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Determining Bridge Width


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I'm refurbishing my first love. An Olympic copy of a BC Rich Warlock. I actually recently bought a Warlock from the same time period, and other than the fact that the Olympic is laminated, it's superior to the BC Rich in every way, especially the body shape and contouring on the top and the neck (24 frets and a really nice, almost Wizard-like feel). Back to my story.

Sometime between the last time it was all together and working and I decided to get it back into working shape, all the parts for it that weren't attached to it disappeared. That was almost all of them excluding tuners and trem claw.

Anyway, I need a new bridge, and I have no clue what width it needs to be from E to E. The most common I've seen are 2-1/16" and 2-1/8" for electrics, but I'm not sure which one I need. I took some measurements and they are as follows:

Nut width: 1-5/8"

Nut E to E: 1-3/8"

Neck width at 24th fret: 2-1/4"

Scale of the neck appears to be 25-1/2" if my calculations are correct (actually, looks closer to 25-1/4").

Thanks for any help. I would like to get the parts ordered ASAP so I can get her back together this weekend.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...

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First off, from the information you gave us, you left out some important details, such as the length from nut to the 24th fret on your guitar. The best way is to draw a full scale drawing of your guitar. If your scale length is indeed 25.5", then the 24th fret should be at 19.125 inches (19-1/8") then from all the other information you gave, I determined that the string spacing should be 2-3/16" at the bridge. That is if the information you gave me was accurate and it is a true 25.5" scale length. If I was you, I'd measure to make sure the 24th fret was located at 19-1/8" from the take off point at the nut, (hint. the side of nut where it meets the fretboard). That way, you can tell if the calculations I made are of value.

I'm just curious, isn't there some indication of what kind of bridge you'll have to install from the holes that are cut in the body, or did you fill them in?

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First off, from the information you gave us, you left out some important details, such as the length from nut to the 24th fret on your guitar.  The best way is to draw a full scale drawing of your guitar.  If your scale length is indeed 25.5", then the 24th fret should be at 19.125 inches (19-1/8") then from all the other information you gave, I determined that the string spacing should be 2-3/16" at the bridge.  That is if the information you gave me was accurate and it is a true 25.5" scale length.  If I was you, I'd measure to make sure the 24th fret was located at 19-1/8" from the take off point at the nut, (hint. the side of nut where it meets the fretboard).  That way, you can tell if the calculations I made are of value.

Thanks for that. From the nut to the 24th fret is aproximately 18-9/16" according to my notes. I got the 25.5 scale measurement by doing what the Stew Mac scale calculator suggested: Nut to 12th fret x 2, which was 12-5/8 * 2 = 25-1/4".

I'm just curious, isn't there some indication of what kind of bridge you'll have to install from the holes that are cut in the body, or did you fill them in?

That's why this is such a huge pain. The original bridge was interesting, to say the least. It was a two piece tremolo unit. The first part, which was mounted to the body, was a rectangular bar about about 5/8" H x 1/4" D x 3-1/2 to 4" L with 4 mounting holes in the center and a V groove along the long side that accepted a knife edge tremolo bridge piece unit. I've never been able to find a suitable exact replacement, and I've scoured every website, e-bay ad, and parts catalog out there. So, no matter what I put in, I have to drill holes, but if I'm going to be drilling holes, I want to make sure that I do this right the first time.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...

Edited by GodBlessTexas
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If you measured from nut to 24th fret to be 18-9/16", then that tells me it's a 24.75" scale length, because it should be 19.125" or something close at the 24th for a 25.5" scale length. I'm curious how you got the measurement you did on the 24th fret which indicates a Gibson type 24.75" scale, and got a meaurement from the 12th fret that indicated a Fender scale of 25.5". I'd go back and do some more measuring, something had to be measured wrong.

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It's possible that my measuring device is suspect. I did it right before I went to bed because I was barely home yesterday. I'll get out my good square and make sure my measurements are correct.

To make sure it's not user error, should I be measuring from the middle of the nut or the edge of the nut where the string clears to the center of the top of the 12th fret?

It's quite possible that my measurements are off because of my measuring incorrectly on one or both of those measurements.

Also, how did you come up with the final bridge spacing? I'd love to be able to file that away for future reference.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...

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OK. Measuring correctly, it is indeed 12-3/8" to the 12th fret, for 24.75" scale. Just to verify, I compared to my actual BC Rich neck, and the necks are identical as far as fret and nut spacing, and I verified that it is a 24.75" scale neck by researching the model. I don't know why I didn't try it in the first place. I think I like doing things the hard way first. :D

So, given those variables, I believe a 2-1/8" spaced bridge would be appropriate, given what I've found online. Is this correct?

Thanks for your help, and I really enjoyed your strat buildup thread and picks. I enjoyed yours much more than the new Fender Bad Boy Blue guitar, which shares more than a striking resemblence to your strat.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...

Edited by GodBlessTexas
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ahhh.. ok.. now we can figure out the bridge string spacing, I knew something didn't quite add up with your numbers you had. Here are what measurements I'm assuming you have as of now.

Nut width from E to E = 1.375"

24th fret location = 19.125"

Width at 24th fret minus 1/8" from both sides for clearance = 2"

Total Scale length = 24.75"

From that you can figure out the bridge spacing by using a fomula I derived.

It figures to be exactly 2.1838235", which is closer to the 2-3/16"(2.187") I gave you in the first place. I see no problem with using a 2-1/8"(2.125") string spacing on the bridge though since it would be a very small difference, much less than if you was to use a 2" string spread bridge. You normally want 1/8" clearance from the two E strings to the edge of the fingerboard, each side, so using the 2-1/8" spread would only make it a little more clearance on the two outside strings, which wouldn't hurt anything. But I have seen firsthand, how going with a wider bridge spacing would make the outside E strings lay dangerously close to the edge of the fingerboard, simply because the spacing used was too wide on the bridge. But your problem isn't like that, the only thing you have to worry about is using too small of a spacing 2-1/8" or less. You know, I have to give you credit for having the foresight to try to find out before blindly buying a tremelo, like most would have done.

Let me know if your truely interested in the formula and maybe I can write it out in photoshop to illustrate it better. Also, I'm glad you liked the Strat, we've made 9 more guitars since that one, various styles, but it was great to be able to capture that guitar in pictures along the way. Thanks and I hope this helps.

Matt Vinson

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You know, I have to give you credit for having the foresight to try to find out before blindly buying a tremelo, like most would have done.

Once you've done enough project management and seen massive million dollar plus projects go down the tubes because someone forgot to take tiny details into account, you tend to sweat those things. I was assembling my price list of parts on Monday, and I was doing some comparison pricing on bridges when I realized they came in different string spreads. Until then I was blissfully ignorant of any difference, and to me bridges came in two flavors: stop tailpieces and tremolos. :D

Let me know if your truely interested in the formula and maybe I can write it out in photoshop to illustrate it better.

Absolutely.

Also, I'm glad you liked the Strat, we've made 9 more guitars since that one, various styles, but it was great to be able to capture that guitar in pictures along the way.  Thanks and I hope this helps.

Matt Vinson

Yeah, I'm a sucker for blue Strats, and I really enjoyed the information you conveyed with that buildup presentation.

Remember the Alamo, and God Bless Texas...

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