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Stopbar height?

cannibal animal

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Feb 20, 2007
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screw the tail piece right into the guitar and top wrap your strings the angle is so easy, theres no tension against the bridge, no slipping, no string breakage....it is superior.
 

GlassSnuff

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Here's where necks get twisted. The stop bar is a tension device. Uneven tension from side to side will cause strings on one side of the neck to be tighter than the strings on the other side of the neck if the stop bar is higher on one side than the other.
No, no, no!

There are two definitions of "tension", and as they both get used in these discussions it can get confusing. One definition, the strict 'scientific' one, refers to the pull along the length of the string. This tension will be the same for any string diameter, neck length, and pitch. Changing the height of the tailpiece will have no effect on it assuming you slack the strings before making a change and retune to pitch afterwards.

The other meaning of "tension", the more common one, refers to how much force to takes to move a string sideways. It's been suggested this be referred to as "compliance" for the sake of clarity. This is dependent on the length of the neck and how much extra string is beyond the nut and saddle as well as how much friction there is over the nut and the saddles.

It's this second meaning, the compliance, that changes when you change the height of the tailpiece. As long as you tune to pitch each time, there will be no change in the tension on the neck.
 

cyberpunk409

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Sep 15, 2006
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No, no, no!

There are two definitions of "tension", and as they both get used in these discussions it can get confusing. One definition, the strict 'scientific' one, refers to the pull along the length of the string. This tension will be the same for any string diameter, neck length, and pitch. Changing the height of the tailpiece will have no effect on it assuming you slack the strings before making a change and retune to pitch afterwards.

The other meaning of "tension", the more common one, refers to how much force to takes to move a string sideways. It's been suggested this be referred to as "compliance" for the sake of clarity. This is dependent on the length of the neck and how much extra string is beyond the nut and saddle as well as how much friction there is over the nut and the saddles.

It's this second meaning, the compliance, that changes when you change the height of the tailpiece. As long as you tune to pitch each time, there will be no change in the tension on the neck.

best explanation i've ever read!!! well done. i too always wondered what the hell everyone was always on about, a string tuned to 440Hz is gonna have the same tension (using the same string that is) no matter what the hell the angles at the neck and bridge are doing.

so you actually change the "Compliance" by changing the angles? does that basically mean "friction" at point of contact, in this instance the bridge saddle?
 

GlassSnuff

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Basically, yes. But, "friction" is another one of those terms... and it would lead us into 'what's really happening with the bridge?' For the sake of this discussion, let's just say that as the break angle over the bridge increases, we go from 100% of the string tension pulling forward on the stoptail (that would be a wrap bridge) to some of the forward pull being deflected into downward pressure on the TOM bridge. This means less pull on the stop tail, of course, and it explains why bridges collapse.
 

felixq78

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May 16, 2009
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I like the stopbar to be fairly high. The angle of strings on the bridge is the same as on my headstock (i have Norlin era Custom, which does have lower headstock angle). The strings are lighter to bend to me and the sound is more detailed and fat with some honk.
All that does is increase the tension between the stop bar and the bridge, it can't possibly affect the tension between the bridge and the nut you may think that it's easier to bend strings but that's purely in your mind.. It can't it's the same as the top wrapping myth..
 

renderit

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All that does is increase the tension between the stop bar and the bridge, it can't possibly affect the tension between the bridge and the nut you may think that it's easier to bend strings but that's purely in your mind.. It can't it's the same as the top wrapping myth..
I used to think that and I believe you took the same Geometry and Physics classes I did.

High E for instance has to be at a certain tension to BE an E.

The description on post #22 is correct though.

The length beyond the nut and the tail (wrapped being much longer) does come into play when bending or hitting them hard.

The (maybe) unfortunate side effect is getting some guitars to behave themselves with no buzzing when you do it.
 

JeffBlue

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Sep 16, 2012
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I seem to prefer the stop tailpiece lowered all the way against the guitar top and give the strings a nice wrap-over. That was the original design of the original wrapover bridges of the early Gibson Les Paul. Nothing wrong with it.
 

SpencerD

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Mar 11, 2016
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I've pretty much always had the stop bar flush mounted and the top wrap the strings. Well, not pretty much. Always! 😲 :D Except on my Bigsbyfied Les Pauls 🤘
 

Curious Mike

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Feb 9, 2019
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Here's where necks get twisted. The stop bar is a tension device. Uneven tension from side to side will cause strings on one side of the neck to be tighter than the strings on the other side of the neck if the stop bar is higher on one side than the other.

If the stop bar is causes uneven tension across the neck, over time, the strings will pull the neck in the direction of the tighter strings. You will see the nut and headstock "dipping" in the direction of the tighter strings.

The same effect will happen to a guitar with an even tailpiece but strings not tuned to pitch evenly.

Guitars that have been stored a long time with missing strings on one side and tight strings on the other will do this. That is when it is time to go to the repair shop.

