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Pulling bushings is often carried out using all manner of hair-brained ideas, many of which can easily damage the sensitive finish of an instrument. The simple fact of the matter is that the physics of pulling something buried deeply inside an instrument are not in your favour! One popular method is to insert a spare bolt and use some sort of crowbar action to lever the bushing out....whilst working most of the time, the fulcrum point can easily dent the finish or even the wood. Even commercially-available tools for this job bear all of their working force upon the face of the instrument. This is simply not an option for soft lacquer finishes, softer woods or archtops! The solution is deceptively simple; for a start we have an internal thread on the bushing which instantly gives us a mechanical advantage. This can be used exactly the same way as the worm gears on a tuner, to convert the torque of an advancing thread into one that pushes the bushing out instead of pulling it. The patient: One heavily distressed, dusty workhorse bass. Firstly, we need to ensure that two things; that the bushing is open-ended and the depth of the hole itself. I already knew this was an open-ended bushing. The (dirty) calipers show the hole depth is 29mm. The entire body is 39mm thick in dense Birch, leaving 10mm of wood from the bottom of the hole to the outside world. Anything significantly thinner could run the risk of blowing out the back of your instrument. If the body wood is soft (Mahogany, Alder, Basswood, etc.) and/or with a thinner amount of wood behind the bushing then consider supporting the back using painter's tape and a hardwood caul....better yet, comment below and we can confirm whether or not you might have problems.... The bridge bolt itself has a thread length of 25mm.... What we're going to do is to drop a small metal rod, some nuts or whatever will fit through the bottom of the bushing. These sit on the bottom of the hole, so when we advance a bolt back into the bushing, the bottom hits this and starts to advance the bushing back out. I used a shelf support post from a cabinet since I have lots on hand. Fire in the hole! Threading the bolt back in until it hits the post I dropped in. - If possible, use a spare bolt with the same thread size/pitch rather than the original. This instrument has been antiqued pretty well, so a little scratch here and there won't be noticed! I know....I'm going to hell for using a Torx bit in a hex head; I blame familial access to my tools for this one. We all know this is a transparent lie but hey. note from member kmensik: the post can crack/chip the lacquer on its way out....check the comments below for his solution As we turn the bolt, it can no longer advance into the body since the small post is in the way. It's immediately clear how important it is that the body has sufficient remaining thickness so that this force does not push the post out of the back or deform it. We can't emphasise this point enough! We're starting to get to the end of the bolt's travel. Time to back her out and drop in a second post. Repeat the process until you have completely advanced the bushing back out. The end result; a safe bushing removal at zero cost and with a little thought, zero risk to the instrument. Unlike the "crowbar" method, this advances the bushing out parallel to the bushing hole; too often wedging a bushing out crushes the walls making reinsertion of a bushing less likely to be secure and snug.
As a reviewer it is easy to use a lot of superlatives and comparatives. Bigger-cheaper-best-easiest, etc. Opening this product review, I realised that just using words wouldn't properly convey the correct emphasis and impact. The "Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop tail" is a mature design combination and are common items produced by many manufacturers. Highlighting one more in the mix does not seem to really provide much useful information since established designs are usually done very well by the manufacturers that produce them. So a picture (or seven) is definitely worth a thousand superlative words, especially when they demonstrate one of the exceptions that stands out from the crowd. I am glad that I had some cotton gloves handy when unboxing these! The quality of ABM's design, manufacturing approaches and finishing virtually sings at you straight out of the packaging. The beautiful 24k gold plated finish on these components is flawless - so much so, it almost feels a shame that these will be mounted to an instrument rather than being displayed in a jewellers cabinet. The perfection of the surface finish - especially on the stop tail pieces - resembles the perfection of a mirror destined for a space telescope. Remarkable would be putting it mildly to say the least! ABM's series 2500 range consists of every combination of Metric, Imperial and conversion mounting possible in addition to ABM's custom-specification and finishing services, making sourcing the right parts simple. All of the bridges and tailpieces are available in resonant bell brass, lightweight aluminium or hard wearing carbon steel and are all