What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

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What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Sun May 10, 2009 12:22 am

Hello again folks,
I recently made my first post ( http://forum.westoneguitars.net/members-westones-f6/spectrum-st-s-and-thunder-i-a-t491.htm ) and received such a warm reception and collegial support that I am moved to make a topic post number two!

Having played guitar for some 50+ years Shocked (yikes!)
I never thought I'd be asking such a strange question, but here's one for the forum experts anyway.
After I got my Thunder I-A, I of course gave it a cleaning. It was actually in pretty good condition and mostly needed the dirt removed and the brass shined up a bit. Then I restrung it, and here's where it got weird for me.

Here's the first attempt:




If I let the string follow its natural straight path to the nut as in the D, G, an B, strange things happen. In most cases the string passes over the allen screw instead of the designated notch in the barrel.
That results in incorrect spacing (see the top picture)

I puzzled over this for quite awhile. It just didn't make sense. So I pushed the E and A over to sit in the notch, but that causes the string now to "jog" over from the entry point, which again, doesn't make sense, and I suspect, puts some unnecessary strain on the string.

It played OK...sort of, but string spacing is obviously not not right at the top end.

So, I tried again. This time I slotted the strings into the notches




Now I appear to have correct string spacing and positioning over the pup poles, but at the expense of some weird offset going on behind the barrels. They are all seated in their "tracks" and it all appears to be stable but it just doesn't feel right. confused

From my research I understand that the bass model came first and used this barrel bridge design. I'm guessing that it was "modified" to take 6 strings, but not too successfully since it was later replaced.

I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions from the learned folk here.
Cheers!
Barry

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Sun May 10, 2009 12:32 am

I'll just bet there are 3 right hand side and 3 left hand side - looking at the bridge from above - , and you'll have to take the strings off and turn some of the barrels 180˚ after taking the grubb screws out and then replace them opposite to the way they are now.
I'll also wager that the saddles are set to the radius of the fretboard so be aware of that when you play around with them.

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Sun May 10, 2009 10:22 am

Thanks for the response corsair.
I had a similar thought too...initially.

But looking at it again, I realized that it wouldn't solve anything. The notch/slot would move even more to the treble side, exaggerating the offset problem.

What does look wrong is that the barrels themselves look crowded and jammed into the available space which prompted my original comment about the poor adaptation from the bass design.

The other thought I had (perish it) is that the bridge housing itself is not aligned correctly, i.e., not screwed into the body at the right place! That would be almost unthinkable for an Uncle Matts guitar but...Shocked

I'd appreciate hearing from any other Thunder I-A owners if they've experienced the same problem. Also does anyone recommend an outright replacement perhaps with a later model Thunder bridge?

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 11:11 am

Hello Barry, Smile

Oh, in case I haven't already done so, Welcome from me too!
Very Happy

Interesting point you've made there.

Although a slightly different design regarding the bridge plate, my Paduak I also sports the same barrel type saddles. This is how I've had to set mine up. I've opted to put the strings in the keyhole slots as opposed to the holes in the back of the bridge but either way, the strings come up over the barrels in exactly the same position.



John, the bass models do have the barrels facing in opposite directions as you've mentioned but it doesn't seem to work on the six string models for some reason!

Strange one this I reckon!

Pauline
:flower: :queen:

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Sun May 10, 2009 1:30 pm

"Curiouser and curiouser," said Alice.
I've never encountered anything like this on any make guitar, and was certainly flummoxed to see it on a Matsumoku made effort!

I hope to get some useful input from others on this, but if I don't, I reiterate:
could this bridge be successfully replaced with later
Thunderbird model's? (assuming I can find one!) Or possibly a Spectrum type bridge? Or...?

