#1
I had a spare, bored moment today, so I raised the stopbar on my Epiphone on the treble side. I've read about how it makes the strings easier to bend, and it certainly does that, but there was an argument on some forum I looked at about whether it affected the tension of the strings.

As I understand it, same string+same note+same scale length=same tension. But then, obviously bending is easier with the lower break angle. Can anyone explain why that is? The ability of the string to slide through the saddle seems like an implausible answer to me, but unless I'm wrong about the above assumption the tension's the same.
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#2
Tension will be the same in the speaking length of the string (between nut and saddle). What will really change is the downward pressure the strings are placing on the saddle. If you raise the tailpiece, the string is pulling less directly downward against the saddle. This can make it feel a little slinkier. Done to an absolute extreme, you may adversely affect the guitar's sustain or make the string more likely to pop out of it's slot when bending wildly as the closer you come to having the tailpiece level with the bridge, the closer you come to having zero downward pressure defining the end of the speaking length of the string and keeping it in it's place on the saddle. Go too far the other way and you are putting too much pressure on the string at the point where it crosses the saddle. This can lead to premature breakage either at the saddle or on the sharp back corner of the bridge (if the tailpiece will go that low) or the back edge of the bridge becoming the saddle (which would probably give you fits trying to intone).

I usually just string it up normally (I don't bother with top wrapping or anything like that) and make sure I can fit sheet of paper in between the bottom of the string and the back edge of the bridge.
#4
makes sense from a standpoint of more material in contact between the threads and the bushing and avoiding excess loss of string energy to a rattling post. I just figured it's designed to have that higher break angle by being strung standard and I would use it as designed. Also, a number of my stop tails are gold and all the plating wears off if you even look at them sideways. Not a concern for a lot of guys but I'd just as soon not shell out to replace otherwise solid stoptails periodically, as I'm not a huge fan of the prematurely relic'ed look.
#5
^^^^ I think Gibson's intention was to have the choice, because the fronts of their stop tailpieces have cavities to hold the string balls. IIRC, I've seen it mentioned in one of their websites, but I can't remember where. I have a friend for whom I do set ups, and he feels the same way as you.
#6
FWIW, I wasn't alive back then but I think before the Tune-O-Matic was developed, the stop tail WAS the bridge and they got strung top wrapped. But that's an entirely different usage as break angle is fixed in that situation. It's cool though, works either way, all just personal preference these days, and mine is not to keep replacing worn gold-plated tailpieces, hahaha.

Overall, I like the bridge/stoptail design. I have a couple that are string through or have a different kind of tailpiece (like a maestro) and it's evident the stop tail allows for a lot more personal flexibility with setup.
#7
I always thought that the ToM bridge/stop tailpiece came before the stop bridge, but I just checked some history, and the Gold Top had a stop bridge in '53, following a trapeze tailpiece in '52, and the Jr didn't come out until '54. I also really like the simplicity of the stop bridge design. However, I had to convert the one I had, a Burny, to stop tailpiece because the stop bridge was leaning forwards as it deformed the soft timber.

Modern versions have distinct saddles built into them, in two versions, one for a plain 3rd string, the other for a wound 3rd.
#8
Yeah, you mean the ones with that zig-zaggy lightning bolt-looking ridge on the top, haha. Those came way later, I think. The stoptail as a bridge was simple, but you really had to be sure where you were drilling those posts. Those guys back then really knew what they were doing. TOM was awesome because of the adjustable intonation and the fixed radius (as opposed to strats) and then later on you get the stop tail with saddles on it, the TP-6 fine tuner stop tail, and the stop tail with set screws to make broad intonation adjustments. And that's just the Gibson style stuff. Then there's floyds, kahlers, fenders, danos, wonderbars... so spoiled. And the best solution on my acoustic is a little strip of tusq that can't be intonated because anything else would put too much mass on the top, haha.