What Is A Floating Bridge? Should I Use It Or A Fixed Bridge?

floating bridge guitar
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There are two main types of electric guitars: floating bridge and fixed bridge. Each type of bridge will have its own advantages and effects for the guitar. The fixed bridge has a saddle and serves as the end point of the strings on the guitar body. Meanwhile, floating bridges have extras and tremolo handles that let you change the pitch of the strings. Although briefly about the two types of bridges, if you want to understand better, you need to read our next sharing in this article. What is a floating bridge guitar? Should I use a floating bridge or a fixed bridge? Check it out below!

What is a Floating Bridge?

Floating bridges are used to add a vibrato effect when playing the guitar. It actually makes the sound more interesting. To better understand this type of floating bridge, we will study it from many aspects.

floating guitar bridge 1024x683
A floating bridge or tremolo bridge is a bridge that is screwed down the body of the guitar

Definition

First, a floating bridge or tremolo bridge is a bridge that screws down the body of the guitar and provides the endpoints for the strings on the guitar body. In addition, this floating bridge guitar allows you to change the pitch of the strings by moving the tremolo hand up or down while the strings are being plucked.

The floating bridge is capable of adding extreme vibration effects. Players can use this extra functionality with tremolo to create a more impressive sound.

Which Guitars Use Floating Bridges

Floating bridge is a type of bridge that is very popular with heavy metal music or rock music. Guitar manufacturers often use floating bridges when they feel that this type of bridge is suitable for their guitar line. Some guitar manufacturers like PRS, Jackson or Ibanez very often use floating bridges in their guitars. The most typical is the Fender Stratocaster because their guitar often has a tremolo bridge that can “float”.

Types of Floating Bridges

There are many different types of floating bridges that are created to serve different purposes. However, there are currently two most popular types of floating bridges: Floyd Rose and Fender Tremolo Floating Bridge.

The Fender Tremolo was the first floating bridge produced. When installed, the wires will go through the body and be locked on the bridge. This floating bridge can also be divided into 2 and 6 point systems, each system will have its own advantages and disadvantages.

floating tremolo
The Fender Tremolo

The Floyd Rose Bridge is an adaptation of Fender Tremolo. It has a slight change when it becomes a dual key system in itself instead of a single key like the Fender Tremolo. Its performance is also higher and better.

guitar floating bridge
The Floyd Rose Bridge

Pros and Cons

Although widely used, floating bridge guitars also have advantages and disadvantages:

Pros of floating bridge

  • Tremolo arm
  • Enjoy playing
  • Create a vibration effect

Cons of floating bridge

  • Difficult to set up and repair
  • Makes the chain change process more difficult
  • Fragile

Should you go for the floating bridge or fixed bridge?

If you have to choose between these two bridges for your guitar, the following comparisons and reviews are for you. No type of bridge is really good, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. You need to look at their advantages and decide which bridge you really need.

Our head-to-head floating bridge and fixed bridge comparison below will cover audio, string changes, stability tuning, and repair setups. Any assessment will help you make the right choice.

floating vs fixed bridge

Sound Differences

 

The biggest difference between a guitar using a floating bridge and a guitar using a fixed bridge is the sound. The tremolo arm is the main cause of this difference. You may find it confusing because most tremolo will refer to variations in volume. However, in this case, the ‘tremolo arm’ causes variations in pitch or vibrato.

When the player pushes the tremolo up or down it puts different pressures on the strings. These pressures can increase or decrease depending on the level of impact you want. Even while you’re playing, you can change the pitch of all the strings with a single tuning. This is considered the biggest advantage for guitarists who play chords or individual notes.

However, if you want to use the tremolo arm with the ability to control pressure to create a vibrating effect you can just choose the floating bridge. The fixed bridge does not have a tremolo arm and cannot produce vibrations in any way.

String Changing

These two types of bridges also have their own advantages and disadvantages in changing strings.

When you use floating bridge guitars, the strings will have to go all the way through the body of the guitar to get to the back. That means changing the wire is much more difficult. If you are new to guitar playing and do not have much experience, changing strings requires help from other experienced people.

In contrast, a fixed bridge simply has a string that ends in the saddle at the top of the guitar. This makes changing the strings much simpler and easier.

Tuning Stability

Fixed bridges will have better tuning stability and are stronger than floating bridges.

When a floating bridge is installed, the tuning stability of the guitar is weaker and increases the chance of getting out of tune as you play faster. This problem is more common with Fender Tremolo than Floyd Rose Bridges because the floating bridge’s dual locking system prevents the guitar from going out of rhythm.

However, it is still very difficult for you to do large bends on the tremolo arm. When the bends start, that’s when your guitar has tuning stability problems.

Setup and Repairs

Last in this analysis and comparison are the setup and maintenance times of the two types of bridges.

Floating bridges require longer setup times with the possibility of more frequent maintenance. Because the floating bridge contains springs, for it to work properly they need to have the correct balance. If there is a difference you can have a lot of trouble adjusting. Even if you don’t use the tremolo handle, you need to regularly maintain it.

If you change the chain quickly you also have to make sure your floating bridge is rebalanced by adjusting the spring.

Fixed bridges are much easier to set up and maintain. The fixed bridge contains no springs so you don’t need to worry about balance issues. Quick chain changes can also be made frequently by simply tying up a simple chain.

Conclusion

Both the floating bridge and the fixed bridge are indispensable accessories for your guitar. They are brilliant components that make the guitar sound more unique and interesting. Both types of bridges have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Floating bridges provide an amazing vibration effect that no other bridge has. However, you will face many difficulties in the process of playing guitars, such as difficulty changing strings, poor tuning efficiency, and difficulty setting up or repairing.

On the contrary, the fixed bridge can give you a simple way to play with superior utilities. However, the fixed bridge cannot produce a vibrating sound.

Although there are differences, through our analysis, you can identify the floating bridge guitar and which guitar bridge should choose between the two.

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