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Thread: ABR-1 Issues

  1. #1

    ABR-1 Issues

    So I've been having an issue with my ABR-1 bridge on a 2013 Collectors Choice Les Paul. The bridge started rattling about a week ago, so I decided to restring it and give it a full set up since it was needed. At first, the buzz seemed to go away, but after completing the set up and adjusting intonation, I realized it was worse than it had ever been. I tried flipping some of the saddles around but it hasn't done anything. I even tried screwing the saddles all the way forward and all the way backwards in an attempt to stop it. It's been unsuccessful and needless to say the intonation was horrendous. So the guitar is currently in a state where the neck relief, action, and intonation are perfect, but it's buzzing like crazy. I've read some other old posts about people having this issue, but 9/10 times the problem is with the retaining wire. This bridge has no retaining wire. I've heard of people using clear nail polish to somehow stabilize the saddles. I have a hard time understanding how they're doing this. Any tips or tricks out there of which I'm unaware?

  2. #2
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    are you sure its the saddles ? usually the pressure of the strings should hold enough downward force to prevent them from moving and buzzing, if they are indeed moving than a drop of clear nailpolish (or superglue if you are really brave) on one side of the saddle on the screw thread should lock the saddle semi permanent
    however you might want to look into whether your bridge perhaps has collapsed and if so just buy a new one and safe this one in the case for prosperity

  3. #3

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by fred dons View Post
    are you sure its the saddles ? usually the pressure of the strings should hold enough downward force to prevent them from moving and buzzing, if they are indeed moving than a drop of clear nail polish (or superglue if you are really brave) on one side of the saddle on the screw thread should lock the saddle semi permanent
    however you might want to look into whether your bridge perhaps has collapsed and if so just buy a new one and safe this one in the case for prosperity
    .
    Last edited by ForeverFabFour; 05-01-20 at 03:34 AM.

  4. #4

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by fred dons View Post
    are you sure its the saddles ? usually the pressure of the strings should hold enough downward force to prevent them from moving and buzzing, if they are indeed moving than a drop of clear nailpolish (or superglue if you are really brave) on one side of the saddle on the screw thread should lock the saddle semi permanent
    however you might want to look into whether your bridge perhaps has collapsed and if so just buy a new one and safe this one in the case for prosperity
    I should have clarified earlier when I said saddles. I meant saddles AND the screws which they rotate on. At this point I am thinking it's the screws that are somehow rattling. So am I supposed to put the nail polish at the two points where the screws contact the bridge?
    As for the radius of the bridge, I checked and it's perfect. I've never seen a bridge loose its curve, although I know it happens. I have ABR-1s from the 60s that are still fine in regard to their curvature. Maybe if I used 13 gauge strings and played the hell out of one guitar for a decade it would flatten.

  5. #5

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    I'd try playing and touching each bridge component to try and determine which part is buzzing; without a spring, this makes no sense; everything should be locked down hard by string tension. What could be buzzing? Are you sure it's not the bridge pickup cover?

  6. #6

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rick c View Post
    I'd try playing and touching each bridge component to try and determine which part is buzzing; without a spring, this makes no sense; everything should be locked down hard by string tension. What could be buzzing? Are you sure it's not the bridge pickup cover?
    I have come to the conclusion that this bridge is cursed. I have spent several hours trying to eradicate the buzz and it will not cease. Sometimes when I hold down the A and G saddles it stops for a minute, but then it returns. In the time since my last posting I cut off the week old strings, restrung it with a new set (this time top-wrapped on the tailpiece), removed and reinstalled every electronic and trim piece firmly in place, and added nail polish to every saddle. The buzz is just as loud as it ever was. And I am positive that is still coming from the bridge. I have tapped, touched, and held down every other part of the guitar while strumming to double check. I even disassembled the pick ups from their rings to make sure it wasn't the retaining springs. I think I'm just gonna buy another ABR-1 to see if it fixes the problem.

    What a mess...

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    ABRs are basically rattle machines designed to drive you mad. I have been dealing with this since my first Les Paul (a copy) in 1973.

    Recently I have used Tamiya "craft cotton swabs" (miniature cotton buds) to good effect to locate where the buzzing is coming from. Basically you push the swab into the saddle/screw recess and hear if this cures the buzz. Once you have detected where the annoying buzzing is coming from you can use super-glue / nail-polish, or in my case just snip the swabs and leave them wedged in the ABR. The are are not visible unless you look hard.

    Some of the replacement ABRs Callaham, German ABM etc, seem to have better machining tolerances and may be less prone to buzzing. I have one Callaham ABR and it does not buzz (yet?). Note, you may or may not like the tone from a replacement.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  8. #8
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    You mentioned that you top wrap the strings. Is the stop bar all the way down? Does it buzz on fretted strings are only on open ones? Can you post pictures of the strings as they go over the bridge. I'm bored, I need a good challenge!

  9. #9

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Did you read this thread?:
    https://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?214639-A-String-Buzz-Video-Included

    Turned out some of this buzzing was contact with a string and a bridge screw.

