Whether you’re into unique guitar parts or not, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Mastery Bridge” tossed around here and there. Today, we’re here to demystify this awesome piece of hardware!
What Is a Mastery Bridge?
Mastery Bridge refers to a specific bridge designed to enhance intonation and playability. Independent from the big-name brands, Mastery Bridge operates exclusively in designing a specialized form of guitar bridge that works with several types of guitars including Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Telecasters, and Rickenbackers.
But why swap out a regular bridge for a Mastery Bridge? There are many pros for the Mastery Bridge for players, all in the name of function and musicality!
How Does a Mastery Bridge Work?
A Mastery Bridge utilizes a patented design that incorporates four intonation-adjustment screws instead of the traditional six, and 52mm string spacing in between each string, from the low to high E strings. Saddles on a Mastery Bridge are made of solid brass with a proprietary, self-lubricating hard chrome plating.
Mastery Bridge design also includes unique specifications for the bridge’s break angle. On a guitar, the bridge’s break angle refers to the steepness of incline in between where the strings meet the bridge saddles to the tailpiece.
Bridges with lower bridge heights will have shorter inclines between the bridge and tailpiece and will put less tension on the strings. This lower tension will allow the strings to move more freely in their saddles, thus creating greater friction and causing unpredictable movement – possibly resulting in a string popping out of its saddle.
A Mastery Bridge’s higher saddle positions create a steeper incline between the saddles and tailpiece. This deeper break angle makes distribution of weight more even and string position within the saddle more solid. This is particularly important for offset guitars, where the distance between the bridge and tailpiece is greater than other guitars.
Why Should I Use a Mastery Bridge?
Versus traditional plain brass saddles found on other bridges, Mastery Bridge saddles will not allow the same friction to generate that will wear down the saddles. Worn down saddles will not only let strings move more unpredictably, but cause issues with tuning and buzzing.
The deep saddle string grooves of a Mastery Bridge outright ensure that strings will not pop out of place from their saddles. In addition, the usual 18 lbs. of string tension holding down each saddle on most bridges is increased to 50 lbs., which transfers more energy from the string to the guitar’s body, getting the most out of your guitar both acoustically and when plugged in.
Notable users of the Mastery Bridge include Nels Cline of Wilco, Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age, and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth – all offset guitarists famous for their own styles of playing.
(And if you’ve seen what Thurston Moore can do with a Jazzmaster and alternate tunings, a Mastery Bridge will make plenty of sense!)
Types of Mastery Bridges
When entering the world of Mastery Bridges, there are many different types of bridges for different guitars. Whether you’re seeking a Mastery Bridge for your offset, Telecaster, Rickenbacker, or even hardtail guitar, it is important to recognize the differences in design and application for each bridge. In addition, it is crucial to have all parts needed for installation of a Mastery Bridge. Some bridges require more parts than others and some bridges require more knowledge about the origins and current conditions of your unique guitar.
Since each Mastery Bridge is so specialized for specific guitar builds, knowing the production year of your guitar in addition to any previous hardware modifications must be taken into account when browsing for Mastery Bridges.
M1 Mastery Bridge
As the original Mastery Bridge design, the M1 Mastery Bridge is designed with mounting posts to fit American made offset guitars produced from 1958 to 2011. The M1 Mastery Bridge can function with both of the popular Fender offsets as a Jazzmaster Mastery Bridge or a Jaguar Mastery Bridge. Add modern playability to your vintage offset with the M1.
For American made offset guitars produced in 2012 and onward, the M1-KIT is recommended.
Mastery Bridge also employs specialized thimbles for offset bridge installation. In contrast to traditional offset bridge thimbles, Mastery’s M1 Jazzmaster thimbles are constructed of solid 303 stainless steel. This design makes for tighter tolerance for the M1 to fit its bridge posts in the body more securely. These thimbles fit new bridge builds, Blacktops, Tune-O-Matics, and Adjusto-Matics.
