Offset Bridge Guide – 101
2024 Update:
I’m so delighted to update this list with the Tuffset Bridge – an offset guitar bridge of my own design! Though it’s impossible for me to assess this design impartially as I did the other bridges on this list, I feel it would be remiss of me not to include it here.


Explore the Tuffset Bridge in more detail here.
Which Offset Bridge is Best?
The transition from traditional guitars towards Offsets can be a daunting one, particularly when it comes to the subject of guitar bridges! We thought it was high time somebody cut through the hype and confusion with a Pros and Cons list. Below are listed several of the more common bridge types you might find on an Offset guitar, as well as of the more popular options for Offset Bridge replacement.


These are listed in no particular order. Each of these bridges has something to recommend it – and maybe a couple of reasons to steer clear! Read on and find out how your favourite bridge stacks up, or discover a new bridge that suits your playing style!
The Tuffset Bridge
The Tuffset’s philosophy from the start has been to maintain all I love about the original bridges. Their rocking action, high-friction saddles and individual height and intonation adjustment of each string are retained in this new design. But the Tuffset has an ace up its sleeve – a patented locking system which keeps everything dimensionally stable, so the rocking action returns precisely to pitch and your setup never sinks or loses alignment over time.
+ Pros:
1. Individual height adjustment for each string allows you to dial in the perfect action – whatever your fretboard radius.


2. Individual intonation adjustment for in-tune chords and on-point leads up or down the neck


3. Full locking surface-area locking contact between components means your setup will never drift out over time. There are no intonation springs or loose connections to cause rattles.


4. The posts lock, making post-sag impossible.


5. High-friction string slots are specially engineered to prevent slippage for incredible tuning stability under vibrato use, and contribute to a fixed-post feeling under the picking hand. They also prevent string skipping.


6. 100% milled steel construction – nothing cast, pressed, plated or folded. Build quality is from another planet.


7. Authentic vintage rocking action (without the authentic vintage problems)
1. Doesn’t make sense in the context of a hardtail (non-vibrato) guitar.


2. Some players just prefer a fixed-post design, and that’s fine!


3. Specialised design is expensive to produce, putting it in the top price bracket


4. Locking functionality adds an extra step to adjustments – though you won’t have to make them again for a long time


5. Unlike an Original Offset Bridge, string spacing cannot be adjusted (but is set at a popular 52mm)
The Tuffset’s specialised design took a long time to patent and optimise for manufacture – and must be milled from billet steel, making it an expensive option.


Some players just prefer a fixed-post bridge – perhaps they are using a hardtail, or their guitar has a very high break angle.


But for those who like the authentic rocking vibrato action of the originals, the Tuffset Bridge is my love letter to Offset Guitars. The spacious, wobbly Offset vibrato tone and feel are here in abundance, but the envelope is enhanced with extra headroom to dig in up front and a rattle-free smoothness as the note tails off. It retains or enhances those aspects which make these instruments truly special, whilst fixing all their common problems including post sag, string skipping, tune-holding under vibrato, dimensional instability, rattles and buzzing, and general flimsiness.


I’m so proud to say that my solution to the Offset Bridge problem can now be your solution too.
The Traditional Offset Bridge
Vintage Jazzmaster, Jaguar
So here’s where it all began!


Leo Fender’s original design is highly inventive in its combination of a frictionless rocking post and a higher friction saddle, designed to grab the string and guide the rocking motion. It works brilliantly when using the heavy string gauges of the day, but struggles with a few issues when lighter, more modern string gauges are used.
+ Pros:
1. Excellent range of movement combines perfectly with the vibrato’s broad, sweeping dives.


2. The saddle grips the string over its break point, meaning extra string material from behind the bridge is not added or subtracted from the speaking length of the string when using the vibrato (even as the length of that string varies with tension). This lends a powerful, wobbly character to the vibrato which stores up power under a divebomb and releases it as it returns to pitch.


