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G,dae

Cheap vs more expensive tailpieces

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I have struggled to find anything definitive on this. I have read about cheap woods such as ebony being less dense and being less black but the effect it has on sound is just like anything...it depends on the violin.

With this in mind is there any good reason to go for more expensive tailpieces over cheap ones? I'm not talking 'bois' tailpieces level as they are completely out of the picture but more the difference between these made by Teller at £24

https://www.thestringzone.co.uk/tulip-pattern-violin-tailpiece-by-j-teller-germany

 

And these for £6

https://www.richtonemusic.co.uk/product/stentor-violin-tailpiece-ebony-4-4/

 

 

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What you want to avoid, is a very thick and heavy tailpiece, which a lot of cheap ones are.
With a more expensive one, hopefully more attention is paid to the underside, and it will be nicely thinned, with a decent sized pocket for the tailgut to fit in.

A lot of cheaper ones are very bulky with poorly cut slots, which either aren't wide enough to take the strings easily, or have holes drilled so far back that the E string ball end will jam against the front of the tailpiece, before the adjuster is even wound down. Some have weird lengths and are longer than you would ideally want, holes too small for some tailguts....

In the end I guess it depends if you are more bothered about the cost vs quality, and can spend an hour trying to rework something.

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55 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

What you want to avoid, is a very thick and heavy tailpiece, which a lot of cheap ones are.

 

Why? Some violins sound better with lighter tailpieces, and some sound better with heavier tailpieces.

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I use Wittner composite tailpieces on the fiddles I make, primarily because they have 4 built-in fine tuners so string afterlengths aren't affected by add-on fine tuners. I'm a fiddle player so maybe the distincton isn't valid to fine violin players who don't use fine tuners. Otherwise, density-schmensity, I agree with David.

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On 3/18/2020 at 12:31 PM, G,dae said:

I have struggled to find anything definitive on this. I have read about cheap woods such as ebony being less dense and being less black but the effect it has on sound is just like anything...it depends on the violin.

With this in mind is there any good reason to go for more expensive tailpieces over cheap ones? I'm not talking 'bois' tailpieces level as they are completely out of the picture but more the difference between these made by Teller at £24

https://www.thestringzone.co.uk/tulip-pattern-violin-tailpiece-by-j-teller-germany

 

And these for £6

https://www.richtonemusic.co.uk/product/stentor-violin-tailpiece-ebony-4-4/

 

 

Buy what is in your budget range, the reality is this. It's all about Mass, and there is no established weight that is "it" every violin is an individual and thus every and or any tailpeice could sound better or worse. The weight will be much more of a factor than the price. 

And reality is that a distributor could have 100 of the same tailpieces in stock and he will grab one off the shelf, and within the 100 there could be as much as a gram one way or the other as far as weight goes, maybe even 2grams assuming they are made of wood.

So to definitively answer your question you would need a large amount of tailpieces , say at least 10, from the lightest one to the heaviest, you would need to try them all,and after all that somewhere in your subjective assessment you would say , "that one, that weighs "that" much is the one that sounds best.

Most players do not have the budget to do that, but that's about what it would take to answer your question, and of course this may or may not apply to your violin only.

 

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The Tellar ones are 115mm long which seem unusually long which is odd as I would have expected a more usual length. I dont mind reworking tailpieces to be honest and have the tools to do so the cheaper ones might be a better option?

Everyone talks about how good the Wittners are but is this only considering they have 4 fine tuners attached? Would a traditional tailpiece with no fine tuners be better than a Wittner? 

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On 3/18/2020 at 12:31 PM, G,dae said:

I have struggled to find anything definitive on this. I have read about cheap woods such as ebony being less dense and being less black but the effect it has on sound is just like anything...it depends on the violin.

With this in mind is there any good reason to go for more expensive tailpieces over cheap ones? I'm not talking 'bois' tailpieces level as they are completely out of the picture but more the difference between these made by Teller at £24

https://www.thestringzone.co.uk/tulip-pattern-violin-tailpiece-by-j-teller-germany

 

And these for £6

https://www.richtonemusic.co.uk/product/stentor-violin-tailpiece-ebony-4-4/

 

 

here, have fun

http://www.dov-music.com/search2.asp?pg=1&stext=violin tailpiece&stype=exact

and ebony is not a "cheap" wood 

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3 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

Buy what is in your budget range, the reality is this. It's all about Mass, and there is no established weight that is "it" every violin is an individual and thus every and or any tailpeice could sound better or worse. The weight will be much more of a factor than the price. 

And reality is that a distributor could have 100 of the same tailpieces in stock and he will grab one off the shelf, and within the 100 there could be as much as a gram one way or the other as far as weight goes, maybe even 2grams

So to definitively answer your question you would need a large amount of tailpieces , say at least 10, from the lightest one to the heaviest, you would need to try them all,and after all that somewhere in your subjective assessment you would say , "that one, that weighs "that" much is the one that sounds best.

Most players do not have the budget to do that, but that's about what it would take to answer your question, and of course this may or may not apply to your violin only.

 

So forget spending money on the Tellar and buy a few cheap tailpieces to experiment with?