M1-KIT Mastery Bridge
The Mastery Bridge M1-KIT comes with a set of solid 303 stainless USA specification MT thimbles. These additional components to the M1 Mastery Bridge allow for Tune-O-Matic, Adjusto-Matic, and Blacktop bridges to be swapped out for a Mastery.
M2 Mastery Bridge
This version of the Mastery Bridge is the same as the M1, only adjusted to include an additional set of larger mounting posts. These mounting posts are crucial for the electric guitar bridge replacement on Japanese-made offsets. To make a Japanese Jazzmaster Mastery Bridge, the M2 is designed to accommodate for the non-threaded Jazzmaster style body thimbles found on such guitars.
M3 Mastery Bridge
With all this talk of offsets, you might have thought we’d forgotten about Teles, well we haven’t and neither has Mastery Bridge! The M3 Mastery Tele Bridge features the same patented saddle design as the M1 with electropolished brass saddles and swivels. This Mastery Tele Bridge fits guitars equipped with standard, four-hole vintage footprints. The Mastery Tele Bridge delivers the same awesome stability and tonality of the M1 and M2 Mastery Bridges.
M3 Mastery Tele Bridges come in five different shapes to match up with different Tele bridge variations. For instance, M3 Mastery Tele Bridges have variations all designed to fit vintage four-hole footprints, but also include options for top-loading Telecaster bridges or Bigsby B5 tailpiece bridge setups. The Telecaster’s infinite versatility fits right in line with Mastery Bridge design.
M6, M7, M8, M9 Mastery Bridge
Different from the offset and Mastery Tele Bridges though still retaining the same stability and tonality capabilities, the Mastery Bridge M6 through M9 offer solutions for hardtail bridge guitars. The same saddle design of Mastery Bridge makes its appearance on these bridges to apply about 50 lbs. of string pressure to ensure that same solid intonation and stability.
M5 Mastery Bridge
For the discerning Rickenbacker players of the world, Mastery Bridge has you covered as well. The M5 Mastery Bridge is designed to deliver the 50 lbs. of string pressure upon its saddles for Rickenbacker guitars. Four mounting post screws lock into a Rickenbacker’s body-plate with two stainless cone point screws. These mounting posts will not loosen during performance, string changing, or vibrato use, so Rickenbacker players can play comfortably with that classic electric jangle.
Let’s circle back to the M1 Mastery Bridge.
As we discussed, the M1 Mastery Bridge works with offset-style guitars. With Mastery Bridges for Jazzmasters and Jaguars, a critical accompanying component is the Mastery Vibrato. The Mastery Vibrato works with M1 and M2 Mastery Bridges to complete the picture and deliver on rich vibrato overtones and pitch-bending stability when a Mastery Bridge is in use. Since a vibrato system like the ones on Jazzmasters and Jaguars work with two essential parts – the bridge and the fulcrum plate – the Mastery Vibrato’s fulcrum plate is just as carefully designed as the Mastery Bridge to ensure the full vibrato experience is solid and reliable.
Two-prong fulcrum plates, which are found on all other offset vibratos, allow for uneven distribution of force when the tremolo arm is pushed down. Since the treble side of the vibrato plate receives the majority of force when the arm is depressed, this can throw off the position of the bass side of the fulcrum plate, making tuning issues more common. Mastery Vibrato Fulcrum Plates are made of thicker stainless steel to ensure stability on each side of the fulcrum plate, even when making deep vibrato bends.
The Mastery Vibrato and Mastery Bridge work in tandem to enhance the vibrato experience as it has been known for decades. With solid stainless steel fulcrum plates and the chrome plated saddles, your vibrato bends will never have been more seamless or stable.
Where Do I Find a Mastery Bridge?
Here at Russo Music, Mastery Bridge products can only be found through our physical stores, but don’t fret! Our expert guitar techs in our in-store shops and in-store teams can help you find the Mastery Bridge right for you.
Our in-store techs and teams can be reached at these phone numbers:
Hamilton, New Jersey: 609 888 0620
Asbury Park, New Jersey: 732 455 8397
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 215 232 1234
In addition, our techs can be reached at this email address:
We are always happy to help with any questions, so reach out any time.