Davorin Sever has 30 years of experience, three of which were spent developing this beauty. Kev Sanders takes it to the bridge
Leo Fender’s earliest basses had bridges that consisted of little more than a piece of bent metal with two movable saddles. The first and only improvement he made was to give each string its own separate saddle, adjustable for height and intonation. That’s the standard Fender bass bridge we all know and love. It worked well in the 50s and it still works well today: it’s cheap to make and cheap to buy. So why fix something that ain’t broke? Simply because it can be improved upon.
The first company to realise this was Hipshot, who started producing the chunky Badass bridge as a straight swap for the Fender units as far back asthe mid 70s. Now, the Slovenian company Sever Innovations has taken the basic design and made substantial improvements.
The headline is that the 1.5mm-thick base plate is made from stainless steel, as are the individual bridge saddles and adjustment screws. That’s good; it’ll never tarnish or rust, which is important for a unit that’s constantly mauled by hot sweaty hands. The standard of engineering and machining is very high. My only slight criticism is that the tiny knurled string saddles which allow string spacing to be accurately adjusted are a little loose on their threads – although this is something that doesn’t affect the sound or their function. The quick-change string anchoring is a useful feature, and a very slight concave curve to the base plate means that as it’s screwed down to the front of the bass, the whole bridge is pulled under tension against the body of the instrument.
UK distributors Tonetech sent me a Precision-style bass with one of the bridges fitted for assessment. Through my usual rig the sound was bright and solid, with a real bell-like clarity and sustain. It’s impossible to unpick exactly how much of this is due solely to the bridge, of course, but what I can say is that it works flawlessly, string changes are a doddle and it looks very classy.
So is it worth 170 quid? Well, there’s no doubt that it offers big improvements over a generic chromed steel bridge. However, companies like Schaller are also making exquisitely engineered bridges for less, and Hipshot do a tasty vintage Fender-style bridge in stainless steel for about half of the price of the Tone Up.
Price isn’t everything, of course, and the Tone Up is made of top quality materials and has a precision-engineered feel for which you’d expect to pay top dollar. If I were buying a big-ticket custom-made bass, this is the kind of bridge I’d want to see fitted on it.