Thoughts on thru-body vs bridge stringing on same bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by EmaTheMirror, Oct 7, 2020.

  1. Going through the body

    32 vote(s)
  2. Going just through the bridge

    45 vote(s)
  3. Through the body but there's a trade-off

    4 vote(s)
  4. Through the bridge but there's a trade-off

    0 vote(s)
  1. This is something borderline between this section and the hardware one. I chose to post here as I wanted to focus on the effects on the whole instrument.

    Yesterday, I decided to take out the original 2-saddle bridge from my MIJ 51 P and put back a higher mass 4-saddle bridge that the previous owner got to upgrade from the original design - unfortunately, he didn't go with a 4-saddle, 3-screw, "string through body or bridge" Fender direct swap but opted for a 5-screw one and had the body drilled, but that's another story.

    Anyway, the original 2-saddle bridge can only be strung through the body, this one has the option to string through the body or through the bridge. This time, I put the strings back on going through the bridge - as I have to do on all my other instruments - and so far I think I'm actually glad:

    I can't get a striking (if any) difference in tone or sustain between the two options - if anything, I perceive a tonal improvement given to a less stiff tension and response of the strings which I'm used to and relate better with while playing. There was always something feeling a bit "odd" on this bass, and it mostly was the tension of the strings. Yamaha addressed the string angle when going through the body on their new BB pros, drilling holes at 45 degrees, but AFAIK all Fenders have the strings perpendicular to the bridge, resulting in a drastic bend and more tension.
    Again, so far I can't perceive a compromise in terms of tone, not going through the body. That's my initial thought, definitely influenced by my familiarity with stringing through the bridge at a smaller angle.

    I'm wondering if the shared saddles further enhance this perception, as they beg for a compromise between the two strings in terms of action and mainly intonation. Action-wise, the saddle can't be parallel to the body as a 4-saddle system should be when done correctly, especially with a 7.5" radius. I wonder if the string-through body system was also a necessity to have the strings sitting more firmly on the slanted saddles and prevent them from sliding sideways.

    Did you have a similar experience? What's your option, if you can choose?
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  2. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    ONLY speaking from my own personal experience:

    I can't hear a compelling difference to go with one way or the other, and with through-the-body, sooner or later, you always get caught out buying long-scale strings instead of extra long when you find out your through-the-body results needed an extra inch or two to reach all the tuning keys. And even in deference to vintage style instruments being historically correct, I'm no fan of the old 'two on a saddle' bridges.

    Others will have other opinions, but that's mine.
    lomo, Ric Vice, mcnach and 3 others like this.
  3. I think I have to agree. I took the previous owner's mod out to try the original design... it stayed there for a while, not bothering or willing to accept the limitations. Psychologically (and superficially), it sort of looked "more correct" than a third-party replacement which was installed a bit backwards and had some holes drilled for it. I sort of felt compelled to string through the body if I had the option :smug:

    The problem is: I didn't have any other option with that bridge, unlike now where I can have the strings going both ways. Granted, I'd have preferred a 4-saddle direct swap by Fender, but this structurally works fine and there's still just about enough run for the saddle for intonation.
  4. By the way, this is the bridge I'm talking about, as opposed to the classic one:


    It can always go below the cover anyway. I would have been :banghead::banghead::banghead:-ing if the saddles had to go further ahead for intonation.

    Let's not talk about being picky on intonation with the original one, btw :smug:
    murphy likes this.
  5. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    The Sadowsky forum recently had a discussion on this topic. The consensus was that string through body bridges caused string creep of the core due to the sharp bend. That in turn causes strings to go flat faster. Roger weighed in. It also contains a video demonstrating proper string changing, stretching and setting.

    Club Sadowsky!!!
    Jim Nazium, murphy, Giffro and 4 others like this.
  6. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    There's no functional advantage of stringing through the body. When you top load, the tension is just transferred through the screws, etc. to the body, instead of the strings themselves. 6 of one, half dozen of the other.

    The disadvantages are the increase break angle at the saddles as noted, as well as the additional string length that's required. Strings are super strong, but they stretch more than the typical screws that are holding the bridge down. So you might get an eensy bit more drifting in the tune than you will if you top load.

