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katiekerry

Make Your Variax Sound 100% Better

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If you have the same bridge, then a tailpiece should not change the strings over the fretboard at all uness you adjust the bridge. (which you could do without the tailpiece)

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If you have the same bridge, then a tailpiece should not change the strings over the fretboard at all uness you adjust the bridge. (which you could do without the tailpiece)

I am totally with you on that, But all that I am saying is that prior to adding the tail piece I could not adjust the JTV bridge as low as I could after adding it.  (I would get fret buzz in certain frets, and would get dead frets).  I even tried it after I had the action set with the tail piece but just used the bridge alone buzzed on certain frets, when I put it back on no buzzing at all..  It shouldn't affect it at all but for some reason it does..  I  agree 100% it should make no difference but it does ( maybe the longer strings make a difference I do not know).

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One thing that putting either a tail piece or a Bigsby tremolo unit on a 59 is removes the forward pull of the strings on the 59 bridge assembly, that normally locks the bridge to the bridge studs. You now have only downward force on the threaded bridge studs that you really didn't have before. The screws at the back of the bridge adjust the bridge position on the studs, an provide for some additional backward/forward adjustment for intonation if you run out of the individual string bridge adjustments.

 

Anyway, the physics of the bridge have changed by the having the added tail piece or Bigsby now handle the string tension. Not good or bad, but different, and should be accounted for, so you can make sure the bridge assembly is in its proper forward/backward and height positions when you have it all together.

 

Just a thought.

 

Dave

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One thing that putting either a tail piece or a Bigsby tremolo unit on a 59 is removes the forward pull of the strings on the 59 bridge assembly, that normally locks the bridge to the bridge studs. You now have only downward force on the threaded bridge studs that you really didn't have before. The screws at the back of the bridge adjust the bridge position on the studs, an provide for some additional backward/forward adjustment for intonation if you run out of the individual string bridge adjustments.

 

Anyway, the physics of the bridge have changed by the having the added tail piece or Bigsby now handle the string tension. Not good or bad, but different, and should be accounted for, so you can make sure the bridge assembly is in its proper forward/backward and height positions when you have it all together.

 

Just a thought.

 

Dave

Yeah I am with you on that something got changed when adding the tail piece for me it turned out positive, I have gone through and made sure the intonation was right and the way the bridge was sitting was up to par.. Thanks for the info  Its funny how little things affect sound and playability.  before I purchased the variax I had tried many different guitars and modded them in different ways.  (adding hi mass tremblocks, using brass vs steel, wrapping strings around the tail stops, using different pickups and capasitors) they all added playability and improved tone.  I would actually like to try one of those xtrem settups ( no modding my 59 body to use it)..

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I think possible the angle that the strings originally wrapped around the bridge was allot sharper of an angle than when using a tail piece ..........

If the tail piece causes the string tails to pass over the bridge at a shallower angle then you have changed the "string break angle" at the bridge. The break angles at both the nut and the bridge do effect how strings feel. Generally the steeper angle the stiffer the stings feel. So a shallower angle will produce strings that "feel" lighter to play. Google "guitar string break angle" to read more. The Gibson tune-o-matic bridge and stop tail allows you to increase or decrease the break angle at the bridge by lowering or raising the stop tail.

 

I don't understand why that could lead to lower action and no fret buzz unless it's because the looser feeling strings mean you don't play as hard to get the same result, so the lighter playing style results in no buzz? Just my guess. But I am glad to hear that you can achieve your desired lower action height with the tailpiece in place.

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If the tail piece causes the string tails to pass over the bridge at a shallower angle then you have changed the "string break angle" at the bridge. The break angles at both the nut and the bridge do effect how strings feel. Generally the steeper angle the stiffer the stings feel. So a shallower angle will produce strings that "feel" lighter to play. Google "guitar string break angle" to read more. The Gibson tune-o-matic bridge and stop tail allows you to increase or decrease the break angle at the bridge by lowering or raising the stop tail.

 

I don't understand why that could lead to lower action and no fret buzz unless it's because the looser feeling strings mean you don't play as hard to get the same result, so the lighter playing style results in no buzz? Just my guess. But I am glad to hear that you can achieve your desired lower action height with the tailpiece in place.

Positively Brilliant you are.. It makes sense to me.. Thank you I am a lighter player that is probable it..  I fricken love Google you can find answers to anything Thanks again.. 

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IMG_0825.jpg

 

Well got my new tailpiece and I think it turned out awesome..  added Strap locks also.  for some reason after I added the tailpiece I was able to lower the action allot with out any buzzing so I am happy with that.  Just waiting for the strings to stretch enough to know how stable my tuning is.  but so far so good.. 

