Proper bridge break angle for sound?

NINFNM

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After trying top wrapping for a couple of years I've came back to straight through.
I was looking for that more harmonic content theory and I'm not sure if I ever noticed a thing, but as I don't trust my ears too much, I kept it.

With the last string change I decided to go back to normal stringing, lowering the bass side of the tailpiece to get a tighter feel on the low strings, and keeping a more open angle on the higher ones.

Seems the twang came back to those wound strings, which to me is a good thing, may have lost complexity? Don't know.

I wonder if there is a proper break angle range soundwise. I'm not referring to the ease of bendings, they may feel softer, but you also have travel more to get to the same pitch.

Right now I have it set at 17° on the high E and around 19° for the low E:

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What is yours?
 
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Cdntac

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I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a difference in tone with top wrapping (how would it?) but for sure definitely it affects the feel. And for the better IMO. ;)
 

Brek

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I have just done same on my R8, as I moved up from 8's to 9's, tension felt a bit much on the plain strings so raised the stop tail treble side. Still feel tighter than the 8's, but a smidge easier to bend, I cannot say it sounds any different though.
 

NINFNM

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Some say that the lower break angle increases the harmonics, while you get more attack and fundamental with a steeper one.
Other say than the pinch harmonics jump easier with a lower one, and the masters of the technic usually string that way, but I've just been trying back and forth, changing several times just the low E, and honestly I'm not sure I've seen any difference.
They are however easier/nicer with drop D tuning (no matter the set up) but dont know if that tells something.
 

Christosterone

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As a bigsby lover, break angles can be whacky and still sound great…

-chris
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NINFNM

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i'm just curious.

Should the only relevant vibration of strings be between the saddle/bridge and wherever the string is fretted?

So shouldn't you do everything to eliminate the chance of string vibration beyond the saddle/bridge? (of course all within reason), so have the angle as sharp as possible as long it doesn't break strings or affects your intonation.
I think it may influence the way the string vibrantes, and seems some overtones live there.
I read somewhere (Malmsteen I think) that for example a Floyd kills the harmonic response of the headstock, as it locks/cut the connection with the tunners string lenght portion.
 
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John_P

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-Proper bridge break angle for sound?

As I see it this is a question about effective neck angle, i.e when looking at the guitar from the side; the vertical position of the top of the nut relative to the bridge. It depends not only on the neck set angle, but also on truss rod adjustment and fretboard height. If there is an ideal tailpiece position relative to the bridge, the distance to the top would greatly depend on the body top contour.

Over the years I've heard respected luthiers say things like:

"Screw the tailpiece all the way down for best transfer of vibrations". This idea used to be very popular but has lost some support to other recent trends.

"Raise the tailpiece for the strings to clear the back of the bridge" (Ok, but then what about my vibrations? Wouldn't they get lost in transfer?)

"The optimal string break at the bridge should be identical to the string break at the headstock". (Dan Erlewine). I don't know from where he got this and it doesn't make sense to me.

"I just screw the tailpiece all the way down, set and forget." Fair enough, one parameter less to worry about (and I would get optimal transfer of vibrations, right?)

"If I can't turn the thumbwheels by hand, the string pressure is too great and the bridge will sag. Then I raise the tailpiece". Fair enough, but for some bridge systems I'm supposed to use a tool for height adjustment. There are thumbwheels but is it smart to turn them under string pressure?

"By using locking studs I get optimal transfer of vibrations at any tailpiece height". Hmm, but there are different types of locking studs...where exactly is this vibration loss supposed to happen? And when considering the very high force under string tension, what is this locking mechanisms supposed to accomplish?

"I raise the tailpiece until it feels right" I see, because when it feels right, it sounds right. It can't sound right if it doesn't feel right, right?

"I top wrap because it brings the best of both worlds; the break angle doesn't get unhealthy steep and I get maximum transfer of vibrations from decking the tailpiece". OK, but how does it feel?

"I lower the tailpiece to get enough pressure to keep the saddles seated, but no steeper than that because then the saddles will lift". OK, makes sense. But what if you get a better bridge?

