1. #1

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    So I'm stuck in the apartment because of the COVID-19 crisis and since I don't live alone I'm practicing guitar acoustically which is perfectly ok. Somehow I came across something somewhere about how replacing the stock ABR-1 bridge on newer Gibsons can be a big improvement in the sound of the instrument.
    I had never really thought of this before and it seems plausible on the face of it—especially for hollow body guitars. I play a 330L and I love the acoustic sound of the instrument but I am curious about the possibility of making it even better.

    Has anyone ever replaced/upgraded the stock ABR-1 on their Gibson 330 or similar guitar and what was the result?

    Thank you.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    i'm a fan. i replace all my bridges with stainless steel ones. callahams, generally, but i've used truarc bridges with great success as well.

    it's a pretty dramatic difference, akin to a pickup swap. what happens exactly depends on the alloy of the bridge you go with. stainless steel, brass, aluminum, etc. here is a link to some clips. you don't have to get one of these bridges, but it'll give you an idea of how much difference you can expect and an idea of which alloy to go with.


    for my taste, stainless seems to extend the ranges, giving it more lows and clearing up the top end. makes things louder acoustically, too. not everybody wants that. not everybody likes that. the crappy mystery meat alloy that gibson uses is just part of the recipe now. to me, they are upgrades. to others, maybe not.

  4. #3

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    I agree feet! I bought an expensive SS bridge and put it on an EPI Lucille. It took away the semi-hollow tone that I bought the guitar for. It sounded like a solid body. Not good!
    I sold it to a friend who put it on his expensive '59 RI Les Paul. Man, it really woke that guitar up - not that it needed it, but it was a big improvement, and now that guitar really sings, but not on my semi-h.

  5. #4

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    My '91 Gibson ES-335 now has a Sadowsky wooden bridge. Maybe not what you were thinking about, but for me it's a keeper.

  6. #5

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    99% of bad tone is due to poorly set up mechanics; Faulty string geometry, bad nut, bad saddle slots, forward bow, back bow, fret buzz, poorly adjusted pickups, poor coupling and parts that are rattling etc. One really bad culprit is the ABR-1 bridge , that when not operated correctly causes all kind of problems. Even when operated correctly it will cause problems, it's just a matter of time.

    Bridge tone improvement is predominantly about getting a tight fit design where the saddles stay put and won't rattle. So you either learn how to get along with an ABR-1 bridge or you replace it with something that doesn't rattle.

    Then there's that final 1%, where different materials do affect tone for better or worse. One of my guitars had four different bridges before I reverted back to the original ABR-1. Circle is closed.

    Then there's the fact that we are bored and feel the need to fix our guitars, broken or not, but that's another problem.

  7. #6

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    I have substituted all ABR-1 bridges In my guitars (Les Pauls and ES-175) with ABM bell brass bridges and the result has always been a ”more musical” instrument. Tighter, more intense. No wire, no rattle.

    ABM Guitar Parts, ABR-Style guitar bridge

    Of course I have an ebony bridge in the ES175 now and then too.