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Guitar plays "stiff". How to make it play "looser"?

jimmyohio75

Member
Messages
5,536
I just got a new Les Paul today. It sounds great but after hours of playing it I realize that this guitar plays "stiffer" than most other guitars that I have owned. Any advice on how to get the strings to loosen up and play slinkier?

By the way the guitar has Ernie Ball Hybrid strings on it.
It's like 9's on the bottom and 10's on the top.
 

RCCola

(|@ / \ @ |.)
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,452
Is the action high? I've found lower action is slinkier. Also, how low is the tailpiece? Is it high or touching the body of the guitar? A higher tailpiece will lessen the break angle across the bridge.

Also, top-wrapping is supposed to give a looser feeling. I don't have experience with that though. The only time I tried to top wrap, a string broke fairly quickly at the top wrap.
 

grungebob

Member
Messages
875
I used to to use the same ernie ball set but now i use Rotosound Yellows, great slinky feel with exactly the same tonal response as the balls.
 

GA20T

Member
Messages
4,724
Straighter neck (less relief) & lower action. Also make sure that the action at the nut is as low as possible.
 

Jmartin

Member
Messages
52
Is the action high? I've found lower action is slinkier. Also, how low is the tailpiece? Is it high or touching the body of the guitar? A higher tailpiece will lessen the break angle across the bridge.

Also, top-wrapping is supposed to give a looser feeling. I don't have experience with that though. The only time I tried to top wrap, a string broke fairly quickly at the top wrap.
+1, what he said.
 

jimmyohio75

Member
Messages
5,536
Is the action high? I've found lower action is slinkier. Also, how low is the tailpiece? Is it high or touching the body of the guitar? A higher tailpiece will lessen the break angle across the bridge.

Also, top-wrapping is supposed to give a looser feeling. I don't have experience with that though. The only time I tried to top wrap, a string broke fairly quickly at the top wrap.
The tailpiece is very low, almost touching the guitar body. If I raise the tailpiece will this throw the intonation off?
Also, the guy at my local GC set this up for me yesterday. I told him that I like the strings to feel as slinky as possible. Since he set the tailpiece low he must suck at setting up guitars. Also, what about the truss rod. Should I adjust this? Will it help ease the string tension? Do I turn clockwise or counterclockwise?
 

Bhodie

Member
Messages
603
The tailpiece is very low, almost touching the guitar body. If I raise the tailpiece will this throw the intonation off?
Also, the guy at my local GC set this up for me yesterday. I told him that I like the strings to feel as slinky as possible. Since he set the tailpiece low he must suck at setting up guitars. Also, what about the truss rod. Should I adjust this? Will it help ease the string tension? Do I turn clockwise or counterclockwise?
If you are not sure about which way to adjust your truss rod.. use caution.. 1/4 turn at a time.. but you should only adjust it to set relief in the neck.. not to "feel". Do a google search on setting up a guitar, lots of info out there on adjustments. Most people like the tailpiece down as close to the body without the string touching the frame of the bridge, so the GC guy may not actually suck and "slinky" is a pretty relative term depending on what guitar you played before.

Easiest solution to try is "topwrapping".. restring the guitar with the string coming from the neck through the tailpiece and then back over the top to the tuners.. put one of the old string eyelets over the string first..

Raising the bridge does not change intonation, adjusting the bridge saddles does that. If you are using the custom light strings (9 to 46) that should be fine on a LP, I like D'Addarios personally or the new GHS burnished nickels.

Below is a picture of a good setup.. bridge is adjusted to provide right height of strings over fretboard. Fretboard is adjusted to have best relief (amount of "bow") tailpiece is lowered to a point where string does not touch the bridge frame before the saddle..

 

ImmortalSix

Member
Messages
1,962
I had the same problem with my 335, and top-wrapped the bridge with miraculously good results.

The strings felt much slinkier, and I was even able to jump up a gauge (to 11's, it intonates better with heavier strings, 'nother story).

I recommend it. I have never broken a string on my top-wrapped 335. To be fair, I replaced the stock TOM with a Wilkinson brass roller bridge.

Note the very slight breakover angle that the strings now have. Stays in tune better now, too.

-Hunter



 

johnh

Member
Messages
4,767
I've always heard that a lower break angle (less sharp angle) make the feel slinkier.

I'd also be wary of going by photos, since it is possible that one guitar has a deeper or more shallow neck and therefore the bridge would have to be adjusted to compensate.

