Babicz – Full Contact Hardware
So last month we talked about the 2 Jeff’s (Babicz and Carano), their history in the music business and their now famous Babicz Guitars, and, how Jeff Babicz and I came up with almost the same idea at the same time…..ok, how we kind of designed something that looked similar (I had no idea about Jeff’s designs and wasn’t even in the same ballpark as far as his innovations). This month we will look at the Full Contact Hardware products that are now available at Solo Guitars. In order to completely understand their research and design, it is important to look at some musical instrument science first….
The secret sauce in all of this, is the term ‘Full Contact’. Take any true acoustic instrument, whether it be a guitar, a violin or a ukulele. The strings rest on a machined or carved saddle/nut which is glued on or held in place by pressure. In a guitar you have a piece of bone that has been precisely carved for intonation, is set in the slot of a rosewood or ebony bridge which has been glued to the top of the guitar. The vibrations from the strings are now transferred directly through ‘full contact’ and the guitar sounds amazing right? If you look at the tiny violin, the strings rest on a precisely carved bridge that is help in place on the violin through pressure only and provides ‘full contact’ again.
So if we compare these instruments that rely on their materials and how they are assembled for sound, tone and sustain, to the first production electric (Fender’s Tele) we find the strings rest on the nut which follows our theory, but at the bridge, the strings rest on a formed metal saddle that is height adjustable by two miniature set screws, that probably don’t even sit flat on the bridge….’full contact’? I think not. Fender believed that the vibrations would still be carried through to the body, but that the pickups would overcome whatever losses in sound were realized.
And so Jeff Designed the eCam saddle (short for encapsulated cam)…..a saddle that allows for “instant “action” adjustments without ever adding space or air gaps between the saddle and the body of the guitar, and conventional string height action adjustment set screws are eliminated…and includes a specially designed “String Height Lock” feature, which keeps your string height setting in place…even during extreme saddle vibrations over time. Precise intonation adjustments are also easily attained and in most cases include a “Saddle Housing Lock” feature.
As you can see, the bridge plate sits flat on the body, the saddle housing is flat on the bottom providing 100% contact to the bridge plate, and the round-bottomed saddle sits in a round cavity in the housing, again providing 100% contact. What does this do for you? Well Jeff says ‘ it’s all about tone…how to get more tone, more stability, more sustain and finer adjustments…without adding weight’….Guitarworld says ‘my guitar nearly doubled in unplugged acoustic volume. More volume does mean added sustain’, and Bassworld said ‘ I immediately noticed a difference with sustain and tone and very much for the better’. What do I say? Well having jumped on board with this technology (much as I did with the guitars) I always thought the design was very impressive, I also found that the bridge setup was way faster and easier than with other bridges, and although the FCH bridges I have used have been installed on new builds (so there is no comparison) I do know what to expect from the guitars I have built and the bridges fit into that design very very well.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I do not think the very best electric guitar has been built yet, so we all have something to strive for. New designs and innovations are still coming and we have written books about what has happened so far in guitar history.
Inventors/designers like Jeff Babicz and so may others will continue to create parts and ideas to further the instrument and as builders yourselves, ‘you’ have the decision to make as to which parts and hardware you use for your next guitar. Full Contact Hardware is one of the innovations we have here at Solo Guitars for your selection process, and not only are these bridges for bass or guitar only one of the improvements you can make for tone and sustain, but they are one of the really good decisions you can select for your personal instruments.