Trevor Wilkinson's Adjustable Compensated Bridge for Tele

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Dan Erlewine sits down with renowned guitar designer and inventor Trevor Wilkinson to discuss the struggles of intonating a standard Tele bridge.

Video Transcription

Dan Erlewine: A Telecaster bridge is one of the simplest and plainest hardware designs ever made for an electric guitar. Some might say it's a little too simple because it's often hard to intonate the saddles. My friend Trev Wilkinson came up with this version that looks like a standard Tele bridge, but intonates much more exactly. He was in my shop and I interviewed him about it.

[on-screen text reads: Trev Wilkinson Interview: Wilkinson Adjustable Compensated Bridge for Tele]

What did you design?

What did you design that to solve for a guitar player? [Trevor is holding a Wilkinson Adjustable Compensated Bridge in his hands].

Trevor Wilkinson: Going back to intonation really, going back to be able to get good intonation with three saddles, with six strings.

How a string transmits its energy

And we can go back and talk again about how a string transmits its energy to a guitar. Now, when a string on a T-style guitar like this, so this fits a Telecaster, you've got one barrel saddle, which is actually holding two strings. So you've got two strings holding one saddle still. That string is actually assisted in holding that saddle still by its friend. So with three saddles, there's no question about it, that a three-saddle bridge will sound different to a six-saddle bridge. The six-saddle bridge will give you perfect intonation on all six strings. I wanted to try and retain that original sound but still by using three saddles, but still giving you perfect intonation.

Two saddle bridge

So this is a two-piece saddle. And this screw, just by loosening that screw, you can rotate that saddle through any angle you want to give you perfect intonation on both the strings that sit on it, but you've still got one saddle. And it's used by some really high-dollar top builders because it is the ultimate Tele bridge.

Cold rolled steel

We're using cold rolled steel, which people sometimes make a lot of noise of. It's got to be cold rolled steel because it's very difficult to stamp anything but cold rolled steel. It's very important that a bridge like this is made of steel, for the simple reason that it affects the magnetic field of the pickup that sits in that bridge.

Magnetic field

Just the classic Tele pickup has got the keeper plate on the bottom in steel, copper plated; that transfers the magnetism up through the screws, takes it into the bridge. This whole thing becomes a magnetic field.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that that's why it sounds better or it sounds worse, because I never, ever talk about something sounding better than something else. It's all subjective. But if you're going to do something, try and do it right.



Trevor Wilkinson

Guitar Designer and Inventor

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