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Diy Tonepros Tom

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I was cleaning out my archives and I ran accross this tut I wrote up a while ago. I'm sure you experienced builders have already thought of this but I thought I'd post this tutorial for any adventurous peops interested in doing it on the cheap. I originally posted this two years ago on Harmony-Central. Let me know if there's anything blatantly wrong with it.

If you want this in MS Word format with a visual diagram there is a link for it at the bottom of the page. I hope someone finds it useful.



DIY Tone Pro TOM

(Diagram at the end)

I recently considered purchasing a tone pro locking tune-o-matic bridge for small posts. It seemed to get great reviews so I wanted to give it a try; the only thing stopping me was the 65.00 it would cost me. Yea, I know I’m cheap and sure, 65 bucks really isn’t a lot, but I wasn’t sure if this was another one of those over hyped, tone mojo, smoke and mirror things or the real deal. Even though 65 bucks is a good deal for better tone I wasn’t about to hand it over as marketing fodder for the next tone scam.

After carefully inspecting the piece I realized that what I was considering buying was really just a tune-o-matic bridge with two setscrews holding onto the stock posts. This surely didn’t seem worth 65 bucks to me; after all I already had a tune-o-matic bridge, all I needed were two threaded holes and two setscrews!

I decided to make my own. The results were worth the eleven dollars I spent on a new tool and the one-hour of work.


Here is my recipe for DIY Tone Pro Tune-o-matic bridge (for any post size)

Materials needed:

1: tune-o-matic bridge (stock, any color, any post size)

1: 3” 4-40 size threaded rod -or- two 4-40 set screws (You can also use 5-40 or 6-40 threaded rod or set screws but be sure and use the corresponding tap as described below). I used 4-40 because it seemed like an appropriate size… It wasn’t much of a logical process for me.


Tools needed:

For making the set screw (ignore this if you have prefab set screws)

1: dremel tool (& 1 sanding/cutting disk ) or a hack saw and sandpaper.

1: Pair Needle Nose Pliers

For drilling and threading/tapping the screw holes

1: drill (preferably a drill press)

1: 4-40 size (or other size) “tap” with corresponding drill bit and tap handle (the tap and drill bit come as a paired kit and the handle is usually sold separately (Home Depot, ACE or Lowe’s) My total cost: 4-40 tap + drill bit + tap handle + 3”, 4-40 threaded rod = $11.00 (two years later it's probably more like $15.00)


Step 1: (Making a set screw)

(If using the threaded rod approach start here. If not, because you already have setscrews - go to step 2)

Remember to wear eye protection!

Hold, or clamp, your threaded rod so that you have ¼” of the rod exposed (pliers, vice, etc...). Using the dremel tool cut a thin slot in the tip of the threaded rod like your making a screw (you are making a screw) about 2mm deep. You can sand the top nice and even with a few strokes. When you are happy with your screwdriver slot then cut that piece of threaded rod off so that it is about 3/8” long. Level and sand the non-slotted end of your screw to remove any burs and any uneven-ness.

Step 2: (Drilling the holes in the bridge)

Hold or clamp your tune-o-matic bridge so that the side with the intonation adjustments is face down. Using a permanent marker make a dot that is centered (so that when you drill your 2 holes, one on each side of the bridge, you drill directly into the center of your postholes. Note: It helps to tap a mark into the metal to guide your drill bit. You can use a hammer and scrawl or small nail. This will help keep the drill bit centered so it doesn't slip around on the bridge . Using the drill bit that came with your tap, drill your two holes (Be sure to use a little oil so that you don’t dull or break your drill bit).

Step 3: (Threading the new holes in the bridge)

Take your tap and screw into the holes you just drilled (Screw in a few turns and back out then screw in a few more turns and back it out…be sure to use a little oil, until your hole is completely threaded. Repeat as needed until the hole is completely threaded.

You now have two threaded holes and two setscrews. Guess what comes next! That’s right, you install it. Partially thread your screws into your holes. Place the bridge on its posts, and tighten the setscrews onto the posts.

It may seem involved but if your used to using tools, and you are confident with them, this is really only a one-hour procedure, at most. Last I checked I wasn’t making 65.00 an hour so to me this mod was worth it.

How does it sound?

