Strat Bridges – Buyer’s Guide, Installation, and FAQ!

Even if you take good care of your guitar, you might have an accident and need a bridge replacement. Luckily, and seeing how the Fender Stratocaster1 is one of the most popular guitars in the entire world, there are plenty of replacement bridges available.

The thing is, you don’t want to downgrade from your (unfortunately) broken bridge. Sure, you could just get an exact replacement from Fender, and it would serve your guitar right. But since you’re in the market for a new Stratocaster bridge, why don’t you get an upgrade?

In this article, I’m going to review a few of the most popular Stratocaster bridges and hopefully help you decide which bridge to get.

Even though not every player uses it, the Stratocaster is usually seen with a tremolo. The tremolo (sometimes also called whammy) bar is a metal pole that allows players to change the pitch of the strings being played.

This change of pitch happens at the bridge, and that’s why choosing a bridge that keeps your strings in tune when using a tremolo is very important. If you don’t care about tremolos but still want a good bridge, I have you covered as well.

Best Strat Bridge — Comparison Table

ImageProduct 
tremolo bridge for strat
Floyd Rose 711-1409A Rail Tail Tremolo review
Floyd Rose 711-1409A Rail Tail Tremolo
  • Stays tuned for a long time
  • Hardtail system
  • Increased sustain

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traditional termolo bridge
Gotoh Traditional Tremolo for Strat review
Gotoh Traditional Tremolo for Strat
  • Great Fender-like tremolo system
  • Good price to quality ratio

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strat termolo bridge
Babicz Z Series 6 Hole Strat Tremolo Narrow Spacing review
Babicz Z Series 6 Hole Strat Tremolo Narrow Spacing
  • Adjustable saddles allow you to adjust intonation and string height with more precision than regular saddles
  • Stays tuned
  • Adds extra brightness to your tone

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bridge for strat
Fender American Series Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge review
Fender American Series Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge
  • Fender American standard
  • Keeps your guitar sounding as it should
  • Fender quality

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best strat bridge replacement
Callaham Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge review
Callaham Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge
  • Sturdy and nicely built
  • Prevents high E string from slipping off
  • Doesn’t go out of tune

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Best Strat Bridge Review

1. Floyd Rose 711-1409A Rail Tail Tremolo — Best Tremolo Bridge for Strat

Features

  • Stays tuned for a long time
  • Hardtail system
  • Increased sustain

Specifications

  • Narrow 2-1/16” string spacing
  • For Stratocasters with 6-point bridges

If you’re ready for a dive-only tremolo system, then you should seriously consider this bridge, this Floyd Rose bridge will change your Stratocaster bridge into a hardtail bridge and increase your guitar’s sustain while slightly improving its tone.

One of the great things about this system is that it prevents strings from going out of tune. Once you install it correctly, you can use the vibrato as much as you want to without worrying about detuning your strings.

This bridge is very easy to install, but the tremolo arm might be slightly tricky to install and remove the first few times you use it.

Is it possible to flutter with this tremolo?

No. You need a floating tremolo for that.

Who this is for?

 Someone looking for a hardtail bridge.

Why I like it?

The Floyd Rose bridge stays tuned for longer than other bridges.

2. Gotoh Traditional Tremolo for Strat

Features

  • Great Fender-like tremolo system
  • Good price to quality ratio

Specifications

  • 6-screw-mount tremolo bridge
  • 2-7/32” string spacing
  • Bent-steel adjustable saddles

This tremolo is a great purchase if you’re looking for a Fender-like tremolo system but are on a budget. 

The build is extremely similar to Fender’s. The major difference you’re going to find is the lack of attention to detail and polish on the Gotoh tremolo bridge.

Other than that, this bridge works precisely as expected. It keeps in-tune relatively well and behaves as it should. You’re not going to get increased sustain nor extra clarity, but you shouldn’t expect to at this price point.

Installing this bridge is easy, and everything you will need comes in the box. If you can spend the money, go for a Fender bridge, but if you’re on a budget, then this Gotoh bridge works exceptionally well.

Who this is for?

Someone on a budget who wants a Fender-like tremolo system.

Why I like it?

It’s cheap, and it works exactly as you would expect.

3. Babicz Z Series 6 Hole Strat Tremolo Narrow Spacing

Features

  • Adjustable saddles allow you to adjust intonation and string height with more precision than regular saddles
  • Stays tuned
  • Adds extra brightness to your tone

Specifications

  • 2-1/16” string spacing
  • Includes tremolo, springs and other components

Installing this Babicz tremolo is as simple as removing the old one and screwing in this one. It took me 30 minutes to install (including intonation) this bridge on my Stratocaster1.

