Fender uses several different types of bridges on its guitars, each with its own different features and physical appearances. Luckily, the spacing specs on these bridges tend to be fairly uniform across bridges with similar features (floating bridges, vintage-style three-section bridges and modern six-section bridges). Adjusting these specs is usually as simple as turning a screw.
A guitar with a six-section bridge has six independent string saddles. These saddles hold the strings in place and allow you to adjust the height of the strings. Most Fender Stratocasters and newer Telecasters come with this type of bridge. The saddle pieces themselves generally come from the factory at 4/64 inches off of the 17th fret on the guitar body. On guitars with a neck radius of 7.25 inches, the bass side of the guitar should be set at 5/64 inches. The saddles should be flat against each other on the sides. String spacing, from high E to low E, should be 2 1/16 inches on most standard American or foreign Fender guitars and 2 7/32 inches on vintage instruments.
Three-section bridges only have three saddle pieces, each of which support two adjacent strings. Older and reissue Telecasters often used this type of bridge. For a guitar with a neck radius of 7.25 inches, the bass side should be 5/64 inches above the 17th fret and the treble side should be 4/64 inches off of the 17th fret. On a guitar with a neck radius of 9.5 inches to 12 inches, both sides should be 4/64 inches high. On a guitar with a neck radius of more than 12 inches, the bass strings should be 4/64 inches above the 17th fret, while the treble side should be 3/64 inches high. These saddles should touch each other at the sides like the six-section bridges. String spacing from low E to high E is generally 2 1/8 inches.
Floating bridges are tremolo systems that literally float above the guitar's body, allowing you to bend the strings up as well as down with the tremolo bar. Fender Stratocasters often come with this type of bridge. Fender spec for floating bridges is 1/8 inches off of the guitar body at the back of the bridge. The height of the bridge can be adjusted by tightening screws in the cavity in the back of the guitar body. Floating bridges are six-saddle bridges, and they should be set up accordingly.
Other Bridge Types
The bridge types listed so far are by far the most common types of Fender bridges, but Fender has been producing guitars since 1946, and over the years, they have used many different types of bridges. If available, look through the user's guide for these instruments to find details on their bridge spacing. Taking your guitar to an authorized Fender dealer is another good way to have your bridge spacing evaluated.
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