How to Change the Bridge on Your Electric Guitar

How to Change the Bridge on Your Electric Guitar

The bridge and the nut are the two places where the strings and the body of the guitar meet. This makes them some of the most critical tonal elements of your guitar. Therefore, the quality of your bridge and how it is connected to the guitar will have a major effect on how much string vibration is transferred between the two, and subsequently, how it sounds. Learn more considerations about guitar bridges with us.

So, let’s get straight to it and find out…

What is the perfect Bridge for my Guitar?

There are different types of guitar bridges, and what is the best bridge for your guitar will depend on your guitar types and the quality of the bridge that is currently on it. If it’s a higher-end guitar, you probably won’t gain much from swapping out the bridge unless it has issues such as intonation problems or you are constantly breaking strings on the saddles of the bridge.

However, if you have a budget or even a mid-range guitar, upgrading to a new bridge, saddle, tailpiece set could improve its playability and tone significantly.

Next, let’s find out…

How difficult is it to Change the Bridge on my Electric Guitar?

This will depend on what bridge you currently have on your guitar and what you want to replace it with. For example, if you have a standard fixed-bridge Telecaster and want to put a Floyd Rose Tremelo system on it, then I would suggest that you take it to your local Luthier and let him do it because it will be a lot of work.

However, most of us don’t want such radical changes, and the majority of DIY bridge replacements are easily accomplished. The trick is to make sure that what you are buying is as close to the size of the bridge you are replacing as possible. So, get your ruler out and start measuring.

If you’re careful about what you buy, most bridges will fit perfectly out of the box, just unscrew the old one, screw in the new one, and get some new strings on.

However, if you are going for something a little more unusual, you will need to know…

How to Change the Bridge on an Electric Guitar

The first and possibly most important aspect of fitting a bridge to your electric guitar is making sure that it is perfectly positioned. This will ensure that you can intonate it precisely after it is in place. If you want to know more about intonation, check out Guitar Intonation - A Beginners Guide (add link)

Finding the Scale Length of your neck

Using a meterstick (or a smaller ruler if you don’t have one) to measure the length from the edge of the nut (where the fingerboard starts) to the apex of the 12th fret. Then use this measurement to measure from the 12th fret to where the bridge will be positioned and mark the body of the guitar in two places using a pencil - one in line with the low E edge of the neck, and one in line with the Top e edge of the neck.

As a safety measure, it is also a good idea to double the measurement and use your meterstick to check that the two marks are in the locations needed. ‘Measure twice cut once’ is always recommended.

Now using a pencil, draw a line between the two marks. This line, which we will call the intonation line, will show where the saddles need to be positioned.

Ensuring that the Bridge is lined up with the Neck

Now, take your meterstick and hold it tightly against the bass side of the neck and across the body of the guitar, and mark where it crosses the intonation line. Then move the meterstick to the treble side of the neck and do the same. You should now have two marks across your intonation line that show you the outer edges of where the saddles will be positioned.

Marking the center of your bridge

Place a piece of masking tape across the front of the bridge, then use your ruler to find the center point of the bridge and mark it on the tape. Then use your ruler to find the center point between the two outer marks on the intonation line on your guitar and mark that position.

Using a set square that is positioned on the intonation line and aligned with the center mark, draw a line toward the bridge pickup which you will use to position the bridge.

Positioning the Bridge

Now place the bridge in position. The center mark on the tape on the bridge should align perfectly with the center line you have just drawn using the set square, and the saddles should all be over the intonation line.

As another check, if it is a fixed bridge but not a tune-o-matic (which are slightly angled), measure the distance between one edge of the bridge and the bridge pickup cavity (or bridge pickup), then do the same for the other edge of the bridge. Both these measurements should be the same, ensuring that the bridge is perfectly aligned. If so, the position is exactly where it needs to be and it is time to mark around the bridge and mark the position of the holes that will keep it in place.

Drilling

First, place a small drill bit in your drill and check it against the length of the screws that were supplied with the bridge. As a safety measure, also check the drill bit against the width of your guitar, you don’t want to be drilling straight through it. Now, drill the number of pilot holes needed to hold your bridge in position. Remember to keep the drill in a vertical position to ensure that the screws will be true once attached.

After the pilot holes are drilled, use an eraser to remove all the pencil marks and leave a clean finish.

Installing the new Bridge on your Guitar

Next, check that all the saddles on your new bridge are not near the screw holes. If they are, reposition the saddles leaving enough room to allow easy access to the screw holes. If you are having difficulty making enough room for the screws, consider removing the saddles and replacing them after the bridge is in position.

Now screw the screws into position, starting in the center, then the sides, and then work inwards (depending on the number of screws needed). If you are finding it difficult to attach the screws, stop and use a slightly wider drill bit to drill the pilot holes once again.

Your new bridge should now be in place and perfectly aligned for 100% accurate intonation.

Next, let’s take a look at some…

Popular Replacement Bridge Options

If you’re after an easy DIY bridge replacement and play a strat or strat copy, then you could go for the GG1004 GUYKER Tremolo Bridge Vintage Bent Steel Saddles. This perfectly fits onto most strats or strat copies (but remember to check the measurements to make sure), includes all necessary parts, and you have a choice of six colors to perfectly match the color scheme of your guitar.

Or, if you’re only looking for a high-quality replacement block and saddles, how about the Guyker BS184 The Double Swing Tremolo Electric Guitar String Spacing 10.5mm Steel Saddles & Block.

If you’re a Les Paul man, this Guyker GM003+GS001 Tune-O-Matic LP SG Electric Guitar Bridge +Guitar Stop Bar Tailpiece with Anchors perfectly and quickly fits the bill. Or, if you’re a fan of roller saddles, the Guyker BM015 Tune-O-Matic Roller Saddle Guitar Bridge post hole 4.2MM.

That’s the basics covered, let’s move on to some more exotic bridge replacements. Telecaster with a Bigsby? No problem at all, you’ll love this quality replacement bridge, the Guyker Vintage Style Tremolo Guitar Bridge With Brass Saddles.

Or, have you got a Mosrite or a Ricky with bridge issues? Then, check out the Guitar Bridge-New-001 6 String Guitar Bridge Roller Bridge For Guitar Mosrite Style or the Guyker Chrome Ricken-backer Style Guitar Bridge Cover And Base Plate RK100

Wrapping it up

Regardless of what guitar you play or how it is configured or modified, there is a good-quality replacement bridge available. So, get your DIY hat on, swap out that old tired bridge, and enjoy improved tuning stability, more accurate intonation, and a whole new world of tone! If you don't know how to choose the right guitar bridge, you can read on.

 


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