So many think you can adjust tension at the bridge

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Drop1, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    Is there some kind of voodoo on guitars that always them to actually adjust tension without hurting intonation ?
    I keep running into people that swear you can adjust string tension at the bridge.
    I mean, technically you can a tiny amount but it will destroy your intonation.
    Most bass bridges have 2 adjustment. One for action height and one for intonation. Some have string spacing and tremelo settings as well but that's unusual.

    Where are they getting this "tension adjustment" idea from?
  2. GroveBass


    Sep 5, 2016
    Madison, AL
    With a locking nut you would then have to do critical tuning at the bridge, but in that case the bridge has the fine-tuning adjustments on it from the factory! I had one from Yamaha at one time... the purpose is the keep better tune when using a trem.

    However... personally, I've never seen that setup on a bass guitar before!!! If there is such an animal, I'd like someone to show it to me!

    Now regarding this "tension adjustment" as you have described, it ain't happening without messing with intonation, just as you said.
  3. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    That's what's eating at me. I had this discussion with a Grammy nominated artist this morning. Someone that's been playing nearly 40 years.
    I've also seen it suggested here a couple times.
    I dont understand where it came from. There seems to be a lot of confused people out there regardless of level of experience.
    I'm by no means trying to make anyone seem stupid. I just dont see how they came to that conclusion.
  4. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    Are you referring to changing the break angle over the saddles?

    - John
  5. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    I'm talking about people thinking they can reduce tension with the intonation adjustments..
  6. Warpeg


    Jun 20, 2005
    This is quite literally the first time I’ve ever heard of this (false) concept. Aside from a Floyd Rose type of guitar bridge or a headless bass setup, this has never been a thing.
  7. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    I have to guess that by "tension" they mean the amount of finger pressure required to fret the string, which is certainly related to the string height above the frets. Otherwise, I've no idea what they mean.
    Dabndug, GroveBass and mech like this.
  8. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I think the original Fender Elites have fine tuning at the bridge. No whammy bar on them.
    Wasnex likes this.
  9. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    Well...... Technically, you can change the tension for a given open pitch. Move the saddle closer to the nut and the required tension will be reduced. Move the saddle away from the nut and the required tension will be increased. However, as you know, that screws up the intonation.

    - John
  10. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    SW Connecticut
    I think this is in reference to string height. You can increase the perceived tension by cranking up the string height because it causes you to push down more on the string, thus increasing the reciprocating force of the string. I personally dont think this is the way to go about it because that reciprocating force tends to not increase much as you increase height within normal limits.
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    With the amount of travel on a typical bass bridge, the decrease in tension for a given pitch will be so little as to be almost immeasurable. And as mentioned, you would have to ignore the intonation issues created.
    JKos likes this.
  12. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019
    Well beside lowering the the saddles to bring your string action down closer to the fretboard, which will in fact decrease the perceived tension as it will require less power from your fingers to fret the strings, I don't see how that could in any way be possible otherwise.
  13. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Higher action increases tension on the neck itself.

    And that can lead to a bit more sustain and better tone depending on the individual instrument. Up to a point of course.

    That's where the bridge comes in.
  14. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    A specific string tuned to pitch and properly intonated will have a specific tension. That tension cannot be changed without changing the tuning, or with very little effect as @Turnaround stated, the intonation.
  15. I dunno, but there's a dozen jokes and several good songs that could launch right there. :)
  16. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    Even a drastic change in string height will be in the neighbourhood of a degree or less. If you run the math, the change in tension is almost zero, certainly not significant for you or your bass.
  17. Drop1


    Mar 28, 2019
    I tried being punny when I first joined but it went over everyone's head. This site isnt bad but I had hopes it would be more fun like the other forums I use. Too many serious people here trying to prove they are intelligent. Some of you guys are cool though. Likely the old timers.
    GroveBass and Humbled like this.
  18. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    From being dumb and not understanding they physics of how strings work.

    I've seen people swear that having more string past the nut or bridge saddle (left handed Fender headstocks, trapeze bridges, etc) increases string tension as well. Just as wrong.
    JLS and Slater like this.
  19. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I've sufficed with not worrying about the lack of grasp on Physics other folks have, unless they're working on my instrument.
    GroveBass and Tommy V like this.