Is the Old Stuff Really Better ?

Subterfuge

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
1,595
Reaction score
2,373
Hi all, I mistakenly purchased what I thought was a coveted early ABR-1 new in the box, but due to my over eagerness and inexperience I ended up purchasing what I'm told is either a 1969 or 1970. Lets call it a 50 year old

piece.Right off the bat let me disqualify myself from the Golden Ears Club, due to my age and work history I can't hear a thing above 6k. I can only comment on the mechanical properties of the bridge ... which according to known

mechanical concepts should effect it's sonic performance: As follows

1. despite the funky appearance of the wide topped, rough cast saddles they measure exactly the same as modern day Gibson saddles

2. all measurements are basically the same give 5 or 10 thou. I assume these are due to production methods/ new technology vs. old and are not a design specification change. A couple of areas exhibit a larger size difference,

up to 30 thou. .. but again I don't know if that is a design change or just a random occurrence ..

3. in Summation, discounting any differences in old metal vs. new, weight differences etc ... (bridge body, saddles etc.) I see no size or design differences between the two that would indicate the older model "sound" better

4. Appearance wise the rough-finished, funky, wide rounded saddles blow the new ones away

5. Ditto for the actual bridge body .. on a surface plate against a true 90 degrees the modern ABR is pretty much precise, straight up and down, where as the 70's bridge has a lot more funkiness, the casting is somewhat irregular

on the ends and there is a noticeable difference between the top vs. bottom width .. think of an ocean-liner headed straight toward you in the water, the sides narrow off quite a bit as they meet the water .. again, on the coolness

factor the old one smokes the new.


and now we get to the not so good part, I've always been a critic of the Gibson ABR because I think the tolerances are off in a lot of cases and quite frankly not consistent or precise at all .. I use a Callaham, but I have no ears so to

speak of .. this is a new " in the box," approved factory item .. untouched since new


Low E .. saddle screw is solid, saddle is loose fit on the screw, quite a bit of "slop" or play if you will ... FAIL

A ... Quite a bit of forward and reverse travel in the saddle screw, in addition the the saddle is quite loose and rocks up and down, back and forth quite easily ... FAIL

D ... same as above ... FAIL

G ... worse than all three above, saddle screw very loose fit in bridge plus considerable side to side saddle movement .. FAIL

B ... Excellent no slop anywhere, tight fit .. PASS

High E .. Screw is rock solid but saddle shows quite a bit of side to side movement ... fail


In Summation, I always believed that string energy transferred through the bridge into the guitar body most efficiently in a bridge where the mating surfaces actually met without considerable looseness or play .. I just don't see

evidence of that happening too well here . I always read how older production tolerances were tighter and the saddle screws snapped into the bridge body and were quite difficult to remove .. without the retaining wire at the first

string change I believe that 4 out of these six bridge saddles would be lost in the carpet ... the press fit that secures the saddle screws into to bridge is pretty much AWOL here and it's a brand new unit ... I know these older Les Paul

components have taken on Mythical Sonic properties over the years but is it actually true ?.. does Nostalgia win over all other factors ?
 

MCT

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2019
Messages
406
Reaction score
514
Hi all, I mistakenly purchased what I thought was a coveted early ABR-1 new in the box, but due to my over eagerness and inexperience I ended up purchasing what I'm told is either a 1969 or 1970. Lets call it a 50 year old

piece.Right off the bat let me disqualify myself from the Golden Ears Club, due to my age and work history I can't hear a thing above 6k. I can only comment on the mechanical properties of the bridge ... which according to known

mechanical concepts should effect it's sonic performance: As follows

1. despite the funky appearance of the wide topped, rough cast saddles they measure exactly the same as modern day Gibson saddles

2. all measurements are basically the same give 5 or 10 thou. I assume these are due to production methods/ new technology vs. old and are not a design specification change. A couple of areas exhibit a larger size difference,

up to 30 thou. .. but again I don't know if that is a design change or just a random occurrence ..

3. in Summation, discounting any differences in old metal vs. new, weight differences etc ... (bridge body, saddles etc.) I see no size or design differences between the two that would indicate the older model "sound" better

4. Appearance wise the rough-finished, funky, wide rounded saddles blow the new ones away

5. Ditto for the actual bridge body .. on a surface plate against a true 90 degrees the modern ABR is pretty much precise, straight up and down, where as the 70's bridge has a lot more funkiness, the casting is somewhat irregular

on the ends and there is a noticeable difference between the top vs. bottom width .. think of an ocean-liner headed straight toward you in the water, the sides narrow off quite a bit as they meet the water .. again, on the coolness

factor the old one smokes the new.


and now we get to the not so good part, I've always been a critic of the Gibson ABR because I think the tolerances are off in a lot of cases and quite frankly not consistent or precise at all .. I use a Callaham, but I have no ears so to

speak of .. this is a new " in the box," approved factory item .. untouched since new


Low E .. saddle screw is solid, saddle is loose fit on the screw, quite a bit of "slop" or play if you will ... FAIL

A ... Quite a bit of forward and reverse travel in the saddle screw, in addition the the saddle is quite loose and rocks up and down, back and forth quite easily ... FAIL

D ... same as above ... FAIL

G ... worse than all three above, saddle screw very loose fit in bridge plus considerable side to side saddle movement .. FAIL

B ... Excellent no slop anywhere, tight fit .. PASS

High E .. Screw is rock solid but saddle shows quite a bit of side to side movement ... fail


In Summation, I always believed that string energy transferred through the bridge into the guitar body most efficiently in a bridge where the mating surfaces actually met without considerable looseness or play .. I just don't see

evidence of that happening too well here . I always read how older production tolerances were tighter and the saddle screws snapped into the bridge body and were quite difficult to remove .. without the retaining wire at the first

string change I believe that 4 out of these six bridge saddles would be lost in the carpet ... the press fit that secures the saddle screws into to bridge is pretty much AWOL here and it's a brand new unit ... I know these older Les Paul

components have taken on Mythical Sonic properties over the years but is it actually true ?.. does Nostalgia win over all other factors ?

