Hardware refers to the various metal pieces and knobs on the bass guitar. Often the cosmetic appearance of the hardware is described. You will see chrome, black chrome and gold hardware. This is just a matter of personal preference.
The bridge, or tailpiece, is a critical part of the bass. It is the metal plate where the strings attach to the body. This important contact point is where much of the strings’ vibration is transferred to the body of the bass guitar.
The bridge does several things. Each string sits on an adjustable saddle. The saddles space the strings apart. They also move in and out to help adjust the tuning of each string (called intonation). And, the saddles also adjust the height of each of the bass strings. Almost all bass guitars have adjustable bridges.
After looking at a number of bridges you will be able to spot the junky ones from the good quality ones. It’s usually obvious. Just examine the construction.
Bass bridge descriptions often distinguish between top-loading and string-through-body models. Top-loading bridges have a slot cut out of the top for each string. This makes changing bass strings a little easier. Some bridges just have a hole for each string where you need to thread the string through.
String-through-body means the string is threaded through from the backside of the body. This adds a little more sustain to your notes. You can recognize this because there will be a hole for each string on the backside of the bass guitar’s body.
Some bass guitar bridges can be both top-loaded and strung through the body of the bass.
If you are buying your first bass, I would recommend you look for a solid-looking bridge that is top-loading. If you do get a beginner bass with a less than stellar bridge, you can install a new one fairly cheaply in the future.
Next: Bass Hardware Part 2
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