Bridge/Tailpiece height on a Les Paul?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by SFT, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. SFT

    SFT Member

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    I'm in the process of doing a setup on my LP and noticed my tailpiece seemed awfully high. I think it has to do with my bridge being high, and being afraid of having too much of an angle between the bridge and tailpiece. Is there a standard/rule as to having a proper angle/ratio between the bridge and a tailpiece on a tune-o-matic bridge?

    Right now my bridge and tailpiece are both sitting at about 9/32" high off the body.
     
  2. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    How high the bridge and tailpiece are depends entirely on the neck angle. Too much neck angle = bridge and tailpiece have to be raised high for proper action. 9/32" seems very high to me, I'd imagine at that height there's barely any threads to keep the hardware attached to the guitar.
     
  3. Rock Johnson

    Rock Johnson Member

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    You may want to consider topwrapping the tailpiece so you can get it down lower...
     
  4. Ponec

    Ponec Member

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    The general "rule" for setting the height of the tailpiece is to first set the height of the bridge for correct action then set the height of the tailpiece so that the break angle of the strings over the bridge is approximately the same as the angle of the strings over the nut. BTW, 9/32" doesn't sound out of line to me.

    FWIW

    -Ron
     
  5. SFT

    SFT Member

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    it seems on my guitar, if I set the bridge any lower, I'm gonna have either fretbuzz or I'm gonna hit the neck pickup, which on my guitar, may be high for most les pauls, I don't know. I set the tailpiece higher, so its not such an extreme angle.

    I'm not sure what "topwrapping the tailpiece" means.

    Ron, you're talking about the angle from the nut to the headstock, correct? That's not much of an angle at all. If that's true, then my tailpiece needs to come up even higher.
     
  6. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey SFT -

    Instead of inserting the strings into the hole in the tailpiece from the bottom of the guitar toward the neck, insert the string into the hole between the bridge and the tailpiece and feed it toward the bottom of the guitar - the opposite direction of what it is now - and then wrap the string back over the tailpiece and across the bridge up to the tuners, like you would if it was a stopbar/ bridge combo. Like you would on a LP Junior.

    It'll flatten out the break angle, and then you can probably screw the tailpiece all the way down onto the body and still have a good break angle. It'll probably feel a a little slinkier too.

    Dana O.
     
  7. SFT

    SFT Member

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    Dana, I'm trying to visualize what you mean...and I just cant. You mean wind the strings over the top of my tailpiece and then up to the bridge? Wouldn't that kinda beat the hell out of the top of the tailpiece (I have gold hardware)?
     
  8. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Member

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    Man, I'm trying to find a pic to post so you can see what it looks like...

    Basically, string it backwards, then wrap the strings OVER the tailpiece, then to the headstock...
    When you look at it, the strings will be going over the tailpiece, hence the "top wrap" name...
     
  9. SFT

    SFT Member

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    I think I know what you're saying...boy that seems weird though!! Is there an advantage to doing this beyond being able to lower the tailpiece? Is this a common practice?
     
  10. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Yeah SFT and RLP - Look at the direction the string goes through the tailpiece now. Start the restring by putting each string the through the same hole in the tailpiece but in the opposite direction.
    Then the string will be headed the wrong way - away from the neck, not toward it, so you have to wrap the string back over the bridge and up to the tuners.

    Hold a string up to the tailpiece - you'll see what I(we) mean. Once you try it, it'll be obvious. I looked for a picture too, I know I've seen one here, but I couldn't find it - sorry.

    Dana O.
     
  11. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Member

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    I found a great pic for an example, but now photobucket is down.:jo

    I think he knows what we mean though..lol.
     
  12. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Member

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  13. SFT

    SFT Member

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    so is there any musical advantage to this? I heard better sustain, but is that just a claim?
     
  14. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Member

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    I've done it in the past...

    Strings seem to bend easier. This also allows you to go up a notch in string gauge without feeling it as bad imho.
    I really heard no difference in tone.

    YMMV...
     
  15. SoCalSteve

    SoCalSteve Member

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    I ended up top-wrapping my Hamer for the same reason. With the tail piece all the way down both E strings were resting on the back of the bridge. I had to raise it pretty high in my mind to get them to clear so I tried the top-wrapping method and like the results. I guess it'll probably scratch up the tail piece after awhile but if I ever sell it I can just put on a new one.
     
  16. indytruckboy

    indytruckboy Member

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    If you top-wrap and screw the tailpiece all the way down, you should help with sustainn. I did this on my LPCustom and noticed a difference.
     
  17. Ponec

    Ponec Member

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    The angle of the strings over the nut may appear minimal but it is sufficient to hold the strings on the bridge. I should have been a little more specific in saying that the aforementioned "angle" should be the minimum. You may increase the angle of the strings over the bridge until the strings are resting on the back edge of the bridge/intonation screws. Then you have gone too far.

    One thing not discussed too often is that if you increase the string angle as much as possible there are a couple of drawbacks. First of all you are putting undue stress on the bridge. Any increase in angle results in more downward pressure on the bridge. Over time, at least in the past, bridges were even known to collapse. Though this doesn't seem to be much of a problem any more. Secondly, the increased angle causes a sharper "crimp" in the strings themselves. While not necessarily a "bad thing" if you are just putting on strings and playing, if you go to adjust intonation an overly agressive string angle will make intonating the strings problematic. I assume that this is due to the metals "memory" in that you have placed a crimp in one location then try to move the string. The string tries to maintain the old "crimp" and doesn't allow the string to slide smoothly across the saddle.

    Hope this helps,

    -Ron


    I know that it is an unpopular notion but I still hold that any differences in tone or feel using the "top wrap" is mostly in the mind of the player. (Although I was side tracked with a few issues for a while I still have been collecting parts to begin testing for the "Guitar Myths" project.)
     
  18. SFT

    SFT Member

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    Thank you guys for all of your help. I have found that this forum is the best among gear/instrument boards in terms of helpfulness. Very impressed with everyone's expertise and maturity in responding (you'd be surprised how many sarcastic jerks there are on other boards...).
     
  19. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I'm pretty close to agreeing with you about the tone difference in the top wrap, but the feel thing is "fact" within the realms of my experience. It doesn't make sense to me, it just is. I do not like the "slinkiness" of top wrapped strings. I also had an issue of the bass E and A strings slipping out of the saddle.
     
  20. Ponec

    Ponec Member

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    The Golden Boy - I am actually setting up to test out the "feel" of top-wrapped tailpieces as the first issue to be addressed in the "Guitar Myths Project". I just have to finish/work out a couple of bugs in the device I am building to test the string tension and deflection. Once I get some results I will put it up for peer review and we'll go from there.

    Logically, I just can't see how it would make much difference in the "feel". The strings still have to have the same amount of tension in order to produce the proper tones. You are only lengthening the strings by maybe an inch so I can't see where that would contribute enough extra elasticity to the string to be felt. Especially when the added length is behind the bridge and past a couple of string kinks. This is why I intend to gather some hard data via the "Project".

    -Ron


    For those of you unfamiliar with the "Guitar Myths Project" I have set up a topic on my guitar forum site that contains a little more info. (Not a whole lot more but hey, I've been "sidetracked".)
     

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