If you’re not certain that your guitar is compatible with your that Gotoh bridge you're looking at, then you’re in the right place. We’ve put together this guide to answer some commonly asked questions with regards to Telecaster bridge compatibility. Whether you’re swapping from vintage to modern or vice versa, make sure you double check it will fit before you commence with installation.
Gotoh Telecaster Bridge Compatibility
There are two broad types of Telecaster bridge, vintage ‘ash tray’ style and the more modern type. Each comes with its own pros and cons and there are certain things you must factor in during installation, particularly if you’re changing from a modern to a vintage.
The vintage Tele bridge has the classic raised surround from the days when they came with a pickup cover. This affectionately known as an ‘ash tray’ bridge, because of the old covers that came with them looked like ashtrays when you removed them. There are a couple of common stories as to the function of the cover, neither of which can be corroborated. Some say it was used as for a Faraday cage type purpose, helping to quiet hum, whereas other state that it was purely an aesthetic thing, a result of the design ethos at the time where big, bold chrome was all the rage.
Modern Tele bridges have no surround and can differ in several ways from a vintage tele bridge. Modern Tele bridges tend not to have the raised surround like the older versions, making them more comfortable for palm muting. They also have a longer intonation screw for better fine tuning. There’s a lot of internet-forum talk about vintage style bridges sounding superior to modern bridges, but we reckon you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference in a blindfold test.
Changing your Tele Bridge
When changing your Telecaster bridge there are a few things you need to be aware of before swapping to ensure you have the correct product and compatability.
The vast majority of issues when changing over Tele bridges comes from the bridge mounting screws. Classic Tele bridges typically have a four-hole mount, as you can see in the image below.
However a lot of modern Tele bridges will come with a three-hole mount as we can see in the example below.
So, to try and keep things simple, Gotoh have come up with a modern-style Tele bridge that has the four-hole mount, meaning you can straight swap with your vintage-style Tele bridge if you're that way inclined. You'll have a slightly longer bridge plate due to the longer intonation screws, but you won't require any serious modification to your guitar body.
If you're wanting to change your modern bridge for a vintage style one, then unforutnately you will likely have to redrill holes and fill in the existing ones to get it to work, which is a serious undertaking that requires a decent bit of luthier's skill. So if you're not feeling totally comfortable you'd be better off giving it to a professional to deal with. There might also be other issues as sometimes the plate won't completely cover the bridge pickup cavity, meaning you'll have to make further modification if you don't like look of the gap.
Brass Saddles v Titanium
Gotoh bridges will come either with Brass Saddles or Titanium Saddles, and both have a markedly different effect on your guitar tone. Understanding more about the differences between the two will ensure you get the right sound when purchasing a new Tele bridge.
Brass saddles are a great upgrade for any guitar, offering a warmer tone, better sustain, and superior intonation than zinc saddles that come as standard on a lot of guitars. Brass saddles are great if you want a more vintage sound from your Tele, something less ‘icepicky’ than what you’d get with zinc or steel saddles. If you want less attack and a warmer tone, then brass is your go-to.
Titanium saddles offer a tone that’s far brighter and more articulate. Titanium has a low damping characteristic which can improve the sustain on your guitar, tightening up the sound. If your guitar sound is too dark for your tastes, then switching to a Gotoh Telecaster bridge with titanium saddles will give you a smooth sounding guitar tone.
Thanksfully, changing your Tele bridge will be a straight swap for the most part. That said it’s always worth measuring up and double checking to ensure you get the right component. Whether swapping from a modern to a vintage style bridge, or the other way around, being forearmed with knowledge will ensure your transition is as painless as possible!
Read about all the guitar bridge types with our Guitar Bridge Guide.
Learn more about pickups with our Best Telecaster Pickups guide.
Pair your new Gotoh Telecaster bridge with some nice Gotoh Tuners for maximum effect.