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Old 11-06-2016, 01:41 PM
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Victory Pete Victory Pete is offline
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Default Break Over Angle Experiment

I have done some experiments with my Martin D12-28. I have put on 2 sets of Martin Medium SP Phosphor Bronze strings and have alternated between the 2 rows of bridge pins. I first raised the saddle with a shim to see what a higher saddle would do. I then did the same comparisons with the original saddle which is not that high. Finally I put the 2 low E strings on and compared them. In all cases volume and tone stayed roughly the same. I used a decibel meter. When I had the 2 E strings on I could compare them directly. Again volume and tone the same, however the higher break angle had a very dramatic effect on picking attack. The higher angle produce a more tight and focused pick attack, which I find very desirable. The lower angle felt lazy and sloppy whereas the higher angle felt punchy and tight. So there is in fact a direct relationship between high break angle and sound and playability. So as many of us have felt increasing the saddle and break angle does change the way a guitar plays and sounds. Therefore I am interested in guitars that have a high break angle. My new Gibson Western Classic has the historic 4 ribbon bridge and lacks the punch of my new Southern Jumbo which has a high break angle. So I am now aware that the saddle height alone accounts for increased volume and not the break angle, which is good to know and I am glad that I now have proof. But the lower break angle does effect the sound if you are a strummer. I suppose finger pickers wont be affected much by this. I still have the guitar set up this way for further experiments, I am going to try to measure sustain next.

http://s1108.photobucket.com/user/vi...e%20Experiment

Last edited by Victory Pete; 11-06-2016 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:29 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victory Pete View Post
So there is in fact a direct relationship between high break angle and sound and playability.
No one stated that there isn't. What people have stated is that once there is sufficient break angle, adding more doesn't matter much.

Your photo, below, shows an insufficient break angle on the strings in the further row of holes. It isn't surprising that the feel isn't ideal since the break angle is marginal. Ramping the string holes would increase the break angle.

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Old 11-06-2016, 02:34 PM
buddyhu buddyhu is online now
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Just bought a used Collings D2HG, and when it arrived, the action was very low, and the saddle had been shaved down to get the action that low (and the strings just didn't look or feel right to me, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly wasn't right, except that the high E looked much lower than normal, relative to the other strings). The high E also sounded a bit quieter and twanging than the other strings. Took it to my luthier for a set up, and he said "the radius is all wrong", and went on to recite the action measurements for all the strings at the 12th fret, which were less consistent than I would have thought they should be. He fitted a new saddle, which resulted in a steeper break angle for all the strings, but especially at the high E. Guitar sounds noticeably better, and that high E sounds more "normal"/sweet.

I have read what various luthiers have posted on AGF regarding break angle and driving the soundboard, so this was not a surprise; indeed, it was exactly what I had hoped for. But now I have my own direct experience.
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:34 PM
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Victory Pete Victory Pete is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
No one stated that there isn't. What people have stated is that once there is sufficient break angle, adding more doesn't matter much.

Your photo, below, shows an insufficient break angle on the strings in the further row of holes. It isn't surprising that the feel isn't ideal since the break angle is marginal. Ramping the string holes would increase the break angle.
That photo is of the normal 12 string. I am not talking about the feel of that guitar. I have done comparisons with 2 saddle heights, the low original one and a higher one I added a shim to. In both cases the higher break angle increased the punchy pick attack, but especially with the higher saddle and higher break angle. So adding more break angle does in fact proportionately change the sound and attack no matter what degree it is.


Last edited by Kerbie; 11-06-2016 at 02:42 PM. Reason: Rule #1
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buddyhu View Post
Just bought a used Collings D2HG, and when it arrived, the action was very low, and the saddle had been shaved down to get the action that low (and the strings just didn't look or feel right to me, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly wasn't right, except that the high E looked much lower than normal, relative to the other strings). The high E also sounded a bit quieter and twanging than the other strings. Took it to my luthier for a set up, and he said "the radius is all wrong", and went on to recite the action measurements for all the strings at the 12th fret, which were less consistent than I would have thought they should be. He fitted a new saddle, which resulted in a steeper break angle for all the strings, but especially at the high E. Guitar sounds noticeably better, and that high E sounds more "normal"/sweet.

I have read what various luthiers have posted on AGF regarding break angle and driving the soundboard, so this was not a surprise; indeed, it was exactly what I had hoped for. But now I have my own direct experience.
You must be very happy. So by increasing the saddle height you increased the volume due to the increased height of the strings off the top, and you increased your picking attack and punch by increasing the break angle. Isn't it great when you improve something and can understand why?
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Old 11-06-2016, 03:08 PM
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I'd be interested to see if you find the same tonal difference on a later model Martin 12-string where they changed from their traditional bridge string set up from octaves closest to the saddle and primary strings at the rear to the 'Guild-like' set up with the primary strings closest to the saddle and the octaves at the rear.

I can't help thinking they changed it for a reason and the only thing I can think of is that placing the primary's closer to the saddle gave them a much greater string break angle and possibly more volume and a slightly less 'jangly' or treble dominated balance?
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Old 11-06-2016, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brucebubs View Post
I'd be interested to see if you find the same tonal difference on a later model Martin 12-string where they changed from their traditional bridge string set up from octaves closest to the saddle and primary strings at the rear to the 'Guild-like' set up with the primary strings closest to the saddle and the octaves at the rear.

