Bridges, Floyd Roses, ABR-1s, tailpieces and intonation

Several very important things are adjusted at the bridge, the most critical being intonation and action.

Intonation is the setting of string scale length in order that the frets change fretted notes in 'tune'. This is always going to be an approximation at best, but can be fine-tuned to the extent where it's not an annoyance. Have you ever been frustrated by that G string that sounds good open, but gets progressively sourer as you move up the neck? Setting the intonation cures that.


The 'action' is the term for the height of the strings above the frets and fretboard - generally speaking, in terms of stiffness and difficulty to play, from easiest to most difficult - light strings & low action… …heavy strings & high action.

Different bridge systems have their own ways of doing things, but they all allow adjustment for height (sometimes for individual strings) and scale length.

Tremolo systems range from fairly simple non-locking types (found on many strats) to variations on a double-locking theme (Floyd Rose types). Setting these systems up can be problematic, especially if changing string gauge. Ideally they ought to be set parallel to the face of the guitar (if recessed) or slightly tilted forward (if flush mounted).

bridges again

Other bridges are combined with a stop tail piece and allow for a global height adjustment only, affecting all strings. However, it is usually possible to intonate individual strings correctly. The height of the tail piece relative to the bridge can have a surprising effect on action, feel and tone.