3. Tuning stability is very good when the guitar is well set up – it returns to pitch well.


4. Widely produced and relatively inexpensive.
 1. There are some issues with the geometry – the high edges of the folded bridge cradle can foul the string path behind the bridge (creating friction and potential for string breakage); as can the intonation adjustment screw heads, which are in line with the string.


2. When using modern low-tension strings, several issues present themselves. The saddles are in fact made from short lengths of threaded rod, marketed as allowing the player to set their preferred string spacing; but the pitch of this thread is shallow. Consequently, strings have a tendency to skip or jump out of their string slots owing to a lack of downward pressure. This is a particular problem if you have an aggressive playing technique.


3. This lack of tension and downward pressure can also cause the bridge height to sag and sink over time (a higher downward pressure would more effectively lock the threads of the adjustable post against those of the sleeve).


4. As a result of the rocking design, very forceful playing technique can sometimes cause the posts to lose their reference entirely, throwing the system out of tune in an instant.


5. The absence of forward pressure on the intonation adjustment screws causes rattling issues. Whereas these springs are present on the Stratocaster and Telecaster, the Offset Bridge’s string geometry leans a great deal more upon these springs than on the string tension, affecting sustain.


6. It is possibly too adjustable, making it finnicky to set up correctly. Because the design relies so heavily on downward pressure, you will almost certainly have to shim the neck of your guitar to increase the neck angle for optimal set up.
The root of much that is wonderful and frustrating about the Offset experience!


In context of the heavier strings used at the time, this design was an innovative and noble first attempt. Many vintage guitars with shimmed necks and heavier strings (11 gauge and heavier) function quite happily, if you play with a lighter touch – and allow the complex character and impressive range of the vibrato system to shine through. Corrosion of the saddles might even improve performance in some cases, since it can help to grip the strings more effectively.


However, the design is also beset by several problems which are quite unnecessary – most notably, the tendency for string-fouling, which several aftermarket designs have rectified, often whilst maintaining the charm of the original sound. It is also a bad choice if you favour lighter strings, or have a heavier technique.


That being said, since this design is finnicky to set up, chances are if you’re having an awful experience with one of these bridges it can at least be mitigated by a proper setup.
The Mustang Bridge
The Mustang bridge was Fender’s second bite of the cherry, a chance to streamline production and improve performance. Although it was designed to pair with a slightly different vibrato design behind, it has the same post spacing and uses the same bridge thimbles in the body as the Jaguar and Jazzmaster. This makes it a straightforward retrofit for vintage and modern instruments alike, and some players opted to switch their Offset bridge out for a Mustang bridge as early as the mid-1960s when the Mustang first appeared.
+ Pros:
1. As a simpler system with fewer moving parts, these bridges do not have the same tendency to rattle or drift out of alignment.


2. The string slots are deeper than the Offset bridge saddles, solving the string skipping issue.


3. As a simpler design, the Mustang bridge is more intuitive to set up than the Offset bridge. Chances are, a neglected Mustang will be more playable than a neglected Jaguar or Jazzmaster.


4. Widely produced and relatively inexpensive.


5. Retrofittable to precious or vintage guitars, does not require permanent alterations and is truly reversible.
1. Though the string slots are deeper, they are machined at 90°, rather than the 60° of the threads on the original Offset bridges. This means the string is not gripped quite so tightly by the bridge, leaving them more liable in rare cases to slip under sudden movement and cause issues returning to pitch.


2. The post design is identical to the Offset Bridge design, so they still have a tendency to sag when using lower tension strings.


3. As a result of the rocking design, very forceful playing technique can sometimes cause the posts to lose their reference entirely, throwing the system out of tune in an instant.


4. The absence of forward pressure on the intonation adjustment screws causes rattling issues. Whereas these springs are present on the Stratocaster and Telecaster, the Offset Bridge’s string geometry leans a great deal more upon these springs than on the string tension, affecting sustain.


5. The string spacing is wide, and is not adjustable; which might result in your guitar simply being impossible to play comfortably due to the outer strings falling off the fretboard. This is even more likely on a guitar with a modern nut width, and if you have rolled or worn fret edges.
A valiant second attempt, the Mustang bridge builds upon the design of its predecessor – simplifying it in a few key respects, whilst introducing a couple of problems of its own.