 

I have just received my vintage style tail piece which looks identical to the one you used.  When I placed it next to the body I could see that the fixing for the edge is deeper than the JTV59 body width and also does not have a center hole drilled for the guitar strap screw to fit through.  Did you drill your own hole in the fixing to line up with the guitar strap button?  And did you cut off the edge of the fixing to make it match the JTV59 body depth?  

 

Thanks.

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I have just received my vintage style tail piece which looks identical to the one you used.  When I placed it next to the body I could see that the fixing for the edge is deeper than the JTV59 body width and also does not have a center hole drilled for the guitar strap screw to fit through.  Did you drill your own hole in the fixing to line up with the guitar strap button?  And did you cut off the edge of the fixing to make it match the JTV59 body depth?  

 

Thanks.

Yeah I drilled my own hole for the strap button.  I also used a couple of layers of painters tape on the side that faced the body so it wouldn't scuff my finish..  I didn't bother cutting off the edge though you could it doesn't affect me at all having it stick out a 1/4 of a inch..  I will post a close up pick..

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Yeah I drilled my own hole for the strap button.  I also used a couple of layers of painters tape on the side that faced the body so it wouldn't scuff my finish..  I didn't bother cutting off the edge though you could it doesn't affect me at all having it stick out a 1/4 of a inch..  I will post a close up pick..

 

Thanks!   :)

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here are the pics and by the way I make certain you drill that dead center other wise it will throw off the string alignment..( I am sure you know that I just wanted to remind you)..  I also curved the bracket to match the curve of the guitar so that it would fit snug..

post-8678-0-85587400-1433776568_thumb.jpg

post-8678-0-81865700-1433776578_thumb.jpg

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here are the pics and by the way I make certain you drill that dead center other wise it will throw off the string alignment..( I am sure you know that I just wanted to remind you).. I also curved the bracket to match the curve of the guitar so that it would fit snug..

Did I miss the link in this thread showing where to buy the tailpiece? I'd like to do that myself. Thanks.

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http://www.guitarfetish.com/Xtrem-Floating-Tailpiece-Vibrato-Chrome-Finish_p_4414.html

 

http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=CHROME+VINTAGE+Casting+TRAPEZE+TAILPIECE+FOR+335+GUITAR&_id=181390290221&&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2658

 

I added two links one is for guitarfetish if I were to buy one now I would go with the trem option, the other link is ebay where they have a bunch of different styles that's where I ordered mine..

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http://www.guitarfetish.com/Xtrem-Floating-Tailpiece-Vibrato-Chrome-Finish_p_4414.html

 

http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=CHROME+VINTAGE+Casting+TRAPEZE+TAILPIECE+FOR+335+GUITAR&_id=181390290221&&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2658

 

I added two links one is for guitarfetish if I were to buy one now I would go with the trem option, the other link is ebay where they have a bunch of different styles that's where I ordered mine..

Thanks. I'm just looking to get the strings off of the bridge and strictly onto the piezos, so the simple trapeze should suit me perfectly. Thanks!

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Ordered. On a slow boat from China, so when it arrives next month I'll update with results. Really looking forward to seeing if it helps eliminate sympathetic vibrations through the bridge.

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Ordered. On a slow boat from China, so when it arrives next month I'll update with results. Really looking forward to seeing if it helps eliminate sympathetic vibrations through the bridge.

Actually if its the same place on ebay you should get it in about a week or so.. It was relatively quick delivery.. but you will need to use the velcro dampening still, cause there is even more vibrating string past the bridge saddles much like the tuning pegs and the nut on the headstock..  but you won't get the vibrations against the wrap around bridge..  its kinda like the wildness of a old bigsby hollow body you need to tame the beast a little..  good luck though 

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Actually if its the same place on ebay you should get it in about a week or so.. It was relatively quick delivery.. but you will need to use the velcro dampening still, cause there is even more vibrating string past the bridge saddles much like the tuning pegs and the nut on the headstock.. but you won't get the vibrations against the wrap around bridge.. its kinda like the wildness of a old bigsby hollow body you need to tame the beast a little.. good luck though

You were right! Much cleaner tone on palm muting and there's no more weird overtones. Even my tuner pedal is more accurate now without the extra sympathetic vibrations that make the tuner usually go wonky as a note decays. Great find, and thanks for the advice!

 

Also, you were right! Not long over a week for delivery. Good stuff!

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You were right! Much cleaner tone on palm muting and there's no more weird overtones. Even my tuner pedal is more accurate now without the extra sympathetic vibrations that make the tuner usually go wonky as a note decays. Great find, and thanks for the advice!

 

Also, you were right! Not long over a week for delivery. Good stuff!

Well I am glad it helped.. did you have to use the velcro on the bridge.  I didn't get the string buzz across the bridge.  But I felt there was allot of vibrations from the tail piece..  I thought it sounded better than the wrap around setup but not as perfect as it did with the velcro..  Just wondering... your take

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I put a strip in there just to be safe, but it's actually loose so I don't think it's even necessary. Seems the strings don't even touch, except enough to slightly hold Velcro.

