10s Down to 9s: Low Tailpiece and Strings Touching Bridge

jd_watt

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Hello,

I recently switched my strings from 10s down to 9s and I noticed my strings are touching the back of my bridge. Previously, while using 10s, I top wrapped the tailpiece. I liked the feel, and I preferred having the tailpiece lower. I felt the strings had a slinkier feel.

Now that I'm trying 9s, I chose not to top wrap. As a result, the string are now touching the back of the bridge. Logically, I know it's simply a matter of tasing the tailpiece, but here's my question: How did so many well known players deck their tailpieces without top wrapping or bringing the string in contact with the bridge? With my action at 4/64 on both sides, I don't see how anyone could actually pull it off.

As a follow up, is it truly a concern if the strings do touch the back of the bridge? I'm thinking it would be wise to avoid friction points.

Ideally, I'd like the tailpiece as low as possible without touching the back of the bridge, but with 9s and no top wrapping, I'm not sure it's possible.

Any ideas? Thanks!
 

framos

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I depends on the angle the neck is set. Not all guitars are the same, thus in some you'll be able to deck the tailpiece without having the strings touch the back of the bridge, but not in others. The ABR-1 also helps a bit in this regard compared to the Nashville as it is a hair narrower.


>> I'd like the tailpiece as low as possible without touching the back of the bridge

Then do as you said, lower it as low as possible without touching the back of the bridge. Don't sweat too much in having it decked. It is just another urban myth we love to entertain. It was made ajustable for a reason.

Cheers.
 

jd_watt

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Why aren't you top-wrapping with the 9s?
I thought I'd avoid the top wrap on the 9s because they already feel a bit looser compared to the 10s. I thought top wrapping might make them even slinkier than they already are. After thinking about it though, it seems like that might be my only option besides tasing the tailpiece way up. Maybe a combination of top wrapping and lowering the tailpiece will work...

Are the strings touching the back of the bridge a real issue to be concerned with?
 

Duane_the_tub

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You could get artifacts on the end of your notes, akin to poor intonation. I find it most commonly happens on the B for some reason. It's not ideal for sure.
 

jd_watt

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You could get artifacts on the end of your notes, akin to poor intonation. I find it most commonly happens on the B for some reason. It's not ideal for sure.
Thanks again, Duane. So, it seems top wrapping or raising the tailpiece are the only two solutions. I'm just trying to get a tighter feel on the 9s, but not as tight as 10s, if that makes sense. I think top wrapping 9s might feel a little too loose. I'll buy another set of strings and try again tomorrow ;)
 

Brazilnut

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Allowing the strings to contact the back of the bridge can cause a forward-leaning bridge. It'll happen
sooner with an ABR with the posts screwed directly into the top, but it can happen with modern bridge mounting, too.
 

Musha Ring

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Hello,

How did so many well known players deck their tailpieces without top wrapping or bringing the string in contact with the bridge?
Do we know that they did? I've always wondered to what extent famous players are aware of these smaller intricacies.

I can't ever recall reading about a famous Les Paul player and hearing anything about their tailpiece. That doesn't mean it's not out there. I just haven't come across it.
 

ARandall

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^ People can simply look at pictures you know - telling a thousand words and all. As well as magazines there must be at least 4 detailed books on bursts as well as burstserial.com - which shows practically every single one we know about.

But the variances of neck angle from vintage to modern are easily observable, and well researched and documented in luthier circles. As are the differences in top carve - but this impacts the position under the bridge only very minorly.
 

Dogbreath

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Another thing to consider is that everything, action, intonation, relief, changes when you change to a different gauge of strings. If you decide to go with nines, you really need a complete setup.
 

jd_watt

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Just to follow up, I put a fresh set of nines on today. No changes to relief were needed; although the neck straightened out, it was well within tolerance, and everything feels/plays comfortably. I raised the bridge by a 64th, and adjusted the intonation accordingly. Surprisingly, my preferred pickup height stayed the same as well.

As for the tailpiece, I decide to lower it WITH top wrapping as far down as it could go without touching the back of the bridge. This brought it down just before making contact with the body. I wanted to keep the 9's as "stiff" as possible, while still allowing the studs optimal contact with the saddle. All in all, I'm really pleased with this setup. I'm able to reach step and a half bends more comfortably, and the strings still maintain a decent level of tuning stability and intonation on chords.

I've always loved 10s, and still do, but for now, 9s are fine. Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions, all!
 
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Dogbreath

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Just to follow up, I put a fresh set of nines on today. No changes to relief were needed; although the neck straightened out, it was well within tolerance, and everything feels/plays comfortably. I raised the bridge by a 64th, and adjusted the intonation accordingly. Surprisingly, my preferred pickup height stayed the same as well.

As for the tailpiece, I decide to lower it WITH top wrapping as far down as it could go without touching the back of the bridge. This brought it down just before making contact with the body. I wanted to keep the 9's as "stiff" as possible, while still allowing the studs optimal contact with the saddle. All in all, I'm really pleased with this setup. I'm able to reach step and a half bends more comfortably, and the strings still maintain a decent level of tuning stability and intonation on chords.

I've always loved 10s, and still do, but for now, 9s are fine. Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions, all!
Sounds great. Another thing to try is a hybrid set, 09 - 46. Best of both sets.
 

1981 LPC

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I thought I'd avoid the top wrap on the 9s because they already feel a bit looser compared to the 10s. I thought top wrapping might make them even slinkier than they already are.
Top wrapping adds string length, which requires more tension to tune it to the same pitch as stringing it the 'normal' way. I think the 'slinkier feeling' of top wrapped strings is largely or entirely imagined.

I top wrap by the way.
 

Rocco Crocco

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Strings touch the back of the bridge on a couple of my guitars but it has never caused an issue. If you start breaking strings you can raise your tailpiece. If not, don't worry about it.
 
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Lester

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If you don't want to top wrap but want the stop bar "decked" without the bridge issue, just get some washers and put them on the posts under the bar.
 

David Garner

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If you don't want to top wrap but want the stop bar "decked" without the bridge issue, just get some washers and put them on the posts under the bar.
The Faber tailpiece system is basically this and works well. In this case, the "washers" are custom fitted spacers that match the hardware, so it looks nicer. Whether that's worth the difference between the roughly $89 to $108 cost of the Faber (Depending on finish) and the few cents you'll pay for the washers is up to you, but it works well.
 

Tim Plains

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Nashvilles are too wide. Buy a Faber ABR-N. It drops onto the factory bridge posts (most years) and allows you to clear the bridge with a slammed tailpiece.
 

JMP

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Strings touch the back of the bridge on a couple of my guitars but it has never caused an issue. If you start breaking strings you can raise your tailpiece. If not, don't worry about it.
What Rocco said.
 

northernbreed

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Top wrapping adds string length, which requires more tension to tune it to the same pitch as stringing it the 'normal' way. I think the 'slinkier feeling' of top wrapped strings is largely or entirely imagined.

No.
 


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