Electric Guitar Bridges - What the difference?
Electric guitar bridges
Bridges for electric guitars can be divided into two main groups, "vibrato" and "non-vibrato" (also called hard-tail). Vibrato bridges have an arm (called the vibrato or whammy bar that extends from below the string anchoring point. It acts as a lever that the player can push or pull to change the strings tension and, as a result, the pitch. This means that this type of bridge produces a vibrato rather than what some call to be tremolo, but the term 'tremolo' is deeply entrenched in popular usage and some use the word tremolo over vibrato. Non-vibrato bridges supply an anchoring point for the strings but provide no active control over string tension or pitch. A small group of tremolo bridges has an extended tail (also called longtail). These guitars have more reverb in their sound, because of the string resonance behind the bridge.
All bridges have advantages, depending on the playing style, but, in general, a non-tremolo bridge is thought to provide better tuning stability and a solid contact between the guitar body and the strings.
Generally, the more contact the bridge has with the body (i.e. the lower the position), the better the sound transfer will be into the body. A warmer sound with increased sustain is the result.
Vibrato bridges usually need to be suspended in some way, which reduces contact. Most tremolo designs today use a group of springs in the guitar body, which oppose the tension of the strings. Some players feel that the vibration of the springs affects resonance in a way that makes the guitar sound better; others disagree. Naturally, it all depends on personal preference and the musical style of the individual player.
Since many playing styles make use of a tremolo obligatory, most solid-body guitars today are manufactured with one of two kinds of tremolos:
It is generally thought that non-tremolo bridges offer better transfer of string vibration into the body. This is due to direct contact of the bridge to the guitar's body.
These bridges are bolted directly to the guitar body and, assuming good quality, limit longitudinal string movement completely. Therefore tuning stability is assured.
The improved transfer of string vibration into the body has an effect on the sound, so guitars with this type of bridge have different characteristics than those with tremolos even when it is removed. There are no springs in the body or a cavity to accommodate them, which also affects resonance.
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