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Top Load or Thru Body?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Stanford Guitar, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Afflicted

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    What do you like and why?

    Jay Leonard J knows what he's talking about, but not sure I agree......but I don't necessarily disagree! I guess I'm just not sure!

     
  2. Cesspit

    Cesspit Tele-Holic

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    Never played a top loader, always had through body Tele's so I'm not really qualified to comment. I will say that some of what he says makes logical sense. However, I don't breaks strings (rarely) and I've never had any tuning issues. I don't buy the attack argument and the 'slinky' bit I think is a bit silly, others may disagree.
    I feel the through body design does help with sustain and body resonance, whether there's a noticeable difference compared to a top loader is debatable but given a choice I'd choose through body every time.
     
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  3. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Hard tail bridges are easier to set up on a new build....using the two outer strings.

    I like to move my bridge back a bit to keep the saddles well forward of the mounting screws... check for close intonation too, I just pin the bridge where I think it will work with small pg screws... and only drill larger ones in when I'm happy with it all... then I can do string through holes if I want....

    a bit hard to juggle alignments if you've already drilled the string through holes and put the ferrules in...and the bridge needs to move a tad...

    string alignment1.jpg


    string alignment screws.jpg
     
  4. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    Got 'em both. I play them indiscriminately. The "debate" is much ado about nothing, IME and IMO.
     
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  5. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Body resonance is actually a contrarian to sustain... Just sayin'
     
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  6. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I slightly prefer string through.
    I've had both.
    Top loaders seem easier to bend strings on.
    I like the fight of string-through.
    The guitar seems to ring more.
    Or I'm full of malarkey.;)
     
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  7. takauya

    takauya Tele-Meister

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    I didn't like Top-loader when I tried. It sounded and felt crappier, which his video shows pretty well. It's not punchy like through body. Through body also feels much harder to play under my fingers, which I like it better.
    Theoretically, when the length of strings behind saddles or a nut is longer, the amount of travel to a pitch when you bend increase, thus it feels stiffer to you. If strings are locked at nut or/and saddles, it eliminates the length of strings behind the saddles or/and nut as a factor, and it feels slinkier to bend. A string tree for E and B strings do the same thing. With it, you feel it easier to bend because it makes the length of strings to tuner posts shorter.
    Anyway, there are some people, who are too insensitive to feel this type of thing, but the rest of us do and it's not a minor difference at all.
     
  8. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    I prefer string-through, because...reasons.

    I’ll play either one, but I tend to be happier with string-through bodies.
     
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  9. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    String through here, for all the reasons @takauya mentioned.
     
  10. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Top loading is my preference because I don't need to flip the guitar around on the bench like a dead fish when changing strings.

    The bridge screws are bolted deep into the body wood and if tone was from the wood and it needed transferring -- wouldn't it be better to rely on screws locked into the lumber? They tug at the wood much more intimately than loose ferrules and wobbly string ends.

    .
     
  11. Wrighty

    Wrighty Friend of Leo's

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    When I got my first ‘proper’ guitar, a new MIM Traditional Tele, it was a top loader. At the time I firmly believed that a Tele had to have string through. I converted it and was happy. I still ere on that side if the argument now, but I wouldn’t bother to convert my ‘grab and go’ Affinity. Not sure if actually made a point here!?

    In terms of playing, I’ve never thought that it can make a difference. The string between the bridge and nut is the only bit that’s played and that is the same length and tension whether it is anchored at the neck of the bridge or underside of the body.
     
  12. Siamese

    Siamese TDPRI Member

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    I'm mystified as to why Fender continues to drill six holes through the body when they could just use a top loading bridge.

    I'm one of those guys who insists that wood is a factor tone, and will listen to any argument for tone enhancement. But, I'm of the opinion that once the string hits the bridge, it has done it's job. There just isn't anything left in the string after the bridge to make anything happen.

    Although, break angle is another thing. Presumably, more angle means more down pressure. But, it looks to me like the top loader provides plenty of break angle. Certainly more angle than there is at the headstock.

    jvin248 makes a good point too. Why should I have to flip the guitar over and fish the strings through? Especially when my cat goes berserk trying to catch the strings when I'm doing that.

