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Bridge Placement

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well to my knowledge, and hopefully someone with more knowledge will back me up or tell your correctly, as I've not fitted my first bridge yet :D

but where you put it depends on the scale length of your neck... but you want to place it maybe a little closer or further away depending on the bridge so you can use the saddles to innotate it perfectly...

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How important is it to get the bridge exactly on the written dimension

Quite, what do you mean by written dimension? If you mean the scale lenght, lets say 25", extend the saddles as far as they will go, and make it 25" from the saddles.

how far can this vary

Not too much, because saddles don't have a whole lot of room for travel.

what would downsides be

Intonation will be off, will never properly play in tune.

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i use schaller or abm top loading, roller type bridges almost exclusively and with them you lay out your scale lenght to the middle of the saddle travel length so you can intone. on the schaller there's a locking screw on the right side and i use that to mark the scale length.

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