Why no string-through in Fender Ultra basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nihal, Jun 1, 2020.

  1. Nihal


    Jun 1, 2019
    Why did Fender ditch string-through construction when moving from the Elite to the Ultra line? Any ideas?
  2. The only thing I can think of is to save money. It wasnt to make the Ultra sound or look better. You can buy that Hi mass bridge for about £30 whilst the last time I saw the type used on the Elite it was around £75. And that Hi mass bridge ruins the look of the Ultra imo.
  3. wizard65


    Sep 1, 2014
    Cost saving, they ditched the string through body and switched to the cheaper bridge from the Mexican Deluxe.
  4. Naviiin


    Jun 2, 2019
    Weird, because they do have that nice string through bridge on the Am Pro series.
  5. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Another question is this:

    Why use Phillips screws inside deep holes where a standard screwdriver won't fit to adjust intonation?

    And why include the truss rod adjustment tool that's used to intonate the American Pro series when it doesn't fit anywhere on the Ultra?

    As for the lack of string-through it doesn't bother me at all. I've never experienced even the slightest benefit from string through. It just limits the choice of strings and add to the price of the bass.

    Except for those damned stupid Phillips screws the Ultra Precision is pure perfection for me. I wasn't expecting to like it because I've never really bonded with active Fenders before but it is absolutely amazing. Great sound, all the good stuff from a vintage P-bass with more punch (if you want it). The finish is absolutely stunning (mocha burst in my case). Lovely fretwork, MILES better than any Fender I've purchased since the American Vintage series. Perfectly set up from the factory too! I don't think I've ever said THAT about a Fender before.

    But those Phillips screws for intonation kinda ruins the otherwise perfect picture. It's just so incredibly annoying to have to shop for narrow shafted Phillips screwdrivers to be able to intonate my new Ultra. Fender got REALLY close to perfection with this one but Fender being Fender they obviously had to mess up something...
  6. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    No string through body on Ultra bass means String through body just a “ snake oil ” thing for FMIC .
    sears, Ukko, Andy Daventry and 4 others like this.
  7. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    Because it's useless. :smug:
  8. At Sea

    At Sea ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2013
    Dunno, but those exposed string ball ends I just cannot stand, never have. It's like Miss America with zits.
  9. FRoss6788

    FRoss6788 Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2012
    Olympic Peninsula
    I find string through totally useless anyway.
    I do, however, prefer the bridge on the professional though.
    bobyoung53 and dkelley like this.
  10. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I met someone a few years ago that had taken those bridge screws from a Fender bass and got stainless steel socket-head, hex head, Allen head, whatever you like, screws. He said that and a few hex keys made intonation adjustments much easier.

    I feel the same way about the intonation Phillips screws on the Hipshot A-style bridge on my Mike Lull. Just haven’t gotten around to looking for hex screws for it yet.
    gebass6, imabuddha, vid1900 and 2 others like this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Interesting, like the first couple responses I would assume it saves cost. String through is more time on the NC table for the body so that means slower production, fewer units per day, more material installed (ferrules), tool work on the back of body and more costly bridge. Regardless of preference for or against string through body, Fender historically has been pretty tolerant of cost-point bridges. So it's a pretty reasonable guess that is one of the reasons.
    For pure economic reasons Fender has little need to focus on any feature that might be considered "boutique". They'll move the same units every year no matter. And because of strength of brand and market position they can charge the same with or without this feature.
    Shaggai and mikewalker like this.
  12. The real question is, Why string-through on other basses? It was started pretty early on by some other companies, like I think Gibson rippers had it (I have limited knowledge of those details, but that was my first hand exposure only).

    String through pros and cons (IMHO, but also based on experience, physics, testing, comparison, changing my basses that could be through or top loaded and comparing, and based on what I've read from others on TB):

    - I forgot - yes, it can look cool to do string through. That does matter, sorry for missing that point
    - Can provide a sharper angle on the bridge saddle, if designed/setup to take advantage of that (and if that actually provides any audible or playable value depends on the non-string-through bridge it is being compared to).
    - Provides a 100% stable unbreakable resting point for the ball end - something of value to companies who couldn't figure out how to get their bridges to stop bending upwards with the strain... surprisingly enough, that includes Rickenbacker (who, despite this, did not solve the problem using a string through design, to my knowledge).
    - Absolutely not true, but some people believe that the tone is different as a result of the string itself being attached to the wood. Not true since that is the non-vibrating part of the string and there is literally not enough string length between saddles and ANY bridge design where the string is "stopped" by bridge or body wood for the string to vibrate... so nothing vibrating means no sound to be changed. Your metal bridge end stops it 100% like a wooden body, or metal inserted, body edge.