    Verdict: Top load rules...but I'd never convert a guitar to make it happen. Not worth it.
     
  13. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Holic

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    Get a dual load bridge and try both. Or try a combo of string-thru and top load at one time. Don't trust what people say on the internet. The only thing that matters is what your ears hear.
     
  14. Sotakoira Musti

    Sotakoira Musti Tele-Afflicted

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    Wait, what a heck, are there such things as top loader Teles? Well, one lives and learns!
     
  15. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    I've got two teles setup one with, one without. Otherwise identical. There's a big difference in sustain/decay, that's actually significant, and impacts the interaction with my amps and settings. I've tried everything short of drilling. But not convinced its top-loader vs drill thru that's the root cause.

    This thread pointed me to one thing I haven't addressed, that I hope is a major contributor: Saddles. Modern top loader bridges are associated with cheaper guitars, to save the drilling step. I got my loupe out, and looked more closely at the saddles and saddle slots. Saddles are similar block style, slightly different, but functionally the same. Sure enough, the slots in the top loader saddles aren't precise, and the string fall may be making progressive contact with motion. I got out some nut files, and sharpened the slots, and made sure the breakaway is sharp, so the string can't move up and down, or side to side. They appear to be zinc btw, which is both lighter and softer than brass or steel. I'll test it out at lunch. I also got online and ordered three sets of Fender saddles, one set of MIM blocks, and a set of bent steel, and some American Standard blocks. Fingers crossed.
     
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  16. Diytelecaster

    Diytelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Got a dual load bridge on mine. Top load in my opinion is everso slightly slinkier but string through has slight midrange boost. Blindfolded is doubt I'd know. Might try half through and half top load, or even alternate
     
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  17. rdjones

    rdjones TDPRI Member

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    In my view, most instances of 'top loading' scream low end Asian copy.
    Even moreso with a Tele style which was originally designed to be through body.

    Anchoring the strings directly to the body relieves much of the stress and tension from the bridge-to-body mounting hardware.
    If I were forced to do so, I would use a greater number of larger, longer screws.

    I get the whole "it's a hassle to drill the through-holes accurately" deal.
    But, ... it would bug me and I'd be trying to find a way to 'do it right'.
    There's a reason why Gibson used two big honking brass inserts on stop bridge Juniors.
     
  18. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Tele-Afflicted

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    I've got both. The G&L top loading bridge works for me. I also like my string through Strat. . I don't think that one is better than the other.
     
  19. Telecentric

    Telecentric Tele-Holic

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  20. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Two of my five teles have the bridge plate designed for either string-through or top-loading.* I've experimented with the top-loading thing on one of them, but that was years ago. My recollection of that experience may therefore be a bit dimmed by time, but here's what I remember.

    In terms of both feel and tone, there were subtle differences, emphasis on subtle. Strung that way, it felt like less string tension. Bends were maybe a tad easier. However, that wasn't a big plus for me. I don't do a lot of string bending. And having played acoustics for 40 years before getting my first electric guitar/tele, the tension of the standard string-through mode on a 25/5" scale felt right to me to begin with. So although it was kinda fun to play around with something different, in terms of feel, I preferred the string-through to the top-loading mode.

    As for the difference of the tone of the strings top-loaded vs. strung-through, the difference was truly negligible. I can't really remember much of any difference now, years after the fact. I will say, though, that towards the end of that JLJ video in the OP, I did hear a difference. Both modes still sounded like a tele, but there was something discernably different, subtle though it was.

    As for an advantage for not breaking strings so much, once again, that doesn't really apply to me. I'm nowhere near as heavy-handed as JLJ (and I've noticed that about his playing in other videos). In the 12+ years I've had my teles, I've broken a string on average once a year...maybe.



    * Or, conceivably, both at the same time. I haven't tried a combination of the two modes. Presumably, the trebles would be strung top-loaded while the bass strings would be strung-through. Is that what others of you have done?
     
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