string-through body vs extended scale length

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Thomas Kievit, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    I was wondering if there would be a (big) difference in sound and / or playability with these 2 things.

    Let's say you have a 35 inch scale length bass guitar with string-through body design and a 36 inch scale length bass.

    Things like sustain for example, is one lasting longer than the other?
  2. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Well, since string through makes absolutely no difference, the variations would be due to all the other factors; wood, electronics, bridge, strings, construction, etc.

  3. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Okay, but what does it add extra then?
  4. Hi.

    Which one?

  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Stringing through the body keeps the string ferrules from falling out of the back of the body.
  6. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Not so sure about that.
    But...the point of an extended scale length is that an extended range of overtones are part of the note one plays. No?
    Quite a different thing to stringing through the body without extending the speaking length of the string.
    On my ear that too makes difference however, if not a big one.
  7. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    The string-through body design.

  8. Hi.

    On "short" (from the anchor to the saddle) bridges the string through helps to prevent the unevenly wound portion of the string resting on the saddle.
    Stringing through also usually increases the break angle over the saddles, and can prevent uneven saddle pressure between the strings.
    Since the break angle increases, one has to be extra careful when using flatwound or half round strings, they may break on sharp saddles.
    Since the strings ability to spin freely is severly restricted when using string through, one has to pay attention not to twist the string when restringing.
    Some bridge designs and also some body wood choices can benefit from string through since the strings press the bridge tighter onto the body, instead of trying to pry the back of the bridge from the body.
    String through usually requires a bit longer string than a top load, which may pose a problem. Or at least limit the available choices.
    String through usually somewhat restricts the intonation adjustment, especially on mono-rail bridges, so going BEAD or F#BEA on a four banger may require a combination of string through and top load.

    IMO, and IMO only, string through looks cleaner and somewhat better than top load.
    Most of my basses and guitars are top load though.

    The sonic differences between string through and top load I won't touch with a ten foot pole ;).

  9. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Yeah, I have to believe there is little evidence for one system over the other. That said, when I built my bass from scratch, I went with the string through. I imagine that the strings are not producing tension tugging on the bridge mounting screws, but in all the basses I've owned with top load bridges, I never experienced a problem. I have seen a few Rickenbackers though, that experience "tail lift", in which the tension of the strings actually bend the tail piece, lifting it off the body.

    I also imagine that the string through system might result in slightly better sustain, as the strings are physically and directly coupled to the body. Having never done a conversion from one type to the other on any bass, that is purely conjecture.

    My preference for string through is based solely on my imagination and unsupported beliefs, other than the Ric situation.

    Regarding scale length vs. string length, all I can say about that is that the bass I built is a 34" scale length, and the 34" scale length strings fit perfectly, offer great sustain, and great tone. I don't know if that's due to the string through design.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    No. The point of an extended scale length is that longer strings work better for lower pitched notes.
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Nice answer T-Bird. Very thorough and I agree wholeheartedly. Except for the ten-foot pole part - you are definitely a little on the short side IMHO.
  12. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    I used extra long daddario pro steels on schecter diamond p5 35" scale strung through body. It was just long enough to wrap the G string tuner 3 times, without cutting the string.
  13. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    What do you mean when saying "better" and why do you think longer strings work better for lower notes (to your ear at least)?
    If you ask yourself that, I think we might end up at the same answer...;)

    I'm doing both by the way ( on my 5 string bass) '36 scale and string through. :)
  14. Hi.

    Thank You, appreciated.

    You're probably right on the shortness of the pole :).