The Mustang bridge brings one crucial difference – the saddle design. Instead of complex threaded rods on set screws which allow for string spacing, height and saddle angle adjustment, the Mustang dispenses with all but intonation adjustment for each saddle. The string height is baked into the design, and so therefore is the radius – locked in at 7-1/4″, to match the fretboard radius of a vintage Fender guitar. Some players install shims to raise the outer saddles and match a flatter fretboard radius, usually 9-1/2″ or 10″ depending on their guitar’s specification.


Also baked in is the string spacing – at 2-3/16″, it is a bit wide for modern tastes and can leave the E and e strings dangling a little precariously near the edges of the fretboard, particularly when the frets are rolled or worn. Combining this spacing with a broader “modern” nut width only exacerbates this issue.


Where all the factors are in its favour, the bridge can be an excellent choice: for instance if you play a Jaguar or Jazzmaster with a vintage fretboard radius and narrow nut width, prefer the string spacing fairly wide; and the specific problems you aim to rectify are string-skipping or rattling. In that case, it has much to recommend it.
Mustang Guitar Bridge on white offset guitar
The Mastery Bridge
Certainly the most hyped and well-known of the “boutique” Offset bridges, the Mastery bridge counts several huge artists among its patrons.


The design philosophy centres around increasing downward pressure on the height adjustment screw threads by minimising their number – effectively, the same force is divided between fewer parts, and so those parts each enjoy a greater share of the pressure. However, this approach also reduces forward pressure on the intonation screws because there are fewer springs-per-string, so they can present their own setup challenges.


Unlike the original Offset Bridge and Mustang bridges, the Mastery dispenses with the rocking-post / high-friction saddle design in favour of a fixed-post / low-friction saddle design, so you might need to increase the break angle if you want to minimise rattles and prevent “dancing saddle syndrome”. It also lends it a different kind of vibrato effect than the vintage-type bridges, which some prefer and others don’t.
+ Pros:
1. Due to precise machining tolerances and clever subtractive design, the Mastery does not have quite the same problems with buzzing and rattles as the vintage-style bridges.


2. By smart positioning of the intonation adjustment screws, the Mastery almost completely does away with the lip of the folded bridge plate at the rear, eliminating string-fouling behind the bridge (even on guitars where the vibrato tailpiece is mounted closer to the bridge, to increase the break angle).


3. The string slots are deep enough to prevent string skipping, and yet are machined in such a way that they do not unduly impact string feel when palm muting.


4. The fixed-post design means even the most aggressive picking-hand palm technique will not throw a Mastery bridge out of tune. However, it also means any friction there is between the strings and saddles can easily overwhelm the intonation springs and force movement in the saddles unless care is taken to set up the guitar with a higher break angle than usual.


5. Very nicely machined, the Mastery is an inherently pleasing object that looks and feels like a premium product.


The design allows for a decent (but not quite full) degree of individual height and intonation adjustment for each string, as compared to the Mustang-style fixed radius options.


7. Retrofittable to precious or vintage guitars, does not require permanent alterations and is truly reversible.
1. Due to the innovative two-saddle design, height and intonation of the A and B (2nd and 5th) strings is not individually adjustable – rather, it is a product of how the neighbouring strings are set. This will cause the A and B strings to sit *very* slightly high relative to the other strings if used in combination with a fretboard radius greater than 7-1/4″, but functionally is not too noticeable on the common 9-1/2″ modern radius.


2. It is therefore impossible to intonate properly when using a wound G-string (although, if such a heavy set of strings is being used, one might not feel compelled to seek a replacement for the vintage bridge).


3. The fixed-post, low-friction saddle design does alter the character of the vibrato away from the vintage sound and action. It is a matter of taste whether this is to your liking; however, there are many other guitars and vibrato designs which cost less and perform more reliably if the character of the offset vibrato design is unimportant to you!


