The Tru-Arc Bridge
Recently I tested the range of Tru-Arc bridges. These are high-quality replacements for the Gretsch bar bridge, made by Gretsch aficionado Tim Harman. As you can see in the above photo, the Tru-Arc is radiused to match the fretboard of the guitar, which improves playability (and allows for lower action, if you're a close-to-the-frets kind of picker).
The Tru-Arc (above photo, bottom) has a more pronounced radius than the standard Gretsch bridge (top). It's also heavier than the Gretsch bridge (except for the aluminum model), which increases tone and sustain. An added plus is a slight improvement in intonation, probably due to the matched radius. The bridges are available in traditional brass (pictured in the top photo), and also in stainless steel, aluminum, and copper (pictured below, top to bottom).
Says Tim: "I really like copper for fingerpicking and clean playing in general; it seems to bring out detail in the midrange. Brass is closest to the sound of the original bridges, which were/are plated brass – but adds a bit of sustain over most stock bridges. Stainless and aluminum, too, impart particular sonic signatures (stainless: smooth and rounded, max sustain; aluminum: twangy and snappy, most percussive response)."
I agree with Tim's assessment, except I prefer the brass bridge. (I liked it so much that I bought a brass Tru-Arc for my Country Gent. Guess I'm just an old traditionalist.) Paul Yandell has been trying these out too, and he really likes them.
For more info or to order, email Tim Harman. I've recorded a few short clips on my Gretsch 6122-1959 Country Gentleman so you can hear the difference between the various bridges.
Note: These clips were recorded direct (no amp) through a Demeter Stereo Tube Direct and a Lexicon PCM 60 reverb. To hear the subtle tonal differences between each bridge, listen to these clips with high quality headphones or speakers. I have left the "tail" of each example so you can hear how long each bridge sustains.
Tru-Arc brass clip
Tru-Arc aluminum clip
Tru-Arc copper clip
Tru-Arc stainless clip