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J200 4 Ribbon compared to 2 Ribbon Bridge


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Ya'll are arguing over the angels on the head of a pin. A slight difference in break angle over the saddle won't change the feel of a guitar nearly as much as dropping the scale from 25.5 to 24.75, like the overwhelming majority of Gibson guitars. If the action is where you want it and you've got enough saddle clear, you're good.

 

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Agree, Phelon. I am not a physicist. Can barely spell it. But it seems to me that the amount of tension on the strings has to be the same regardless of the height of the bridge in order to get the correct pitch. That would mean the tension on the strings would be the same for either a two-er or a four-er. Light strings, longer neck, bridge height. pick choice - I think all will have a greater impact on the actual sound / volume / tone than a difference in break angle that is barely discernible to the naked eye. And, if the tension on the strings is the same - the pressure on the bridge would be. Again, I have no scientific basis to back this up. And, for my old ears - if there is a difference in sound - I sure would not hear it. I think you'd need to borrow sophisticated seismographic equipment from NASA.

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It's not about differences in string tension.........tuned to pitch is tuned to pitch, no matter the angle of break. It's about the downward pressure of that tension on the saddle/bridge/top. It is that downward pressure that transmits string energy to the top, generating sound. Look at it this way.........

 

Imagine a guitar string tuned to pitch, bridge pin to machine head, with no saddle......the string is a straight line. Now imagine the saddle slowly rising out of the slot in the bridge, making contact with the string and gradually increasing the angle of deflection of the string. At first contact and low angles, there's not much force required to raise the saddle......yes? But as it rises higher and the angle increases, it takes more and more force to continue lifting the saddle, i.e. more downward pressure on the bridge/top, resulting in a more efficient transfer of string energy. Granted, there is a point of diminishing returns at which further lifting of the saddle (increasing the angle of break) becomes a lateral force and begins to roll the saddle toward the neck. I suspect the ideal angle is something shy of 45 degrees, producing the greatest downward pressure and the most efficient transfer of energy.

 

Think about it........... Imagine your finger as the saddle. As the angle of break increases you will feel more and more pain as the downward pressure increases. Low angle, no pain, just mild contact. High angle, lots of down pressure on your finger......ouch.

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I read a theory that anything more than 5°s angle wouldn't make a lot of difference .

 

When I first got my 1998 HD-28 I wanted lower action being primarily an electric player. After years of slowly lowering my saddle the strings started to buzz. In a pinch I cut up a popsicle stick to make a shim. I was stunned at the huge gain in volume as I raised the strings. Ever since I have been quite aware of this and keep my action as high as I can tolerate. It does in fact make a noticeable difference.

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It's not about differences in string tension.........tuned to pitch is tuned to pitch, no matter the angle of break. It's about the downward pressure of that tension on the saddle/bridge/top. It is that downward pressure that transmits string energy to the top, generating sound. Look at it this way.........

 

Imagine a guitar string tuned to pitch, bridge pin to machine head, with no saddle......the string is a straight line. Now imagine the saddle slowly rising out of the slot in the bridge, making contact with the string and gradually increasing the angle of deflection of the string. At first contact and low angles, there's not much force required to raise the saddle......yes? But as it rises higher and the angle increases, it takes more and more force to continue lifting the saddle, i.e. more downward pressure on the bridge/top, resulting in a more efficient transfer of string energy. Granted, there is a point of diminishing returns at which further lifting of the saddle (increasing the angle of break) becomes a lateral force and begins to roll the saddle toward the neck. I suspect the ideal angle is something shy of 45 degrees, producing the greatest downward pressure and the most efficient transfer of energy.

 

Think about it........... Imagine your finger as the saddle. As the angle of break increases you will feel more and more pain as the downward pressure increases. Low angle, no pain, just mild contact. High angle, lots of down pressure on your finger......ouch.

 

 

 

 

I understand the concept of the pressure on the saddle and its being transmitted to the bridge, bridge plate and face. My thought though is, that as the saddle height goes up, the string increases in pitch, so you have to tune it down. So - if the tension on two strings is the same (to get the same pitch) - the height of the saddle or the break angle of the string coming up behind it isn't going to affect the sound - because you have had to adjust the tension on the string. Sort of like E=MC2.

And, there may be no way of proving that INCREASE pressure (if it is increased on the 2 ribboner) results in BETTER sound. Maybe on the Jumbos - the decreased angle is 'better'.

I agree, there is probably an overall optimal angle for guitars: 80 degrees would be too steep, 10 degrees too shallow. Somewhere in between there's a sweet spot that may be different for each model, and measurable only by hi-tech equipment But - my point is, I don't think there's a discernible difference in the slight variation between the 2 ribbons and the 4.