4. Expensive to buy, but residual values are strong.


5. Possibly a little fussy in appearance for some. Love-it-or-hate-it branding-forward design can be at odds with an otherwise vintage aesthetic, despite its premium quality and luxurious materials.


6. Prefers a different kind of setup than a rocking vibrato with more break angle behind the bridge than in front – otherwise, saddles can dance out of position against the intonation springs, causing the intonation screw heads to pop out of the back, throwing tuning and intonation out of whack.
A very popular replacement, and with good reason. The Mastery fixes many of the most serious issues quite comprehensively, but it is up to individual taste whether those benefits come at too great a cost to the character of the original guitars; or indeed, to your wallet. Whether the Mastery should be considered an “upgrade” is a contentious issue!


Its fixed-post design means the Mastery is a more natural fit for models that have a higher break angle – perhaps mated to a Bigsby, or those whose vibrato unit was placed closer to the bridge from the factory.


If you don’t really get along with Offset guitars in general and wish they would be more “normal”, you’ll probably appreciate what the Mastery does for your instrument. But if the spacious, wobbly vibrato sound is what got you hooked on Offsets, you might find yourself swapping it back out for a rocking bridge. Fortunately, the used market is strong so you won’t have difficulty finding a buyer!
Master Guitar Bridge - Fender Jazzmaster Jaguar

Image Courtesy of Tom Arnold – original article

The StayTrem Bridge
The design of the StayTrem could best be described as a “boutique Mustang bridge”. It fixes much that was wrong and unnecessary about the original Mustang bridge, whilst levelling-up build quality across the board and introducing a few smart touches of its own.


Another hyped and highly regarded choice, StayTrem bridges have been popping up on eBay and Reverb for stratospheric sums ever since John at StayTrem temporarily restricted direct sales to the UK. We have been assured by several sources that he is again taking orders from overseas, albeit with a waiting list. But are they worth the wait?
+ Pros:
1. The build quality and materials are top-drawer.


2. The intonation adjustment screws are more finely threaded, and feature a snug nylon retainer to keep them straight, instead of the questionable springs found on the Offset and Mustang bridges. This helps dampen rattles and vibrations, and keeps things dimensionally stable.


3. Likewise, the posts feature a nylon retainer which prevents post sag.


4. The StayTrem bridge offsets the intonation adjustment screws such that their heads are at no risk of conflicting with the string behind the bridge, allowing a clear path to the vibrato.


5. It uses a narrower 52mm string spacing, preventing the strings from “falling off” the fretboard and significantly improving playability for the great majority of players.


6. Special options are available, including a wider bridge from Bass VI which increases the intonation adjustment range considerably. They can even mill down the leading edge of the folded bridge plate, allowing the bridge to be mounted “backwards”, further reducing the chance of string fouling behind the bridge even in cases where the break angle is greater than normal (for instance, on guitars where the tailpiece is mounted much closer to the bridge, like the 50th Anniversary Jaguar, Squier Jay Mascis Jazzmaster or MIM Classic Player Jazzmaster)


7. Since it is based upon the Mustang bridge, the StayTrem retains a vintage Fender aesthetic that most consider to be very much in keeping with their guitar’s appearance.
1. Though the rattles are effectively dampened by the nylon retainers, it is reasonable to assume they are still being filtered out of the sound to some extent. This might be a good or a bad thing, since it’s likely the same frequencies are being damped in the StayTrem design as are lost to the signal by rattles in the original design – though this is pure conjecture.


2. Like the Mustang bridge, the saddles are not individually height-adjustable; though unlike the Mustang bridge, it is available in a range of common bridge radii.


3. as a fundamentally rocking-post/high-friction design, it will not respond as well to robust or heavy playing technique as a Mastery. Although a fixed-post StayTrem is available, it retains the high-friction saddle design, so (like a TOM bridge) is not optimised for heavy vibrato usage.


