Tune-o-matic, buzz-tastic!

The retainer wire on a standard Tune-o-matic bridge can buzz and rattle if the bridge isn’t machined to perfection.

I didn’t expect this to bother me as much as it does.  The buzz doesn’t come through the amp, but I don’t usually play very loud, so hearing a buzzy rattle from the bridge results in a real lack of clarity in the sound I’m hearing.

Here’s a video where I demonstrate what it sounds like when the retainer wire on your Tune-o-matic gets all buzz-tastic.

Trying to fix it

Epiphone Tune-o-maticDan Erlewine in his book The Guitar Player Repair Guide recommends using a small flathead screwdriver to push down on the wire, kinking it between the screws.   I tried that without luck.

I’ve seen some people recommend getting the intonation right and then using clear finger nail enamel to lock the wire in place.   I’ve also seen talk of using a dab of glue, or hot wax, or just oil (perhaps Nut Sauce).

All of these seem to have the flaw that the buzz will eventually come back.  If there’s an inexpensive replacement bridge that’ll drop right in, it seems like a better solution.

Considering a replacement bridge

The existing bridge has a 12” radius to match the neck, 2 1/16” string spacing, and the posts are set 2 29/32” apart.  The posts are M4 (4mm).

A replacement bridge should preferably match the post spacing/size specs, so it’ll fit right over the existing posts.  It would also be possible to remove the existing posts, fill will dowels, and re-drill for new posts, but I’d prefer not to.

As for radius, 12” is definitely preferable.  A 14” radius bridge over a 12” radius neck may feel a bit weird.   As for spacing, a bit narrower than 2 1/16” would be fine.

Lastly, it would be good if the bridge was wider for better intonation range.

Possible roller bridges

Wilkiinson Locking Roller Bridge – 2 1/16″ spacing, 12″ radius

Guitar Fetish Gold Roller Bridge

Schaller Roller (2” spread, 14″ radius and M5 posts)

Stewmac locking roller (2” spread, 14″ radius and posts are M8x1.25)

Possible non-roller bridges

Gotoh Tune-o-matic (2 1/16″ string spread, 12″ radius, M4 post)

Graphtech ResoMax bridge with string saver saddles

TonePros TP6-G locking nashville style

The Choice

Ok, I’ve decided to order the Wilkinson roller and give it a try!  It’s inexpensive, very adjustable, it locks to the posts, and seems to get mostly positive reviews.

I checked with Jay at GuitarFetish and he thinks it’ll be a drop-in replacement for the Epiphone Riviera.

Stay tuned for more…