...

    [​IMG]

    and I'd be willing to bet he never gave one second's thought as to whether that bridge was "sucking tone" or not.
     
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  7. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

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    I remember noticing Todd Rundgren had put a harmonica bridge on The Fool. I guess he liked having his tone sucked...
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    According to who exactly?
     
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  9. koaguilds

    koaguilds Well-Known Member

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    Replacing a Schaller harmonica bridge is a sin. They were the most structurally stable of the three by far and absolutely sucked ZERO tone, if anything the added mass enhanced the tone. Ask Adrian Smith.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  10. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    And coupled with a TP-6? The essence of the '70's.

    [​IMG]

    Honorable mentions to both the chainsaw case and the teardrop burst on the SG.
     
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  11. flognoth

    flognoth Active Member

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    I had mine replaced. I took mine to a luthier around here. He removed the harmonica bridge and the studs, plugged the holes with mahogany and put in a Faber ABR.

    He does amazing work. He's a magician. Unless you're looking for it and under the ABR, you can't tell it ever had a Harmonica.
     
  12. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Lesson one in fighter pilot school: Fly the plane you're in. I know some folks just have to change something, but a bridge that works is a bridge that works. I have a couple of ABR1s and despite the rattlin' retainer clips and puny studs, I keep 'em on as long as they're not squashed, leaning or rusted. A harmonica bridge is an iconic anachronism and should be preserved and cherished, in situ! (imho)
     
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  13. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    Ugh.
    Some of you guys have no clue.

    They are quite a few tests, easily found, that show the difference. (find them yourselves.) It's also WELL established with all guitars that a solid steel bridge transmits more vibration into the body than some cheap pot metal bridge, which is what the original harmonica is. Same for a large, heavy bridge vs a slim light one.

    There is also a solid stainless harmonica replacement that used to be made by Kluson, (discontinued) and every report said the same thing : huge difference in tone. Unfortunately, that's still a lot of metal. I'd much rather install a high quality ABR-1 (Callaham, ABM etc) and also have thicker, stainless steel studs.


    You guys feel free to play what you want.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  14. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    Flognorth,

    How would you describe the change in tone, dynamics, etc, after you changed yours?

    is the Faber solid steel?
     
  15. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    OMG, that settles it! Wow, what a fool I've been !

    Now please go away.
     
  16. koaguilds

    koaguilds Well-Known Member

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    The original Harmonica bridge was investment cast solid steel, made in Germany by Schaller. It's possible Gibson used some off brand of potmetal on some lower line models but the Schaller Harmonica was even used on the very high dollar L5-S solidbody, definitely an upper crust gibson.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
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  17. flognoth

    flognoth Active Member

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    I changed mine out because I prefer the feel of an ABR.

    I didn't notice any difference in tone from swapping the bridge out. I noticed a difference from changing out the stop bar to an aluminum one.
     
  18. Cableaddict

    Cableaddict Member

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    That was actually changed by Lomax, who owned it before Rundgren. The real "Fool" originally had a Maestro tremelo, then some odd thing Clapton rigged up, then the Harmonica. - Probably because it was an easier unit to retrofit after a Maestro.

    - Not that this matter at all in terms of what creates the best tone or dynamic respose.

    Sheesh ....

    (Great pic, though !)
     
  19. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    ^^ that. They were also used on the most expensive Gibson of the era, the The Les Paul:

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. koaguilds

    koaguilds Well-Known Member

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    Seems like transmission of the sound from bridge to a solidbody makes no quantitative difference anyways. Much like the tonewood debate on solidbodies, the prevailing factor is thought to be between the pickups and strings and not body vibration.
    The type of metal used would more likely affect the tone via direct contact with the strings then through the pickups and nothing to do with transmission of vibrations into solid wood. It's all really subjective and perception based.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
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