4. Not currently available as a retrofit for TOM/AOM-equipped guitars, though was in the past.
Rock-solid build quality, authentic materials and a common-sense design philosophy underpin the StayTrem’s claim to the Offset bridge crown. We believe this is the bridge Fender would have ended up with had they invested the same attention in Offset bridges that they have paid to the Stratocaster vibrato over the years – only with a tightness of assembly and general fit-and-finish that comes straight out of the boutique drawer.
An excellent all-rounder, for our money the StayTrem does the best job of fixing what needs to be fixed whilst retaining so much we like about the character of the originals – in materials, appearance, sound and functionality. Just be sure to check availibility from the source before giving over your cash to unscrupulous sellers on Reverb and eBay!
Tune-O-Matic / Adjust-O-Matic
Based on the original ABR-1, the Tune-O-Matic (TOM) type bridges are best known for being featured on almost all Gibson solidbody electrics since 1954 – including the Les Paul, SG, Explorer, Flying V, Firebird and countless other models and iterations. The terms TOM and AOM can be used almost interchangeably, since the former is simply the Fender name for the same basic design.
A good number of vintage instruments have been modified to take a TOM bridge since the 1970s, when the problems caused by low string tension really came to the fore and players sought to imbue their Jags and Jazzmasters with Gibson-like tone and stability. Fender have persevered with this mindset into the modern day, equipping several notable offset models (including the Squier Jay Mascis Jazzmaster and several Mexican-made Jazzmasters in recent decades) with their Adjust-O-Matic (AOM) bridge. But can the change really be justified?
+ Pros:
1. The TOM saddles have a nice chisel shape which results in a well-defined break point over the bridge.


2. The general precision of the design and lack of individual saddle height adjustment mean TOMs don’t have such a tendency to rattle, to come loose or to sag over time.


3. On higher-end and traditional TOM-style bridges, string slots are cut in the saddles bespoke for each guitar. With a decent setup, this can help match the string radius and set the preferred string spacing of the player into the bridge – but does not come at the cost of extra complication and rattling instroduced by all the extra parts required for an individually height-adjustable saddle.


4. The traditional-style TOM saddles can respond well to a geometry with inherently very low break angle, if the string slots are cut a little deeper and the post height is raised to compensate.


5. The finely-threaded adjustment screws do not require springs to prevent rattles. Their captivity at the front *and* rear of the bridge chassis means there is not such an inherent degree of lateral movement (and corresponding damping of string resonance).


6. Like other fixed-post bridges, the TOM is quite resilient to spirited or forceful playing technique.
1. Whilst the saddles are theoretically supposed to be notched bespoke for each guitar, most cheaper TOM-style bridges come with V-shaped string notches which are already too deep and compromise the chisel-edge (though these can usually be replaced for the traditional style saddles, and it should be noted that the string spacing of these is usually narrow enough not to cause issues with outer strings falling off the fretboard).


2. Since it was developed for non-vibrato archtop guitars, there is no designed capacity for the bridge to move and accommodate for the variance in string length and tension imposed by a vibrato unit behind the bridge. What range of movement it *does* have is afforded only by the thread of the bridge posts wobbling against their inserts, and by the slight malleability of the materials. It can be thought of as a fixed-post/high-friction saddle design, and since the range of the vibrato unit is in excess of what the bridge’s movement can handle, it’s possible for spirited the vibrato to drastically force the bridge out of tune.


3. Although the range of intonation between strings is sufficient in normal circumstances, using a drastically heavier or lighter set of strings than usual can cause bottoming- or topping-out of the intonation range. This is because the neutral axis of the bridge cannot be changed, unlike the rocking-post bridges, which can be encouraged to intonate in an optimal position along their natural range of movement. Many “import” TOMs and AOMs are provided with all their saddles’ chisel-shapes facing in the same direction – flipping one or more saddles around is possible, and can sometimes give just enough extra range to intonate the string correctly.


