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Violin tailpiece holder. Plastic VS Kevlar.


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I messed around experimenting with kevlar tailguts, and wound up coming back to the stiffer plastic ones. I found the more flexible kevlar cords made harsher sounding violins seem more "pliable" on the attack, but sustained sound was "tubbier," even "flabby" to use meaningless but I hope descriptive terms. On all around higher quality violins, the flexible tail cords only made them sound less brilliant, and made them less responsive and less powerful. There may be an optimum amount of flexibility/stiffness for each violin, but I've been finding that stiffer is better for the violins I have.

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The nylon tailpiece adjusters come into two varieties...  I like to use the ones that have an extra brass compression washer that forces the brass nut to tighten around the nylon cord.  If you have just the ones with only a brass nut then a tiny drop of crazy glue applied with a toothpick can seal the thread.  Of course the nylon tailpiece adjusters do stretch so you have to take that into account when doing the after-length.

 

I have used a kevlar substitute (Excel Vectran) on a bass since bass tailpiece adjusters are not commonly stocked.  Excel Vectran is usually found at nautical supply stores and is much cheaper than kevlar and has the tensile strength to handle the tension of bass strings.  

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Has anyone ever tried one of these?

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/STRADPET-Titanium-Tail-Gut-with-Titanium-Bolts-and-Titanium-Nuts-for-Violin-Violin-Accessories/1703074_32278958511.html

 

I got one today here at Cremonatools shop, these gadgets always attract my curiosity, though I have never believed that they can do wonders in spite of the always excessive cost. <_<

 

But titanium and kevlar look promising.... :)

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Has anyone ever tried one of these?

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/STRADPET-Titanium-Tail-Gut-with-Titanium-Bolts-and-Titanium-Nuts-for-Violin-Violin-Accessories/1703074_32278958511.html

 

I got one today here at Cremonatools shop, these gadgets always attract my curiosity, though I have never believed that they can do wonders in spite of the always excessive cost. <_<

 

But titanium and kevlar look promising.... :)

Naaah, that cost is fine.  Retitle it "Cable, Resonant Assembly Retainer. M-xxxx", get it a DLA stock code and pair it to a MILSPEC, like W----------- or R------ do their radar system hardware, you'd be lucky to be paying only a grand a whack for them.  ;)  :lol:

 

I like my stock of vintage Sacconis I picked up on eBay.  :)

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I'm confused by the usage of the attribute "stiff" in some of the responses above.

The Kevlar tailguts are sure very soft and floppy to the touch, but in direction to the force when mounted, kevlar is 5 times stronger than steel, compared to its weight. This refers to its "tension strength", which i think is the most relevant property for the usecase as tailgut.

So I would guess that kevlar is much "stiffer" than nylon or gut or even steel, for the usual tailgut dimensions. I have not calculated nor measured that, and it is probably a little counter-intuitive.

Can anybody confirm that guess?

P.S.: I received a kevlar tailgut with my Bois-D'harmonie Cello tailpiece and had it mounted by my luthier. I play this combo happily ever since.

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Has anyone ever tried one of these?

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/STRADPET-Titanium-Tail-Gut-with-Titanium-Bolts-and-Titanium-Nuts-for-Violin-Violin-Accessories/1703074_32278958511.html

 

I got one today here at Cremonatools shop, these gadgets always attract my curiosity, though I have never believed that they can do wonders in spite of the always excessive cost. <_<

 

But titanium and kevlar look promising.... :)

 

I'm confused by the usage of the attribute "stiff" in some of the responses above.

 

 

There's longitudinal (tension) stiffness and bending stiffness... as well as damping.

 

Nylon isn't very stiff longitudinally, necessitating a fatter diameter, which then becomes quite stiff in bending.

 

Kevlar and especially metal cables are much stiffer basic materials, so can be made thinner, with the result of less bending stiffness and less damping.   There's also the issue of cutting into the saddle.

 

The Stradpet plastic-coated metal cable looks like it might be a good combination... metal cable core to avoid the stretch/creep annoyance, and plastic coating to add bending stiffness and damping and avoid saddle cuts.  I have one of them, but have not tried it out yet.  I don't see any benefit to the use of titanium, other than to advertise "Titanium".  I think stainless steel would work just as well, and be cheaper.

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There's longitudinal (tension) stiffness and bending stiffness... as well as damping.

 

Nylon isn't very stiff longitudinally, necessitating a fatter diameter, which then becomes quite stiff in bending.

 

Kevlar and especially metal cables are much stiffer basic materials, so can be made thinner, with the result of less bending stiffness and less damping.   There's also the issue of cutting into the saddle.

 

The Stradpet plastic-coated metal cable looks like it might be a good combination... metal cable core to avoid the stretch/creep annoyance, and plastic coating to add bending stiffness and damping and avoid saddle cuts.  I have one of them, but have not tried it out yet.  I don't see any benefit to the use of titanium, other than to advertise "Titanium".  I think stainless steel would work just as well, and be cheaper.

 

Yes,Titanium seems to be a magic word these days, but I agree with Don, I also do not see the benefits apart from the media impact.... :)

This reminds me of the strings Vision titanium, that did not have even a shadow of titanium, only a metal alloy named Titanal for the outraugeosly expensive E string (more than ten bucks), that I always had to replace when I used that set of strings <_<

I always got the best results with steel wire tailgut, but the couple titanium / kevlar intrigued me for the greater diameter of the wire, perhaps behaves as steel but with less tendency to cut into the saddle and perhaps a greater bending stiffness.

