string thru vs top load bridge considerations

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by don21480, Jan 28, 2014.


  1. don21480

    don21480 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2006
    Location:
    NC
    I am looking at assembling my 1st bass from acquired parts. I have purchased the body which is a pine slab like the 51' P bass. The question of the hour is if I want a top loaded bridge or a string thru? I do not care about historical accuracy just wondering what the tonal differences are with everything else being equal. I play with a pick and typically like a vintage tone.
    Thoughts?
  2. GMC

    GMC

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Location:
    Swindon
    Very little to be honest. For my 2nd bass, I used a Hip shot bridge which offered either options. So I built that in mind and the differences between loading was so slim it was irrelevant. I can understand it if the bridge is weak, but a modern design is far more robust than the bridges of yester-year. I personally thing that top loading is better because it makes string changing far easier and quicker.
  3. Nephilymbass

    Nephilymbass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Fayetteville Ft Bragg NC
    I personally don't think string through gives much benefit and a lot of times it actually hurts because the string goes through the body then makes a hard turn to go over the bridge so when the bass is strung up as the string goes around the tuner the string actually twists on itself. This twisting hurts sustain a little. Wether the loss of sustain is a big deal is debatable. But the low b string on a 5 string can sound very different probably because its just a more massive strings to begin with.

    Personally my favorite bridges are warwicks design and the hipshot A bridges. With both of them i can string up the string most of the way. Then i pull the string out of the bridge and let it untwist before putting it back in the bridge and tuning the rest of the way up.
  4. ASATMAN

    ASATMAN Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2003
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I prefer string thru, YMMV. Many opinions, none of them wrong, to each their own.
  5. Jensby design

    Jensby design

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Hastings, NE
    http://youtu.be/6ph88gjyD-A

    I could tell the difference on all of those clips.
    My bass also has the option of thru and top load.
  6. Legion

    Legion

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Interesting, I've been thinking this as well. I'm tempted to do an experiment by using a marker pen to put a dot on the string at the headstock end and see how much it twists as the string is wound onto the post.
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2002
    Location:
    Reims, Champagne, France
    I can't hear much difference and I find it annoying to push strings through the ferrules.
    Top loading, quick release for me.
  8. mapleglo

    mapleglo Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2013
    Location:
    phoenix, az
    I've always preferred string thru. I just think it's a stronger system, and I imagine, based on nothing more than my imagination, that the strings couple physically and acoustically to the body better than with top load.

    If I were using a pine body, I'd be even more inclined to use string thru, as I'd have a constant fear that the string tension would rip the screws out of the softer pine body. But I'm a little OCD that way.
  9. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    Location:
    Norman, OK
    I prefer quick-change top load bridges, because I hate drilling for an installing ferrules, and I hate fishing strings through ferrules for the x-teenth time during mockup and final adjustment.

    I don't feel there is an appreciable tone difference between the two, and I could not successfully identify a tonal trend in the GHS Strings video that Jensby posted.
  10. Jensby design

    Jensby design

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Hastings, NE
    It is a subtle difference in the attack, that only tone divas can hear.
  11. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    Joined:
    May 20, 2005
    Location:
    Norman, OK
    I could hear a bit of extra clank in some portions, but it was not readily apparent whether or not it was the bass or the player, and it was not consistent with the "legend" at the end of the video.
  12. GMC

    GMC

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Location:
    Swindon
    Actually, it's the break angle across the bridge saddles which matters and influences a note's attack...not how far away or how deeper into the body the strings are anchored. If you think about it, most bridges which offer either top or through body loading, usually have a slightly different break angle for both loading types. The saddles and nut (or zero fret) are the points of contact for the strings and there shouldn't be any string resonance beyond those two points.
  13. JoeWPgh

    JoeWPgh

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2012
    I thought the difference was fairly apparent in the GHS vid. Not a huge difference, but definitely there. The strung though seemed to have a slightly more coherent, or 'focused' tone for finger style. I think I preferred the top load for slap. But ultimately, which ever option better suits the tone you are chasing is the better choice.
  14. mrbell321

    mrbell321

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Location:
    N. Colorado
    I like string-through, not because of any tonal difference, but, as an engineer, in top-load setups the strings are trying to pull the bridge out of the body, but with string through, the strings are pushing the bridge into the body.

    Was that a run-on sentence?
  15. Big B.

    Big B.

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    The bridge screws barely suffer any pull away from the body at all. The majority of the tension is pulling against the side of the screws in the direction of the nut. You would have to shear the heads of the screws off to loosen the bridge and that won't happen before the strings snap. All it took was one on stage string change with a thru body bridge to get me into top load bridges. I still do string through if customers request it but otherwise I don't see the need.
  16. mrbell321

    mrbell321

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Location:
    N. Colorado
    Yeah, the tension is, initially, against the side of the screw. Which is pushing against wood. The screws aren't that larger and some of the softer tonewoods can be damaged fairly easily. So the pull can widen the holes. The screws start to tilt. Very quickly, the pull transfers from lateral to vertical.

    BTW, I'm not saying this is likely to ever happen, nor have I ever seen it happen. But it's also not likely that I will wreck my car, but I still wear a seatbelt and have a car w/ airbags and crumple-zones.

    As a side note, I don't see why people think it's so much harder to string through the body. Obviously the quick-load bridges are very fast, but a fender style bent-plate takes maybe 5 seconds per string less time than through the bridge. I've got 20 seconds to spare...
  17. Jensby design

    Jensby design

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Hastings, NE
    Yes but if you change your string everyday that 20 seconds adds up.
    I play a 6-string so for me :eek: that's like one minute a year :eek:
    :rollno: such time wasted :atoz: I could have spent that time pooping
    __________________
    damn kids and their string ferrules
  18. mrbell321

    mrbell321

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Location:
    N. Colorado
    I bet if you really tried, you could poop AND change strings at one time...
  19. JoeWPgh

    JoeWPgh

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2012
    In theory yes, a single screw in wood can do this, particularly if that screw is already loose. Not so much if that screw is properly tightened. But in the case of a Fender bridge, the load is spread out over 5 screws, which would all have to be loose before this happened. Even then, you would need enough tension to pull all 5 screws from the body simultaneously. In practical terms, this just isn't going to happen.
    That said, I prefer strung through. But it's a minor preference.
  20. Jensby design

    Jensby design

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Hastings, NE
    :eek: then I would have that much more time to actually play the damn thing. . . [SUB]waist time on talkbass[/SUB]
    Thank you so much :hyper:

    I prefer stung through on my lower strings and top loaded on the high. I forgot to do this on my last string change, did them all through :rollno: there goes 10 seconds of my life. I guess I will just have to live with that for the next 6-24 months :meh: 'til my next string change.

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