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I have been reading on other post of issues with a terrible sound on the sixth string.  very prominent when doing palm muting with high gains or doing pedal notes..  I recently started playing a old song I learned years ago called (Still of the nIght by white snake).  The patch I was using had allot of treble and loads of gain a bad combination for the already treble driven variax.  The short of it I could not play it with model mode I had to use the magnetics.  The sound was horrible on the sixth string, even though I had it dampened.  So I started tinkering ( I play drums also and I used Gen16 cymbals for my EKit.)  Well they are notorious for sounding god awful at times I cured that by simple adding a layer of electrical tape between the pickup sensor and the cymbal, Low and behold they sounded fantastic.  So I tried it with the pickups on the variax and with luck I had the same results.  I applied a small piece of Electrical tape on the piezo, now I can't tell the difference between the palm muting in model mode and the magnetics..  Don't get me wrong the velcro certainly helped tame the beast and the tailstop helped allot with the funky wrap around bridge vibration sounds.  But the tape seemed to cure the sixth string issue allot of people are having..  there is a link to the other chat down below hope this helps people if not hope some one finds something better...  It worked for me  I also attached a pic of it

 

http://line6.com/support/topic/6764-do-you-have-the-same-problem-with-6th-string/

post-8678-0-30191400-1436652424_thumb.jpg

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Actually scratch the Idea with the piece of electrical tape it kills the sustain, does solve the issue but then creates another one.  I opted to use simple elmers glue around the out skirts of the piezo pickup and that has solved the issue for me.  With out killing the sustain so far.  Though I think the tape made it sound more like the default magnetic pickups.. (though you can help that utilizing the global eq)  perhaps the piezo is rattling around making that awful noise..

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I had to go back to the drawing board the glue thing only lasted a few days and the ping came back.  So Took another look to see what was actually going on.  (trying to figure out where it was actually coming from was a tedious process).  I am pretty certain now why adding the velcro helped remedy it and then eventually the ping came back so when I added the glue it temporarily fixed it also. The strings eventually wore through it back to original spot.  I looked at how the string laid across the bridge saddle (IE pickup).  The string actually goes between multiple grooves at a given time..  There is the groove in the wrap around bridge- then a groove in the casing that holds the piezo on both sides and of course the Piezo element itself..  I felt the grooves in the actual casing were not wide enough (especially the side towards the pickups where the string vibrates the most).  So I used a small file and widened it.. So far no more ping.  Had a entire hour long practice with out any buzzing or pings..  I think the strings were hitting the Edges of that opening in the casing causing a harmonic ping..  Hopefully this is it the final cure for this annoying defect..  It has been a long struggle to get this fixed..

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I had to go back to the drawing board the glue thing only lasted a few days and the ping came back.  So Took another look to see what was actually going on.  (trying to figure out where it was actually coming from was a tedious process).  I am pretty certain now why adding the velcro helped remedy it and then eventually the ping came back so when I added the glue it temporarily fixed it also. The strings eventually wore through it back to original spot.  I looked at how the string laid across the bridge saddle (IE pickup).  The string actually goes between multiple grooves at a given time..  There is the groove in the wrap around bridge- then a groove in the casing that holds the piezo on both sides and of course the Piezo element itself..  I felt the grooves in the actual casing were not wide enough (especially the side towards the pickups where the string vibrates the most).  So I used a small file and widened it.. So far no more ping.  Had a entire hour long practice with out any buzzing or pings..  I think the strings were hitting the Edges of that opening in the casing causing a harmonic ping..  Hopefully this is it the final cure for this annoying defect..  It has been a long struggle to get this fixed..

 

So you say it's the side of the string hitting the piezo element casing in the side of the groove?

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A good picture here would help with the explanation.  I don't have a 59 so I do not know what the bridge looks like exactly around the piezos.

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For the JTV59 - do the piezo elements just pop out of the casing?  Just wondering how people have managed to glue around them or place plumbers ptfe tape around them? I can see my piezo elements move if I just push each string laterally just in front of the bridge - so I would like to be able to stop them moving around if possible - plus would like to do the widening of the piezo element casing groove too as I get that annoying plink on the 6th string at times!  In fact the 5th and 6th strings tend to sound more metallic than on a standard guitar so possibly both need the grooves widening.   Also I noticed that the strings pass pretty close to the front of the bridge after leaving the saddles - so there is potential for contact there if you hit the strings heavily.

 

BTW - Charlie_Watt you can see that Katiekerry posted a picture of his JTV59 bridge a few posts back so you can see the elements sitting in the housing saddles.

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I can't tell in the picture if the string touches the bridge behind the piezo.  The break point is the piezo.  Not sure where he is changing things.  My JTV experience is all with the 69S.