    - uses more of the string length before the bridge saddle, so for many string designs they end up not being long enough for a 35" scale length bass. Like with my peavey 6 string.... the string tapers before the nut with most brands I normally buy.
    - much slower to replace strings (You have to pull entire string through bass body, thread through bridge (not always easy), bend over saddle), compared to the clever yet simple design of all (IMHO) good top loaders which allow you to just hook ball end under bridge metal without pulling through.
    - Sometimes difficult to remove old string if you have to pull it it through body and bridge workings with the tuner curlies.... (assuming you don't cut the strings off like psychotic guitarists do)
    - Horrible noise when pulling strings through
    - Notably longer time to change each string
    - Pulling the string through on the 90 degree angle required (ok a couple fancy versions are like 70 degrees through body) can definitely make it hard to string up without twisting the string.... you have to leave some slack, attach to tuner WITHOUT back pull, and then eventually pull end through hoping you're letting it rotate if/as it needs to... it's a pain.
    - As a result of the first con, it's really limiting the strings you can buy if you have a 5 or 6 string 35" scale bass that is string through.
    - The tone is the same, unless your top loading bridge is poorly designed without enough down pressure on the strings (most are just fine).
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  13. Tom Gallo

    Tom Gallo

    Feb 13, 2015
    Outside Boston
    String through for me is just an aesthetic choice.
    bobyoung53 and dkelley like this.
  14. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I did this with a G&L L-1500, and it was a worthwhile change.
    dkelley and Geri O like this.
  15. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    Simple: cut costs while raising prices to maximize profits. Fender is in business to make money.
    Lammchop93 likes this.
  16. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    String through (assuming the bridge also allows top loading) gives you more string choices than top load only. On a 34 inch scale bass, the lowest string with a Fender style headstock is in danger of winding the fat part of the string around the tuner post. With a string through option, the strings made to accommodate 35 inch scale lengths can be used, without that issue. I have a few basses where I have a string through option for the lowest string only.
    james condino likes this.
  17. John Cribbin

    John Cribbin

    Jan 5, 2018
    You're all wrong !!

    Within the next two years, Fender will have these same items on sale with string through.

    They will market them as new models.

    Cynical, moi?
  18. The Precision Pro I owned had allen wrench adjustments for the intonation, and I had actually never seen that before. It was the easiest to adjust bass I’ve ever owned, every screw and nut turned exactly the way you’d want it to.
    imabuddha and S.F.Sorrow like this.
  19. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    I prefer the string through. I wonder if it just a vintage spec thing.

    It could also be that the ferrules fall out during shipping. I have had some fall out of my basses.

    So, add the gluing, drilling, installation, possible finish cracking, and inspection, and I wonder if it saves an hour or two of labor. Is that possibly $50-$100 a bass?

    I added string through to a Japanese Jazz bass once. I think it made a difference. But it is hard to say given that no two basses are the same anyways.
  20. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Yeah, my Pro has that too but sadly not the Ultras. The Himass bridge on the Ultra is what makes it so inconvenient with the Phillips screws. It's a very poor decision to have these screws recessed deep inside the bridge. The screwdriver needs to be really thin to reach the screws through the narrow holes but not TOO thin or it will strip the heads. They should have left the screws on the surface like on most himass bridges. Or used hex screws instead, like on the Pros.

    Somehow I suspect they must have intended to use hex screws on the Ultras too but someone messed it up at the factory. Why else would they include the same tool as for the Pro? It doesn't fit anything on the Ultra.

    The allen wrench used for intonation on the Pro would have been a much better choice for the Ultra. At least now I've got two... (which may come in handy if one gets lost as they're not you typical "guitar size" allen wrench.

    Did your Pro come with the wrong size allen wrench for the saddles? Mine did. Too small. Fender QC again (not to mention the rest of the sorry mess that was my American Pro but I won't get into THAT again...)