I can't help thinking they changed it for a reason and the only thing I can think of is that placing the primary's closer to the saddle gave them a much greater string break angle and possibly more volume and a slightly less 'jangly' or treble dominated balance?
I didn't know they did this, I was just looking at my picture and wondering about this same thing. I used to work at Guild and wasnt aware of this difference. I am sure it would be a dramatic change. My 12 string doesn't really have much punch actually. So are you saying the older ones had the pin holes reversed? Mine is a 2006.
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Old 11-06-2016, 03:29 PM
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I don't play 12 strings and don't recall when they changed, but it's fairly recent.

Here is a D12-28 bridge from 2016.

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Old 11-06-2016, 03:36 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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I am a fingerpicker, and I notice a difference when the break angle changes significantly, so it's not just strummers.
I do play many different guitars in the course of my repair work......30+ years of experience makes a difference.
A high break angle can be problematic, because the extra side pressure on the saddle can cause leaning. That can crack the bridge at the saddle slot, and create issues with under saddle pickups.
Moderation is the key.
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Old 11-06-2016, 03:38 PM
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Martin's first true jumbo size guitar with a 17" lower bout was introduced in 2009.
I'm guessing they might have set out to build a better jumbo 12-string than the Guild F-512 with the Martin Grand J12-40E Special.
Both guitars are rosewood jumbo 12-strings and this is the model where Martin changed their traditional bridge string sequence to match the sequence used by Guild.

I'm pretty sure Martin adopted this sequence on all 12-string guitars after the introduction of this guitar in 2009.

Maybe they did build a better jumbo 12-string than the F-512 but at double the cost. Martin dropped this model after just 3 years in production and only 231 built.

Mine is a 2009 model.

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Last edited by Brucebubs; 11-06-2016 at 03:44 PM. Reason: added picture
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Old 11-06-2016, 06:36 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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Having done the experiment, I'm pretty sure that it's NOT the break angle that's making the difference; it's the height of the strings off the top.

As Howard pointed out, it's possible to have too little break angle, and that seems to be the case for the strings off the rear pins in the picture you posted. That would cause two problems: the strings could 'roll' on the saddle top from sideways forces in the pluck, and they could 'hop' off the top of the saddle during part of their excursion. Either one would most likely have audible consequences.

Raising the strings higher off the top causes a change in the timbre of the sound. You get more of the second partial of the string spectrum, and more of the high frequency 'zip tone'. Both of these could have the effect you notice.

As always, these things get complicated when you look at them closely. Those are the main points, but in some cases the secondary things can become important as well.
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Old 11-06-2016, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Carruth View Post
Having done the experiment, I'm pretty sure that it's NOT the break angle that's making the difference; it's the height of the strings off the top.

As Howard pointed out, it's possible to have too little break angle, and that seems to be the case for the strings off the rear pins in the picture you posted. That would cause two problems: the strings could 'roll' on the saddle top from sideways forces in the pluck, and they could 'hop' off the top of the saddle during part of their excursion. Either one would most likely have audible consequences.

Raising the strings higher off the top causes a change in the timbre of the sound. You get more of the second partial of the string spectrum, and more of the high frequency 'zip tone'. Both of these could have the effect you notice.

As always, these things get complicated when you look at them closely. Those are the main points, but in some cases the secondary things can become important as well.
It is in fact the break angle that is making the difference in the string punch and attack. I have witnessed it today multiple times. I did the comparisons with a high saddle and a low saddle. The link in the first post shows all pictures. As I have originally posted the strings height stayed the same, the break angles had changed and in every case the higher break angle had more punch.

This is the high saddle with the low break angle.



This is the high saddle with the high break angle



This is the high saddle with 2 low E strings for direct comparison with everything being equal except break angle


Last edited by Victory Pete; 11-06-2016 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 11-06-2016, 06:55 PM
robj144 robj144 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victory Pete View Post
It is in fact the break angle that is making the difference in the string punch and attack. I have witnessed it today multiple times. I did the comparisons with a high saddle and a low saddle. The link in the first post shows all pictures. As I have originally posted the strings height stayed the same, the break angles had changed and in every case the higher break angle had more punch.

This is the high saddle with the low break angle.

.....
What defines more punch? Did you happen to record the waveforms for analysis by any chance?
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Old 11-06-2016, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robj144 View Post
What defines more punch? Did you happen to record the waveforms for analysis by any chance?
The pick attack, the pick hitting the string and it bouncing back from the string being securely held down to the saddle from the extra force of a high break angle. This creates a definite and district type of sound. Others have described it in this thread. No need to record waveforms, it was witnessed by me multiple times. Others also apparently have witnessed this also.
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Old 11-07-2016, 03:31 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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It sure helps to have all the data....

It's possible that your 'low' break angle is too low to keep the strings from rolling on the saddle top in a hard attack. There are features of the wave forms that could show that.

At any rate, this is a more difficult test to do well than you might imagine. What you've done is suggestive, but there are still a lot of variables running around loose...
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