outfitted with bell brass saddles. Designwise, ABM have positively evolved the bridge unit both in visual aesthetic and functionality without any fundamental alterations. Importantly to most, the intonation ranges have been increased significantly over ABR-1 and Nashville bridge designs, pretty much to their theoretical maximums. As a retrofit item, the additional forward saddle displacement may not be as useful the all-important rearward range however both will help tame instruments with problematic intonation. Out of the box, saddles are provided un-notched giving you the ability to select your preferred string spacing whilst on the instrument. Alternatively, pre-notched saddles with perfectly-angled falloff and witness points are also available from ABM along with an exhaustive range of spare parts should you require them. Visually, the milling and finishing of the bridge and tailpieces pays special attention to the show faces of the components. The curves of the tailpiece arches gracefully in the right places with complementary crisp and clean edges. Even the heads of the adjustment screws are perfectly shaped attractive features. Overall the components resemble fine jewellery, almost like comparing the paint on a plain dealership Ford to that of a Bugatti. All of the components are milled from swage-drawn metal rather than simpler die-cast stock. Physically, drawing makes materials more durable and eliminates the internal voids and inconsistencies which casting processes always add in. From a production standpoint, milling ensures that all dimensions are produced to exacting tolerances with none of the deformations or variances inherent in cast components. Ultimately this results in components that align and mate perfectly. All of the bridge's saddles moved smoothly and consistently across their intonation adjustment range; whilst intonation is mostly set-and-forget, not feeling like you are fighting against a component that doesn't want to co-operate is gratifying and reassuring. In place, the bridge is confident and secure. No rattling saddles from loose screws/circlips, and a snug fit between the bridge and the height adjustment posts. All of the boxes for solid coupling are ticked. Whilst I do like the locking systems that manufacturers like TonePros use, the perfect coupling of these components makes that unnecessary. The actual components we unboxed were a 2506G Tune-O-Matic bridge and both a 3020G and 3020GA tailpiece. The 2506G bridge is entirely milled from bell brass (both body and saddles) and is patterned to fit M8-threaded inserts with 6mm posts. Other standard finishes cover nickel, chrome and black chrome however their excellent custom shop service can provide options beyond standard such as the true "lemon gold" 24k gold plating, levels of vintage aging and non-standard finish options. Certainly, as choices go for the most configurable in terms of dimensional and material options with the highest quality in all aspects ABM fulfil the spot of "price is no option here". At the same time, you are guaranteed returns in what you pay for. These parts demonstrate how a relatively simple component can be - and should be - elevated to the jewel in your guitar's crown. ABM continue to maintain their position as a premium manufacturer of guitar hardware without compromise. Their waste-conscious approach, ethical working standards and environmental initiatives (including plating operations) exceed EU guidelines, making them a world-leader in their field. Products can be purchases directly from ABM via their website at www.abm-guitarparts.com
Have been in the business of making superb instrument hardware for almost thirty years, the Hipshot name is synonymous with refinement, high quality and experience. Most importantly Hipshot maintain friendly two-way customer contact which - being fed back into the products - ultimately makes the products the result of players, luthiers and of course the expertise of guys at Hipshot. Products are manufactured and personally inspected at each and every process rather than dropping off the conveyor into the box. Aside from certain specialised processes such as gold plating, every process from the cutting of bar stock to final shipping is carried out in-house at Interlaken, NY. One of the more recent products in their line-up is this classy bass bridge system which co-mingles comprehensive adjustability, distinctive looks and solidity. The D style bridge is a two-part system consisting of a solid lockable bridge and tailpiece. The system is available with a range of common string spacing options, high quality finishes and in both four-string and five-string versions. Additionally the bridge itself can be bought as a standalone unit sans tailpiece for instruments using only string-through-body or alternative methods of string retention. Packaged, the system comes complete with all adjustment tools, threaded body inserts, mounting posts, through-body stringing ferrules (front and rear), nylon washers and alternative-length saddle intonation screws. All components (other than screws and springs of course) are machined from solid brass resulting in a feeling of substance