I only bought one that I have not tried yet, probably will not make a big difference, but curiosity is hard to resist.

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What I don't like about nylon cables is that they stretch a lot. Two annoyances happen--the strings go flat out of tune which is no big deal. But when you tighten them to bring them back to pitch it pulls the bridge forward causing a tendency for it to bend.

 

This is the main reason why I sought for alternative materials, steel with adjustement screws work fantastic in this regard.

Also kevlar in theory, but knots stretch before stabilizing and this is very annoying.

However, say that we use this space age material for an acoustic improvement is much more cool..... B)

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The third thing that I don't like about the stretchy/creepy nylon gut is that it allows the free length to increase, which can create a tailpiece resonance in a range I don't care for (it also shortens the string afterlength, for those who are picky about that).  I keep the free gut length very short for that reason, and if it stretches too much then I have to unstring it for adjustment.  That bothers me more than retuning or straightening the bridge.

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I really like the Kevlar tailguts. Ive been using them for about a decade. The brand name tailguts were much too expensive, so one of the guys at my shop did some research and found a company that sold the same stuff for pennies per foot. 

 

I have a little jig that I built to pre-stretch the cord once it's tied onto the tailpiece. I apply more force than the strings can, so it does all the stretching it's going to do and stays exactly where I want it. Because the knot is cinched down firmly after this, it's impossible to unite. If I need to shorten the length a little I use an ebony shim glued lightly in behind the knot on the underside of the tailpiece. if it's just 1-2mm it's no problem, anything more and I just cut the cord and start over.

 

Soundwise, I've been very pleased with them. I think it frees up the rotational mode on the tailpiece which makes the whole instrument more lively.

 

M

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For 400 years the violin was 'perfected' with a very stiff gut tailgut. ....Then here comes along this kevlar 'improvement'!......I don''t mean any disrespect to fellow luthiers who like a thin kevlar tail gut but after very seriously trying the new developement I personally think it is not an enhancement and comes with problems like unwanted tailpiece resonances etc Personally I would never use this type of tailgut again and would refer players who insist on it to other luthiers who like it.

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... after very seriously trying the new developement I personally think it is not an enhancement and comes with problems like unwanted tailpiece resonances etc Personally I would never use this type of tailgut again

 

Ditto.

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For 400 years the violin was 'perfected' with a very stiff gut tailgut. ....Then here comes along this kevlar 'improvement'!......I don''t mean any disrespect to fellow luthiers who like a thin kevlar tail gut but after very seriously trying the new developement I personally think it is not an enhancement and comes with problems like unwanted tailpiece resonances etc Personally I would never use this type of tailgut again and would refer players who insist on it to other luthiers who like it.

I concur, I am always one to try something new and keep at it.  Tried and experimented countless times with different players input and decided to pass up on the kevlar.  

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Having tried Kevlar tailgut and experiencing problems with it is a great reason to discontinue using it. But suggesting that any particular aspect of the violin has been perfected for 400 years is a bit of a stretch. What about Stradivari's design improvements over Amati/Stainer construction. And the late 18th - early 19th century improvements in neck/fingerboard design and bassbar design. Then there's wound strings, synthetic core strings, steel E strings, bridge redesign, "Sacconi" tailguts, chinrests, the Tourte bow........ I wouldn't criticize people for trying to make improvements. Many have done that and succeeded, to the benefit of all of us.

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The other aspect that most people seem to ignore (or at least never mention) is the considerable difference in diameter of the various materials….real gut is over 2mm thicker then the kevlar resulting in the equivalent of lowering or heightening the bottom saddle by this amount which changes the string able over the bridge considerably, the nylon ones i general use are just a touch slimmer then some of the old real gut i have, but far thicker then the kevlar i have in the workshop.

While I am sure the stiffness of the material has an influence on sound and  resonance, I think that a biggest difference in sound between different tail gut materials could well be due to the change in the string angle they make, and the “resonance” of the material very likely has the least influence.

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Personally, I seriously doubt that the fraction of a mm effective saddle height change would make a difference, and I've looked into the observable annoying resonances and am convinced that it is due to the very low bending stiffness of the kevlar.

 

But there is an interesting point about the smaller diameter kevlar:  if the holes in the tailpiece are fairly well aligned with the loadpath, then the effective length of the kevlar could include the bit going thru the tailpiece... i.e. several mm longer than just what you would measure from the end of the tailpiece to the saddle.  That would make for some extremely low frequency resonances at the end of the tailpiece... the exact opposite of what I'm trying to get by shortening the gut as much as possible.

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Personally, I seriously doubt that the fraction of a mm effective saddle height change would make a difference, and I've looked into the observable annoying resonances and am convinced that it is due to the very low bending stiffness of the kevlar.

 

 

In my experience dropping or increasing the height of the saddle by 2mm can make a big difference....the different in diameter between the kevlar and real gut can be 2mm+.

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I just measured several of my nylon guts, and the were right around 2mm... so a reduction of 2 mm would put kevlar at zero.

 

Even so, I also noticed that the gut was at the bottom of the tailpiece holes... which means that the bottom of the tailpiece holes then lines up with the top of the saddle, therefore it doesn't matter what diameter the gut is, the end of the tailpiece should stay at the same level.  Disclaimer:  I don't have any skinny kevlar guts installed to see if it holds true for them, and it is possible that the bending stiffness of the nylon gut (as it comes around the top of the saddle) could raise the tailpiece slightly.

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