• THIS IS THE 25th ANNIVERSARY YEAR FOR THE LES PAUL FORUM! PLEASE CELEBRATE WITH US AND SUPPORT US WITH A DONATION TO KEEP US GOING! We've made a large financial investment to convert the Les Paul Forum to this new XenForo platform, and recently moved to a new hosting platform. We also have ongoing monthly operating expenses. THE "DONATIONS" TAB IS NOW WORKING, AND WE WOULD APPRECIATE ANY DONATIONS YOU CAN MAKE TO KEEP THE LES PAUL FORUM GOING! Thank you!
  • WE HAVE MOVED THE LES PAUL FORUM TO A NEW HOSTING PROVIDER! WE ARE HAVING PERIODIC ISSUES WITH DELAYED RESPONSE TIME! DOING TROUBLESHOOTING! PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH US UNTIL WE IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM. Many thanks, Mike Slubowski, Admin

Un top wrap

jon9

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
245
So for years (30) I have been top wrapping les pauls. I never knew it was "thing" when I started doing it because it was before the internet. I was breaking at least 2 strings a night, playing five nights a week, so this was way too much.(I do play hard) It wasn't a sharp saddle or anything so I thought if I wrapped the string around maybe the angle wouldn't be so steep and I wouldn't break strings. I always heard, (because everything was word of mouth back then) that you had to screw the tailpiece all the way down to get the most sustain. Well it worked and I didn't break strings anymore(once in a great while, I change them every show) So for the next 4 les pauls since, I just automatically top wrapped them. No bubbles no troubles. My previous les paul(historic custom shop, pic in my avatar, burnt up in a fire) I tried to string it normal once but the break angle was too much, and the strings hit the back of the bridge. I didn't want that, & I wanted to have the tail piece all the way down. So I topwrapped. The one I have now, 50th anniversary historic custom shop, I have played for the past 12 years top wrapped. Well, the other day I strung it normally, and with the tailpiece (Creametone) all the way down there is still plenty of clearance over the bridge to the saddle. Well what a damn idiot I am. There is no change in "tension" as some report, but it is sustaining much more, sounds better, with less buzzing, and I even feel the guitar vibrating more. I think it's completely because the strings are putting more pressure on the bridge, and that vibration through the bridge is causing the improvements. So if you're a moron like me that was thinking you were doing something the right way, try something different. It only took me 12 years to fix something in ten minutes. Rock on.
 
Last edited:

ADP

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2015
Messages
691
I top wrap on most of my Les Paul's. I don't feel like a moron. Every guitar is different and in my experience some benefit from a standard restringing, and some benefit from top wrapping. I like to use La Bella HRS strings for my top wrapped guitars and think they're the best strings by far.
The one I string standard, I use DR pure nickel strings.
On Bigsby Les Paul's I use "Les Paul Signature" strings which have silk wrapped ball-ends that prevent any unwanted rattle on the roller bar. I think the strings themselves make more of a difference than how they're strung, but again everything and the sum of it's parts matter in the final result.
 

Jethro Rocker

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2022
Messages
287
I always left my tailpiece down flush. Standard wrap. Had no idea that by raising the tailpiece a bit it makes bending easier. Only took 44 years. I hear no difference in sustain at all by raising it a little.
 

JeffBlue

Active member
Joined
Sep 16, 2012
Messages
352
Gentlemen..........I like top-wrapping my strings. Feels right and sounds great.
 

Wilko

All Access/Backstage Pass
Joined
Mar 11, 2002
Messages
20,903
I have two Les Pauls. One is top wrapped, the other not. The top wrap does sort of "soften" the attack and response as there is some give where the string contact stops. With standard, there is stopbar then string. period.
 

WillyW

Active member
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Messages
125
or are we reporting people who do top wrap?

I'm so confused....
 

J T

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
10,524
Another thread kind of addressed this but I'll put it here too.
The break angle from the bridge to the tailpiece determines the downforce of the string on the bridge. The scale length and type of string are factored into the calculations to determine the downforce pressure in pounds.
I put all that into the calculations and for a Gibson scale length using .010 - .046 nickel strings came up with a sample of the bridge downforce on the low E ad High E strings.

The higher the break angle from the bridge to the tailpiece, the higher the downforce on the bridge.
Topwrapping lowered the break angle from the bridge to the tailpeice.

You can interpret this however you want. If you feel bending is easier or sustain is increased or whatever, that is subjective.