(For reference the bridge angle is sometimes debated also in the violin community. One may think that the geometry of the violin should have been sorted out by now, but apparently there are different perspectives. Probably because individual violins are different and that players are different...

The violin community is no different from the guitar community in that the mindset is constrained by the holy grail syndrome; "Stradivarius got it right, so that must be what it supposed to look like"...problem is that those old fiddles have had their necks reset and their fingerboards extended to meet updated player requirements and modern standards and none of them looks like it did when it left the Cremona work shop.)

Edit: I almost forgot to mention;

"The base of the tailpiece should be set about the same height as the base of the thumbwheels". This is what it would look like on a guitar with a flatish body top that's got tailpiece bushings with rims (like e.g Epiphone and Norlin SGs). So for anyone thinking they got it right, this could be worth a try.
 
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dro

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Weather top wrapping or straight through. I deck the tail piece.

I think the solidness of the screws all the way down, outweigh the string touching the back of the bridge by leaps and bounds.

One Gibson guy's opinion.
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All Decked

The 61 RI is top wrapped. One of my 05 LP's top wrapped
Once I did it I just Kept it. Only did it on these two.
 
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gball

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Just my own personal experience after playing, setting up aand tinkering with Gibson guitars for the last 44 years:

There's no "optimum" height on any guitar if you are stringing straight through, but generally I do not like the sound or feel with the tailpiece decked. I find that raising it up a bit lowers the tension, opens up the sound and feels a lot better when palm muting. A caveat is that I always use the long (vintage length) steel studs and have found they make a bigger difference than the height of the tailpiece itself.
 

John_P

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Weather top wrapping or straight through. I deck the tail piece.

I think the solidness of the screws all the way down, outweigh the string touching the back of the bridge by leaps and bounds.

One Gibson guy's opinion.
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All Decked
Nice guitars bro, hope you don't mind if I use your post as a showcase:

The logic here is that the SG, having a flat body gets string trough, but the LP having a body top contour, gets top wrapped.

In theory we should expect these guitars to play about the same, everything else equal. All good and the player is happy.

We could leave it like that and stop beating the horse who should be fairly dead by now...

Or we could keep pondering;

-What if my two guitars with identical setup parameters don't perform identical?

Then logic goes out the window and we start to think about wood and stuff. Neck joints and headstocks...and here it comes;

The bridge system; the bridge, saddles, bridge posts, tailpiece, tailpiece studs and bushings.

And then we find that everything else is not equal (!)

One could argue; -What's the point owning two different guitar models that perform identical?

For many people it's vital that their guitars feel about the same. Then tailpiece height adjustment could turn out to be the key (or not).

For what it's worth; the tailpiece and break angle is part of the setup (and not all tailpieces are equal). The tightness of the tailpiece assembly does seem to be part of the equation.
 

CerebralGasket

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I top wrap for obvious reasons.
With stock 50’s style wraparound bridge, there is not enough break angle which causes the sitar effect on the high strings.

Replacing the stock bridge with one that has a crisper break angle eliminates that problem.

full
 

NINFNM

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Shouldn't that be easy to measure?

Plug in a guitar into a DAW, do a full frequency read out with and without locking nut on a floyd rose guitar?

I think we sometimes want to create mythical physical properties to guitars, to make some reason for what ever to like or dislike about a guitar. Instead of yes say "hey i don't like it because its ugly" and we can move on in our lives.

Maybe i should try and do the experiment myself at some time, when i have some decent spare time.

Don't have the knowledge neither the equipment to test such thing. Would be very grateful if you could test it and give us the result
 

BayouGTR

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I lower the tailpiece as far as I can, while allowing a pice of post it to pass between string and back shoulder of bridge. Tried the top wrap and found the string tension to loose. Sloppy. Wound strings lost the”twang”, sounded dull. I found better picking dynamics and control with the tension, top wrap also irritated the old scars on my palm, wrist from tendon and nerve surgery.
 

Mac92

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I've heard a rule somewhere where it was said to try and match the headstock string angle. Which really depending on how you wind the strings could be variable.
 
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