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  1. #1

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    Hi All, this is my first post. I'll try not to go on too long!

    I'm trying to do an easy (no sandpapering) bridge swap on my archtop.
    I have a Jazzica custom (2008). I think the ebony 2 part bridge is designed to take a wound third string. The intonation seems slightly out at the 12th get with a plain third. However, I want to use a plain third in order to achieve a balanced tone when comping using 3 right hand fingers with a fingernail technique on the three treble strings. Do you know if I can get a tune-o-matic upper bridge piece from somewhere that will just fit the existing Hofner lower part of the bridge which was expertly improved by a local master luthier to precisely follow the contour of the archtop (sorry, Hofner)? I've measured the post spacing on this lower part of the ebony bridge and it seems to be 76mm. All the upper metal replacements I've seen advertised seem to be about 74mm. It seems like they won't quite fit, or have I measured it wrongly? Is 74 (73.8 or whatever) about standard?

    String spread on my guitar seems the same as many of the advertised ones - about 2.1"

    I don't know how to measure string radius.

    Thanks,

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  3. #2

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    Hofner archtop bridges are made for them by Teller. Teller archtop bases/saddles typically use post spacing that is wider than that used for Gibson archtop bridge bases with wood saddles or tune-o-matic bridges.

    In the past decade or so, Hofner did offer specific archtop guitars with bridges that included ebony bases, along with both ebony and tune-o-matic saddles. The wood parts were supplied by Teller, and the metal parts were "Nashville" tune-o-matics supplied by Schaller. These complete bridges use the Gibson post spacing. Some also have brass inserts built into the bases (which changes the sound of the guitars).

    You could try to get one of these bridges out of Hofner, but they are terrible at this kind of client service. It would be easier and less costly to simply have the threaded rods on your existing bridge base removed and re-located to match the hole spacing for a tune-o-matic bridge. The original holes can be filled after removing the posts and before drilling new holes. Similarly, the original ebony saddle can have its post holes filled and redrilled to match the new spacing, so that you have a choice of wood or tune-o-matic in the future.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-20-2021 at 09:47 PM.

  4. #3

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    That’s a brilliant detailed reply!! Thanks, Hammertone. You clearly have specialised knowledge. I’ll investigate this further now. I’m in no particular rush, so the conversion will happen at some future point. Not sure if my reply will appear twice because I replied to your email message also - still getting used to using this.

    All the Best.

  5. #4

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    Not good news!
    Zero response from Hofner. I could have tried Teller (thanks Hammertone) but, having measured the string spread, I decided to buy an archtop bridge from StewMac which advertised exactly the same string spread as I measured on my Jazzica. I (probably local luthier) was then fully prepared to do shape the bottom part of the new ebony base so it would fit my archtop precisely. When it arrived there actually wasn't a lot of it to shape (screw threads visible) compared to the Hofner (Teller) base piece I already owned, which just seemed superior quality.
    However, I didn't even get that far because the string slots on the upper part of the new bridge didn't match the string anchor points on the tail piece. The strings would effectively be pulled out of line if I started using this new bridge.
    My conclusion is that I will now only purchase an upper TOM bridge piece that I am confident will match the 76mm not 73.8mm or similar( USA?) string posts of my existing lower ebony shaped bridge piece. I won't say what it cost me for the new bridge and premium courier from the USA - my fault I know!! Anyway, hope someone finds this useful in future- don't proceed unless your fairly certain that you're going to get a successful outcome.
    Last edited by DaveA; 11-24-2021 at 04:34 PM. Reason: Incorrect term used - again!

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    ...You could try to get one of these bridges out of Hofner, but they are terrible at this kind of client service. ...
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA
    Not good news!Zero response from Hofner.
    Not news.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA
    I could have tried Teller (thanks Hammertone) but, having measured the string radius, I decided to buy an archtop bridge StewMac which advertised exactly the same string radius as I measured on my Jazzica. I (probably local luthier) was then fully prepared to do shape the bottom part of the new ebony base so it would fit my archtop precisely. When it arrived there actually wasn't a lot of it to shape (screw threads visible) compared to the Hofner (Teller) bass piece I already owned which just seemed superior quality.
    IIRC, the archtop bridge Stewmac sells is a Teller Model 107.

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA
    However, I didn't even get that far because the string slots on the upper part of the new bridge didn't match the anchor points on the tail piece. The strings would effectively be pulled out of line if I started using this new bridge. My conclusion is that I will now only purchase an upper TOM bridge piece that I am confident will match the 76mm not 73.8mm or similar( USA?) string posts of my existing lower ebony shaped bridge piece. I won't say what it cost me for the new bridge and premium courier from the USA - my fault I know!! Anyway, hope someone finds this useful in future- don't proceed unless your fairly certain that you're going to get a successful outcome.
    Archtop guitar string spacing does not typically match at the tailpiece and at the bridge saddles. On most archtops, the strings spread out from the tailpiece to the bridge saddles. Wooden saddles and un-notched individual tune-o-matic saddles allow one to select/mark/file preferred string spacing. The Schaller STM bridge uses string rollers that allow for adjustable string spread and has been used in the past by Hofner on its Verythin Classic thinline semi.
    Specifications are here: STM | Bridges | Schaller Webshop


    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-24-2021 at 04:46 PM.

