Bass strings-thru-body: the Bomb? not the Bomb?

stubhead

Senior member
Messages
4,669
Pulling the strings through the body sure looks like it would make some difference, but on a regular six-string guitar I'm not sure it does, regardless of claims - gee, a top-loaded Les Paul often sustains O.K.... :icon_tongue: On a bass it looks like it could make the string windings separate, that can't be good. However, the Schaller 496 top-loading bass bridge that Warmoth sells has a distressingly low string angle, that might not be so hot either for transmitting vibrations? I have a Gotoh top-loader on my four-string, but the strings come over the saddles at about 30 degrees or so. :help:
 

SkuttleFunk

Senior member
Messages
1,156
I can say from ALL of my testing comparing multiple recordings of the same bass, strings, player, and midi accompaniment tracks that there is no discernable difference outside of pseudoacoustics.

I have done the recorded A/B testing with several of my custom built (homebrew from rough lumber and also Warmoth assemble) basses - and nobody has been able to accurately and continuously determine which stringing method was used when listening to recorded playbacks. this is true for P-bass, J-bass, and SCPB type pickups (Nordstrand and Barts) ... is true for the bass track in context and heard solo ... is true regardless of the body wood, music style, playing style, fretted or fretless, 34" or 35" scale


while someone may want to hear a difference because they've been conditioned to expect a sonic difference, there is no difference in sound on a properly constructed instrument IME and IMO


the caveat to this is that a taper core string will sound different due to its core resting on the bridge saddle when top loaded and its wrap resting on the bridge saddle when thru-body loaded ... but since all things aren't truly equal in this specific scenario, it isn't an apples/apples comparison is it? it is also what Mike Watt experienced (and incorrectly attributed) when using the spacers on his top loader - he also used taper core strings, and the spacer put the string wrap onto the saddle instead of the string core

all the best,

R
 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
I'm planning to get a string-through bridge simply because I like the idea of my string ends firmly embedded in the body wood.  Maybe it will affect the sound, maybe it won't, but it will feel solid and look good... I know it's my imagination but every time I play a bass I think the string tension is going to tear the bridge right off the body...  string-through comforts my own little phobias.  :D

...which reminds me, Skuttle, did you get my email?

Edit:  Can you explain more about taper-core strings?  I've heard them mentioned but I don't know anything about them.
 

SkuttleFunk

Senior member
Messages
1,156
hey bdw - I have now ... I'll drop you a reply over the weekend

if someone doesn't beat me to it, I'll find a couple images to explain the difference between the two string end types

all the best,

R
 

Rickgrxbass

Senior member
Messages
409
I'd also add that string-thru bass (especially on 35" scales) makes it a pain in the butt to buy strings, since it adds about an inch to the necessary winding length. 

Oh, and the taper-core thing: think piano strings, how they aren't wound all the way to the end of the string.  This allows the bare core of the string (or inner wrap, depending on the manufacturer) to rest on the bridge saddle.  Some players say they get better tone with taper-core strings; I haven't tried them yet personally.
 

GDL06292

Active member
Messages
30
It's funny, I play bass as well as guitar, yet I've never noticed a major change in tone/feel between string-through or top-load on the bass.

Now, on guitar...I DO notice some differences in sustain/tone/tension. ESPECIALLY on Teles!
 

Rickgrxbass

Senior member
Messages
409
GDL06292 said:
It's funny, I play bass as well as guitar, yet I've never noticed a major change in tone/feel between string-through or top-load on the bass.

Now, on guitar...I DO notice some differences in sustain/tone/tension. ESPECIALLY on Teles!

Yeah, I think it may be more of a conditioned thing on bass, we are lead to believe that stringing through the body increases string tension, so we think it does. 
 

SkuttleFunk

Senior member
Messages
1,156
Rickgrxbass said:
Yeah, I think it may be more of a conditioned thing on bass, we are lead to believe that stringing through the body increases string tension, so we think it does. 

like sheep lead to slaughter, the marketing demons have filled you with a lie ... and told it again and again so that it now is thought to be truth. take a look at how many people quote the string-thru myth as fact - and yet they themselves have never done a truly scientific blind A/B test to accommodate their very biased claims


for the record - string-thru simply CANNOT INCREASE STRING TENSION. PERIOD. if you increase string tension you are also increasing pitch ... once you tune to pitch you have your tension for that scale with that string gauge. ther is no physical exception. you may notice a difference in perceived stiffness, but you cannot increase/decrease tension without altering the pitch. if you want more/less tension - change you string guage to a thicker/thinner diameter



all the best,

R

p.s. dbw - I'm just returning from a l-o-n-g business trip out of state. I have a ton of e-mail to get thru (yours included) so be looking for that reply ;)
 

GDL06292

Active member
Messages
30
SkuttleFunk said:
Rickgrxbass said:
Yeah, I think it may be more of a conditioned thing on bass, we are lead to believe that stringing through the body increases string tension, so we think it does. 

