There are a lot of really cheap hardware upgrades available, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Upgrading hardware means you should be getting something better than stock, which isn't the case when you buy a bridge for a scant $20. At the same time, you don't need to spend top dollar to get something that's going to significantly improve your instrument. The best Telecaster bridge options sit at a happy medium, with a manageable price tag and better-than-stock value.
In this simple roundup, I'm reviewing four such Telecaster bridges that I recommend as significant upgrades over most stock Tele hardware.
Vintage VS Modern Telecaster Bridges
Before we get into the recommendations I want to point out the difference between modern and vintage Telecaster bridges. It's basically the number of saddles used:
- Modern Telecaster Bridges: One string per saddle (six saddles)
- Vintage Telecaster Bridges: Two strings per saddle (three saddles)
Here's a picture of both for easy comparison:
I typically do not recommend vintage-style Telecaster bridges because they can cause problems when it comes to intonation. Having a saddle shared by two strings is a flawed design. It's also true, however, that the vintage bridges have some aesthetic and nostalgic appeal, leading some Telecaster players to use them and put up with the intonation problems.
When it comes to purely recommending a good upgrade, I'm going to stick with only modern, six-saddle Tele bridge options.
We'll do four total from Gotoh, Babicz, Hipshot and the Fender Custom Shop.
Best Telecaster Bridge Options (top 4 picks)
Gotoh Modern Bridge for Telecaster
Babicz Telecaster Bridge
Fender American Series Telecaster Bridge
Hipshot Stainless Steel Telecaster Bridge
1. Gotoh Modern Telecaster Bridge
This bridge is a chrome design with a string-thru body setup, and the expected pickup hole for a single coil with three screws. It's a heavier rendition of the traditional stock Telecaster bridge and feels "thicker" in your hands, though fits the exact same bridge position shape. At its price, we like it as an upgrade for Squier Telecasters and the Fender Standard Teles.
- Heavier than the stock Tele bridge
- String-thru body design
- Adjustable brass saddles
2. Babicz Telecaster Bridge
This is one of the most heavy-duty Telecaster bridges available with a menacing aluminum construction, a patented string roller design and the ability to seamlessly upgrade over an existing modern or vintage Telecaster bridge (three or four screw setup). Though it only weighs three ounces, it feels heavy in your hand and sturdy, like you would expect considering it's a bit pricier than the others on this list. This is one of the best Telecaster bridge options available, so we'd recommend it in front any hardware that comes standard, even on the American Tele models.
Babicz is the real deal.
- Drop-in fit for three or four-hole designs
- Built like a tank
- String rollers work great
3. Fender American Series Telecaster Bridge
This is the same bridge used on many of the Fender American Telecaster models, making it a good upgrade option for a Squier Tele or one of the Standard Telecasters, though not a better option than something like the Babicz bridges. The six-saddle design and chrome hardware also look sharp, if not unsurprising. It's the "safe bet" of the group, assuming you don't already own an American series Telecaster.
- Fender's bridge for their American Teles
- Good upgrade for the cheaper Squier and Standard Tele hardware
- Sleek chrome and modern design look great
4. Hipshot Stainless Steel Telecaster Bridge
I like the Hipshot Tele bridge because it's built with stainless steel instead of aluminum, which means it won't corrode as easily and will retain its new look for much longer. It's designed for a four-hole Telecaster bridge upgrade (modern to modern swap) but it can be worked into a vintage bridge upgrade as well. You'll notice a slight bump in tone quality, though the steel design is the main attraction here. This bridge is an upgrade for any and all stock Telecaster hardware.
- Solid stainless steel
- Helps improve tone, especially on the middle to high frequency ranges
Are there sizing concerns?
Whenever you're pairing a Telecaster bridge with a traditional Telecaster-shaped guitar body, Fender or otherwise, the odds of having serious size or fitting concerns is extremely small. What you do need to make note of is pickup configuration, since some Telecasters will put a humbucker in the bridge position, meaning you would need a specialized Telecaster bridge to accommodate. Otherwise, it's not a mod that's complex enough to be impacted by nuanced sizing differences.
How much do bridges impact tone?
While it's true that bridges do have a subtle impact on tone, that difference is usually pretty difficult to notice. In most cases, it's not enough of a difference to factor into your buying decision, unless you're looking at really cheap hardware (which we haven't in this article).
What bridges can impact is your guitar's ability to stay in tune or to be properly intonated.
As I mentioned, this is why I do not recommend vintage Telecaster bridges.
Something to Add? Questions?
Do you have questions about the Telecaster bridges I've mentioned? Perhaps you're wondering about a piece of hardware that I didn't address on this page. Either way, feel free to leave questions, comments or your own Telecaster upgrade war stories in the comments section below.
If you're looking for a different part or need compatibility help, I'd recommend checking out our guitar parts builder and compatibility tool.