4. The natural string radius of these bridges is usually 12″ or 14″, quite a lot flatter than the 7-1/4″ or 9-1/2″ radius of most Offset Guitar necks. This causes the outer strings to have higher action than the inner strings, and since the guitars that use these bridges usually feature the pre-slotted / v-slotted import bridges, this might be harder to rectify (by deepening the outer string slots) than it would be for a traditional-style saddles that require bespoke string slots. If you like everything about your import-style AOM/TOM bridge with the exception of the mis-matched radius, we recommend you find a compatible replacement unslotted saddle, and have it slotted bespoke by your favoured luthier or guitar tech.
It is understandable that players’ experiences would have them seek the security of a Gibson-style bridge to replace their offset bridges, and it will do the trick in several circumstances: if they don’t exploit the full range of the vibrato; and find their main frustrations are string-skipping, wide string spacing, unexplained rattles, or instability under robust playing technique. A Tune-O-Matic will go some way to solving all of those issues.
However, it must be noted that changing to a TOM opens the door to several chronic problems which might outweigh those advantages. Chiefly among them, the inability of a Tune-O-Matic to move and compensate geometrically for the demands placed upon it by the vibrato. If I may digress, Gibson’s Maestro Vibrola is actually a sound piece of engineering on its own terms (as a behind-the-bridge vibrato unit); yet it is maligned in the public imagination by these exact problems, which are in fact inherent to combining any vibrato with a Tune-O-Matic style bridge.
For players who do not use the vibrato, or only do so for a very gentle shimmer, the Tune-O-Matic has a lot to offer in tone and stability. For those who do use the vibrato, it is best avoided; or else replaced with a roller-bridge or a compatible rocking bar bridge from a manufacturer like Tru-Arc.
Tune-O-Matic / Adjust-O-Matic Addendum: Roller Bridges
Several manufacturers offer Tune-O-Matic replacement bridges with roller saddles, converting from a fixed-post/high-friction saddle into a fixed-post/low-friction saddle. On paper, this is an excellent idea if you use a wider vibrato range than a non-roller TOM-style bridge will allow. However, it comes with its own caveats.
+ Pros:
1. Solves the most critical problem of a Tune-O-Matic, allowing the bridge to accommodate moderate or heavy vibrato usage without losing tune.


2. Usually a simple retrofit which does not require permanent modification to your TOM- or AOM- equipped guitar.


3. Relatively inexpensive and abundant on the new and used market.
1. Most TOM roller bridges have a string radius of 12″ or 14″, and unlike a traditional-style TOM, these cannot be filed down to precisely match the 7-1/4″ or 9-1/2″ radius you find on most Offset guitar necks.


2. The roller bearing typical on these bridges necessitates at least a small degree of lateral tolerance to move, and this is bound to have at least some effect on string resonance and sustain.


3. The fixed-post, low-friction saddle design does alter the character of the vibrato away from the vintage sound and action – although as a replacement for a TOM-equipped guitar, it is arguable whether this could be seen as a disadvantage compared to what you already have; and in any case, it is a matter of taste.
If you like everything about your Tune-O-Matic-equipped Offset besides its inability to keep tune under moderate or heavy vibrato use, installing a roller TOM bridge is an excellent option. The only drawbacks are a potentially mis-matched string radius, and a tonal deviation away from a traditional Offset vibrato character. A fantastic choice also for scratch-builds, where a matching 12″ or 14″ fretboard radius can be specified to match.
Warmoth Modified Mustang Bridge
A hybrid of the original Offset Bridge and the Mustang Bridge. The saddles are height-adjustable like the original Offset bridge, with two set screws each; but instead of the threaded rods, the saddles are barrell-type with a single string slot each. This type of bridge is commonly known in Offset circles as the “Warmoth Mustang Bridge”, since for many years Warmoth was the only place they could be found – though bridges like these have featured on the occasional Fender or Squier model coming out of Japan or Indonesia, and similar designs can now be found abundantly and relatively inexpensively across the major online retail platforms. Please note that our assessment is more generalised, and references this type of design as a whole rather than any particular manufacturer’s offering.
+ Pros:
1. Improves string-skipping problems.