straight out of the box. The noticeably weighty bridge sits on two height-adjustable posts which in turn are mounted to the body via two threaded inserts pressed into the body. Subsequent to basic height adjustment the body is then locked tight to the mounting posts via two hex nuts. Nylon washers ensure that these nuts remain secure. The tailpiece simply screws tight to the body using the finish-matched screws supplied. The design uses the familiar individual saddles found in other Hipshot bass bridges. Each saddle is adjustable in three dimensions; intonation, height and spacing. Intonation range is more than ample at a hair under 12mm/0.5" and is set from the rear of the bridge using a simple Philips head screwdriver. Unlike many other bridges the intonation screw is offset from the centre of the saddle, resulting in adjustment that doesn't require finagling around obstructions such as the string you are attempting to compensate! Two set screws either side of the string allow the saddles to be adjusted from flat up to a radii tighter than those found on vintage Fenders. Located towards the rear of each saddle is a third set screw for locking/unlocking the string witness point barrel. Unlocking this allows relocation of the barrel by pushing the string from either side giving additional control over string geometry should the player prefer equal string spacing centre-to-centre or string-to-string. It is more than likely that the initial intention for the D style bridge was specifically for custom instruments. It is however not unrealistic to expect it could be retrofitted onto existing instruments with a little modification work requiring nothing more than a ruler, hand drill and screwdriver. Given the comprehensive adjustment and setup range available, the system would happily work as a retrofit part upgrading the hardware on many standard basses. The unique appearance of this bridge sets it apart from the vast majority of bridges available to the custom builder/modder with the closest equivalent being the perhaps less elegant Warwick bridge, which of course screams "Warwick" and requires very specific surgery to install. The instrument onto which this bridge was installed was a long-scale Mahogany and Wenge set-neck 5-string bass with the pickups styled after the classic Music Man Stingray. In use the bridge is physically unobtrusive for what is undeniably a substantial item. I rarely play close to the bridge on my basses for pick or finger styles; I either anchor on a pickup, palm a little further forward than the bridge itself or thump/pluck/strum anchored closer to the neck. Forcing myself to palm ON the bridge whilst picking didn't reveal anything sharp, pointy or catchy. The only discomfort came from the weirdness that playing over the bridge gave me! Played acoustically with relatively old strings (to remove traces of "new string joy") the bass feels alive and open. I felt none of the "disconnect" normally found on instruments loaded with cheap/badly coupled hardware, bad neck joints or other weak links in the chain. On that basis the bridge definitely ticks the box as far as being "a solidly anchored resonant bridge" is concerned. Amplified and run open (pickup temporarily wired straight to a vol pot and parallel/series switch), the bass possesses a great deal of characterful growl when I dig in with fingers Burton style or hammer away a la Larry Graham. Mighty tone for such a basic circuit! The contribution that the bridge adds to this mix is difficult to quantify without a basis for comparison. Unplugged it definitely aligns with how the Aria Pro II SB-1000 feels, itself with its own high mass brass bridge. Notes "fill" the instrument if that makes sense? I am highly tempted to follow suit with the Aria on this bass and fit a brass nut.... Top shelf hardware naturally goes hand-in-hand with higher price tags, hence results always need to justify the expenditure. Bargain basement hardware is always a false economy for anybody wanting to imbue their bass with solid characterful tone. The bridge will more than satisfy the needs of the casual builder, repair/setup guy, pro luthier and player alike. The ease dialling in the perfect setup is akin to shooting a shotgun at a barn door and I managed my own within five minutes including a coffee break! This ease allows simple incorporation into instruments with all kinds of geometry whether one prefers a stepped body, high bridge, a larger neck angle for digging in or the flatter feel close to the body. The Hipshot D bridge system certainly satisfies my personal fondness for resonant brass hardware "in the chain"; this was again borne out after the first test string-up of the bass this bridge was fitted on; live and loud throughout the body (and my own body though my hip!) even before it got anywhere near being plugged in. That to me makes the mark of a mighty bass sound before any electronics even hit the instrument. Overall, the Hipshot D style bass bridge is an excellent option for a bass design with a head-turning unique look and flexibility to match. The units are available from numerous resellers worldwide or direct from Hipshot Products' website.