Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set
Solid adjustability with enhanced tone and sustain
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 10-6-2012
While designing my first “Super Guitar” I knew that a substantial bridge and tailpiece would be critical to tone, volume, sustain and tuning stability. As I read up on the pieces available I kept coming across raves about the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set. Along with the kudos for pure quality of the pieces the reviewers often mentioned improved clarity of tone and remarkable sustain. I like that kind of talk so bought the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set.
The Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set is a Tune-o-Matic style bridge and matching "stop" tailpiece designed for solid body guitars. Both pieces mount on Allen height-adjustable studs in threaded M8 x 1.25 bushings. I wanted this style bushing because of its overall size which should translate to increased stability.
The Gotoh 510 Tune-o-Matic Bridge has individually adjustable saddles, height adjustment studs (Allen wrench, no thumbscrews) and the overall bridge intonation angle are all locked with Allen screws. Gotoh claims this system results in better sustain, rock-solid intonation and more string energy transfer. The saddles have starter grooves meant to serve as a guide for notching files.
The Gotoh 510 "Stop" Tailpiece is unique because it “floats” on ball-end threaded studs. That allows the tension of the strings to induce the angle of the tailpiece to insure a perfectly straight string pull to the saddles. Spring retainer clips keep the tailpiece in place when the strings are removed or relaxed. The tailpiece is made of lightweight aluminum but with sufficient bulk for rigidity to help the overall tone.
The Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set has specs that make it a direct replacement for many factory pieces that come stock on guitars of this style. The bridge has a string spread of 2-1/16" and a 12” saddle radius. The bridge post spacing is 2-29/32" and the bushings have a diameter/depth of M8 (7/16”) x 1.25. The tailpiece also has a string spread of 2-1/16" with a post spread of 3-1/4" and bushing diameter of M8 (7/16”)x 1.25.
Install and Set Up
The first thing I did with the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set was to check the bushing holes in the guitar body to be sure they were a drive-in fit. I also double-checked the bushing spacing for both the bridge and tailpiece to be sure they were correct. If something is wrong, I need to know now but everything fit as expected.
Next I had to file the string notches in the Gotoh 510 Bridge. They provide shallow notches to get you started but they are not deep enough to work on their own. Since the saddles already have the 12” radius I was careful to count file strokes and then looked closely to be sure I had all of the notches as close to the same depth as possible. Then I got out the Mitchell abrasive cord (fine) and smoothed out the string notches.
After finishing the guitar I drove the bushings into their bores using a wooden mallet and a scrap of plywood to protect the finish. When inserting the bridge bushings I also had to feed the ground wire into the hole and wad up the strands to be sure they would be in full contact with the bottom of the metal bushing when it seated in the hole.
Later when the guitar was nearly complete I could add strings and set up the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set. Dialing in the string action was easy thanks to the hex wrench that turns the posts the bridge sits on. After setting the string action I locked the bridge onto its post with the setscrews to make a totally solid unit.
After the initial tuning I used the adjustable saddles in the Gotoh 510 Bridge to tweak the intonation. The adjustments went so fast I thought I had overlooked something but I had not. Then I could lock the intonation with setscrews in each of the saddles to be sure this setting does not move either.
Somewhere between my Super Guitar being made from big chunks of solid mahogany tone wood and the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set I am developing tons of volume, tone and sustain. I think that the rigidity of the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set with its locking bridge has a significant impact on all of these qualities.
The ability to set intonation so easily and then lock the saddles down not only maintains that setting, it might be adding to sustain by stabilizing the saddles a little more. The bulk (but good looking) of both the bridge and tailpiece certainly enhance the stability of tuning and tone quality.
The Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set reviewed here cost me $121.97 (9-25-2012) and while that certainly isn’t cheap I think it is a very good value. Unless I do something dramatically wrong (and violent) to this guitar the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set will last forever. The quality of the design, the materials and the manufacturing all promise long-term stability for tuning and tone.
If you are looking to replace your bridge and tailpiece take a long look at the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set. I can’t see how it can do anything but improve your guitars sound and performance. I am very happy that I chose the Gotoh 510 Bridge & Tailpiece Set and will certainly use this set again whenever possible.