Based on this comparison, yes- older is better.
 

Sct13

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Messages
19,758
Reaction score
24,930
So this is an area where I begin to wonder about metallurgy and how all this comes together.....Its NOT age....its what it was made of....obviously....

So why cant they make Rocketdyne F1 rocket engines like they used to? (at all really) ....because the suppliers, and the tech just isn't there anymore...

that means the part will never compare, unless someone makes the investment to do so....period....

If you infer from history, That Gibson was drawing parts and materials form people and industries that WERE doing "War Work" and were trying to stay afloat after military contracts subsided and ended....the high standards were no longer needed and faster, cheaper became a standard....

Just like tubes.....Germany made incredible, long lasting, high quality (prewar and wartime) tubes...Telefunken....The US had to compete and JAN (Joint Army Navy) specs began appearing.....30 years after WWII its getting difficult and now its nearly impossible or very expensive to get tubes of that kind of quality....

Thats it in a nut shell
 

ARandall

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2012
Messages
14,814
Reaction score
11,203
Well, you have to separate out manufacturing tolerances out from 'quality' of metals.

In both cases what is made now is of higher precision, and from way purer metals than what was possible back in the 50's.
In fact the local machining shop would be many thousand times more accurate than anything from the 50's

Not that guitar components need precision.....far from it.
Its the imperfections in the metals that made for this bridge that makes for a more ideal tone. And ironically for the bridges to collapse after so short a time too.
 

jwinger

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2008
Messages
2,420
Reaction score
1,167

Based on this comparison, yes- older is better.
I don't think it's older is better. Its different saddles...look at the image in the YouTube preview. Huge wide top on the old ones to transmit for vibrations, narrow skinny point on the new one.
 

goldtop0

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2007
Messages
1,527
Reaction score
917
The '50s metal sounds fuller with the more recent bits sounding brighter..........could I live with either?........of course because that's what we're left with........would I prefer one over the other? ..............no because there would be variation from piece to piece.
Good of Johan to do this comparison :cool2:
 

BDW60

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
681
Reaction score
740

Based on this comparison, yes- older is better.
This is one of the most convincing comparos I have ever seen. People are chasing minutiae most of the time but to me, the old metal sounds objectively better. By a mile. I know there is no “objective” in the tone thing but this may be as close as it gets.
 

Duane_the_tub

V.I.P. Member
Joined
May 30, 2015
Messages
3,323
Reaction score
6,507
The pre-62, non-wire ABRs are now among the most coveted Burst parts on the market and priced accordingly. As I mentioned in another thread, I spent months trying to track one down and the most affordably-priced example I found was overseas and just under $1200, plus international shipping. Yes, you can get Pat # ABRs and mid to late 60s ones with the nylon saddles swapped out for less, but they're not the same.

Do the old ones really sound that much better? I doubt it. One of the most respected restoration guys in the business told me to buy a Faber (which I did, for 50 bucks) and not look back. Seems like one of those upgrades where you're paying a grand-plus for such a minor improvement in tone that it may not be worth it.
 

christopherJ

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
563
Reaction score
756
...In both cases what is made now is of higher precision, and from way purer metals than what was possible back in the 50's.
In fact the local machining shop would be many thousand times more accurate than anything from the 50's...
Haha! Many thousands of times more accurate? Uh, no. 1950's technology could produce an ABR to whatever tolerance you want and could easily match whatever you could produce today.
 

Sct13

Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Messages
19,758
Reaction score
24,930
apologies, I left out the saddles ....that's a very important aspect and the materials here matter, I tried nylon saddles. the felt a little muted to me.....but I'm not sure how much personal bias I actually had....and it was a hollow body (ES 330) that I did that "test" on....

But aging the same thing applies.....The sources Gibson sourced from are different today than they were in the 1950's

And I don't think Gibson put a whole lot of research in the tone we are talking about here,....you got what you got cuz that's what they had...

I listened to Johan's example and I do hear a shift in the tambor of the notes....between the two examples
 

Subterfuge

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
1,595
Reaction score
2,373
slow day,
IMG_0626.JPG
IMG_0644.JPG
IMG_0596.JPG
IMG_0676 (2).JPG
IMG_0680 (2).JPG
killing time ..turns out the bridge body and thumbwheels only are chrome and the rest is good old nickel, looks cool though ... bridge came on a little wooden base, from some angles it looks red and from others a really dark brown .. I put it next to my Gibson " Limited Edition-Artist Model" which I paid an arm and a leg for and this stuff smokes mine to death .. mechanically, the old bridge is pretty dicey..
but that old wood ??? OMG .. I want
 

lpfan1980

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2019
Messages
4,465
Reaction score
4,125
Enjoy your ABR its still an ABR no matter the age.
 


Latest Threads



Top