  10. #10

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by VamboRool View Post
    You mentioned that you top wrap the strings. Is the stop bar all the way down? Does it buzz on fretted strings are only on open ones? Can you post pictures of the strings as they go over the bridge. I'm bored, I need a good challenge!
    Absolutely, I'll get some photos tonight or tomorrow. I decided to top wrap the strings because they were a little close to the ABR-1 once I raised the bridge to fix the action. As you'll see in the photos I post soon, the stop tail is currently all the way down. I have tried bringing it up and it didn't seem to do anything.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member marshall1987's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    You may have bent saddle screws.... I would take a close look at each ABR-1 saddle screw. I'll wager your bridge has one or more bent saddle screws.

    The method Gibson uses to mark the location of saddle notches is reported to involve the use of a small rubber mallet. The setup worker uses the mallet to lightly pound the guitar string once he/she locates the correct point. A common result is/are bent saddle screws that can be problematic.

    If you are the original purchaser/owner of the guitar, Gibson will usually offer to replace the bent screws, or send you a complete replacement ABR-1 tune-o-matic bridge. You will need to furnish a copy of your purchase receipt.

    I have had many Gibsons with this issue going back to at least 2004.
    "Scan not a friend under a microscopic glass; you know his faults so let his foibles pass".

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  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Another thought: check if your top 1st E string is touching the rear of the ABR on the way back to the tailpiece - this is can occur, and might cause buzzing.
    Last edited by Coda; 05-07-20 at 01:13 PM.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Check out this Mike McConville YT video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoNNF9cUcKs

    At 5:41 he uses Loctite thread-locker to stabilise ABR saddles and screws.
    Last edited by Coda; 05-05-20 at 09:54 AM.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  14. #14
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Coda View Post
    Check out this Mike McConville YT video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoNNF9cUcKs

    At 5:41 he uses Loctite thread-locker to stabilise ABR saddles and screws.
    The question I have for using Loctite is what happens down the road when you set up the guitar again after Loctite being applied once before ? I understand the theory behind using the Loctite , but down the line when you need to set the guitar up again and now there is Loctite being applied and glued in the ABR-1 what happens then ? It's not like the ABR-1 will never ever need to be adjusted again . So what do you have to do break out the exacto knife or razor and get rid of the glue ? Maybe I am missing something ?

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    I have used ordinary Loctite on occasions, but did not find that results were good in suppressing rattles. I find the Tamiya minature cotton swabs to be more effective.

    Maybe someone can chime in with experience of using the Loctite thread-locker version. Specifically, is it okay if you need to re-do intonation if you change string gauge, or use different tunings etc.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  16. #16

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by El Gringo View Post
    The question I have for using Loctite is what happens down the road when you set up the guitar again after Loctite being applied once before ? I understand the theory behind using the Loctite , but down the line when you need to set the guitar up again and now there is Loctite being applied and glued in the ABR-1 what happens then ? It's not like the ABR-1 will never ever need to be adjusted again . So what do you have to do break out the exacto knife or razor and get rid of the glue ? Maybe I am missing something ?
    I can't understand why he is using Blue Loctite when there is Purple Loctite which was designed specifically for fasteners 1/8" and smaller, Blue seems like overkill for saddle screws

  17. #17

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Blue and red are what most of us have in our motorbike/car tool boxes!

  18. #18

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Okay... big update!
    The problem has been resolved! It turns out that the issue was coming from the saddle screw of the D string. Although the screw was seated properly and there was complete string attention pushing down on the saddle, the pointed tip was somehow worn down. Causing it to buzz and rattle within the hole that it sits. I ordered an extra saddle screw, aged it, and installed it today. All is right in the world. Nothing quite like a guitar with fresh strings and a perfect set up


    Before I go I would like to quickly touch upon something @El Gringo mentioned regarding the loctite/nail polish. YesÖ It is a huge pain in the ass to remove. I would not recommend using any sort of permanent or semi permanent adhesive to try to eliminate rattling or buzz. I spent the better part of two hours scraping off nail polish from my bridge. And of course you will have to adjust the bridge again at some point, at which time you will pay the price for your quick fix.
    Thanks to anyone who offered advice and best of luck for anyone else facing a similar issue!

  19. #19
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    next time soak it in a bit of acetone, that will remove both nailpolish and superglue

  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    ForeverFabFour: thanks for the update. Really interesting!

    I have just had several days of madness with an ABR. I changed strings on Les Paul, tweaked the intonation and then noticed I was getting a bizarre buzz from top E string at the 14th fret (F#). After chasing this for a couple of days [checking if 15th fret was high (it was not) re-crowning frets to see if that was source of problem, poking about on the ABR, removing the controls backplate adding bits of tissue under earth wires in case they were vibrating, etc etc] the buzzing from the top E string stopped... but transferred to D string at every fret?! It did not matter what note I played on the D string I was getting an annoying buzz.

    In desperation I googled possible causes and founds Les Paul forum thread: https://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/s...zing-truss-rod which reported a saddle screw being responsible.

    I was able to cure my buzz by tapping down each of the saddle screws with the tip of screw drive and a pat from my hand. I don't know which saddle was the problem, but the buzz has gone away (for now?). All the saddle screws looked fine, none appeared to be seated incorrectly.