I'm not happy with that offset pull on the string. That can't be good.

edit:
Yes, Polly, you did welcome me on my original post. Thanks! Very Happy
For some reason your pic didn't display right away as I read your reply the first time, so I didn't see what you were saying about your "keyhole" solution. But as you can see I don't even have that option.
I also note that your barrels are seem to have enough room (smaller?) and run in a differently designed "track".
Rats! Sad


Last edited by Barry on Sun May 10, 2009 5:16 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Sun May 10, 2009 3:32 pm

Mm, true. OK then, does the bridge have the keyholes that Polly's has under the saddles?? We really need some one with a Thunder to have a look, eh!
No, that offset is not a good thing; replacement is always an option but you will probably have to drill new holes in the body... any of the guitar warehouses will be able to help.

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Sun May 10, 2009 5:14 pm

corsair wrote:Mm, true. OK then, does the bridge have the keyholes that Polly's has under the saddles??
Nope!
(See edit comment above and pics.)
As they say in French, "Je suis screwed!" tongue
And not in a good way either.

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 6:51 pm

Hello again Barry, Smile

I've had another look at your bridge and I knew there was something familiar about those 'grooves' in the base plate. This is a photo of the bridge on one of my 1984 Thunder I's - the saddles are different but they still sit in the same type of grooves that are on your base plate. I reckon if you could get hold of this type of bridge, or even just the saddles, it would work.



I'm beginning to wonder if yours has been modified... the saddles might not be the originals and perhaps they were taken from something like my Paduak I and that is why they aren't sitting straight! Just a thought!
Rolling Eyes

Pauline
:flower: :queen:

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Sun May 10, 2009 7:01 pm

I've got a call or two in on other forums so hopefully someone in here or out there will see the problem and solve it for us!
That looks like a 1A Ver.1 to me Poll... Barry, did you take the thing to bits when you cleaned it?

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 7:11 pm

Back again! Smile

I've just been looking through some other photos of my restorations and I've come across these photos of bridges.

The first one is from a Thunder IA Bass - note the position of the grooves for the left and right sides of the saddles...



The second one is from another 1984 Thunder I but this one didn't have the grooves in the base plate!



"Curiouser and curiouser" indeed!

Pauline
:flower: :queen:

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Sun May 10, 2009 7:21 pm

OK, here we go...



...I know it's a bass but the saddle grooves are centred and see how the strings pass to the left and right of the saddle screw? Maybe that's an answer...

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Mon May 11, 2009 11:45 am

Hey, thanks for the pix and interest folks!

The more I look at this thing the more I'm really wondering if this bridge, or possibly the saddle barrels, are original. If it is original then it means that Matsumoku issued a superb guitar with an obviously flawed vital part. That's possible, but hard to believe!

corsair wrote:I've got a call or two in on other forums so hopefully someone in here or out there will see the problem and solve it for us! That looks like a 1A Ver.1 to me Poll... Barry, did you take the thing to bits when you cleaned it?
Thanks John...yes I believe it is a version 1 effort. The serial number indicates 1981 (likely December). The information on the westone.info site makes reference to the barrels having been replaced on later versions.
It's a bit hard to tell, but if you look at the picture on that site:
http://westone.info/thunder1a.html
It all appears to be correct at least with the barrel-type saddles. They don't seem to be cluttered and jammed in. Of course you can't see just where the strings are located.

Regarding cleaning, I removed the bridge intact, without removing the saddles or reversing them in any way. I was more concerned about removing the lose dirt and lightly cleaning the brass plating, and did not want to start fiddling with intonation, etc. The plate is held down with 3 screws which were simply removed and replaced. Nothing was done to alter the setup. I noticed all this madness when I restrung it.

The barrels don't seem to have enough room (too wide for the plate), especially when you compare the picture on Westone.info, and I don't understand why the string notch is offset rather than centred on the barrel, as in the picture of the bass.
Flipping or reversing the notch side would do nothing except to make the offset problem worse as mentioned before. What is starting to look more likely is that the plate itself was located incorrectly at the factory!
Since I've had the plate off I can tell you that there is only one set of screw holes.
Pollyanna wrote:This is a photo of the bridge on one of my 1984 Thunder I's - the saddles are different but they still sit in the same type of grooves that are on your base plate. I reckon if you could get hold of this type of bridge, or even just the saddles, it would work.
That approach makes much better sense, and looks to me to be a design correction on later models?

