Appeal of ABR-1 vs. Nashville style bridges (and vice versa)

Wise Guy

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For what it's worth, I have a 2020 Standard with the threaded - insert version of the ABR-1 and I am testing the Graphtech Resomax bridge and tailpiece (which do come in a Nickel finish) and they have a magnet system to keep the bridge and tailpiece on the guitar when you take the strings off. I consider this to be simply a convenience feature and not impacting tone at all. I don't like how the tailpiece has to sit so high to get an acceptable break angle, so I have dropped it down almost to the deck and top wrapped it to get roughly the steepest break angle that you can get out of a Nashville style bridge. I need to play it more to determine whether I like it or not. I'm also experimenting with a wound G at the same time so it will be interesting.
I've been curious lately about the wound G string myself. I wonder if it's a huge difference or negligible at best? That and flat wound strings. Wouldn't mind experimenting with a set.
 

redking

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I've been curious lately about the wound G string myself. I wonder if it's a huge difference or negligible at best? That and flat wound strings. Wouldn't mind experimenting with a set.
My interest comes from 2 perspectives - 1) that heavy plain string feels terrible and sounds out of place to me compared to the other 5 strings on some guitars and especially on my LP, and; 2) I had an epiphany the other day when I picked up my acoustic that I hadn't tuned for maybe a month - other than the low E being a hair flat, it was perfectly in tune and it's a guitar I pick up and play quite often. The wound G definitely works in that scenario.
I will see how it goes over the next month or 2 as I will play it a lot and do some recording with it.
 

Shelkonnery

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My interest comes from 2 perspectives - 1) that heavy plain string feels terrible and sounds out of place to me compared to the other 5 strings on some guitars and especially on my LP, and; 2) I had an epiphany the other day when I picked up my acoustic that I hadn't tuned for maybe a month - other than the low E being a hair flat, it was perfectly in tune and it's a guitar I pick up and play quite often. The wound G definitely works in that scenario.
I will see how it goes over the next month or 2 as I will play it a lot and do some recording with it.

I know what you mean. Unwound Gs heavier than .20 usually sound nasty IMHO.
Unless it's for a baritone or super low tuning or something.
That wound G string sounds great, but bending it will cost you a bit.
 

Wise Guy

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My interest comes from 2 perspectives - 1) that heavy plain string feels terrible and sounds out of place to me compared to the other 5 strings on some guitars and especially on my LP, and; 2) I had an epiphany the other day when I picked up my acoustic that I hadn't tuned for maybe a month - other than the low E being a hair flat, it was perfectly in tune and it's a guitar I pick up and play quite often. The wound G definitely works in that scenario.
I will see how it goes over the next month or 2 as I will play it a lot and do some recording with it.
Interesting. I bet being wound it'll decrease that boomy sound it can sometimes have..?? On my LP's I've had to screw the G strings pole piece further down into the pickup because it's always so much louder.

Edit: I use the 10-56 gauge strings.
 

redking

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I know what you mean. Unwound Gs heavier than .20 usually sound nasty IMHO.
Unless it's for a baritone or super low tuning or something.
That wound G string sounds great, but bending it will cost you a bit.
I'm trying a wound .018 which seems really light so far in a set of "10.5's" (the plain G = .018 also) - the lightest I have seen is .017, but I may have to go up to .019 - we shall see how it goes.
 

redking

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Interesting. I bet being wound it'll decrease that boomy sound it can sometimes have..?? On my LP's I've had to screw the G strings pole piece further down into the pickup because it's always so much louder.