like sheep lead to slaughter, the marketing demons have filled you with a lie ... and told it again and again so that it now is thought to be truth. take a look at how many people quote the string-thru myth as fact - and yet they themselves have never done a truly scientific blind A/B test to accommodate their very biased claims


for the record - string-thru simply CANNOT INCREASE STRING TENSION. PERIOD. if you increase string tension you are also increasing pitch ... once you tune to pitch you have your tension for that scale with that string gauge. ther is no physical exception. you may notice a difference in perceived stiffness, but you cannot increase/decrease tension without altering the pitch. if you want more/less tension - change you string guage to a thicker/thinner diameter

That's what I meant, when mistakenly mentioning "tension"...stiffness of action. (Quit snickering, any Beavis and Butt-Head fans out there!)  :icon_thumright:

Mr. Mouton  :laughing7:
 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
I don't get it... how could stringing through the body change the "stiffness" of the strings?  What's the difference between stiffness and tension?  :icon_scratch:
 

SkuttleFunk

Senior member
Messages
1,156
tension is a measurement of the applied force pulling a string tight, and in the case of a musical instrument - to pitch

stiffness is the resistance to a flexing force (i.e. plucking) applied to the string



all the best,

R
 

GoDrex

Senior member
Messages
3,619
Wouldn't stiffness be like the difference in feel between an LP and Strat tuned to the same pitch? The shorter scale makes the strings feel looser. But putting strings through the body doesn't change the scale.
 

Rickgrxbass

Senior member
Messages
409
GoDrex said:
Wouldn't stiffness be like the difference in feel between an LP and Strat tuned to the same pitch? The shorter scale makes the strings feel looser. But putting strings through the body doesn't change the scale.

strat vs LP is actual tension, since the length is greater, the tension has to be greater to achieve the same pitch.
String-thru doesn't change the tension since it doesn't change the "working" length of the string.  At most, it increases the witness angle over the saddle and raises the action a few thousandths of an inch.
 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
I agree with Rick... I'm not an expert on basses but I don't see how you can increase stiffness while leaving the tension the same. 
 

SkuttleFunk

Senior member
Messages
1,156
changing the break angle over the bridge saddle does impact the string's ability to 'wiggle' on the saddle (for some bridge designs) and stretch to a lesser extent. it's this small difference that many refer to as tension ... but ... if you want stiffer playing strings, size up a gauge or try a brand that utilizes a different core/winding combination

all the best,

R
 

SkuttleFunk

Senior member
Messages
1,156
close, but wrong

for a given scale length and string diameter you need a specific tension to bring it to pitch. since you are not changing the scale length by adding additional string length beyond the nut and/or bridge saddle, the tension needed to bring the string to pitch does not change.

and running string thru-body does not simulate a 35" scale - the scale does not change no matter what you do to the external areas past the bridge saddles and nut

all the best,

R
 
Messages
8,318
The more I think about it, I can't argue with it.  On a FR locking nut, once the nut is locked, the achor point changes but the pitch does not because the tension does not.  It wouldn't matter if the tuner was 2 inches or 2 miles from the nut.  Kudos Sir.  I still like a string thru bridge though. 
 

stubhead

Senior member
Messages
4,669
Not too long ago, in a major (pimp) guitar mag I read a review of the Slash signature Epiphone Les Paul (sure he does...) where the reviewer said that the larger neck profile caused increased string tension... gee, I guess it plays sharp all the time? :toothy12: When someone says that tunematics, string-through, topmounts and all that make a guitar feel softer, brighter etc. I wonder if they're taking into account action height, different string brands, hangovers, mental illness....

I decided to go with a topmount Schaller 496, but I've got some nice 1.5" screws that ought to keep it in place O.K.  :hello2: I'm pretty sure screws are what holds necks on too, rather than a "tight pocket" - otherwise, you wouldn't need the screws? The breaking angle of the strings would matter more if they're sliding around, but I won't be bending on a fretless.

 

ognolman

Senior member
Messages
351
GoDrex said:
Wouldn't stiffness be like the difference in feel between an LP and Strat tuned to the same pitch? The shorter scale makes the strings feel looser. But putting strings through the body doesn't change the scale.

The difference I notice on bass is that when I play medium gauge strings they feel very stiff and when I play light gauge strings they feel looser  (presumably due to the difference in mass).  Old strings feel looser than new strings, I assume because the strings have stretched out over time.

+1 on the utter lack of difference in the string-through gimmick.  The very first time I heard of it, the person that described it to me said that he didn't think it made one iota of difference, so I've always been biased against it.  I think it is a good idea to regard things like this with a healthy dose of skepticism.  As SkuttleFunk mentioned there is a lot of misinformation flying about, so take it with a grain of salt and a lot of it can be debunked with a little effort.  I appreciate the A/B remarks from him on this topic.  I had done the A/B on my Warmoth 5 string and didn't hear any difference, but didn't know if I was listening for the right thing, so it's good to hear a more detailed explanation.

JBD



 
Top