The bridge of an electric guitar is one of the most crucial parts. It supports the string, which is the main part of the guitar, that produces the tone. Every guitarist has his own choice when it comes to bridge design. There are many common types of electric guitar bridges available, but if we think broadly, then we can shorten it down to only two kinds — fixed bridges and tremolos.
For those who are new to playing guitars or guitar set up, and do not know which type of bridge would be suitable for them while playing an electric guitar, keep reading this article. Here we shall discuss the various guitar bridge types.
*Looking for a guitar? Check out these best electric guitar for the money options.
Fixed Bridges and its Types
As the name suggests, a fixed bridge is screwed to the body of the guitar. This kind of bridge is rather convenient, and they remain fixed in one place. In a fixed bridge, the strings of the guitar run from the bridge to the headstock. This type of bridge of the electric guitar is low maintenance, lots of tuning stability and is preferred by many guitarists, especially the ones who are new.
1. Hard Tail Bridge
The hardtail bridge is one of the easiest to handle. There isn’t any tremolo arm present in there. This is the kind of bridge which you will find in a telecaster electric guitar. It is really easy to string your guitar if you have this kind of bridge with an adjustable saddle. You just put in the string of the guitar through the back of the guitar body and then tighten it with the tuning pegs. It is simple, easy, and the best option for a newbie. The individual saddles that are adjustable make set up a simple job.
2. Tune-O-Matic Bridge
the Tune O Matic Bridge has two parts, A tailpiece and the actual bridge. The tailpiece of the type of bridge has some screws, and the actual bridge has the saddles. If you have seen the Gibson Les Paul collection, then you must have noticed the Tune O Matic Bridge.
However, there is a variation of the Tune O Matic bridge in which the tailpiece is actually missing. You just put the string around to the back of the guitar as you do in any other electric guitar. Tune O Matic bridge is superb for intonations; however, the quality really depends on the saddle.
3. Wrap Around Bridge
The wrap-around bridge is actually the oldest kind of bridge to exist. If you see guitars from 1940 or 1950, then you will notice a wrap-around bridge. It was the popularity of the wrap-around guitar bridge that drove Gibson to create the Tune O Matic Bridge.
The basic difference between the Tune O Matic bridge and the wrap-around bridge is that in Tune O Matic, the bridge and the tailpiece are two different units, but in the wrap-around bridge, it is served as a single unit. The name of this bridge is derived from the fact that in the wrap-around bridge, the strings are actually wrapped around the neck of the guitar.
Not only in vintage guitar, but you will also find a wrap around the bridge in the entry-level electric guitars. This is because this kind of bridge is incredibly inexpensive to produce.
Tremolo Bridges and Its Types
The tremolo bridge of an electric guitar is a non-locking type. You will need considerable experience to adjust this kind of bridge. As it is a non-locking type, you can adjust the guitar strings’ tension by moving the bridge with the assistance of the tremolo arm. This decides the pitch of your guitar.
Tremolo bridges (also sometimes called a floating bridge) look very fancy, but they are a little higher on maintenance than the fixed electric guitar bridges. Let’s have a look at the different kind of tremolo bridges that you can go for.
1. Synchronized Tremolos
The synchronized tremolo is the simplest and the easiest type of bridge in electric guitars. This type of bridge was invented in the 1950s, and it is also called the Fender Bridge. However, it is not only in the Fender guitars you will find synchronized tremolo but also in brands like Wilkinson.
Synchronized tremolo looks like a hardtail bridge. However, there are distinct differences because you can use the tremolo bar in this kind of bridge plate. When you use the tremolo bar, it moves the fixture, which allows the pitch to be modified.
2. Locking Tremolos
The name locking tremolo looks paradoxical because, tremolos by nature do not lock, and are not fixed in a place. Probably the most well known brand is Floyd Rose. The locking tremolo has clamps that lock the strings in the place. There are two types of locking tremolos—single locking tremolo, and a double-locking tremolo. In a single locking tremolo, there is a clamp only at the bridge. In a double locking tremolo, there is a clamp at the bridge and also one at the locking nut.
Setting up this kind of tremolos can take more time than any other type of bridge. It can be a hassle to string this type of tremolo because, in many cases, you might have to cut the ball end of the strings for adjustment.
3. Bigsby Tremolos
Bigsby is the first kind of tremolo to exist and a very well known successful vibrato system. These were a rage in the 1950s and the later part of the 20th century. However, because of the evolving types of bridges, Bigsby tremolos have been phased out.
The Bigsby tremolo has a tailpiece separate from the bridge, which comes along with a saddle. The springs of a Bigsby tremolo are placed under the bar, which is pretty different from the common electric guitar bridges we see these days.
4. Stetsbar Tremolos
Stetsbar tremolo is a system that you can install to the hardware of your existing guitar. These fit onto the tailpieces of the electric guitar and is super innovative. You will generally not find this type of bridge when you go around for shopping. However, if you want one, you can get it custom made for your guitar. You will have to buy a Stetsbar tremolo separately and get it installed on your instrument. If you are serious about getting one of these, then it is best to check a few Stetsbar tremolos online first.