The bridge is located on the main body of the guitar and is where the strings are attached to the body. The main purpose of the bridge is to hold the strings in place and ensure that there is the correct distance between each string. The bridge on an acoustic guitar will also transfer the vibrations of the strings to the soundboard which causes the air to vibrate inside the guitar and this vibration amplifies the sound produced by the vibration of the strings.
It is normal to have to carry out some maintenance on a guitar over time and a bridge may eventually need repairing or replacing. There is a lot of pressure continually exerted on a bridge by the strings so it is possible for the bridge to lift away from the body of the guitar or to even crack or break. Ineffective glue may mean that the bridge actually comes completely away from the guitar body. In these circumstances it is often easiest to replace the bridge and there is a wide selection of bridges available for all types of guitars in different styles and made from different materials.
Bridges for an acoustic guitar
There are two main types of bridges for acoustic guitars and the one chosen will depend largely on the type of music that will be played on the guitar and the sound quality that needs to be achieved.
Fixed Bridges are the traditional style of bridge used for an acoustic guitar. They are mounted directly on the body of the guitar and are also sometimes known as hard tail bridges. Choosing a fixed bridge will ensure clarity of tone when the guitar is played as the fact that it is directly connected to the guitar body means that there is less distance for the vibration of the sound to have to travel and therefore less chance of the sound being distorted.
If the aim is to produce a greater variation in pitch and sound from the guitar, then a Tremolo Bridge will be the best option. This type of bridge can be pressed down using a spring mechanism to alter the pitch on one or on a combination of the guitar strings. The greater variation in sound that can be achieved does mean that the tone and the ability to sustain a note will not necessarily be as good as with a fixed bridge because the sound which is produced has to vibrate through a larger number of components.
Bridges for an electric guitar
There are four main types of bridges for electric guitars and again the choice of bridge is largely dependent of what type of music is going to be played on the guitar and what is the most important requirement for the sound that will be produced.
This type of Guitar Bridge has minimal contact with the actual body of the guitar and is commonly suspended above the body by a series of springs. A Vibrato Bridge has the ability to produce a wide variation in sound and pitch which can suit styles of music such as rock music.
Non-Locking Tremolo Bridge
Prior to the late 1970s, all electric guitars were made with a non-locking tremolo bridge. Many cheap guitars still use this as it is simple and easy to construct. The bridge is installed onto the actual guitar body so that although there is the potential to change the sound which is produced, it is a minimal change compared to that caused by a Vibrato Bridge.
Locking Tremolo Bridge
With a locking tremolo bridge, the strings are clamped in place at the guitar saddle usually with an Allen key as well as at the end of the string. This makes the Locking Tremolo particularly effective for hard playing styles of music. The only downside to choosing this type of bridge is the fact that the bridge has minimal contact with the body of the guitar so there is the possibility of the sound being disrupted or distorted.
Non Tremolo Bridges
This is a traditional style of bridge which is bolted directly onto the body of the guitar. A non-tremolo bridge generally provides a clear sound with the best tone as the transfer of the vibrations from the strings into the body is the most effective because the bridge is in direct contact with the guitar body.
Different Materials for Bridges
The majority of bridges for electric guitars are made from metal. The type of metal which is used for the bridge can alter the sound produced by the guitar. A brass bridge will produce a warm sound and will enable notes to be sustained for much longer, a hardened steel bridge will provide a greater clarity of sound and will also sustain longer notes. Softer metals will produce a duller tone.
A bridge for an acoustic guitar is commonly made from wood, but the type of wood used can also influence the sound of the guitar. Brazilian rosewood will add a ringing tone, Indian rosewood can help to add depth to the middle range notes and ebony is said to have a slight dampening effect on the sound.
To Find a Guitar bridge on eBay
To buy a bridge for a guitar, go to the eBay homepage. The first thing to do is to click on the All Categories tab. Then scroll down the page and click on the Musical Instruments tab. The next step is to find the link for Guitars and click on it. After this, click on the link for Accessories and then the link for Parts. There is then the option to click on links for either Electric Guitar or Acoustic Guitar. There are also links for specific types of guitars such as Electric Bass Guitar. Once a link for a specific type of guitar has been chosen, it is possible to search through any available items that are listed or it may be possible to further refine the search as brands such as Fender have specific links. It is also possible to look for a guitar bridge by typing specific keywords into the search bar which is at the top of every eBay page. An example of this would be typing "Guitar Bridge acoustic fixed" into the search field if the aim was to find a Fixed Bridge for an acoustic guitar.
The type of bridge that is fitted to a guitar can have a considerable effect on the sound and tone that is produced whether it is an acoustic or an electric guitar. It is important to consider the type and style of music that is going to be played on the guitar and what is the most important attribute about the sound that will be produced. Is the clarity and richness of tone the most important requirement or is it more important to be able to sustain notes and to have the ability to be able to experiment with both sound and pitch. It is important to remember that the sound which is produced by the guitar can also be altered by the materials that have been used to make the bridge and that the style of the guitar bridge used is not the only factor. It is worth carrying out some research, looking at different sellers and maybe going to some music shops where it may be possible to test out guitars with different types of bridges so that the sound produced can be assessed before actually buying a new bridge.