I calculated this on a Casio fs-300 es
Calculations for downforce pressure are in radians

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

JASIII

Active member
Joined
Sep 19, 2020
Messages
113
Yesterday for the first time I tried top wrapping and it is different imo, 10's feel like...9.5's? I also used the method where you thread an old ball end onto the string so it changes where the string angle breaks over the back of the tailpiece and it's not bending on the wind of the string. Feels great to me, I'm keeping it that way.
 

bluesroom

Active member
Joined
Jul 17, 2001
Messages
443
I looked at Page’s number one up close and the stop tail was raised to achieve the same thing that too wrapping does.
Interestingly enough his telecaster with the strings thru the bridge was strung through the body. I thought that was funny since they made such a big deal about that rarer style bridge.
 

gmann

Well-known member
Joined
May 26, 2003
Messages
6,188
Top wrap or don’t, it’s not for everybody. It only costs a set of strings to find out.
 

SpencerD

Active member
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
Messages
912
At the other end of the strings some guys cut them off at the tuning key right?

Some guys wrap the excess into neat little circles right?

And Michael Schenker doesn't do any of that! :D That freakin' dude leaves all the strings flapping in the breeze all the time! I'm not bullshitting...look up some pics or videos ?
 

Any Name You Wish

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
514
My R9 came from the factory with the stop bar screwed all the way down, and both the low and high E strings were hitting the rear corner of the bridge, typical. Yesterday I raised the stop bar up enough so at least the high E string clears the bridge (about 3/32 higher). Any higher and I felt the stop bar against my hand sometimes and didn't care for that. Un-plugged the guitar is noticeably louder. Plugged-in I can't tell any difference. String bends feel just a tad easier. I had to adjust the intonation and found it a little easier to turn the screws. Playing it un-plugged is actually pretty cool now. I like it and I am sticking with it.

One more thing to add. I did a free body diagram of the bridge (ME degree rearing its ugly head) and with a steep angle of the strings toward the stop bar there is indeed more force on the bridge both downward and forward in the direction of the pickups. I'm not too crazy about all that forward pressure on the bridge especially with the strings hitting the back corner of it. I also prefer having the strings lay nicely in the saddle notch because saddle notches can introduce the sitar sound if the strings have room to vibrate against the metal. I say that if you don't top wrap then raise that stop bar a little for better sound and fewer problems at the saddles. I think it is adjustable for a good reason.
 

Burst_in2_flames

Active member
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
61
As others have said, it's entirely subjective. In my experience it's way more about feel that tone or sustain. A top wrap feels slinkier, bends easier, and is better suited for certain uses as a result. I keep LPs in both configurations and switch based on situation. I am a firm believer in decking the tailpiece on all my LPs, though.

20230312_131251_20230313094553908.jpg
 

Minibucker

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 12, 2003
Messages
6,372
For me it's always been about trying to match the 17˚ break angle at the nut as closely as I can depending on the bridge height on a particular guitar. If it means top-wrapping then great. If the bridge sits lower and top-wrapping is too shallow of an angle behind the bridge then normal wrapping and raising the tailpiece a bit if necessary. I have various tailpiece stud spacers that I got from Faber that anchor it down as it would be if screwed down completely.

For me the difference in string compliance has come down more to the truss rod/neck relief than the angle of string behind the bridge, even between different guitars that are top-wrapped or not. The guitar kind of just 'settles' into what feels right in terms of string 'tension', bending and how lovely it feels altogether. If a Gibson starts to feel 'stiff' it's usually not a difference off top-wrapping or such, it's more a set-up and balance with action/neck, at least for me.

Then again, I mostly play .010 - .048 strings these days, so they're pretty easy. anyway.
 
Last edited:

Keefoman

Active member
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
578
I have four guitars with a TOM bridge. I've tried top wrapping all, but I went back to regular on two of them because to me, it doesn't feel or sound right. The other two does.
 

Triburst

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Messages
4,353
I like JT’s science.
Fact is, I really think it depends on the guitar.
I have a Triburst ‘68 LP Custom reissue that is only happy with a top wrap. The neck angle makes the bridge pretty high, and I don’t like how the guitar feels and sounds with that particular tailpiece raised.
But the bottom line is I’m a tinkerer. If a particular guitar in my small collection becomes a temporary favorite, it’s because I like whatever I just did with it. (Change of string brand, gauge, wrap, or even pickups or wiring changes).
Eventually, you find the combo you like for that particular guitar, and leave it that way…. For now.
 
Top