BRIDGES which adjusters?
ago I used to wonder what a bass would sound like with a solid bridge.
Every bass I worked on had to have wood adjusters put in without exception.
It just seemed to me that a solid bridge would sound better. Finally,
when I made my first bass I decided to try a solid bridge. I was very
happy with the sound - but of course that didn't tell me anything conclusive
about Solid vs. Adjustable. When the season changed I needed to either
cut a second bridge or install adjusters. I realized that putting in adjusters
would be a pretty darn good scientific experiment - I was very familiar
with my own bass. So I put them in and I could tell absolutely no difference.
Now that just sez that I couldn't tell - somebody else might. Over the
years I heard many different opinions - both pro and con from all types
of players. I eventually came to the opinion that the pros of adjusters
outweigh the cons. But what material to use? I consulted John Schaeffer
[ex-NY Phil principal] on the matter. If anyone knows tone - he does.
John claimed that anyone saying they could hear the difference between
wood and aluminum adjusters was, well, I think he might have said they
were in error. That was good enough for me. I started making my own out
of aluminum. This material offers several major advantages over wood.
Traditionally, adjusters are made from two parts - a shaft and a disk.
These are affixed together. The two parts can separate under use - sometimes
with catastrophic results. This happens quite frequently with wooden adjusters
[with the exception of the ones made by Stenholm - distributed by Robertson.
Works of art!]. Most wooden adjusters are poorly made third world imports.
In addition, the nature of using two pieces makes it very difficult to
make the disk line up exactly at 90 degrees to the shaft. This is crucial
to fluid use. Lastly, because of the difficulty of threading the wood
shaft, the shaft itself must have a large diameter. This causes it to
occupy a large portion of the bridge leg diameter, often resulting in
cracked legs. My adjusters are one piece, machined from a solid cylinder
of aluminum. This eliminates all possibility of breakage. It also insures
that the horizontal and vertical are precisely at 90 degrees. Because
the threads on the aluminum don't break like the wood, the shaft can be
much thinner-virtually eliminating the chance of cracking the bridge leg.
I also make the disk part greater in diameter than is usually seen in
order to ease the turning. They rule! I never claim to be an expert on
tone, so I won't go out on a limb and say what sounds better - aluminum/wood/solid.
But I do know structure and solid aluminum beats wood hands down. Fortunately
sound structure seems to be a component of good tone.
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