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There is a groove in the casing both in front and behind the piezo element.  On the low E and A the groove is not really wide enough to allow the string to vibrate freely without hitting the edges.  I am not sure whether katiekerry expanded the groove in front of, or behind the piezo.  From what I can see on my 59, the potential is there for the string to interact with the casing on both sides.  On the 69 the strings take a nice steep dive down into the bridge after the piezo saddle - no shallow slope or casing to interact with the string.

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I can see it being a problem if the string can hit the casing in front (neck side) of the piezo.  It should not ever touch there.  It should not matter much if it touches behind the piezo but it would be ok to prevent that.  The piezo must not move and vibrate against the bridge!  That could cause unwanted noise for sure.

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There is a groove in the casing both in front and behind the piezo element.  On the low E and A the groove is not really wide enough to allow the string to vibrate freely without hitting the edges.  I am not sure whether katiekerry expanded the groove in front of, or behind the piezo.  From what I can see on my 59, the potential is there for the string to interact with the casing on both sides.  On the 69 the strings take a nice steep dive down into the bridge after the piezo saddle - no shallow slope or casing to interact with the string.

I widened and deepened the groove on the side facing the Pickups.  I do not think the other side matters.  I think the reason some people are having issues and some are not are possible two fold.  String stiffness when you start off with fresh strings they are allot stiffer and do not vibrate back and forth as wide as a set that have been on past the break in period.  Often I hear that people changing strings every few weeks, So they may not have issues with the ping or plunk artifact.  Also string gauge ( having thicker strings are more likely to vibrate against the casing).   Or perhaps even different string brands may vibrate less than others.  I can't tell exactly from pictures but it looks as though the JTV69 bridge has a similar design ( Having the groove in the casing on the side facing the pickups) so it could be the issue with the 69 series also.  I am not sure if people are having issues with the 89F.  hope this helps I have posted pictures of the bridge in earlier post but I will try to make a new one with a diagram or something that explains what I did..

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I attached a photo with a red circle around the area I filed.  I didn't take out allot, just enough so the ping or plunk would go away..

post-8678-0-57755500-1437706400_thumb.jpg

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This cause makes sense and explains why the remedies I have used only work temporarily. The downward pressure from the string eventually pushes down through whatever material I have used (velcro, felt, tape) and the string reseats itself into that groove.

 

I can't find my reading glasses right this second, so it it hard for me to see on my saddle, but it appears me string does not sit on the pickup-side casing groove, but rather rides over it, not touching. It definitely is sitting in the groove on the other side. I'll still try to widen the groove and see what happens, after I find my glasses B).

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Good picture!  Good work!  The Velcro behind is also a very good idea.  There is enough string length back there to make noise and it needs damping.

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One thing I noticed if you look at the picture, even where the strings cross the bridge saddle adjustment bracing there is some wear from the string coming in contact with it.  I went through and filed that down a little also.  I am not sure if it is because I use the tail stop or not, if the wrap around bridge pulls on the back of it to lower the front for more clearance.. I tried pulling up on the back of it but it doesn't move. Though i had issues with the ping noise before I ever got the tail stop..

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Ok, so I went to Home Depot and bought a cheapo set of small files, went back home and got to work on filing the piezo casing a la katiekerry's post. I ended up widening both the front and back slots and it made a definite improvement. Pinging is there but it seems about 90% reduced. The whole process took maybe 15-20 minutes. I made sure to WIDEN, not go deeper.

 

Thanks for posting this solution, katie. headbanger.gif

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after looking at my bridge, I set it back up stock with the wrap around bridge ( instead of using a tail piece).  And there is no difference in string action clearance over the bridge..  I kinda wonder if some of the guitars had poorly drilled bridge mount screw holes..  The strings vibrate so close to the saddle adjustment bar..  ( on mine I actually have wear marks where the string was hitting it..

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Hi katiekerry - what size file did you use to increase the size of the grooves in the casing front of the piezo elements?  I guess it was pretty small...  thanks.

Also - did you just file down the casing and bridge under the LOW E or did you have to adjust it for the A string as well?   Thanks.

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I only did it for the low E left the rest alone.  The file was pretty small I am not sure the size of it, unlike rocco I actually deepened the groove also.  That may be why he has had only a 90% drop.  I did file the bridge also just because there were wear marks from the string across it.  Though for that I took allot more out about a 1/8 of an inch or so..if you do that you will see brass under the plating so don't freak out.  yours may not need the bridge filed just the casing..  I kinda wonder if the bridge mounts are correct they look right but then again I have never had a bridge designed the way the JTV59 is..  Any guitar I have had the string height was never an issue ( in correlation to the physical bridge)..  Good luck though I hope it fixes it..  I have not heard any ping or plunk sounds yet.  I think its been about a week..

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