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What is the upside to having a wrap around bridge - sustain/tone benefits?

lannyhall

Member
Messages
1,278
I'm wondering why builders drill the extra holes in a guitar for the traditional tailpiece (like most Les Pauls) or the string thru body (like most Telecasters). The wrap around bridge looks like it might be the better design.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to each method?
 

bluesjunior

Member
Messages
5,988
In a word intonation, the bridge piece with movable saddles and threaded inserts for raising/lowering gives a lot of options regarding action and setting the intonation, while the wrap around tailpiece doesn't give the same maneouvreability.
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
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9,584
The wraparounds I've used have threaded inserts and movable saddles, and the entire bridge is movable as well to get the rough compensation. IMHO, though, they don't look right on a carved top instrument, especially one with a pronounced lower bout reminiscent of an acoustic or archtop, where you just expect to see some sort of tail piece. They can have a funny feel to them too, sometimes. There's a tendency for them to angle up a bit in the back because of how the posts capture the bridge. That doesn't affect anything but it can look a little funny and it can also feel a little weird if you're hand happens to rest there.
 

Ronsonic

Member
Messages
3,302
One advantage of the wraparound is that there is almost no extra string length behind the bridge meaning that for a given distance of string bend the pitch change is greater. Something like an LP or SG Jr you can bend up a full fourth.

Back in my punk rock days, I'd lose the strap off the SG and wrap my little finger around the bridge to hold the guitar and throw it around like a maniac.

For some reason one-piece wraparounds are still made with the intonation pattern that hasn't worked since the days of wrapped G strings. There are more correct ones, but they cost even more than the Wilkinson adjustables.
 

gunslinger

Member
Messages
4,339
I'm wondering why builders drill the extra holes in a guitar for the traditional tailpiece (like most Les Pauls) or the string thru body (like most Telecasters). The wrap around bridge looks like it might be the better design.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to each method?
They say the tune-o-matic bridge can wobble a little bit on its studs. If that's true it can't be good for sustain. The strings through the body can make for a more secured string. But it also leaves more room for strings to stretch. I like the Schaller, Leo Quan, and Quadmatic type bridges the best. I think they're more robust so to speak. I wish bridge manufacturers would make their bridges in a variety of metals so we could have a chance to compare the tone differences between the various materials.








I believe less string stretch and more mass means better sustain and tone.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
35,054
Note that there is no down pressure using these, nor is there any real length from the saddle to the end of the string.
I don't know what that implies, but it's odd how those characteristics are considered to be good on some bridges yet these work fine, too.
 

Ronsonic

Member
Messages
3,302
" ... nor is there any real length from the saddle to the end of the string."

Crazy bends. When tuned to pitch the string will have less tension on it. Also, it will go higher in pitch for a given distance of bend. You can grab an A at the 14th and bend it up to D. Anything else and you're off the fingerboard before you get there if nothing breaks.

I lived with the Schallers and Leo Quans for years, never had any trouble from either of them.
 

torquil

Member
Messages
1,636
When tuned to pitch the string will have less tension on it. Also, it will go higher in pitch for a given distance of bend. You can grab an A at the 14th and bend it up to D. Anything else and you're off the fingerboard before you get there if nothing breaks.
What you say about increased tension during bending with and without a trailing peice of string behind the bridge is true (as long as the string slides on top of the bridge when it is stretched during bending, but that is another matter).

But perhaps I misunderstood your first statement. The length of string behind the bridge does not influence the string tension for a given pitch when NOT bending. You could have a mile of string behind the bridge, and the tension of a correctly tuned open E would still be the same since the relationship between string tension and frequency only involves the additional quantities of string density and length from nut to bridge.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
35,054
Lengthy string runs beyond the nut and saddle should produce the least tension on bends but require greater excursion.
It's funny business how things work for players, though.
 

torquil

Member
Messages
1,636
Lengthy string runs beyond the nut and saddle should produce the least tension on bends but require greater excursion.
It's funny business how things work for players, though.
No, it requires less tension to move the string a given amout sideways, but the increase in pitch is smaller for a given sideways movement, as Ronsonic points out. Thus you need to move the string more sideways to reach a given pitch.

And when you reach that required pitch, you effectively have a longer piece of vibrating string since the string now is at a larger angle with respect the neck than it would have been in the other case. Thus the tension in the bent string is larger, and more sideways force is required to keep it there.

