How High is Too High For an SG Tail Piece?

Scott Baxendale

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May 20, 2020
5,555
Sante Fe, NM
How do you reduce the break angle on a glued in neck?
I’m talking about the break angle behind the bridge. on any bolt on neck you can shim it to achieve the necessary break angle.

On a Strat or other fender this is done with shims in the neck pocket.

On the Gibsons we are talking about the bridge break angle is adjusted at the stop tailpiece.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,555
Sante Fe, NM
Change the height of the tailstop, or overwrap the strings.
That changes the break angle over the saddle without changing the saddle height.

The problem with overwrapping is it may be too much and result in too little break angle (which is what I see on Scott's example photos).
OTOH, if top-wrapping would result in too little angle, then a proper adjustment can be made by raising the tailstop.
And no, it's not going to impact "the tonez"

As far as the excessive break angle, such as on my Bonamassa and SG, there are two potential issues.
One, you can see on my SG, the string tension is pulling forward on the bridge.
It's not a big deal on the modern bridge, but on a traditional ABR1 bridge, it is putting a lot of tension on the studs and *will* result in them bending forward.
The other issue is the downward pressure of the strings off the back of the bridge will ultimately lead to it collapsing... flattening the radius:

View attachment 582289
View attachment 582291
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The break angle in my photos is perfect. The collapsing bridge is another problem which can be fixed in a vise.
 

CB91710

No GAS shortage here
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Feb 24, 2019
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I’m talking about the break angle behind the bridge. on any bolt on neck you can shim it to achieve the necessary break angle.

On a Strat or other fender this is done with shims in the neck pocket.

On the Gibsons we are talking about the bridge break angle is adjusted at the stop tailpiece.
How does shimming the neck change the break angle, when the break angle is from the top of the saddle to the entry point of the tremolo block?
Shimming the neck requires a change in the saddle height, but that minimally impacts the break angle, which is around 50-60 degrees on a Fender. Intonation has more of an impact on the break angle by moving the saddle closer or further from the hole in the bridge plate.
 

Scott Baxendale

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May 20, 2020
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Sante Fe, NM
Yeah, nothing is perfect.
Also, the one piece bridge isn’t what we are actually discussing. Even though it looks similar it’s not.

Back in the late 70’s BC Rich made some high end expensive guitars that all used the Leo Quan bridge and I could never get my head around the fact that the most expensive boutique guitar on the market had the cheapest bridge design on it. They were over $2k in 1978 money which would make it a $10k guitar in today‘s money yet used a Les Paul jr replacement bridge. It never made sense to me and because of that one thing I never thought those BC Rich’s were that great.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
May 20, 2020
5,555
Sante Fe, NM
How does shimming the neck change the break angle, when the break angle is from the top of the saddle to the entry point of the tremolo block?
Shimming the neck requires a change in the saddle height, but that minimally impacts the break angle, which is around 50-60 degrees on a Fender. Intonation has more of an impact on the break angle by moving the saddle closer or further from the hole in the bridge plate.
On a fender if the saddle is too low where the height adj screws stick up too high or the saddle sits on the bridge plate, which happens sometimes especially on the basses then shimming the neck back will give you the break angle needed. If the bridge is set too high where the saddles are jacked way up then you need to shim the north side of the neck pocket to reduce it. We may be conflating what we are discussing when it comes to the break angle on a fender, because this discussion was really about the Gibson Tuneamatic with a Stop TP.

if you want to really understand how break angle works then take a Strat or Tele and remove the two high strings from under the string tree then retune and play it, then put them back under the string tree and notice how much different it plays or sounds.
 

CB91710

No GAS shortage here
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 24, 2019
10,864
SoCal
On a fender if the saddle is too low where the height adj screws stick up too high or the saddle sits on the bridge plate, which happens sometimes especially on the basses then shimming the neck back will give you the break angle needed. If the bridge is set too high where the saddles are jacked way up then you need to shim the north side of the neck pocket to reduce it. We may be conflating what we are discussing when it comes to the break angle on a fender, because this discussion was really about the Gibson Tuneamatic with a Stop TP.

if you want to really understand how break angle works then take a Strat or Tele and remove the two high strings from under the string tree then retune and play it, then put them back under the string tree and notice how much different it plays or sounds.
I get it about the saddle height, but the height of the saddle has minimal impact on the break angle, since that is relatively fixed. Moving the saddle back for intonation has a greater impact on the saddle break angle, but in no event is the Fender saddle break angle anywhere near as shallow as even an improperly set up Gibson.
Fender break angle is effectively as fixed as an acoustic... and the acoustic break angle is closer to a typical Gibson.
 

StratUp

Most Honored Senior Member
Sep 5, 2020
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Altered States
Not all of them. The Leo Quan BasAss bridge is certainly one solution to the one piece wrap around Gibson bridge. I like the Wilkinson version better though.

Yeah... I went through some issues on one troublesome guitar with a tailpiece/stop bar when fitting an intonatable tailpiece.

The badass style is a lot taller. That was an issue for me vis-a-vis the neck angle. The Wilkinson is significantly shorter. That style would be my choice every time.
 

Guithartic

Senior Stratmaster
Jan 10, 2021
1,453
Jacksonville, FL
I’m fine with it now. I loosened the strings to see how high the stop bar could go before the screws came out. You can actually raise it until the stop bar is just above the saddles. So in that respect the height I have is safe. I took it to a luthier, and he said it looks normal for an SG and showed me an actual ‘61 walnut SG, and the stop bar was about the same.
(Edit after feedback: mahogany, not walnut.)

Another update is that yesterday, I found a 2021 SG Standard selling locally for $900 in perfect condition with no case. I bought it and set it up, and the stopbar height is identical, helping to confirm the normalcy of it. It gives peace of mind that neither guitar is faulty. The new plan is to get new strings and try top wrapping this week. Can’t wait to see the difference.
 
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