I really appreciate all the help and your time. I just don't know what the solution is at this point, and I certainly do not want to do anything drastic unless absolutely necessary.
Let's hope we get a experienced response from someone. Maybe it's a simple solution that looking at me and I just can't see it. Worst case scenario is that I play it the way it is, offset and all. I can't have the string laying over the set screw!

Cheers!

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Mon May 11, 2009 3:48 pm

I just cannot think of anyway that that can be put right without perhaps drilling new string holes for the affected strings! Take it to a luthier and get him to look at it and offer suggestions; advice costs little. Smile

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Mon May 11, 2009 6:32 pm

Hey, there's an Electra on eBay ATM with the same bridge! If you've got the right software, you could drag and drop the pic of the bridge and then reize it to see whats going on in there...

Electra


Last edited by Pollyanna on Mon May 11, 2009 7:19 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Link)

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Guest on Mon May 11, 2009 7:18 pm

Hi John, Smile

I've tried fiddling about with that photo but I can't get a clear enough image when I magnify it. By the looks of things though, the strings are all in the same position as they are on my Paddy... to the left of the barrels and all facing the same way.

Barry, I suppose you could always email the seller and ask him a few questions and maybe get him to send you some close up photos... it's worth a try!
Rolling Eyes

Pauline
:flower: :queen:

I've just taken another look and from what I can make out, it is the same as my Paddy with the keyholes in the bridge plate! Bummer!


Last edited by Pollyanna on Mon May 11, 2009 7:23 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added a bit!)

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Mon May 11, 2009 7:38 pm

Hey, great minds think alike and all that!
I saw that one, she's a beauty, and you bet I did pay special attention to the bridge! It's quite different and has the "keyholes" like Polly's. It's also seems larger and is fastened by 4 screws, not 3 like mine. Strange, since the seller claims that it pre-dates the Westone branding?!

I even have it "dog-eared" to watch what happens to it. I'd love it for myself but I don't have the coin at the moment. No. Even if I did I'd never cannibalize her anyway.

Repositioning the bridge seems like the only sensible solution at this point. It would not be too difficult a task but would involve plugging the original holes only to re-drill them only a few millimetres away--a bit dodgy, but easy I guess for someone who knows what he's doing and has the right tools. And matching the grain is not an issue since the plate would cover it up.

Ar-r-r-gh! This is maddening! Thanks. (sigh)

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Mon May 11, 2009 8:00 pm

Pollyanna wrote:...Although a slightly different design regarding the bridge plate, my Paduak I also sports the same barrel type saddles. This is how I've had to set mine up. I've opted to put the strings in the keyhole slots as opposed to the holes in the back of the bridge but either way, the strings come up over the barrels in exactly the same position.


Pauline
:flower: :queen:
Ya know I hate to point it out Polly, but on second look at your Paddy's bridge, the G, B, and high E strings are also exhibiting the same sort of offset towards the treble side. Although not as drastic as mine.
Just what in 'heck' is going on anyway? Suspect

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by corsair on Mon May 11, 2009 10:08 pm

Good god; so they are! WTF is going on here?! scratch Why reposition the bridge?: drill new string holes for the offending strings - easy peasy!!
That Electra is a primo bit of kit, eh!!

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Barry on Tue May 12, 2009 12:22 pm

corsair wrote:Why reposition the bridge?: drill new string holes for the offending strings - easy peasy!!
Not so easy, methinks. The offset is a matter of millimetres and drilling another hole so close to the original would at best, weaken the metal, or worse, overlap the original hole. What a Face <--(artist's conception)

You couldn't rely on the string ball end being secure under that condition as it would pull through.
It's much easier and more structurally reliable to change the wood screw positioning.

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Re: What is the correct string location on the Thunder I-A bridge?

Post by Steve777 on Tue May 12, 2009 1:36 pm

You could braze the holes up relatively easily as the bridge is brass and then re-drill

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