  7. #6

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    Having a different string spread at the bridge and at the tailpiece is normal, and I've rarely seen any that are identical. Almost always the spread is wider at the bridge, and I've never known it to harm anything. It is difficult to find saddles with the exact same pole spacing as the base you already have unless it's specified for use with Gibson TOM's. Bridges I've received on custom-made archtops have varied a little in the pole spacing, but it's possible to elongate the holes in a wood saddle to fit a different base, provided the difference isn't too great. With a metal TOM, it's a far more difficult proposition, since the only way I know of to fit them is to fill the holes in the base and redrill them, which is possible but a lot of work. If the posts go completely through the base, as on newer Gibson/Epiphone archtops where the bridge is pinned (I assume that's what you got from Stew-Mac with the screw threads showing at the bottom) you can just unscrew the posts enough to allow sanding. IME the Stew-Mac bridges are over-priced, and you get lower prices and equal or better quality on ebay. The upside of Stew-Mac is that they usually give precise measurements of the parts they sell, so you can check the post spacing and be pretty sure whether it's what you need.

  8. #7

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    Thanks sgosnell,

    That's more good info. However, I know that I will completely mess up the drilling bit, and I'm not even sure about a luthier filling the holes (with whatever) and then re-drilling so close to the original ones. Also, the Stew-Mac bridge saddle string slots do not match the string spacing on the tailpiece. I don't know how I could resolve that. The strings are pulled out of line - not good.
    The latest news is that I've had a reply from Teller asking for a photo! There may be a metal bridge saddle that will match these posts. In the meantime, I've rediscovered the joy of my Hofner ebony bridge saddle and fitted Thomastik-Infeld 12-50 roundwounds. but I've had to substitute a D'Addario 20 wound third for the plain third in the set cos it (plain third) was well out at the octave. I'm happy because the guitar now sounds great (not dull), and I may even lose my penchant for plain thirds!
    It seems to be this post issue mainly. I've had a look at the Schaller bridges with adjustable string spread. Yes, they look good.
    I'll keep updating until there's no more to say.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by DaveA; 11-27-2021 at 04:38 AM. Reason: more relevant info/incorrect detail

  9. #8

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    The strings will almost always be pulled out of line. No one I know of makes tailpieces as wide as you need for a completely straight string. The strings fan out from the nut to the bridge, and would need to keep on fanning out to be straight. Every archtop I've ever seen has a wider string spacing at the bridge than at the tailpiece. It's expected, and I see no harm in it.

    Filling and redrilling post holes in a bridge base is certainly a fiddly proposition, and isn't usually worth the effort, It requires the proper dowels and a drill press with clamps to hold it in place. It's easier for most people to fit a new bridge base that has the proper post spacing.

  10. #9

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    Hofner jazzica (2008) bridge swap-bridge_down-neck-head-view-jpgHofner jazzica (2008) bridge swap-model_serial-number-jpg
    Awaiting a response from Teller now.
    I understand what you mean about a nicely distributed fan shape form the tailpiece to the bridge. That would be fine. This is what I currently have (see above). I'm basically trying to avoid having to do any modification, and just want the holy grail of a TOM saddle that has 76 (ish) mm diameter holes that can simply be placed on the above very nice existing base.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA
    Hofner jazzica (2008) bridge swap-bridge_down-neck-head-view-jpgHofner jazzica (2008) bridge swap-model_serial-number-jpg
    .....just want the holy grail of a TOM saddle that has 76 (ish) mm diameter holes that can simply be placed on the above very nice existing base.
    "holy grail"?
    Everyone has a different religion, or, no religion. I own a Jazzica Custom, and would never consider a metal ABR style bridge. It would be a sacrilege, to me!

    Peace! Good luck in your quest! I've always enjoyed the Monty Python holy grail movie!

  12. #11

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    I played it tonight with the two part ebony bridge and roundwounds (Thomastik-Infeld) with wound third. After all, why not!? Loved it! However, classical guitarists (I am one also) are used to the brighter sound of the three bass strings and the nylon (or other material) plain trebles A right hand fingernail technique on the three trebles (still holding pick) will give you a nice balanced sound on three note chords. The wound third on a flatwound standard jazz set is the problem. Try putting a plain third on your Jazzica- it won't be in tune at the octave. If it is, I want to know how you get all six strings in tune at the 12th fret octave. Please tell! I think that the only way to go for me is to get a high quality tune-o-matic replacement with individual bridge saddles. You still retain the nicely shaped lower ebony part and hope that Hofner, Teller, or maybe Schaller between them can send one with 76mm holes that the posts will go through - see above. I know it's a lot - I can't be bothered to read it either.

