12 Electric Guitar Bridge Types Explained
Guitar bridges are easily overlooked when you first purchase your guitar. But this part of your instrument is vital to the sound and feel of your music.
As a guitarist, you want to choose the right electric guitar bridge. This way you can play how you want and set up your sound to your own specifications.
Things like scale length and tone can only be adjusted with a bridge.
But we’ll get into the details of this more in our electric guitar bridge guide. There are many types of electric guitar bridge types.
And we will introduce each one to you in this post.
Table of Contents
Fixed (Hardtail) vs. Tremolo (Floating) Bridges
Video: “Tremolo VS Fixed Bridge | HOW IT’S USED”
Before we get into specifics, you should know the main types of bridges for guitars. There are two you can potentially choose from when you are getting a guitar. You have the fixed bridge which is also called a hardtail.
Alternatively, you can get a tremolo bridge, this is also called a floating bridge. Between both of these bridges, there are many subcategories and bridge types you can pick from as well.
But this will be discussed in the next part of the bridge post.
The Key Differences
For now, you want to know the key differences between fixed and tremolo bridges!
Fixed bridges, in general, are usually seen in acoustic type guitars, but some electric guitars will have them. These types of bridges are on the less complex side in terms of design. In particular, they stay attached to a certain region of your instrument and cannot be moved.
Tremolo bridges, on the other hand, are much more flexible. They don’t always stay in place. And in fact, they can be adjusted on your instrument to change up your sound. This is one of the key differences between the bridge types.
In short, while fixed bridges will stay in place, tremolo can be adjusted to make more textured electric guitar music. Whammy bars and other features can also be added on as well!
How To Choose the Right Bridge For You?
What guitar bridge you pick out will depend on your needs. One type of bridge might be more ideal than another when considering certain playing styles. However, before we talk about that, there are some key things you want to make sure your bridge has.
And this applies to any of the two bridge types you might choose from. Sticking to these requirements will ensure that you get a quality bridge and can use your guitar to its full ability!
Bridges, whether floating or fixed, need to be high enough to raise your strings. This is also known as adjusting string action.
You want your fingers to be able to reach the strings with little issues, and when you use your strings they shouldn’t constantly be hitting your instrument. This will distort the sound of your playing. Any good guitar bridge design will prevent this from happening.
Next, your bridge should help create an endpoint for your guitar strings and their scale. Most quality guitars will have this designed into your instrument already.
But knowing this information about your guitar can help with figuring out tuning and specific tones. In addition, ensure that your bridge can help you tune your guitar even further.
You should be able to adjust and tighten up the bridge to get your strings more in tune. This way the intonation is more in balance on your guitar!
Once you know that all these criteria are met, you can start thinking about the type of bridge you want. You know what you need to be on the lookout for in terms of bridges. Still, what is the best guitar bridge for you to play on?
Style And Sound
There is no best bridge, of course. Again, it all comes down to the player and what they like. And even famous guitarist differ in what types of bridges they use. Really, it depends on the style and sound you are looking for.
If you are going for a more jazz or blues sound, we would recommend going with a fixed type bridge. More classical sound and less flashy or distorted sounding music can benefit from this type of electric bridge.
However, if you want a more metal sound or are into hard rock than your better off with a tremolo bridge. There are a lot of variations within both types, but what you ultimately decide to go with should sound good and meet your preferences.
We’ll go more into the details of fixed and tremolo bridges in the upcoming sections of this post. This way you have the bridge info you need to get the electric guitar bridge types your need.
Types of Fixed (Hardtail) Bridges
The first of the electric guitar bridge types we will expand on is the fixed bridge. Again, there are many types of fixed guitar bridges you can choose from.
In fact, we encourage you to look at other types in case we miss something that might suit you better.
Really, these are just a few good options if you don’t know where exactly it is you need to start!
Video: “Setting up a Tune-o-matic bridge”
Tune-o-Matic is a go-to bridge type for many guitarists. This particular bridge was first introduced by the famed guitar making company Gibson. It has some adjustment features that you won’t see on other hardtails too. This includes the ability to raise and lower the bridge.
The strings are also more angled with this type of bridge, which helps create a certain type of sound.
This is not an overly complex bridge, but you get more out of this than your usual fixed bridge. Usually, you see these in Les Pauls, but other companies have used this design as well.
You can also easily change the intonation of your strings which is a great plus. Still, we recommend being careful with this type of bridge.
If you can get one from a good company you won’t have any issues with sound quality. But if you buy this type of bridge type from lesser-known brands, the quality varies greatly. You could end up with a poorly performing bridge.