The sound changed only slightly but there was a little more of a noticeable “ring” in my strings. The real differences I hear are the increased sustain and the more pronounced resonance. Also, when I remove my strings I don’t have to worry about where the bridge is going to fall. This is added reassurance for a forgetful person such as myself. I think that the difference would be more drastic if I also had the locking tailpiece. That will be my next project :D

As far as I’m concerned, paying the 65.00 for this bridge is not worth the high cost when I can make it. If you’ve got the tools and the gumption, however, the one-hour DIY mod is well worth it.


Q & A

Yes, I agree that this modification probably will do no good if you are using dime-store hardware but it may help enough to hold you over. Mine is not one of these cases. and I recommend that if your hardware is loose all around, thin and made of tin you need a new bridge anyway so buy a new one.

As for some commonly asked questions regarding how to do this modification:

Q1. What exactly is a tap handle?

A1. A tap handle is just as it sounds. It's a cantilever with a vise-like chuck in the center that tightens and holds the tap securely. This gives you leverage to turn the tap into the drilled hole. This allows you to use many tap sizes with the same handle. These are found in the same tool department and probably right next to where the taps are hanging. I got mine at Lowes. A tap is a threaded piece of hardened steel that is made to thread holes in other softer metals.

The threaded rod is in the screw and fastener isle. I found it in a big rolling tool chest with a bunch of other specialized screws, bolts and fasteners. You’ll find pre made setscrews there too.

Q2. 4-40 taps come in certain sizes or is that indicative of the size for the bridge?

A2. 4-40 refers to the size (diameter) of the tap. You can use 5-40 or 6-40 if you want (They will be larger respectively). I chose 4-40 because I did this all on the fly. 4-40 was the smallest I needed to go to keep from over drilling. After doing this adjustment I will probably use 5-40 or 6-40 next time. Just be sure that if you use a 5-40 diameter tap that you buy 5-40 size threaded rod or 5-40 size set screws. The most important part is that you have plenty of meat left on your bridge after you drill and tap the hole. The size of the hole is your preference. Also, Lowes didn't have the set screws I wanted in stock and that's why I made them myself. You might get lucky and actually find your size of set screw pre-fab. That way you can avoid the possibility of shooting a 3/8" piece of metal in your eye.

Q3. Also what is the best way to cut the rod down to 3/8"? I know you say dremel, but i can see the little tip being cut from my vice, and once its cut all the way through the dremel kicks that little 3/8" piece of metal into never never land or worse yet my eye if I forgot to wear eye protection. I didn't see where you used the pliers for anything, or is that how you broke the rod in two but cutting it in half and then bending it back and forth...

A3. Surprisingly I didn't hold the threaded rod with anything and it just fell straight down. I wouldn't recommend this though. I tend to have a lot of luck when it comes to doing impulsive and stupid **** and not getting hurt (knock on wood for me please, real wood, not the fake stuff). When I mentioned the pliers I did originally intend to lie and say I used them to hold the rod but I forgot to. SO FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY, USE EYE PROTECTION and pliers to hold the rod! Don't grip the rod too hard though or you might squish the threads down and render it useless.


Another warning:

Be careful that you do not break your drill bit or your tap inside of the hole you are drilling/tapping. These are high carbon steel tools; if they break you will not get them out! They will not break easily but a good rule of thumb when tooling metal is: don't force it. If you are meeting resistance back it out slowly, clean off your tap/drill bit use some oil and drill/tap a little more. I met no resistance with mine but that does not mean you won't.

another thing I thought of to sure things up a bit... The posts on my bridge seem to wiggle a wee bit. I used teflon pipe tape on the post threads. just wrap a few turns of the pipe tape around the lower 1/4" of the posts where they screw into the bushings. this makes that whole assembly a little tighter. Teflon pipe tape can be found at most hardware stores in the pipe isle (or you can just ask for "teflon pipe tape"). This stuff is cheap and will last forever. If a little bit sticks out after everything goes together you can cut it with an exacto blade. Don't worry, it's not tape in the conventional sense, it has no adhesive. It's actualy a thin teflon ribbon that is stretchy and smooth. It's used to make a water or gas pipe joint tighter, by filling in the threads, so that water or gas doesn't leak. The best part is that its completely reversible (the tape doesn't stick so you can just pull it off). This tape suggestion may be way overboard for some but I'm a chronic and neurotic tinkerer and I always have to try something if I think about it.

Anyway, I hope someone finds this usefull. If for no other reason than to satisfy their curiosity.




MS Word Document + Diagram


Diagram Only


Edited by Scrappy_Squirrel
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