The bridges of electric guitars and basses need to be grounded for a couple of really good reasons:

The problem with bridge grounds is that many are connected at the factory with a wire that runs from the control cavity to the area under the bridge.  The bare end of the wire is simply clamped in place when the bridge is attached.  This is all fine and dandy until the wire embeds itself into the body over time, at which point its physical and electrical connection to the bridge becomes intermittent or non-existent.

So we fix it.  This won't be a pictorial, at least not right away due to a lack of images, so I'll try to paint a picture for your mind's eye.  Also note that this covers hardtail bridges, not trem bridges which should have a ground point in the trem cavity.

There are a couple of effective ways to repair a bridge ground.  Both are easy to do.  One is cheap and the other is free,  Pick one or pick both; it's your choice.

Copper shielding tape is available from the usual online luthier suppliers.

Props to Jim (spideyjg) for his shielding tape method.


Method #1

Loosen the strings so that they are very slack or remove them entirely.  Remove the bridge screws and lift the bridge off the body.  You should find the ground wire at this point, probably embedded in the body.  Lift the wire out of the body and strip insulation off of it so that about an inch of bare wire is visible.  If the wire is stranded, twist the strands into a neat bundle then stuff it into a bridge screw hole.  Re-attach the bridge, re-string and you're done.  You now have a physical and electrical connection to ground via the bridge and one of its attaching screws.  Note that you may have to gently pull a little more wire from the cavity.  In fact, it is likely that you'll have to do this.  In most cases there is plenty of bridge ground wire for this to happen.  If not, you'll need to replace the bridge ground wire with one that is longer.


Method #2, or Jim's Method

Loosen the strings so that they are very slack or remove them entirely.  Remove the bridge screws and lift the bridge off the body.  You should find the ground wire at this point, probably embedded in the body.  Lift the wire out of the body and strip insulation off of it so that about an inch of bare wire is visible.  If the wire is stranded, twist the strands into a neat bundle.  Using a small piece of copper shielding tape, stick the wire down onto the body.  Be careful to not stick the wire down in its previous location; choose a fresh spot and size your piece of tape so that it won't show after the bridge is attached.  Re-attach the bridge, re-string and you're done.  You now have a physical and electrical connection to ground via a relatively large contact patch and the bridge plate.  Note that you may have to gently pull a little more wire from the cavity.  In fact, it is likely that you'll have to do this.  In most cases there is plenty of bridge ground wire for this to happen.  If not, you'll need to replace the bridge ground wire with one that is longer.

Copyright 2009 Ken Baker and bassesbyleo.com