The saddles are adjustable and allow you to control the string height better than a standard bridge does. As an added extra, this bridge also increases the sustain and gives some extra brightness to the sound.

Besides being very customizable, this bridge will also stand the test of time. It keeps everything tuned nicely and, once properly installed, won’t need any maintenance at all.

You might be unlucky and get a lemon, which will take a little extra work to install, but other than that, this is an excellent bridge for someone looking to upgrade from the standard Stratocaster bridge.

Will this fit a Mexican Stratocaster?

This tremolo should fit every Stratocaster.

Who this is for?

Someone looking to upgrade from a standard Stratocaster bridge.

Why I like it?

This Babicz bridge allows for greater customization than most bridges.

4. Fender American Series Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge

Features

  • Fender American standard
  • Keeps your guitar sounding as it should
  • Fender quality

Specifications

  • Powder-coated steel block saddles
  • Standard American Fender Stratocaster tremolo bridge from ’86 to ’07
  • Chrome

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The adage applies to this Fender tremolo bridge. Sure, it might be manufactured in Mexico, but this tremolo bridge has been the standard bridge for decades in American Stratocasters2.

This tremolo bridge will just work as you expect it to. There aren’t any tonal changes, nor increased or decreased sustain. It’s a Fender bridge that works.

If you’re looking to keep your Fender Stratocaster as close to the original as possible, then you can’t go wrong with this bridge.

Is this tremolo made in the USA?

No, this one is made in Mexico, but it is of very high quality.

Will this tremolo fit a Squier?

No. You will need to modify the Squier in order to fit this tremolo.

Who this is for?

 Someone looking to replace a broken Fender bridge.

Why I like it? 

This Fender bridge keeps everything simple and working as intended.

5. Callaham Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge — Best Strat Bridge Replacement

Features

  • Sturdy and nicely built
  • Prevents high E string from slipping off
  • Doesn’t go out of tune

Specifications

  • 2-1/16” string spacing
  • 2-7/32” string spacing
  • Hardened steel saddles

The Callaham Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge might not completely change your guitar’s tone, but it will definitely do a better job than your old bridge did.

Besides being a sturdy and well-made bridge, this Callaham bridge allows you to play clearer notes while having a very narrow string spacing. This is excellent if you’re anything like me and constantly pull the high E string off the fretboard — that doesn’t happen with this bridge.

The only negative thing about this bridge is that installing it is not as simple as you would expect. Although it comes with pre-drilled holes, those holes might not necessarily line up with the holes on your guitar if you can handle that your guitar will have an excellent bridge that doesn’t go out of tune.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for a sturdy, well-made bridge that is a general upgrade over the standard Stratocaster bridge.

Why I like it?

This Callaham bridge prevents the high E string from slipping off the neck.

Conclusion

There’s some debate as to whether an upgraded bridge impacts a guitar’s tone in any obvious way. Tone-chasers swear on some bridges, but the truth is that it’s difficult to differentiate two identical guitars with a different bridge.

Anyway, you shouldn’t be trying to get a different tone by changing your guitar’s bridge. A bridge should be upgraded for more stable tuning, better tremolo accuracy, and higher customization.

The Callaham Stratocaster Tremolo Bridge fits every mark and is an excellent bridge that will be a definite upgrade over the standard Stratocaster bridge.

If you’re looking for a hardtail bridge, then the Floyd Rose 711-1409A Rail Tail Tremolo is a bridge you should seriously consider.

For players on a budget who desperately need to replace their bridge, I swear on the Gotoh Traditional Tremolo for Strat. It doesn’t have Fender quality, but it works almost exactly like a Fender tremolo bridge.

Regardless of the bridge, you end up buying, I’m sure you will be satisfied if you purchase something on my list. Keep rocking on!

Best Strat Bridge – FAQ

Best Strat Bridge

Strat Detailed Wiring Diagram


How to install a Fender Tremolo Bridge?


Step 1.
So we’re going to start by installing the trim claw, this is where the springs attach and then go to the bridge. The first thing you’ll want to do here is to wax up your screws. That’ll make it much easier to install this, so you put a little wax or soap on the screw. A long screwdriver is much easier for this process because you really want to watch out, it’s easy to bump the body with the edge of the screwdriver and cause your first ding. We’ll take screws to about half-inch or so from the edge of the body because later on, we’re going to use that to adjust the trim, or how to lose it is or how tight it is. So that’s good to start, and you’re going to need at some point to put your ground wire through into the next cavity. So there’s the first step.