Edit: I use the 10-56 gauge strings.
Just strumming it acoustically a bit over my lunch hour here and it is a totally different sounding string. I was getting a "hollow" and almost dead sound from the plain string on this set and the wound G definitely has more balance. I worry that the core wire is so thin because I pick pretty hard, but most of my hard picking hits the lower strings and not the G in most cases.
 

moreles

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Back to bridges, I think it's a tossup. Both have downsides -- essentially, manufacturing slop/imprecision that really should not be present in 2021. I have a Versoul Henry (LP-type, super high-end quality) that uses the Gotoh equivalents -- hardly exotic hardware! -- and it's embarassing how much better made the Gotoh stuff is in constrast to the crappy Gibson units. It's disappointing to me that a company can build supposedly top-end, high-quality instruments and fit them out with what can only be considered cheesy hardware. I guess the argument is that it's crap, but it's historically-correct crap.
 

bryvincent

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Back to bridges, I think it's a tossup. Both have downsides -- essentially, manufacturing slop/imprecision that really should not be present in 2021. I have a Versoul Henry (LP-type, super high-end quality) that uses the Gotoh equivalents -- hardly exotic hardware! -- and it's embarassing how much better made the Gotoh stuff is in constrast to the crappy Gibson units. It's disappointing to me that a company can build supposedly top-end, high-quality instruments and fit them out with what can only be considered cheesy hardware. I guess the argument is that it's crap, but it's historically-correct crap.
not really embarassing as Gotoh is a top-end very high quality hardware manufacturer. they can be found on many high end brands like Suhr, Musicman, Tom Anderson, USA Charvels, MIJ Ibanez, Fender and even Gibson.
 

ARandall

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For one, Gibson has never made bridges with anything else but the material they are using now. So its not like they are suddenly downspeccing their 'quality' per se. The original Al tailpieces of course were 'downgraded' (if you're a purist) to the same alloy as the bridge from '75. But there is no reason why Zamak is a 'bad' material objectively if we consider tone as the primary objective.
I do think there is something (perhaps the plating process) that makes for variability in the final product - and poor fitting parts. But I've had poorly fitting/loose ABR saddles from every brand that I've ever bought, so its not like its an isolated situation only for Gibson hardware.

I have a Versoul Henry (LP-type, super high-end quality) that uses the Gotoh equivalents -- hardly exotic hardware! -- and it's embarassing how much better made the Gotoh stuff is in constrast to the crappy Gibson units.

Gotoh is hardly a 'budget only' brand nowadays either. They have both a cheaper end as well as stuff that rivals the most expensive and best out there. So I'd expect over half their range to naturally be above Gibson's in house stuff. And unless Versoul have scammed you and fitted budget end parts to your expensive guitar, then it will be using the high-end Gotoh stuff, and thats equal to the best anywhere.
 

Lester

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Most of my Gibsons have Nashville - I think. I don't see enough visual difference to connect with 'looks better' argument. Tuning pegs, body shape (Special DC horn shape), binding - these things I notice.

I had to replace bent studs on an ABR once, so I prefer Nashville.

Agreed. Only Gibson gurus can even tell the difference between an ABR and a Nashville.
 

Wise Guy

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Agreed. Only Gibson gurus can even tell the difference between an ABR and a Nashville.


Really it's a small size difference. ABR1's can either have a spring lock or floating saddles which can fall out. ABR6/Nashville bridges have fixed saddles that wont fall out. Plus they have longer adjustment screws(Edit: for better intonation).
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mdubya

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Whatever Gibson put on the guitar is what I use.

Pretty much, this ^^^. I DO prefer ABR-1s for the vintage vibe and I love my guitars that have ABRs, but I do not convert the Nashvilles to ABR-1, even though I could.


I prefer these...

full


full

Wraparound with a Maestro (gives you the choice to bypass the Maestro is you want to) is probably my ultimate set up: Firebird III, SG Special.

But then, wraparound, no Maestro on my LP Special and ABRs on my 335s and stop tail LPs. :hmm::dunno::doh:
 

Adinol

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...The abr bridge itself is also milled form a sold piece of metal...

Nice and thorough description. One small correction, though.

I believe the ABR is cast metal, not milled, correct?
 

Adinol

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...Unwound Gs heavier than .20 usually sound nasty ...