I hope you get this resolved. Unfortunately, in my experience, very similar guitars can end up always playing differently no matter how much I fiddle around with them.
 

jimmyohio75

Member
Messages
5,536
If you are not sure about which way to adjust your truss rod.. use caution.. 1/4 turn at a time.. but you should only adjust it to set relief in the neck.. not to "feel". Do a google search on setting up a guitar, lots of info out there on adjustments. Most people like the tailpiece down as close to the body without the string touching the frame of the bridge, so the GC guy may not actually suck and "slinky" is a pretty relative term depending on what guitar you played before.

Easiest solution to try is "topwrapping".. restring the guitar with the string coming from the neck through the tailpiece and then back over the top to the tuners.. put one of the old string eyelets over the string first..

Raising the bridge does not change intonation, adjusting the bridge saddles does that. If you are using the custom light strings (9 to 46) that should be fine on a LP, I like D'Addarios personally or the new GHS burnished nickels.

Below is a picture of a good setup.. bridge is adjusted to provide right height of strings over fretboard. Fretboard is adjusted to have best relief (amount of "bow") tailpiece is lowered to a point where string does not touch the bridge frame before the saddle..


I assume if I try top wrapping I should lower the tailpiece down lower, almost to the body?
 

eyeball987

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,437
I top wrapped my Trad Pro so that I could get the tailpiece down to the body. On the Trad Pro's the strings will hit the bridge if you lower the tailpiece down too much but I like it that way so top wrapping was the only option.

I did notice a slinkier feel too once I did this. Also, a quality set up will help too. No, GC did not give you a quality set up. They hosed my LP up twice before I took it to that guy I told you about in Akron. He cut the nut better and fixed the bridge height and intonation and the guitar went from great to sweet!
 

big jilm

Member
Messages
4,252
I top wrap my Tokai 335, and it definitely feels slinkier than my SG, which is not top wrapped. I use 10's, and it makes the Tokai feel like 9's, which has been interesting. Lower the tailpiece and top wrap that fiddle - it will definitely feel slinkier!
 

ImmortalSix

Member
Messages
1,962
I assume if I try top wrapping I should lower the tailpiece down lower, almost to the body?
I didn't --- see my pics.

I think the whole cranking the tailpiece down to the lowest it can go is "bull," though.

Note my extremely slight breakover angle.

From a physics standpoint, it makes more sense to me to have a slight breakover angle than an extreme breakover angle, if you're going for slinkiness.

I could be wrong, but the guitar feels damn good.
 

hammersig

Member
Messages
1,419
I agree with trying the top wrap. I'm not a fan of it myself, but I did try it and it definately makes for a slinkier feel. You may need to make adjustments to the truss rod and action if you decide you like it, but just trying it without adjustments should tell you if it fixes your problem.
 

mullytron

Member
Messages
1,261
Also, try DR strings. The same gauge as you're used to always feels slinkier from DR. Of course, that's on the wound strings...
 

Jef Bardsley

Member
Messages
2,951
I think the whole cranking the tailpiece down to the lowest it can go is "bull," though.

Note my extremely slight breakover angle.

From a physics standpoint, it makes more sense to me to have a slight breakover angle than an extreme breakover angle, if you're going for slinkiness.
I agree with this.

Before going to the trouble (?) of topwrapping, simply raise the tailpiece and see if you like the feel. You may also notice a change in tone. No, I don't think there's a change in sustain.
 

Bhodie

Member
Messages
603
I assume if I try top wrapping I should lower the tailpiece down lower, almost to the body?
Some people feel that putting the tailpiece tight against the body increased sustain and resonance.. I don't know, my ears are not that good.. but yes, as long as once the bridge is set at the right height in relation to the fretboard, and the strings dont hit the bridge before the saddles. When you top wrap, that is not and issue, and as you can see in the pictures following mine, the tailpiece is pretty close to the deck, be careful that you do not get forward "lean" (when there is some slop between the tailpiece and the studs, the pull from the strings lifts the back of the tailpiece and tilts it forward.) You do not want it to be so close to the top when that happens or the strings can mar the finish

May take a little experimentation with string types, tailpiece heights, etc. but just make sure the neck relief and string height to the fretboard is correct and that kind of determines where the tail piece will end up. Also, I will tell you that some guitars are just "stiffer" and I dont know why.. I have had two strats set up identically where one was just "stiffer" than the other.. it happens sometimes :)

PS. Some people also feel that higher string to fret difference (and thicker strings and lower pickup height) provide a much more substantial tone.. I agree there and have 11's on mine, and as you can see from the pictures, the pickups are adjusted lower..
 




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