In addition, you need other parts for the bridge to work. A tailpiece must be included with the guitar for the best results!
Wrap-Around bridge types were one of the first electric guitar bridge types to crop up. Before Tune-o-Matic bridges, many companies would manufacture bridges in this style.
And many still do, as this design can save money when constructing a guitar. Wrap-around has a fairly straight forward design as a result.
The bridge is a single piece, and the strings are wrapped underneath the metal of the bridge. So there is not much you can do to adjust the wrap-around. Sometimes there is a tailpiece with this, and sometimes it is just the bridge that keeps the strings held tight to the guitar and raised.
More high-end guitars are likely to have a tailpiece included though.
Some companies have even added saddles to their bridges. But this usually isn’t seen in the wrap-around design. And you won’t be able to fiddle with intonation or tuning even with the saddles.
Overall, the wrap-around is a sturdy and dependable bridge type.
It won’t give you a ton of sound variety, but it does save you some money in some cases.
Video: “How to intonate a guitar with a hardtail bridge”
The Hard-Tail is the simplest fixed bridge you can go with. And if you are just starting out with an electric guitar, this one of the best guitar bridges you can go with. This particular design was created to simplify your guitar maintenance substantially.
As you can guess, you won’t have to move your bridge at all or make any kind of adjustments. Other bridges can be way more complicated. So this is the main benefit of this bridge type in general.
Hard-Tail’s were initially made by Fender, but there are different variations of this type. Some of the hard-tail’s use a big plate others use a smaller plate and more saddles. It all depends on the maker of your specific guitar.
Regardless, this is not a complicated bridge to have on a guitar and is good if you want to make smooth and clear sounds.
Video: “Setting up a Telecaster Bridge”
Telecaster is another one of the popular electric guitar bridge types you can choose from. However, you can only get this specific bridge on certain guitars. In fact, only Fender manufacturers telecasters!
There are a few different design elements that set this bridge type apart from other guitars. But mainly, you will notice that the telecaster has its bridge above the guitar. In other words, it isn’t affixed into the instrument. Because of this, you can easily change how tall or short the bridge is.
There is some tunability as well. It just depends on the specific Fender model you go with. Some Telecasters have six saddles, while others might only have three. There is a lot of potential with this bridge type. But not everyone likes Fender guitars, so this bridge might not suit you if that is the case.
Video: “This Might Save Some Work: Evertune Bridge System”
If you are looking for the latest bridge designs and tech, Evertune bridges might be another option for you. Evertune isn’t quite as popular as the other guitar bridges we have discussed. But we are starting to see more of them in the music world.
Still, you should know that not all guitar players will be suited to this type of bridge. However, if you like making heavier sounding music and like to manipulate the sound by bending your strings, you should try this bridge.
Evertune is made to keep your guitar in tune no matter what pressure or bending is put on them. For some musicians, this can be great. You won’t have to keep re-tuning your instrument again and again after playing so much.
But many people don’t like this feature for a few reasons. For one, this feature actually increases the mass of the bridge. The lowered need for tuning is a great addition to the bridge. But there are extra parts that need to be added to keep the guitars from going out of tune.
Also, you have to consider how sensitive you are to changes in your guitar balance. Evertune bridges will change how you play on your guitar. This is because the weight and balance are different.
You might be fine with this of course, but try out the bridge a little at your local music store before you make any final decisions. Really though, this is not a bad choice to go with! But you might need more experience with guitar maintenance to fully benefit from this design type.
So less advanced guitar players should probably steer clear of Evertune bridges.
Types of Tremolo (Floating) Bridges
We talked about some great fixed bridges, but again, not all musicians will want to go with a fixed bridge. For players that want to make more adjustments to their guitar bridge and want a heavier sound, we suggest going with the tremolo bridge.
In this next part, we will talk about various tremolo bridges you can decide on with your guitar. There are more things to consider with this electric guitar bridge types.
But we will go over some of the more conventional tremolo bridges you can buy here.
The Synchronized Tremolo can be found in both older models and newer models of guitars. Typically though, you see these in a Fender guitar. There are some similarities between this type and other bridges.
For instance, it has six saddles which are seen in many Tremolo bridges and some hardtail. Unlike most hardtails, you can actually change how tall or short your bridge is though.
In addition, you can also change the direction of the strings. This further helps you hone in on the tone you want. There is a bar on the side of your bridge. You might know this as a whammy bar. This instrument can apply varying levels of pressure.
It just depends on how you position it. Again, most tremolo bridges have a whammy bar or have an option to add one in.