  13. #12

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    Well,

    I hope you get it figured out, and Welcome to the Forum! Lots of good info and expertise.
    The Hofner Jazzica Custom is a pretty nice archtop. Very comfortable to play, and like the Gibson and Heritage Johnny Smith, the neck block extends the full length of the fingerboard right into the guitar, against which the top and bottom plates are connected. I never paid much attention to that until now. Your thread prompted me to break out my Jazzica Custom and play it a bunch. Hofner built some fine archtops. I'm sure that you'll enjoy yours.

    Thanks!

  14. #13

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    A plain third requires a different bridge shape than a wound third. A wound third usually intonates correctly with a straight saddle, but you can buy wood saddles intonated for a plain third. I detest plain thirds, and will not buy string sets with them. But everyone has different tastes, so get what you prefer. There may be TOMs available with the proper pole spacing, but you'll have to search carefully, and perhaps for a long time.

  15. #14

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    Thanks,
    That's very helpful feedback, and I'm glad to be active in this world forum!
    I'll explore the wooden bridge saddle option you mention. I think that Teller might be able to help with this. I'm still waiting to hear from them re: the TOM bridge - will update if I get a reply from them (they've gone a bit cold now). I think I'm getting near the end of everything I want to say now. I may well stick with my existing wooden bridge saddle and the wound third. It's a great guitar! Enjoy your jazzica too!

  16. #15

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    This (pic see below) is a summary of what I'm seeking to achieve:

    Hofner jazzica (2008) bridge swap-bridge-posts-hofner_teller_jazzica-jpg
    This link is to a possible contender, but I'm not risking it at the moment.
    ABM Guitar Parts 2400n Roller Bridge, Nickel 52/73-75mm | DV247

  17. #16

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    The saddle you linked has oval post holes, and the specs say it will fit any post spacing between 71.7 and 75mm. Gold also seems to be available. Just measure the spacing on yours, center to center, and see if it's 75mm or less. Spacing is specified as center to center between the posts, not edge to edge, at least all that I've ever seen. For string radius, you want a bridge that has the same radius as your neck. It's easy enough, although requiring care, to adjust the radius by increasing the depth of the slots in a wooden saddle. For metal, it's more difficult, but possible. The radius of the one in question is stated as 12", which is rather standard for archtop guitars, although they can be different. You need a radius gauge to check the radius of your fretboard, I have no idea what Hofner Jazzica Customs have.

  18. #17

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    Thanks sgosnell,
    That's all good info - appreciate that.
    I measured it with a ruler center to center before I put the strings back on recently. it seems nearer 76mm than 75, and also I read a thread somewhere (will try to find it) about someone finding a TOM for a Guild where the problem had been 76mm. I'm trying to get helpful replies out of Hofner, Teller, Schaller, and ABM. Nothing yet.
    I might end up going to a local master luthier and ask him to make me another ebony bridge saddle that will be good for a plain third. He's a top guy - trouble is, top guys charge top rates!
    Will continue to post if there's anything else to say.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA
    Thanks sgosnell, That's all good info - appreciate that. I measured it with a ruler center to center before I put the strings back on recently. it seems nearer 76mm than 75, and also I read a thread somewhere (will try to find it) about someone finding a TOM for a Guild where the problem had been 76mm. I'm trying to get helpful replies out of Hofner, Teller, Schaller, and ABM. Nothing yet. I might end up going to a local master luthier and ask him to make me another ebony bridge saddle that will be good for a plain third. He's a top guy - trouble is, top guys charge top rates! Will continue to post if there's anything else to say.
    I think the best solution is to have another ebony bridge saddle made to match the required intonation for an unwound G-string. I've measured a few Jazzica / New President / Chancellor fretboards for radius, but am not anywhere close to my notes - I can post them later in the week. IIRC, these Hofner archtop fretboards use a compound radius - not surprising for a shop that makes violins, violas, cellos and upright basses.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-28-2021 at 11:18 PM.

  20. #19

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    Since we're on the topic of Hofner, I've got a question that's been on my mind for a while: The names written on the German models refer to Hofner luthiers like Thomas Stuhlein and Hubert Kaa. What does that say about their role in the construction of said instruments? Were they involved in the building or just the setups?

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klatu
    Since we're on the topic of Hofner, I've got a question that's been on my mind for a while: The names written on the German models refer to Hofner luthiers like Thomas Stuhlein and Hubert Kaa. What does that say about their role in the construction of said instruments? Were they involved in the building or just the setups?
    The label is signed by the last person to handle/set up the guitar. Before 2000, one sees labels signed by Dieter Fischer, then Hubert Kaa. From 2000, Hubert signed most of them until 2004, when Thomas Stuhlein started signing them.

    Fischer and Kaa, who have both since retired, were involved in various aspects of construction along with a couple of other employees. Less so for Thomas at the time. Since Hofner is a small shop, Thomas is probably more involved these days, although Hofner has been turning out only a handful of jazz/electric guitars for the past few years.