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When and Why did Leo abandon the string-thru bridge?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ross AriaPro, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    I've noticed on Precisions of the early 1950s that most of them have a string-thru bridge, often with just two saddles.

    But at some point Leo stopped this extra step on some models.


    What other short cuts evolved over time?
  2. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Because Leo was a tinkerer and was always looking for improvements. Although the 4 saddle non string thru bridges do allow for more precise intonation for each string, many like me, love the simplicity of the 2 saddle string thru design.
  3. It doesn't add anything to the sound/sustain, as much as some people would like to think otherwise. It even became a problem for some flatwound strings. They bend & break.

    EDIT: I meant to say Flatwound
  4. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Were ALL bass stings roundwound in the 1950s?
  5. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    I use to have a Telecaster like that...best acoustic tone on any guitar I ever owed...which is over a dozen, I lost count.
  6. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    My 97 l2500 does not have it but my 06 does. So they brought it back at some time
  7. pb9717


    Aug 18, 2006
    many lluthiers say string thru makes no difference. Sadowsky, Tobias, Warwick, all use surface only bridges, as where Lakland uses only string thru optioned setups on thier basses. i have found that i have had success installing a thru string option on my less expensive basses, i.e. my squiers. i feel the brake angle and tension of the string thru the body does add some sustain to the sound on softer wood basses. but on my tobias growler i dont think it would make a lick of difference. i recently picked up a SBMM Ray34CA and am seriously considering alteringthe bridge to make it a string thru. its so close to a vintage stingray already, i think it woud.be a great finishing touch.
  8. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Round wound strings for electric bass were not available in the 1950s.

    I remember when I, (for some unknown reason) decided to put new strings on my '61 P, (in the late 1960s). The guy at the music store told me, "everybody is using these new round wound strings". I hated them. I think they were introduced in the mid 1960s, or so. I have rounds on my J, but they are an abomination on a good old P.
  9. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    As far as I know, all of the single-coil Precisions were string-through. When the split-coil came out in July 1957, the strings were attached to the bridge. Most likely this was due to Leo deciding string-through wasn't needed, and the tooling was changed to eliminate the step of drilling the holes and installing the ferrules, probably at a small savings in time and labor.

    When I upgraded my '51 P RI to a four-saddle bridge (I could hear the poor intonation and it made the bass unplayable to me) I bought an '06 American Deluxe bridge that allowed the bass to be strung as original or through the bridge. I chose to use string-through and there are no issues. I also own a couple of split-coils with the bridge stringing, and there are equally no issues.
  10. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    The American Standards in the mid-90's were string through. Very nice basses.
  11. Nobody

    Nobody Banned

    Jul 14, 2004
    Leo got it right the first time so the original bridge is the right one. I don't know why he would change what he got right the first time. It doesn't make sense to me but we all know that Leo got it right the first time. I don't make the rules I just read them on talkbass.
  12. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Abandoned it with the introduction of the split-coil Precision in mid '57. Why? Probably because he found it doesn't make any substantial difference in sound, and it's lot of extra labor, more parts, and therefore more expensive.

    My belief is that it makes utterly no difference in any form. I was able to do a real-time side-by-side comparison on the same bass (it's simply pointless to compare two different chunks of wood and metal and decide that any difference you perceive are due to one factor only). I strung my two Laklands 44-94s (which have bridges that allow you to string them both ways- pb9717 is wrong to assert they only allow string-thru) with two strings on each bass top-loaded and two strings thru-body. I played them that way for two sets of string changes on each bass, reversing the alternation. That way I was playing one bass with the E and D top loaded while the A and G were thru body, the other bass was the opposite.

    That gave me the same bass with the same age strings with the same set-up and the same electronics. This convinced me despite my previous conviction that there's no difference in feel, sustain, tone, or anything else. It ain't there, simply isn't.

  13. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Why? Almost certainly to reduce costs. When? With the introduction of the New Precision in 1957. But as has been said already, it was never gone for good.

    Personally, I like the look and concept of string-through but never felt any practical benefit from it.
  14. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    All the telecaster basses, right through '78, we're string through. As well as the early Musicman Stingray basses.
  15. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    My 2000 American P Bass's original bridge was for string through only
  16. String-through adds a length of string that could stretch and stick somewhere. There can't be much stretch in the short run from the saddle to the hole in stop bridges, particularly since a good bit of that run involves a doubled core, so I think they're theoretically better. Not as good as Steinberger double ball, which fixes the potentially sticky run from the nut to the tuner, rubbing on the retainer along the way, but is there any real difference even in the Steinberger's theoretically best stringing scheme?
  17. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Without making any assertions about whether string thru provides any noticeable benefits, here are my thoughts on the topic.....

    • Leo introduces a bass with string thru bridges
    • Leo updates that bass with different pickups and eliminates the string thru bridge
    • Leo starts a new company. The first product is a bass that uses a string thru bridge
    • The second bass model that Leo produces with this new company does not have a string thru bridge. Both are available at the same time.
    • Leo starts yet a third company. Basses produced for that company use the same non-string thru bridge as the second model from the second company
    • Meanwhile, Leo's first company now puts string thru bridges on models made in one country, but not models made in other countries and Leo's second company only puts them on "Classic" models of the model Leo started the company with.

    So what does all this mean? In my opinion, it means we're giving this a lot more thought than Leo did. To string thru or not to string thru seems to be about as deeply thought out as "heads" or "tails".
  18. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    String-through requires longer strings. Nuisance. I got over it a long time ago.
  19. No it wasn't.

    Yeah, but most sets are long enough already that you're cutting 2-3" off the tips when installing them.
  20. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    Werd. Werd.