    I am going to replace this bridge with a better modern version of an ABR. I already have a Callaham steel ABR which has quite a bright-treble signature. I might go for an Aluminium ABR this time.

    I think it is long over due for Gibson to give players the option of an improved version of the ABR.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  21. #21
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverFabFour View Post
    Okay... big update!
    The problem has been resolved! It turns out that the issue was coming from the saddle screw of the D string. Although the screw was seated properly and there was complete string attention pushing down on the saddle, the pointed tip was somehow worn down. Causing it to buzz and rattle within the hole that it sits. I ordered an extra saddle screw, aged it, and installed it today. All is right in the world. Nothing quite like a guitar with fresh strings and a perfect set up


    Before I go I would like to quickly touch upon something @El Gringo mentioned regarding the loctite/nail polish. YesÖ It is a huge pain in the ass to remove. I would not recommend using any sort of permanent or semi permanent adhesive to try to eliminate rattling or buzz. I spent the better part of two hours scraping off nail polish from my bridge. And of course you will have to adjust the bridge again at some point, at which time you will pay the price for your quick fix.
    Thanks to anyone who offered advice and best of luck for anyone else facing a similar issue!
    Super glad all is well and you were able to resolve the issue . A little screw like that causing all that trouble . Lesson learned for me about the screws on the ABR-1 bridge . Thanks for the update and have fun rocking . Also I think if I was having such a to do with an ABR- 1 bridge I would replace it in a heartbeat ,with the exception if it was a vintage instrument .

  22. #22

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Coda and El Gringo... I completely agree with you both. Itís crazy to think how detailed and well-made most Gibsons are, not to mention that they just got a lot of stuff right the first time around in the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately though, it seems that the ABR-1 wasnít one of those things. Itís actually really funny to see the progression of Gibsonís tailpiece and bridge design. Starting in the early 50s and evolving all the way till the late 60s. They started with a wraparound tailpiece and changed it several times before getting to the the ABR-1. Clearly the most recent versions of the ABR-1 are great, but when compared to other bridges theyíre definitely not perfect. But I guess if you are a vintage guitar nerd like myself you just have to put up with the imperfections and headaches. Considering the tailpiece I was having issues with goes to a 1960 reissue collectors choice, I donít think Iíll be swapping it out for something new anytime soon. Fingers crossed there are no more issues.


    If you are ever interested in what a perfect bridge and saddle design looks like IMO, check out Brian Mays red special. I have an authentic replica of his guitar and find it to be one of the best instruments Iíve ever played. Brian and his dad designed and built a bridge and tremolo system from scratch. Itís amazing how two men in a shed could produce a better tremolo and bridge than Fender, Gibson, or Bigsby could have ever dreamt of LOL!

  23. #23

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    I go through this often, it's usually a sitar-like buzzy overtone....problem is that between the Historic ABRs (this one with no wire), a TonePros, a Callahan, and a Faber....the Historic stock one is always what I end up coming back to as the best sounding and responding to me. So I often gave to do some forensic work as discussed here to try and address...sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
    "There's only two things wrong with you, and that's your face." - Greg Koch

  24. #24
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    I have just replaced the rubbish ABR that came with my LPR (sorry Gibson) with an ABM aluminium ABR.

    The reason I switched was due to all the weird vibrations-buzzing-overtones that will appear unexpectedly for no apparent reason and drive me mad. So far no weirdness from the ABM.

    I now have a steel (Callaham) and aluminium (ABM) ABR. I just need a brass one to complete the set.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  25. #25

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    I want to try the brass ABM, did you have to order direct from them overseas?
    "There's only two things wrong with you, and that's your face." - Greg Koch

  26. #26
    Les Paul Forum Member Coda's Avatar
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    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    minibucker: "overseas" technically, yes - the English channel (I'm in the UK, a small island next to mainland Europe, where Jimmy Page lives). ABM are great people to deal with.
    I've discovered that if I learn a tune and I don't play it for a while, I forget it

  27. #27

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Coda View Post
    minibucker: "overseas" technically, yes - the English channel (I'm in the UK, a small island next to mainland Europe, where Jimmy Page lives). ABM are great people to deal with.
    Ah, I should have checked your location. I'll give them a holler, thanks.
    "There's only two things wrong with you, and that's your face." - Greg Koch

  28. #28

    Re: ABR-1 Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Coda View Post
    I have just replaced the rubbish ABR that came with my LPR (sorry Gibson) with an ABM aluminium ABR.

    The reason I switched was due to all the weird vibrations-buzzing-overtones that will appear unexpectedly for no apparent reason and drive me mad. So far no weirdness from the ABM.

    I now have a steel (Callaham) and aluminium (ABM) ABR. I just need a brass one to complete the set.
    the current Gibson ABR is cast or injection molded ... there is shrinkage as part of the cooling/casting process ... tolerances are sloppy, surfaces are not 100% true , the end product is weak .. but it's like the old way it was done just lesser quality, I got sick of the sloppy saddles, screws etc, went with a Callaham and never looked back

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