So find the sweet spot and keep checking the neck relief to look for signs of high and low spots.




EDIT : Here is the D'addario research and has the Physics behind String Tension.
String tension
So you believe the string tension on the unwound strings is the same as the wound side?
 

Minibucker

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I always try to match the angle of the strings at the nut. I actually made a cardboard cutout of that angle so that I can do a quick match. On some guitars it requires a top wrap, others it's normal stringing but with the TP raised a few turns if the top-wrap is too shallow of an angle, and if I can fit spacers (which I got from Faber) great, if not no biggie. I had an R7 with a pretty low bridge height so normal stringing with the tailpiece all the way down was right on.
 

GlassSnuff

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Screw it down for sustain, screw it up for resonance.

Since there's about 120 pounds of pressure on them from the strings, those posts are tight. Making them tight against the body doesn't really make them tighter.

Top-wrapping is a happy compromise.
 

Jethro Rocker

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Nov 6, 2022
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All that does is increase the tension between the stop bar and the bridge, it can't possibly affect the tension between the bridge and the nut you may think that it's easier to bend strings but that's purely in your mind.. It can't it's the same as the top wrapping myth..
Two things.
Firstly you are replying to a poster who posted about 15 years ago.
Secondly, it absolutely makes bending easier. Tension is the same of course but the angle being less betweem bridge and tailpiece makes the bend easier to do as the string slides up. Try it. You can feel it. See post 21 on.
 

garywright

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it’s easy enough to experience it for yourself ..crank it down flush..play ..jack her up at least 3/4” ..play, then repeat if dumb. 🤪
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
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So you believe the string tension on the unwound strings is the same as the wound side?
Hey there Mike,
The String tension and the downforce tension of the stopbar string angle are directly related to the tension of the string based on the string type and tuned frequency. If the strings are not tuned to pitch or actually missing there will be uneven pressure on the guitar neck.

Here is an example of a .010 - .046 Nickel/steel string set on a Gibson 24.75 scale length.
This forum format doesn't allow math formulas so I'll just paste in a screen shot of the calculations I did.
You can see the difference between downforce on the bridge between the High E and Low E strings directly related to the stop bar angle of the strings over the bridge when the break angle over the bridge is the same.
Therefore, if the change in the break angle over the bridge to the stopbar is different across the strings uneven string tension affects guitar necks.
The angle used is the Gibson recommended seventeen degrees. Although lately Gibson has been putting the stopbar all the way to the body increasing the angle for some reason.
I calculated this using a Casio fx-300es Plus
(The calculation for downforce pressure uses radians)

Screen Shot 2023-03-02 at 10.22.42 AM.png

Reference Guitarbuilding.org, Daddario.com
 

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brandtkronholm

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...if the change in the break angle over the bridge to the stopbar is different across the strings uneven string tension affects guitar necks.
This does not appear to be correct. (But please, correct me if I've overlooked something!)

I believe it should read "...if the change in the break angle over the bridge to the stop bar is different across the strings, there will be different downward force put on the bridge by each string." All the while, the string tension from nut to bridge remains completely unaltered and the neck is healthy. Low E remains at T=15.3 and High E is unchanged at T=16.45.

Indeed, at the bridge, the downward force F changes as we vary the angle "a", but F has no bearing whatsoever on T when only considering the angle "a". F depends on T - but T is fixed. T does not depend on F.

I'm imagining a Strat/Tele headstock without a string tree for the high E and B strings. It's all good, Fender necks don't suffer twisting because of an uneven downward force at the nut.
 

brandtkronholm

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If the strings are not tuned to pitch or actually missing there will be uneven pressure on the guitar neck.
This is correct.

Well, the sentence below is more correct, but yeah, pressure/tension, it's a suitable synonym and we totally get it:
"If the strings are not tuned to pitch or actually missing there will be unbalanced tension on the guitar neck" And in this case the neck may twist or bend.
 

J T

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Yeah that brings up an interesting question. If the high E, B, and G would be top wrapped and the D, A and Low E through the stop bar, the break angle would be much lower than the D, A, and Low E. That means the downforce tension would be lower on the high strings making bending them easier?


Edit changed typo from " hie E, B, and B" to "high E, B, and G" (doh fat fingered)
 
Last edited:

brandtkronholm

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Yeah that brings up an interesting question. If the hie E, B, and B would be top wrapped and the D, A and Low E through the stop bar, the break angle would be much lower than the D, A, and Low E. That means the downforce tension would be lower on the high strings making bending them easier?
Yup. - Exactly.

I feel like I've seen a picture online where someone has top wrapped only the G,B and e on their Les Paul. Or maybe it was the other way around...anyway, it's a thing! Experiment and discover what sounds good to your ears!

I like the top wrap!
 

thejaf

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Oct 27, 2006
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I raise the stop tailpiece up high enough so the strings don't touch the bridge. Been doing that for 25 years with great results. Tried top-wrapping, but it was too slinky feeling with 10-46.
 
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