2. Allows individual string height adjustment for more precise set up, and the option to use a non-vintage fretboard radius
1. String spacing is wide just like the Mustang bridge


2. Inherits the original Offset Bridge’s tendency to rattle when using light strings


3. Also suffers from other problems shared both by the Original and Mustang bridges, like post-sag and instability under robust playing technique (see above).
If you require the original Offset Bridge’s individual height adjustment (for instance, if you are using a non-vintage fretboard radius) and you’re happy with a wider string spacing – but you’re having problems with string skipping, this is a decent choice which is not prohibitively expensive.
The Compton Bridge
The Compton is a back-to-basics one-piece intonation-compensated but non-adjustable replacement bridge for a TOM or AOM-equipped guitar.
+ Pros:
1. Eliminates rattles comprehensively


2. Very straightforward to set up and maintain


3. Available in several different materials to sculpt your preferred tone


4. Stable under aggressive playing technique


5. Stylish vintage looks and bulletproof build quality


6. Available in a range of string radii to suit your guitar
1. Like a standard TOM bridge, it is a non-rocking/high-friction bridge, so will not have anything like the range of movement an Offset Vibrato unit can demand of it.


2. Individual string height and intonation adjustment is not possible


3. Though the looks are cool and retro, they are a deviation from the bridges we are used to seeing on Offset guitars.


4. Only available as a retrofit for TOM/AOM-equipped guitars, not for thimble-equipped guitars
A nice alternative to a Tune-O-Matic bridge if you are currently more perturbed by rattling than you are by tuning stability under vibrato usage. Probably the design most likely to enhance or alter your guitar’s sustain and tonal characteristics.
Tru-Arc Bridge
Another Gretch-inspired boutique offering, Tru-Arc made their name producing rocking bar-style bridges in exotic materials including glass and titanium.
+ Pros:
1. A bridge that is designed to rock atop the posts, this type of bridge is the only TOM/AOM replacement which stays true to the original rocking-post/high-friction philosophy of the original Fender design – and as a result, retains much of the same tonal character under vibrato usage
2. Eliminates rattles comprehensively


3. Straightforward to set up and maintain


4. Available in several different materials to sculpt your preferred tone


5. Available in a wide range of materials and fretboard radii to match your guitar


6. Cool retro looks and great build quality


7. Individually made to order, and post diameter and spacing can be specified
1. No individual intonation adjustment for each string; and


2. the more basic types are not even compensated for intonation, resulting in slightly uneven tuning up and down the fretboard. “Serpentune” model *is* compensated, and is our firm recommendation.


3. Though the looks are cool and retro, they are a deviation from the bridges we are used to seeing on Offset guitars.


4. Only available as a retrofit for TOM/AOM-equipped guitars, not for thimble-equipped guitars


5. Slight reshaping or grinding of TOM posts may be required for the fullest rocking movement
A real dark horse of the Offset world, due to their elimination of rattles and their faithful adherence to the original rocking/high-friction design. Tru-Arc bridges have a great deal to recommend them, and not much to detract – only the lack of individual saddle height and intonation adjustment.


Since StayTrem stopped selling their bridge with AOM/TOM posts, the Tru-Arc has become our first (and possibly only) choice as a replacement for AOM/TOM-equipped offsets where the primary goal is to eliminate rattling and dimensional stability problems, whilst retaining the authentic character and range of the Offset vibrato.
GraphTec String Saver Saddles for Offset Guitar
A saddle upgrade to a Mustang or Original Offset guitar bridge rather than as a complete bridge, installation is straightforward enough that these saddles might be worth a try. What you’re left with is very similar in design to the Warmoth Modified Mustang bridge – only in a low-friction saddle format.
+ Pros:
1. Improves string-skipping problems.


2. Allows individual string height adjustment for more precise set up, and the option to use a non-vintage fretboard radius


3. String spacing is modern/narrow, so should not cause issues with outer strings falling off the fretboard.
1. Combination of low-friction saddle and rocking-post mean that design is potentially the most unstable under heavy playing technique.
An excellent choice if your picking and vibrato technique is light; and if you find your existing Offset Bridge keeps tune well, but would benefit from fewer string-skipping problems. However, the design creates two means of string slippage – both the rocking-posts and the low-friction saddle – so you might find yourself knocking the guitar out of tune or needing to adjust your intonation more frequently, particularly if you have anything but the lightest picking technique.
Incidentally, this makes these saddles an intriguing prospect as a “discount Mastery” of sorts, if you can find some way to modify the thimbles / posts to be fixed – whether by using a precisely shaped sleeve to constrict the rocking motion, or even using the time-honored but questionable technique of wrapping the posts in electrical tape.
All these bridges have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages, and they all have a reason to exist. The question, then, is one of context.


