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String Through vs Top Load

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Steve NB, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Steve NB

    Steve NB Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2015
    New Brunswick Canada
    If it seems that the overall consensus in the guitar world is that string through is better than top load, then are all Les Pauls and all the other guitars with tune-o-matic bridges inferior?
  2. john_cribbin

    john_cribbin Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2014
    Nope, it just means that people have opinions and access to the internet.
  3. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Dec 3, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    A 0.010" steel guitar string requires a certain amount of tension to tune to high E on a 25.4" scale neck, and slightly less on a 24.9" scale neck. It requires that tension whether the string is anchored through the body or through the back of the bridge.
    AndrewG likes this.
  4. Zipslack

    Zipslack Tele-Meister

    Jun 8, 2011
    I dunno...I have to say I think I prefer top-load. I believe Strats and Teles are a little more difficult because of the string angle from coming from the bottom, not just because of the length. By comparison, my G&L ASAT with the top-load bridge (25.5") plays almost the same as my 24.5" guitars. I also notice a difference in "slinkiness" with using a milder angle on the tune-o-matics by raising the stopbar or top-wrapping.
  5. Dennyf

    Dennyf Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 9, 2011
    Charlotte, NC
    Yes. If you have one of those tonal embarrassments, send it to me and save yourself the humiliation.
    Felino likes this.
  6. Steve NB

    Steve NB Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2015
    New Brunswick Canada
    For a hobbyist like me, there is no difference. My two Teles and Ibanez SA160 are string through and the new addition, Squier '51, is a top loader. So I don't really get ..."Top Load ... no thanks. I'll take a Les Paul though".
  7. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    My every day player is a top load Telecaster, I like 'em fine.

    To be fair, though, there's a world of difference between the typical Les Paul and the... errrmm... let's say 'frugal' bridge that the usual top loading Telecaster has. The Telecaster string anchor point has a lot less mass, and the round saddles can be troublesome sometimes. Neither of those factors necessarily have to be a negative on any particular guitar.

    There's a wide variety of guitar shapes, sizes, and colors available, play what works for you. If a bridge keeps you from making music you probably weren't going to make music anyway.
    Steve Holt, Jakeboy and Steve NB like this.
  8. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I would probably have many more T guitars set up as top loader, except for 2 things:

    a) You're left with unused ferrules on the back of the guitar, nothing going on, and it just seems like if something is there it should serve some purpose. The same way where, if there's a hole in the headstock for a string tree, I feel inclined to install a tree there even if it isn't all that necessary; and

    b) MOST string manufacturers have this wiring binding process they use to keep the ball end on the end of the string. All this wire coiled around the base of the string comes up to and in some cases comes onto the saddle for the E and A strings and chafes up my fingers and it looks stupid. Now, Fender has that "Bullet" type string end, but it looks so mighty foolish IMO hanging below the hole of the bridge plate. IF I could find a string maker with a different, more elegant string end that stayed out of my way (talking 1959/Campilongo style bridge) ---- well, if ya'll know of such a string, please post something about it. Thanks.
    MatsEriksson, tweedlux and Steve Holt like this.
  9. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2008
    And, to the "string-through = more sustain" folks, all I can offer you is anecdotal evidence which is :


    The Tele with the most sustain of the 25 or so I've owned ? Early MIM toploader w/ a asswood/basswood body and Lk Placid blue plastic shell.

    My number one is another early MIM recently converted to string-thru. Same sustain as when it was a toploader (lots).
    nojazzhere likes this.
  10. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    When comparing/debating string through vs. top-load merits, people often use two different guitars as their a string through model and the other a top-load model. I have used the SAME guitar for both. In fact, my 1993 Korean Fender Squier came with a top-load bridge, and I later changed to string through. I wasn't real happy with that bridge, (for reasons other than string orientation) so I changed to a DIFFERENT top-load one. I have to say, IMHO there wasn't enough (if any) difference to worry about. My 1960 LP Jr and my PRS SE One both have top-load bridges, and they both sound great. If anything, I find the top-load are marginally easier to change strings. If you can HEAR any difference....more power to you.
  11. ecosse

    ecosse Tele-Meister

    Jul 24, 2011
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Just play the damn things...arguments about string through, top load, tube/solid state, fretboard radius are mostly excuses to make up for poor playing in my opinion/experience.

    Play more, get better, stop worrying.
    Bobby73 and PhredE like this.
  12. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    I've experimented with two basses that had both string through and top load, and there was zero difference to my ears. I've never read about this internet consensus, either.
  13. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Dec 19, 2017
    ^^^^^^^in the grand scheme of things, the majority are bedroom players and you will never notice a difference, I would guess that if you only ran a guitar and amp would there be a chance of hearing the difference anyway. I’ve played in crowded bars, and you couldn’t hear a tiny difference at all.
  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    I love top loaders for changing strings. None of this flipping the guitar back and forth -- more relic dings surely happened during string changes, second only to bar gigs.

    fabricator likes this.
  15. jamieorc

    jamieorc Tele-Holic

    Apr 22, 2011
    There's definitely no consensus about one being better than the other. If you have a bridge and body that do both, try and see which you prefer. Jimmy Page's Tele was a top-loader. Jim Campilongo's is a top loader. G&L non-traditional, non-tremelo bridges are top-loaders.
  16. GuitarJonz

    GuitarJonz Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    I play string-thru teles, but have had a few toploaders too, and found them to have a slinkier feel. A tad easier to bend. YMMV. Not sure if that's due to the different string angle. An easy experiment is to get a Wilkinson tele bridge plate, which allow both topload and string-thru, and check it out for yourself.
  17. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity

    your "if it seems" or "overall consensus"

    is 100% subjective.

    So better/best, one vs. the other, can truly NEVER be proven.

    Something that can be proven is that a 10 speed bicycle is harder to pedal up hill in 10 gear, vs. 1st.
  18. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    What is this 'asswood' of which you speak? And what is your trick for making it sustain?

    Asking for a friend....
  19. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts

    There are a whole slew of variables that make Les Pauls inferior. The way the strings are anchored is just one of many.
    Veeseaczar likes this.
  20. tweedlux

    tweedlux TDPRI Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    Midwestern USA
    My experience with a top-loader was the same as Boris’. The string-wrap at the end was always tearing up the edge of my right hand when I would palm mute. Also, I had the low E saddle so far back for intonation purposes that with some brands of strings the wrap end was right on top of the saddle, which seems less than ideal. That guitar did sound great, though.
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