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Changing the tailgut


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I took my viola to a repairsman, hoping he would get my A string less bright and harsh. That didn't happen, even though he changed the tailgut (a synthetic one really). He said that now with the new tailgut the lower strings might be too "loose", and if I wish, I can change the old one back myself. I read all the posts about changing tailpieces or tailguts and I'm now afraid that the soundpost will fall if I take all the strings off. However my teacher once did some adjustment on my viola, and he loosened all the strings. The post didn't fall even if he wasn't holding the viola exactly still.

So should I try? Any tips? I think the instrument was better with the old tailgut, but I really wouldn't mind to bother my teacher (or the repairsman) again with my instrument problems

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I would never attempt to change a tailgut unless I had at hand the tools to resurect the soundpost.

I loosen the strings gradually and try to pull the soundpost toward the f-hole to he sure it is tight enough to stand after all string tenson has been released. But I frequently fail and have to take the post out and reseat it about half the time.

You should be able to set the new "tailgut" at the same length as the old one, regardless of the material wach is made of, and have the same sonic result. It might be worth having a third tailgut in hand before you start the process - especially if the newer one is shorter than the original. But from the way you describe the loser low strings, it sounds like your new tailgut is longer, so you shold have some thread left to tighten it - you might be able to tell by looking under there.

Viola tailpieces come in several lengths - and perhaps you will need a different tailpiece to come up with the ideal length of tailgut and strings. However, the actual tension in the strings would still be the same if the bridge is still in its old position.


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