# garry willis aluminium spacer ball end trick?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by u-djinn, Jun 15, 2007.

1. ### u-djinn

Mar 6, 2007
Malaysia
what's the garry willis aluminium spacer ball end trick?

i'm guessing it's like a washer(only thicker) at the bridge end?
tried googling to no avail. if anyone could clear this up, that'd be great. pictures, even better.

2. ### 73jbassSupporting Member

Apr 17, 2004
Ellenwood,Ga.
As far as I can see,extending a string past the bridge will not make the string tighter. The same string over,the same scale length,tuned to the same pitch,will have the same tension,no matter what is going on past the bridge saddles. I have yet to see any valid proof that anything like that actually works.If you want a tighter string over the same scale length,use heavier strings.

3. ### PilbaraBass

People claim it works...I'm skeptical...

now that I have a B string on a bass (restrung one BEAD), I should give it a try and report back...(watch this space)....

4. ### 202dySupporting Member

Sep 26, 2006
This has been discussed on this board several times.

The string is stopped at the nut and bridge. It length of the string does not affect tension. The string could be four hundred feet long but it's speaking length will always be equal to the scale length of the instrument. When the string is brought to pitch the tension will be the same as a string of any other length. Diameter, composition, and pitch determine tension. Length is not part of the equation.

5. ### stedtale

Yes this has been discussed many times. It cannot change the tension, but it *could* change the flexibility, and therefore the "perceived" tension.

http://www.liutaiomottola.com/formulae/tension.htm

how to calculate tension:

T = tension in pounds;

UW = unit weight of the string, in pounds per linear inch;

L = vibrating length of the string (for an open string, this would be the scale length-nut to bridge) in inches;

F = frequency of the note to which you will tune the string, in Hz;

1. Everything else being the same, pitch increases as tension increases;

2. Everything else being the same, tension increases as scale length increases(this is nut to bridge);

3. Everything else being the same, tension increases as unit weight increases, thus a heavier gage string will be under greater tension;

http://www.liutaiomottola.com/myth/perception.htm
By moving the end points of the string (but leaving the string length the same), I think you may change the "feel" of the string-the perception of tension, but not the tension (see above "perception" article) and you may change the break over angle, but that's about it. The string may feel different because it has more room to "move" side to side. To change the tension, but leave string gage, and nut to bridge length the same changes the pitch.

(this info is from www.liutaiomottola.com and is copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by R.M. Mottola, who apparently is a genius)

6. ### 202dySupporting Member

Sep 26, 2006
Wow! That is the real stuff!

Halliday and Resnick meet the Willis Myth.

In all seriousness, your post now has a permanent home on this hard drive.

Thank you.

7. ### stedtale

Halliday and Resnick, didn't they play bass and keys for The Band?

Thanks!

I think I've posted that exact thing about 5 times here on TB, and it hasn't sunk in yet. Every week someone starts a thread about the PC board spacer Willis thing, or the headstock with reversed E and B string tuners (no offence meant to the OP). I'm glad you're interested in the physics of the whole string tension thing.

8. ### gre107

Dec 25, 2005
PA
The "washers" are actually computer motherboard spacers used to keep the motherboard from touching the computer case.

9. ### stedtale

yep, do a search for "PC board spacer", I think that's what their called.

10. ### PilbaraBass

no...they did a brief stint with Janis Joplin before she moved to SF....lol

11. ### zuma

Dec 21, 2006
East Los Angeles
You can't argue with the math, but... here is another example:

http://www.luthiersaccessgroup.com/isfedora1.html

Scroll all the way down for the description. It kind of doesn't make sense. It seems to be punctuated in a rather bizarre manner.

Just adding fuel to the fire!

12. ### elros

Apr 24, 2004
Norway
Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
It seems to me that Dan is deliberately choosing not to take sides in what might be a bit controversial.

Personally I'd say that if this wasn't BS, everyone would be doing it.

13. ### PilbaraBass

don't know about that...on the flip side...there ARE a lot of string-through bridges in use these days....I'm one who doesn't see any benefit in this...

14. ### ddnidd1Supporting Member

This topic has been flogged previously. The physics are indisputable. Length past the bridge makes no difference in tension. Gary Willis is a very sharp technical person. And that is why I was mystified that he would make the statement about the spacer. It just didn't make ANY sense. I did however go back and look at the page in his book that illustrates the spacer. It works for him because his B sting is TAPERED. The spacer effectively reduces the length of tapered core from 1/2" in front of the saddle to almost zero making the string less floppy. Increasing the length of a normal string CHANGES NOTHING regarding stiffness or tension.

16. ### Eublet

Jul 28, 2006
Ahhhh, now I see. I had always wondered why he would make such a statement myself. I never considered the tapering.

17. ### u-djinn

Mar 6, 2007
Malaysia
my question was not if the spacer trick works or not. all i asked was what it was about (how it's applied, what materials are used, pics if any). no need to get your panties in a twist over the physics of it all. geez..

seriously, i respect all you tb'ers and all, but sometimes some ppl are just too smart for their own good, no offence.

thanks gre107 and ddnidd1, for your replies.

18. ### pkr2

Apr 28, 2000
coastal N.C.
I really hate to burst your bubble, but if you'll notice, you posted your question in a DISCUSSION forum. Not a question and answer forum.

If you can't see the value of discussion on the forum, just read 202s response to the formula that describes what is going on with the GW idea. He obviously is quite expert at his trade, yet he carried something that he considers valuable away from the DISCUSSION

19. ### Richard Lindsey

Mar 25, 2000
SF Bay Area
Seriously, if you post a question in a public forum like this, why would you expect that the topic of whether it works or not would NOT come up?

Suppose you had asked something like this: "Can anybody tell me how that setup works where you use pyramid energy to keep your razors blades sharp?" Would you really expect everybody to completely avoid the question of whether this actually worked or not? Really?

Second, pkr2 is right. This is a public discussion forum. You can't reasonably expect to control the terms of the discussion, as long as people are acting within the forum's rules. As they were.

20. ### DocBop

Feb 22, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
I thought the Willis thing was just to pull the string back a little so the windings go over the bridge and not the silk or the tapered windings.

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