    But that doesn't mean throw the bass away if it uses through-body stringing. The effects if any on the tune are basically negligible and the tone effects are nil switching from one method to the other. It just doesn't make that much difference so enjoy either way.

    lomo, JRA, Atshen and 2 others like this.
  7. Yes, but I think I perceive a difference in tension, for the better. I don't know if it's mainly down to the placebo effect of the "novelty" (or reversely, the familiarity I have with it) or it's a rather objective matter of fact.
    Might also be, at least partially, a better control of the action for every string, which in turn translates to a more even tension and playability.
    JRA likes this.
  8. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I disagree - strings nowadays are made to cover 34 and 35 inch instruments, which means longer windings - on a 34 inch Fender style instrument (4 on a side tuners), the E string often starts to wrap the fat part around the tuner if you top load it. By stringing the E string through the body, that doesn't happen - the extra length through the body fixes that issue. It is an advantage, and it's purely functional - it doesn't sound different, it just works better mechanically.

    My 4 string basses have through the body stringing provisions for the E string only because of this.
    Andre678 likes this.
  9. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Over 3 decades with these custom made 2 saddle string thru bridges and never had an issue w/ intonation or performance. I've always favored solid brass bridges and these deliver everything I want and/ or need.

    Myth#1: break angle will shorten string life. Tell that to the 15 year old TI flats on the black bass.
    Myth#2: intonation is not possible. All 4 of mine the intonation is spot on.
    Myth#3: flats can't handle the break angle. Having used Pyramid, LaBella, Fender, GHS [155-55], & TI flats, the only string [Rotosound round] I've ever broken was on a J bass that was resting on a stand and hit by a cue ball that flew off a pool table.

    Conclusion: go with the bridge that works best for you and don't listen of old wives tails.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
    Roger W, MirandM, bassdude51 and 6 others like this.
  10. I'm with @2saddleslab ,never had any issues with through body strung nor intonation troubles with just 2 saddles.

    Never found any benefits from hi mass bridges .
    murphy and 2saddleslab like this.
  11. 350125g0


    Mar 4, 2020
    Not an expert by any means, and I'm primarily here to learn about this topic. Just spitballing here, but wouldn't thru-body vs thru-bridge matter more on shorter scale instruments, or am I not understanding physics properly?
  12. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    True, that's a good point....

  13. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I studied the Physics of this stuff in College. The forces on the bridge change some from through body stringing, some strings may not like the increased break angle, and there is the issue of where the windings end vs the tuners (see my previous post) but if you’re trying to come up with a tension difference on any scale, it just isn’t there. Short scale, long scale - as neither one changes in tension or sonics, neither is more or less critical of this.
    equill, 350125g0 and murphy like this.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I've never noticed a difference in any bass I've owned that allowed both. Generally I prefer thru-bridge stringing, but it's not all that critical to me either way anymore.
    Bassdirty, bassdude51 and murphy like this.
  15. Tommy V

    Tommy V

    Feb 19, 2019
    for my guitars, I've always preferred top load.. faster string changes.. brighter tone.. more twang (telecasters are my guitars of choice) ...... I apply that to my basses, too, but I'm not so sure that the reasoning is valid on bass.
  16. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    There's the half through and half top. G and D and C if applicable - through and EA and B if applicable top loaded/ This would of course cause OCD attacks on some people, hey but I am an upright bass guy, We mix strings all the time - not just brands but types, like gut and steel.
    Groove Doctor and JRA like this.
  17. This is only theory since I can't prove anything.

    1.Through the body may give a slight difference in resonance due to the base of the string acting directly upon the body wood itself rather than the vibrating string going to the bridge then into the wood. May or may not even be audible.
    2.Through the body should offer a slight change in tension since it results in an inch or two of longer string length.
    3. Some string designs (The core or wrap) may be more vulnerable to breakage or performance degradation due to the increased break angle of a through the body setup. Of course, this would vary by manufacturer.
    4. You have two different options of routing the string depending upon string length.

    Again, these are just my own theories and this is likely just nitpicking so take them with a grain of salt. Bottomline is that they both get the job done.
  18. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Only in the non-speaking length of the string. For a given mass at a given length between witness points the tension will be identical for a given pitch.
  19. Nobis17

    Nobis17 Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2018
    New England
    I've always been partial to going through the body. I modded a MIM fender Jazz to go through the body back in the 90s and was quite happy with it. Currently I have an EBMM SRS, and I wouldn't even consider drilling holes to go through the body on it. I always thought it made the bass resonate better, but that also might be all in my head.
  20. Funnily, someone considered drilling holes to go top-loaded :bawl:
    Well, more to have one sale per string, in fact, and they're in use with the actual bridge anyway.

    RE the way it resonates, I have the opposite PERCEPTION, or to better put it: I can't hear a difference, but I feel the setup and string tension responds better to my playing -> "sounds" better. It might be the novelty effect too, and perception is the key.
    Did you notice a different feel for tension too? Based on the posts here, it seems quite subjective as well.

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