As mentioned previously, the standard three-saddle setup on a Tele is not conducive to setting intonation accurately, as a compromise must always be reached when two strings share the same saddle. In order to overcome this problem Francis fitted a Gibson Tune-o-matic six-saddle bridge to the OG to enable him to intonate the guitar properly. Once fitted, the TOM bridge enabled the independent and fine adjustment of each string when setting intonation. Being able to intonate the guitar properly is clearly a good thing for all players, but it’s especially beneficial to lead guitarists who spend a lot of time fretting those high notes.
We are fitting a high-quality copy of the Tune-o-matic bridge here as the purchase an original Gibson model would be cost-prohibitive here. However, the TOM-style copy that we are using looks really good, is well finished and sits nicely alongside all of our other hardware.
It’s worth noting here (just for info) that a six-saddle, fully adjustable TOM bridge has only a finite amount of adjustment and on some setups there still isn’t enough adjustment available at the bass end of the bridge to intonate the guitar accurately. To get over this problem it’s quite common to rotate the bass end of the bridge anti-clockwise by 3 degrees from the fixed treble post. Making this adjustment affords a little more freedom when setting intonation on the heavier strings. However, we are not going to do that as the bridge on the OG (see first pic below) looks like it was fitted roughly parallel with the tailpiece and bridge plate so we have done the same. Doing it this way means that there will still be intonation issues, but the setup will look right and that’s really the most important thing when trying to build a replica.
When fitting TOM-style bridges the adjustment screws normally face toward the tailpiece. However, you will notice from the first of the two pics above, that on Francis’ guitar the adjustment screws face the pickup. The homemade tailpiece setup doesn’t allow much room to get a screwdriver in to make adjustments, so the bridge is fitted the other way round to allow the slightly easier method of adjusting the screws from the pickup side.
Francis eventually replaced the Gibson Tune-o-matic with a G&L bridge in the mid 1990s along with other major changes to the guitar such as the addition of three lace sensor pickups, 5-way switching and a 22nd fret! However, by the time of the 2013 Frantic Four reunion gigs the guitar had been modified yet again. This time the G&L had gone and a TOM had been re-fitted along with a Gibson stopbar tailpiece. This was the last incarnation of Francis’ guitar seen before it was retired towards the end of 2014 owing to problems with tuning as a result of wood softening. Francis’ main guitar is now a custom-built Status graphite model. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the famous green Telecaster.
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