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Stop Tailpiece Height...again.


A.T.
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Sorry. I'm sure this has been discussed too many times already. However I am curious if anyone has ever tested the effect of adjusting the stop tailpiece height. Yes, a number of people have suggested that ideally it's as low as possible while still allowing the strings to clear the rear edge of the bridge.  Now I only have my  dot neck 335 to look at but I'm pretty sure the that the strings on a trapeze style set up  bend over the bridge at a much flatter angle than a stop tailpiece set up. They seemed to work pretty well none the less.  I'v been considering raising the tailpiece enough to flatten out the string angle similarly to see what it does to the tone and feel.

Thoughts?

Cheers

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I've "tested" the effect of adjusting the stop tailpiece height.  The closer to the body (steep angle) the stiffer the feel and harder the string tension. The farther from the body (shallow angle) the looser the feel and softer the string tension.  There's no right or wrong, it's a preferential thing.  Top wrapping seems a bit extreme though, I wouldn't recommend that.

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For what it's worth, I top-wrapped my CS-356 for a few years chasing the notion that a shallower/flatter angle over the bridge led to less tension in the strings and slinkier bending. Convinced myself that it made my strings feel about a half size smaller. Something like .10s feeling like .0095s, more or less. Years later I switched back - chasing the also common forum legend that a steeper angle over the bridge (but not steep enough to hit the back of the bridge on the way to the stop tailpiece) made for "stronger harmonic transference of string vibration to the body, and gets more of the whole guitar working to create your sound". That seemed to be in evidence when I switched back and the guitar sounded "woodier" and more resonant. So I kept it strung the conventional way.

 

But it might just have been the fresh strings giving that impression! 😎

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I don't think it makes a lot of difference.  I played a '68 Les Paul goldtop for about 25 years and always had the stop bar all the way down on the body and the strings touched the back of the bridge.  Much later I read about keeping the strings off the back of the bridge so had my stop bar guitars set up that way.  I agree the shallower break angle coming off the back of the bridge will give a little slinkier feel, but tone wise and as to sustain I don't think it makes much difference.

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I haven't tested it yet.  I had also wondered what a wood floating bridge might be like on my 335. You might need a trapeze tailpiece to make that work though.  

Also related to this, has anyone noticed that the stop tailpiece on Larry Carlton's famous 335 is in an unconventional spot, i.e. a little farther away from the bridge?  I'm guessing that because his 335 was a '68 or '69 that it originally had the trapeze.   I'd read somewhere that he and his tech spent considerable time deciding exactly where the stop tailpiece would go. Anyone know more about this?

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Hi A.T.

I had a 2008 Larry Carlton 335 and still have a 1969 ES-335TD. The Larry Carlton model is based on Larry's original '68 that he had modified from trapeze to stop tail. The stop tail is back about 3" further than normal stop tail 335's. I had originally thought that he moved it back further maybe to cover some marks in the top caused by the trapeze hitting it. Then a few years later I got the '69 and the trapeze ends another few inches away from the bridge, so that wasn't the reasoning. The '69 has patent no. sticker pickups. The Carlton has 57 Classics. Tone-wise they are extremely close. In fact nearly every aspect of the guitars is the same, neck profile, etc. The Custom Shop did a great job of going back to the '68 specs. The Carlton is the fastest playing guitar I ever played. My older son who was 20 when I got it tried it out and called me over with "Look Dad, I can shred on this thing". I think that was the last time I let him play it. I'm not sure if the speed has to do with the stop tail being further away or just a great fretboard. The feel is the same for trapeze and the stop tail. I can't feel any discernible difference is string tension. The only difference for me was bending too much with the trapeze and nylon saddles I occasionally pop a string out of the saddle. I decided I didn't need two 335's so I put both up for sale thinking I would keep the one that didn't sell first. Plus the '69 will only increase in value as it gets older. 

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JO'C

Thanks for that story. That's very cool. Which did you end up keeping. My Dot had the '57s in it as well. I ended up swapping the bridge for a '57Plus I think. Just  a little more output to balance the volume between neck and bridge.   So you'd say there is no big difference in feel between stop tailpiece and trapeze. How about sustain?  A friend of mine also owns a '69. What strikes me about that one is how narrow and delicate the neck feels at the nut.  Are all the '69s like that. How does that compare with the LC model?

 

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Yes '66-69 all had the narrower 1 9/16" nut width as opposed to the normal 1 11/16". The LC is the same. I have no problem with it but lots of others don't like them. I used to have a '66 es-335-12. That was wild; tucking 12 strings into that narrow nut. I can't say I saw a difference in sustain. I sold the LC and kept the '69.

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