Step 2.
I’m going to install the posts. These come with the bridge that you buy and the threaded inserts here are already in the body when you buy the body, so you don’t have to worry about putting those in, causing chips or anything. What do you want to do for now is bring it down as far as it’ll go, and we’ll just leave it there. And then later when we do a setup, we’ll adjust the height of the front of the bridge using these posts. This one’s snug, so I’ll take it all the way down with a screwdriver. I’m keeping my fingers around this because, from experience, the blade of that screwdriver will jump out and put a big old ding right in your guitar. And I’ve done that, so you don’t want to do that.

Step 3.
Okay, now I got these both down flush. Now I’m going to take the bridge and install it. Should fit right into the pocket. And you’ll notice that there are two cutouts that correspond with the posts. What’ll happen is when we get the springs on, the springs will hold it up against the post, and then when the strings are in, the string tension will bring it up, and then we will adjust it. I’m going to hold it together while I turn it over because it’ll fall out till I get the first spring on. You’re going to pull the spring to the front. We have three springs. We’ll do one in the center and one to either side. I’ve got the bridge attached to the posts. I have the trim claw in and I’ve put some of the springs on. There are three of them. You can put more springs, but generally, modern players like three springs and that’s basically it.

How to install a vintage tremolo on the Fender Stratocaster?


Step 1.
The first thing I do is take the screwdriver, Phillips head screwdriver, and clean out each of the holes. There are six holes for the screws that hold the bridge down. And this’ll help, as you install, to keep the paint from chipping around these holes. So I just kind of clean them up. Then I take the bridge and place it carefully in the route and line up the holes. Now the next thing I’m going to do is wax the screw. You can use a bar of soap or paraffin or beeswax, whatever. But this really helps lubricate the screw and make it much easier for you to be able to put the screw in. I’ve screwed these down close to the bridge plate. Now what I’m going to do is on each screw, I’m going to take it down to where the bridge tilts a little. And then I back it off till it’s flat. Then I’m going to do that on every screw. This way, you don’t have anything holding up the bridge. It’s free to float. So here we go. It’s going to tilt. And I back it off.

Step 2.
Just about quarter turn from where it tilts, it’ll lay flat. Back it off. And do that on all six of these. And that allows a pretty even point of contact across all of the screws. The next step is going to be installing the trim claw. This goes in the back of the route for the bridge pocket to allow for the springs, that’s what makes the treble float. So the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to wax that screw so that it’ll be a little bit easier to put in. It’s good if you can get a long screwdriver so that you’re not going to ding up the body as you’re putting this in. And I also like to use the screwdriver to kind of open up the end of the… Or the beginning of the hole, I should say, here to allow it to be easier to screw these screws in.

This is probably one of the physically harder things to do because of the angle of the screw. I’m going to hold my fingers around the screwdriver and kind of on the body to make sure that I’m not tearing the body up with the handle of the screwdriver as I’m doing this.

Probably a good idea to not use a drill for this step. You don’t want to use a drill. It’s really dangerous. I’ve ruined bodies trying to do that before. I’m going to take the screw about half an inch from the pocket. Now as you get ready to wire the guitar, the trim claw will actually have a ground on it that’ll help ground the bridge. When you’re touching the strings, if it isn’t grounded, you’ll have noise. Sometimes springs are a little bit hard, so I’ll generally take the screwdriver and a line it up. This is a little bit tricky. The other thing you can do is leave the claw out farther, attach the springs, and then tighten it. But I like to get it close to where it’s going to end up before I put the springs in. It makes the bridge more stable. And that’s it. The next thing you would do would be to put the rest of the guitar together and you can adjust the springs for the tension of the trim. Some people like to tighten it so that it stays on the body and others like it to float, but that would be part of the setup. 

  1. https://www.d.umn.edu/~sburns/EE2212/AmplifierExamples/AbigailDurandFender%20Am%20Elite%20Stratocaster%20011400XXXX%20SM%20REV%20B%203-24-17.pdf
  2. https://www.academia.edu/4257838/Learn_About_Humbucking_Pickup_And_Fender_American_Standard_Telecaster_And_Stratocaster

About the author

John Tschop

John Tschop

I am a music fan who is fond of different instruments and genres. The member of Klinger-McFry Band. We launched StereoShore to discuss proven tips, tutorials, and insights.

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