An unwound string is, technically speaking, a metal rod. Unwound strings have more inharmonicity than wound ones. So, the shorter the string the more inharmonicity (you basically shorten the string when fretting, but you do not change its diameter).

The downside of a wound G is (as already mentioned) wear of the very thin windings. But basically, a wound G is superior as it produces less inharmonicity.

I wish they sold them in separate packs, so you can replace one G string in the lifetime of a 6-pack. Some makers do include 2 wound G's for classical guitars, but I have never seen an electric steel string pack with two wound G's.


...downsides -- essentially, manufacturing slop/imprecision that really should not be present in 2021...

Man, tell me about it. It really boggles the mind why they can't just make a better product in this day and age. That slop in the threads is really unacceptable.

The art forger Jan van Meegeren used to forge Vermeer paintings. He got sloppy with the later forgeries. After he was exposed as a forger someone asked him why his later forgeries were so sloppy and why he didn't take the time to perfect his art of forging. His answer was, "Why bother? They sell just the same."

I guess Gibson can say the same thing. Why bother perfecting anything? They won't sell any better.
 

amgomez

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ABR1 for me. I’ve always had Nashville equipped guitars, but always replaced the bridge. 1. I always felt the bridge sounded brighter with an ABR1 over the old nashville bridges. The new ones are all aluminum, and I love them. Also, you could screw the tailpiece all the way down on an ABR1. Unless someone butchers the saddles slots. I have never had any issues intonating an ABR1.. except for when I got this one guitar that just always gave me problems.. to this day I think it was the neck angle.
 

Luke Duke

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Because I couldn't find new brass saddles for my badly worn original Nashville bridge, I replaced it with a (Faber locking) ABR in 2014. Would have liked to have kept the Nashville from an originality stand point.

BUT even more relevant than ABR vs. Nashville bridge, are the Nashville bushings. In my 1981 LPC these were pressed in but I could pull them out with my fingers. They also very short compared to the depth of the hole drilled into the top (over 3 Cm).

Along with the Faber locking ABR I installed Faber iNserts. This combo really made a difference in terms of tuning stabilty (rock solid connection, so slop at all) and also in terms of how the guitar responds to strumming. What I did not expect was how much more resonant the guitar was. The neck vibrates and everything just rings out. Sustain improved too. Not a lot but it was noticable.

The best I can describe the overall effect on the 'tone' is that I now hear more of it. Imagine hearing a good song outside and opening the window to hear it better.

Review: Faber iNsert
Review: Faber locking ABR bridge

View attachment 544075
View attachment 544081

Yes, it is a GREAT system. I picked up a Palermo that I did that to. I would say it's superior to either "normal" mount due to the sheer amount of surface area.
 

palmerfralick

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Ok gang - I don't want to debate which is "better" because everyone has a preference based on their own particular set-up, but for those that prefer the ABR-1 - why do you prefer that style of bridge, and for those that prefer the Nashville Style - why do you prefer that style?

My own thoughts after my experimenting over the last few weeks are that the ABR-1, being more narrow allows for greater break angle - if that works for you and your gauge of string, and the Nashville just seems more stable overall, but due to its width less break angle.

thoughts?


Gibson is now using an ABR "style" bridge on many of their guitars that used to receive a Nashville bridge . Even Epi has crossed that bridge. For me I put a Tone Pros ABR style drop on on my 2014 Traditional. I would assume many of these mods are done because the owner wants their guitar to look more like a vintage Les Paul. I'm in that camp too but I also just prefer the look of the ABR design. The Nasville is not as pleasing visually to me. I'm pretty sure they are both rather comparable in actual function but the ABR just looks better to me. So for a lot of us the studs screwed in wood has no bearing because our guitars don't use that method. The ABR looks like a part of a Les Paul the Nashville looks functional to me. It's just a more elegant design, there I said it.
 

martin H

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I'm not sure how we balance the strong preference for the Nashville bridge here with the other side of the board that belive that any design change after 1960 was detrimental to "tone."
 

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