But - I am only relying on gut-feel. Not science. Not even my own two ears. So - you may be right, I may be crazy.

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It appears to me this interesting experiment is useless because in the second part of the experiment Gitnoob had one string at a steep angle and one at an oblique angle. In my view, to isolate the break angle effect BOTH strings should have been at an oblique angle. It's also interesting that regarding volume he's fixed on the height of the strings over the top - I always thought that the height of the strings over the fretboard had more of an effect on volume. I've had a guitar where the geometry was such that the action could go pretty low while that break angle was still good. While lowering away, at one point I realized I had lost volume - had to get a new saddle to get the action up a bit. Guess I'll have to take another look into this whole subject.

 

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How would height over the fretboard have any impact on anything?

 

 

No doubt in my mind whatsoever that higher action increases volume. Still the question 'bout the logic behind it is good.

 

I'm off to a small concert, but look forward to check the answer after midnight.

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How would height over the fretboard have any impact on anything?

Not arguing bigkahune!!

 

Anything? . Welp, of course there's fret buzz, there's fret out, there's dead spots, and there's a height at which the sound goes 'thin' without buzzing. Previously in my mind I would be careful of how low I set my action because of these effects, and action is the string height over the fretboard.

 

But, as I mentioned, Gitnoob's comments on volume has got me taking another look see at the info that's out there on all of these aspects of string height and break-angle.

 

I usually do my own action adjustments. But once I took a 12 string into Elderly for them to have a look see at the action - was too high. After acclimating to their shop environment they took it down and called me to pick it up. When I took a look I was shocked at the oblique break angle. But, it played great and I was surprised that it still sounded great and retained it's previous volume. I would've never took the saddle that low on my own. Of course now there's barely room left for adjustments, so a neck reset might be needed down the road. And that's another aspect of the J-200 4 ribbon bridge, there's not a lot of room to lower the saddle which could lead to a neck reset down the road. Although I haven't ever seen a thread on a J-200 4 ribbon bridge needing a neck reset. OTOH, I've seen people suggest that Gibson should set up the J-200 4 ribbon bridge guitars with a steeper neck angle and taller saddle making more room to adjust down as the guitar ages.

 

 

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Oh yeah , Fret buzz etc goes without saying , I'm not hinting that string height above fretboard is nothing to think about . Obviously we have to think about frets and action etc .

But this discussion is about volume /tone and effects of break angle at the saddle , which I don't think distance from fretboard has any baring on.

 

Distance from the top of the guitar between bridge and sound hole , now that I can see making some sort of difference .

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After many years & guitars worth of set-ups, armchair logic tells me that getting into the 45-degree break-angle ballpark is ideal. There are a number of ways to achieve this, but minimizing the distance between the saddle and pin holes gives you a leg up on being able to get there if the neck angle is somewhat inadequate, or changes over time.

 

Example: My '73 Guild F30R has a rather minimal amount of saddle rising above the bridge, but the pin holes are set very close to the saddle, and therefore the break angle still ends up being virtually ideal. Bridge shaving or ramping could be employed, but has not been necessary, again, due to the close proximity of the saddle & pin holes.

 

The four-ribbon bridge creates a significant gap between the bridge & pin holes, and the inlay also limits ramping options. Mark me down as preferring a two or no-ribbon mustache bridge, as on the J-100xtra.

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Something occurred to me, maybe the 4 ribbon guitars being historic have a different lighter scalloped bracing. The less break angle will have less forward twisting effect on the bridge. My HD-28 with a very steep angle had to have the bridge pulled up and shaved at an angle because it was twisting forward and lifting off at the back. I have noticed with the Western Classic and its 4 ribbon bridge that it has much more visual deflections around and in front of the bridge. The SJ-200 I returned with the 2 ribbon bridge seemed to have none. Maybe it is a tradeoff of break angle and lighter more flexible bracing.

 

That sounds like a good answer Pete. I owned a J200 Standard (2 ribbon) and now have a SJ200 Golden Age (4 ribbon). I had both together for about six months. The Golden Age is, to my ears, the superior instrument. I had always attributed that to the Red Adirondack spruce top (the standards are sitka). However, I now think it is a combination of the adirondack AND the lighter scalloped bracing. As far as the physics of the four ribbon versus the two ribbon, I have no idea.

 

I do know that a four ribbon bridge will not be as flexible for adjustment as a two ribbon. If the four ribbon's saddle gets so low, over time, that there is little or no break angle left, you would either have to do a neck reset or create string ramps. The string ramps on a two ribbon would be fine. However, on a four ribbon, you would be cutting into the inlay.

 

j20026_zpsb8ea5a10.jpg

 

btw.. this is Dan's photo not mine.

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