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Hipshot® - Vintage Conversion
Hipshot Modern Style Bridge - Vintage Conversion - Suitable for Fender® Telecaster®


 
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In a similar situation to the vintage to modern conversion, occasionally we’ve been asked for a modern Tele® bridge that spots those classic brass barrel saddles to help get a little bit of the vintage tone that you only really get with vintage Telecaster® bridges.

Whilst Hipshot weren’t exactly keen on re-introducing the inherent flaws back into their modern to vintage conversion bridge, there is such a high demand to bring a little of the Telecaster® charm back into the slightly sterilised modern versions that they were happy to oblige when producing the 441033.

Whilst it’s a stretch to call this a proper vintage bridge, its easily one of the best versions we’ve seen on the market, incorporating all of the elements that make Hipshots® bridges truly professional grade parts as well of some of the “vintage correct” features that go a long way to shaping the tone.

The Base Plate

The most obvious thing you’ll spot that’s lacking from this conversion is the instantly recognisable “lipped” base you’ll see on normal vintage models, Hipshot have completely done away with it, opting for a flat plate which you’ll commonly see on a modern bridge.

After extensive researched into the pros and cons, the lip was deemed unnecessary for most of today’s player. The improved access to strings under the strumming arm gives you a huge boost in the arm, allowing not only for effective string muting, but also a level of comfort that you just don’t get with lipped bridges.

Beyond the advantages to your playing, there’s also the aesthetic aspect to consider in the flat vs. lipped debate. Whilst it would have been great to see a lipped bridge, ready to drop onto any American Standard Telecaster®, the realities are a little more complicated.

The AM standard and modern bridges are actually larger than the vintage versions to accommodate the movement of the string holes and the way they sit under the saddles. As such, simply building up the sides to form a lip creates a fairly chunky bridge that looks strange against the traditionally cut back design of your average Tele®. You also wouldn’t be able to utilise the Fender® Ashtray cover, which is something many Telecaster® purists like to use. Rather than compromise their design, Hipshot have stuck to their guns and kept the flat base that allows unrivalled playability, even at the cost of “vintage appeal”

Whilst we’re talking about the bridge plate, in a complete break from tradition, Hipshot are actually utilising stainless steel rather than the more traditional Mild Ferrous Steel you’ll see on many of the top end bridges.

There’s an often perpetuated myth that steel is god’s gift to guitarists, with that extra weight and its magnetic nature having some magical “boosting” effect to your tone. In some cases, it’s absolutely brilliant – but it’s a fairly involved subject, with steel being used in different ways, in many different styles, on different guitars.

Hipshot have tried and tested the theories with this bridge and found that the Iron in normal steel actually has an effect on the pickup mount there within, and whilst not necessarily a bad thing, mild steel certainly attenuates the top end of the pickup, taking a little of the bite and sparkle from the top end, and absolutely robbing the middle frequencies. The lack of Iron in Stainless has a much smaller effect on the magnetic eddy currents, and will give a truer representation of the pickup. Often, bridge pickups are described as much “chewier” with a more forgiving nature when used mounted to stainless bridges plates.

Beyond the tonal differences, the real advantage of Stainless steel is pretty obvious, this bridge isn’t going to pit, rust and corrode under the sweat from your hands – it will, without a doubt, last a lifetime and still have that shine and lustre that it had the day you fitted it.

The Saddles

Beyond the innovative and well thought out base plate, we’ve got the ever popular compensated brass saddles fitted as standard. A fairly simple idea, and by no means exclusive to Hipshot, these “pre-intonated” barrel saddles address the age old problem that Vintage styled bridges have suffered with since the creation of the instrument back in the 1950s. The sad fact with a standard Barrel saddle is that it just will not intonate correctly because 2 strings essentially share one adjustment screw.

The compensations on the saddles mean that it’s possible to intonate a vintage bridge without too much fuss, and you will never have to compromise on the quality or material used on the saddles, with many people preferring the tone given by the three brass saddle setup you only get from your vintage bridges.

We can also offer this bridge with smooth brass barrel saddles too if that’s more your thing! They’re much closer to the original Fender® design, complete with the slot head screws for height adjustment – but please note, these are not Hipshot® parts.

The Screws

It’s not often we end up speaking so highly about something normally so mundane as the screws on a bridge, but Hipshot just keep delivering the goods with their dedication to providing the very best possible parts for your guitars.

Rather than scrimp on cost, and ultimately quality, they’ve used Stainless steel again on the height adjustment, intonation screws and springs and mounting screws to ensure that your bridge will not rust in the slightest over its life time. You just don’t get that sort of consideration to quality with most companies – and that really impressed us. (This excludes the smooth barrel saddles)

Summary

Whilst the modern telecaster bridge offers some great little improvements in setup and playability, they do lack a little of the tone you only get with their vintage counterparts. With the Hipshot conversion bridge, whilst you’re not getting the full vintage bridge, you’re getting an absolutely brilliant half way house that offers up that iconic tone without compromising on the advantages you’ll have grown to love on the modern bridge.

This bridge is designed to fit Fender® Guitars including the Telecaster® but please note, these are not official Fender® parts.

Fender® Stratocaster® Telecaster® and Tele® are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, Axesrus® and Hipshot® have no affiliation with FMIC.

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