The original offset bridge is a highly capable performer *in context* of the heavier strings that were popular at the time; likewise the Tone-O-Matic bridge is excellent in the *context* for which it was designed (namely to energise a hollow guitar’s arched top in combination with a trapeze tailpiece).
The challenge we are faced with is that the contextual demands placed upon these bridges by various aspects of the offset guitar formula – whether as a result of their shallow break angle, low downward pressure, or widely-ranged vibrato unit – are very specific. Those bridges which are most commonly found on Offset guitars from the factory (namely the original Offset bridge, Mustang bridge, and Tune-O-Matic), individually, fail to meet all of these demands at once. Rather, each tackles a particular subset of those problems players might experience.


In summation, if you play hard with robust technique, you are likely to favour a fixed-post design like a Tune-O-Matic. If you use the vibrato frequently, you’ll benefit from a low-friction saddle to go with the fixed-post bridge, meaning a Roller-Tune-O-Matic might be a better choice. If your neck is a tighter radius than 12″ and you are sensitive to the variability in action between the strings caused by this disparity, something like a Mastery which allows a degree of height and radius adjustment is going to be the best option that covers all those requirements (but will cost you).


Not all of these potential issues will affect all players equally. We all place our own demands on our instruments as a consequence of our playing style – the extent and nature of our vibrato usage, our sensitivity to precise intonation, our desire for a particular tone or level of sustain, the amount of force our playing technique exerts upon the guitar, and our preferred string gauge. All these factors will see some players more and other players less affected by the manifold advantages or disadvantages each bridge design brings, in context of a specific instrument.
If your technique is light enough (or your strings heavy enough) not to present issues with string-skipping or buzzing when using an original offset bridge, then that’s a fine option. If you are having issues with string-skipping or buzzing but enjoy the character and range of the original vibrato, perhaps consider a Mustang bridge (it’s fairly straightforward to audition this by setting your original Offset bridge to a Mustang string spacing of 2-3/16″ or 55.5mm). If the string spacing of the Mustang bridge is too wide, a StayTrem is an excellent choice that additionally doubles-down on tackling the issues of post-sag and rattling.


It also depends, of course, on whether you are starting from scratch – perhaps using this guide to inform your choice of which Offset guitar to buy, or designing the specs for a custom guitar – or whether you already have an instrument you are looking to upgrade. Your options are going to be different depending on whether you are starting with a TOM/AOM-equipped offset, or whether you’re starting with a traditional vintage-style bridge thimble (the Mastery is a great choice to convert a rocking thimble bridge into a fixed-post type bridge; and Tru-Arc is a solid choice to convert your TOM/AOM into a rocking configuration).


For my part, I place high value on the tonal qualities of the original Fender Offset vibrato design, particularly as regards a rocking-post/high-friction configuration. For me, the way this system does not require the string to be fed over the break point under vibrato usage improves tuning stability; but, more importantly, also preserves the uniquely wobbly and powerful sound that makes the vintage examples such special guitars to play. There is something about a Jazzmaster or Jaguar, when you bring the pitch back from a divebomb it seems to build momentum all the way back up, and returns its sustain with interest. I have never experienced quite the same quality in any fixed-post/low-friction bridge design, but that’s not to say the reader would necessarily come to the same conclusions.
The fact is, there are lots of excellent options out there which tackle a wide range of issues. There are some strong opinions on the matter, and our advice is to weigh up those factors which impact most on you personally. Lean upon your own experiences and try to see through the hype and tribalism wherever possible!
We hope this guide has helped you toward that end – be sure to join the Mailing List at the this page footer and follow us on social media to join the GuitarForm community!