Video: “How to Install a Fender Tremolo Bridge | Fender”
Fender Tremolo is a more standard tremolo bridge. It was actually one of the first electric bridges to be designed in this particular category. Like the synchronized, you will see this bridge mostly on Fenders.
However, some other companies use this type of tremolo bridge. This is a pretty basic bridge overall, but you need to consider a few things before buying it.
First off, it is not easy to keep this bridge in tune. Other bridges have more springs and locking mechanisms to keep your strings in place. This is not the case with the Fender Tremolo. In addition, it does take a substantial amount of time to set this type of bridge up.
So you might have to do some separate research to make sure you are getting full use of this bridge. You don’t want to install this the wrong way and mess up your instrument.
Video: “Floyd Rose Tricks and Tips!”
If you are worried about having to constantly tune your guitar, we recommend going with the Floyd Rose. There is much less hassle with this bridge in terms of tuning.
This is because it keeps you strings nicely locked into the bridge with added pressure. The extra screws and a very sturdy saddle keep everything in check while you play as well.
There will of course be extra maintenance. This bridge has more going on and is much more complicated. It also takes a lot more effort to change up the positioning of the Floyd Rose bridge. But if you want something that is very durable this is one model of bridges to go with for sure!
Once more, we recommend doing some research online. You can find videos that will explain how to set up this type of bridge correctly! This way you have the best results for your guitar bridge.
Video: “Why I Love the Kahler Tremolo Bridge System”
Kahler bridges drastically reduce installation time though. So if you don’t have the patience or tools to set up more complex guitar bridges this might be the right option for you. Kahler basically uses a different system to change string pressure.
Instead of a fulcrum, the Kahler is able to deftly manipulate the tailpiece. This helps change the strings to the tone you want!
Kahler is easy to install overall and could be a great choice for you if you are new to guitars. But just know that you could have a hard time fixing this guitar bridge if you break it. So just try and be gentle with it!
Other than this there are not many downsides, and more people are actually becoming interested in this bridge type!
Video: “5 Ways Ibanez Guitars Are Just BETTER”
Ibanez bridges are another bridge-type we would recommend to musicians highly! Ibanez is well known for its well-designed guitars, and their bridges are one part of this!
Not many guitar bridges can keep your guitar in tune like this particular bridge.
This is because Ibanez uses extra locks and high pressure. This is similar to the Floyd Rose design, but Ibanez adds to this in its own unique way.
There are a ton of different models to choose from when getting an Ibanez bridge guitar. All in all, though, anyone of their instruments and bridges will be worth a buy!
Wilkinson are comparable to a standard Fender bridge. But this type of bridge is a little more stable and complex than a regular Fender. You won’t find your guitar as out of tune. And there are some locking features with the Wilkson.
This isn’t as advanced or stable as an Ibanez or a Floyd Rose. But it is closer to their level than a more basic tremolo bridge for sure!
There is also a ton of variety in Wilkinson bridges. A lot of brands offer this design to guitarists!
Video: “Installing a Bigsby Bridge on my guitar”
Bigbsy is the last electric guitar bridge we will be talking about in the guide. It’s a versatile bridge that can be found on virtually any type of guitar. However, heavier music is less suited to this bridge in most cases.
Bigsby bridges are not that hard to install into your guitar, and it is actually pretty light and thin as well. Lightweight guitars do better with this bridge in general too. If you have a hollow guitar type or lighter guitar try this bridge out.
Any stringed guitar instrument can have this bridge though!
It’s a little more on the vintage side. But if you set it up the correct way, you won’t have to worry about excessive tuning and poor tone control for the most part.
Guitar bridges are important to consider as you get more serious about your guitar playing. On the onset, it might not seem like a big deal to pick out your bridge type.
But as we talked about throughout the post there are many reasons to look into your electric guitar bridge types. Some of this has to do with sound and style.
Certain bridges are better suited for particular styles of music. Fixed bridges are more suited to classical music and music that doesn’t shift in tones dramatically. Tremolo can work with heavier rock music on the other hand.
In some cases, though, you might want to adjust your bridge more or change up your tone. This can only be done with more flexible and complex tremolo bridges. They have whammy bars and other added features.
Fixed bridges are more simple, still, not everyone will need to get a tremolo bridge. Tuning should also be considered as well. Guitar strings stay more stable and tuned with a fixed bridge. But some tremolo bridges are designed to keep your instrument steady and in the right tone.
We introduced various bridges and went over this in our guide though. So hopefully, with this guitar information, you can choose an electric guitar bridge type that is the right fit!
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