This is modified a bit with a vibrato system because it moves as well...
 

gunslinger

Member
Messages
4,339
Note that there is no down pressure using these...
They have down pressure. It's just not as noticeable because the wrap around is closer to the saddles. There has to be a certain amount of down pressure or the strings will buzz in the saddle slots.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
35,054
They have down pressure. It's just not as noticeable because the wrap around is closer to the saddles. There has to be a certain amount of down pressure or the strings will buzz in the saddle slots.
I meant transferring directly to the body. It's all like a shear force or rotational about the pivot bolts.

No, it requires less tension to move the string a given amout sideways, but the increase in pitch is smaller for a given sideways movement, as Ronsonic points out.
I was saying that, too, but to emphasize that the total string run is less with the wraparound and should feel stiffer but quicker to pitch.
The whole string tension thing is a point of some contention, around here. Very YMMV.
 

Ronsonic

Member
Messages
3,302
The length of string behind the bridge does not influence the string tension for a given pitch when NOT bending. You could have a mile of string behind the bridge, and the tension of a correctly tuned open E would still be the same since the relationship between string tension and frequency only involves the additional quantities of string density and length from nut to bridge.
You are right.

It just feels like it.
 

Jef Bardsley

Member
Messages
2,951
The whole string tension thing is a point of some contention, around here. Very YMMV.
I think that's because most guitar players can't handle math with two vectors. :D

As an engineering term, "tension" refers to the longitudinal force that stretches the string along the neck ("longitudinal" = "the long way"). In threads like this, someone always feel compelled to mention this, but it's not important. It takes care of itself when the guitar is tuned to pitch.

What's important to a guitar player is how stiff the strings feel. How much pressure does it take to fret a string, and how easily do they bend? This is the force applied laterally (sideways) to the string and in common usage, it's also called "tension". Thus, threads like this always include a dozen or more posts where people get their terms straight.


But back to the OP, a Tune-O-Matic has three "improvements" over a stoptail bridge:

  1. There are individual saddles for adjusting intonation and accommodating a wider selection of string sizes.
  2. The bridge, because of the skinny little posts, is free(er) to move back and forth with the string's motion, transferring vibrations to the other strings and causing sympathetic resonances.
  3. The stoptail, now no longer responsible for the action, can be adjusted up and down to change the "tension" of the strings.
Number 1, of course, has been addressed by the bridges you have shown. Numbers 2 and 3 are a matter of preference. For jazz and blues, you may want the lush sound of the sympathetic strings. For chicken picken' and shredding, you probably don't. Raising the tailpiece affects the tone as well as the feel, and many prefer the "open, airy sound" of a raised tailpiece. But again, it's a matter of taste, highly dependent on string gauge.

The question of which is "better" is like asking whether a Mack semi is better than a Porsche. For commuting, I'd take the sports car. To get to a gig, I need the truck (well, not that big a truck, but you get the idea....).
 

gunslinger

Member
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4,339
1. The bridge, because of the skinny little posts, is free(er) to move back and forth with the string's motion, transferring vibrations to the other strings and causing sympathetic resonances.
A moving bridge is not really a good thing. The stiffer the bridge the better the sustain. A bridge that moves will behave like a shock absorber. And this can decrease sustain.
 
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Baxtercat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,709
I've recently tried both on the same guitar.
I made this wrapper Tele. I'd been really interested in trying the two-stud wraparound setup....It just seemed like a terrific idea.

Surprise...it just didn't have as much sustain.
After a few months [sorry, no pic] I changed this to string-thru and the sound is better [to me]. Now the notes don't hardly turn off....they just go!
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
35,054
I've recently tried both on the same guitar.
I made this wrapper Tele. I'd been really interested in trying the two-stud wraparound setup....It just seemed like a terrific idea.

Surprise...it just didn't have as much sustain.
After a few months [sorry, no pic] I changed this to string-thru and the sound is better [to me]. Now the notes don't hardly turn off....they just go!
The string-thru approach makes sense, to me, but the wrap is convenient to mount. I wonder if this is a well-known fault of wraps?
 

Jef Bardsley

Member
Messages
2,951
A moving bridge is not really a good thing. The stiffer the bridge the better the sustain. A bridge that moves will behave like a shock absorber. And this can decrease sustain.
Just remember that tone is more important than sustain. Without tone, sustains just prolongs the unpleasantness. ;)
 




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