New Mod Project: GB-10 Bridge

One of the great things about the Ibanez GB-10 is its unique and almost monolithic design. Unlike a strat, it really doesn’t want to be modified. Good luck finding replacement parts for those floating pickups, brass zero-fret and adjustable tailpiece. Even the pots are wrapped in plastic bags to keep the dust out. These features are so unique, it seems a waste to make the redundant. So almost any mod you want to make to this guitar would cost you dearly…except the bridge.

In spite of Ibanez’s solid realisation of George Benson’s brilliant custom design, the guitar is not perfect. For some more modern music, you find yourself wanting a bit more sustain and bite. Turnaround for some more mainstream jazz, and it feels you could use a bit more depth and woodiness. The only easy options you really have to mod the tone are:

  1. Strings: Flat or wound, 12s or heavier for jazz, 11s for blues and R&B.
  2. Amplification: Best through a Polytone or Fender Twin, IMHO. Sometimes a little bit of compression or clean boost helps, too.
  3. Bridge and Tailpiece: In addition to using the tailpiece to adjust the pressure of the bridge on the top, an OEM ABR bridge can literally be a drop-in replacement part.

Re #3, I was fortunately enough to have a cheap ABR bridge lying around which had been cut for a different guitar. It fit the GB-10’s wooden base, so I gave it a try. Obviously it the intonation, and some chords sounded a bit better. Sustain was a bit better, too. However, the guitar seemed to loose a little depth and woodiness. Plain strings sounded a bit coarse, and the lower strings sounded a bit dull. The G-string wasn’t as resonant, meaning I had to use a .26 to get the top moving.

To reclaim some of the tone without sacrificing the sustain or intonation, I want to try different bridge materials. Brass is the obvious first choice, having a reputation as the most resonant metal. However, there are other options as well, like nylon saddles or graphite saddles. Harder materials like steel and titanium seem a bit less of an appealing option, but then again, a bit of extra high end might be just what is needed for such a dark sounding guitar.

I don’t know what the ABR bridge I have on the guitar now is made out of, but because it was so cheap ($25), I guess it’s zinc. Some of the black plating on the saddles has been rubbed off when the slots were cut, and the material underneath is dull gray like original tremolo block in my G&L Legacy — not colorful like brass, or shiny like steel. A brass or gold bridge would match the other hardware on the guitar, too. However, the guitar is almost 30 years old, and a lot of the gold plating has faded or chipped off, so a “distressed” or “aged” bridge might be the way to go.


One Comment on “New Mod Project: GB-10 Bridge”

  1. gaijinguitarist より:

    Ok, a Gotoh aluminum bridge with brass saddles is on it’s way. Still waiting for a reply from GFS to see if their much cheaper all-brass bridge will fit my guitar.


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