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Hi G'dae, from a cursory glance at the two tailpieces you ask about, one is made in Germany from finest ebony, workmanship etc. It's 115 mm long. The other one looks very similar but doesn't state the length or other features.

Who knows? I would try the cheaper one first, not much to lose if you have to tweak it a bit or if it's absolute junk.

P.S. your screen name is fun.

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I use mostly cheap tailpieces in the shop, from dov-music.com. That's because the criteria that would be important to me aren't consistent among brands and advertised by them. From Dov I can get any length I want, any material, and they are well enough made and fit my general description of a tailpiece at a reasonable quality. While the more expensive ones certainly are prettier, there's nothing about them that I have to have tonally, and they can be VERY expensive.

I'm with David, also, on making across-the-board prescriptions for tailpieces. Though because the differences aren't large, I usually use the same thing on violins; for cellos I have a wide range of different ones to draw on, and I do, because the difference seems larger.

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16 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

I use mostly cheap tailpieces in the shop, from dov-music.com. That's because the criteria that would be important to me aren't consistent among brands and advertised by them. From Dov I can get any length I want, any material, and they are well enough made and fit my general description of a tailpiece at a reasonable quality. While the more expensive ones certainly are prettier, there's nothing about them that I have to have tonally, and they can be VERY expensive.

I'm with David, also, on making across-the-board prescriptions for tailpieces. Though because the differences aren't large, I usually use the same thing on violins; for cellos I have a wide range of different ones to draw on, and I do, because the difference seems larger.

Very pragmatic. 

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The thing you need to be aware of is you're not paying for tonal superiority, you're paying for fit and finish. 

A cheap tailpiece can be carved down or refinished if it's not exactly what you're after. 

Or you can pay someone else and save your time.

But weight, wood type, etc you need to decide on before you buy an expensive set, unless you plan on buying dozens of different types.

Only occasionally, if someone is after a nice matching set of something, do I pay for an expensive tp. And I'm seriously considering tooling up to make full sets myself.

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1 hour ago, G,dae said:

That looks great but is an American site.

I know everyone hates us, but we're not that bad :lol:

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1 hour ago, G,dae said:

So forget spending money on the Tellar and buy a few cheap tailpieces to experiment with?

that's what I'd do

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1 hour ago, MarkBouquet said:

That's all? Where's my freedom of choice? Things ain't what they used to be. 

I was going to call him up an insist on one more page! :lol:

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I'm with Michael and David... you only need the wood selection, design and workmanship you want, and Dov is pretty good for the price.  Acoustics is not something to pay for, but adjust if necessary later. 

My personal experience is that heavy tailpieces are not necessarily bad.  The only definitely bad results I have had was with tailpieces that were too light, which allowed some of the tailpiece vibrations to creep up into the playing range and cause problems.  Normally the major modes are below the playing range and not a problem.

 

 

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5 hours ago, bkwood said:

I use Wittner composite tailpieces on the fiddles I make, primarily because they have 4 built-in fine tuners so string afterlengths aren't affected by add-on fine tuners. I'm a fiddle player so maybe the distincton isn't valid to fine violin players who don't use fine tuners. Otherwise, density-schmensity, I agree with David.

I've been noticing lots of superkids using wittner or similar and i've been thinking it helps kids with tuning their violin with their limited strength and arm length :)  Mine came with an aluminum wittner (or exact copy, since it doesn't have a brand stamped on it).  The violin doesn't have any problems, and just the fact that aluminum was determined acceptable by wittner to start with says something.

 

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7 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

Mine came with an aluminum wittner (or exact copy, since it doesn't have a brand stamped on it).

The metal ones are the worst. The Wittner composite ones are pretty nice functionally, if you can bear the look. 

I think that they can be quite useful for fine-tuning when using metal-core strings (Helicore, Prims, etc.), but not necessary with composite and gut strings.

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As a fiddle player who often uses steel strings, I really like the old Thomastik metal tailpieces.  They are "wrong"... very short, wide, and extremely heavy... but I have never noticed any detrimental acoustic effects, other than a slight dead spot when playing a note at the same pitch as an afterlength (that happens with any tailpiece, but the long afterlength on these will move the pitch lower on the E string).  The main thing I like about them is that they have enough tuning range to get to alternative tunings without messing with the pegs (only if using steel strings).

 395100866_Thomastiktp.jpg.3e629fc4a83301cc3888eacd0a9ed0f9.jpg

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Should the string spacing and curvature on the tail piece be the same as the bridge such that the string after lengths are parallel or doesn't it make any difference?

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On the weight of tailpieces: it's easy to make them lighter, if that's what you want, but harder to make them heavier.  I'm never bothered by a heavy one. (Speaking of wood ones here).

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2 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Should the string spacing and curvature on the tail piece be the same as the bridge such that the string after lengths are parallel or doesn't it make any difference?

All parallel = least stiffness between bridge and tailpiece.

I happen to think that's good.  If the stiffness gets high enough (which happens when the afterlengths are angled relative to each other), then the bridge and tailpiece are more strongly coupled, and the tailpiece mode frequencies can get high enough to get into the playing range... which I think gives unwanted resonances.  But it's all personal choice about what you think is good or bad.

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36 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

On the weight of tailpieces: ... I'm never bothered by a heavy one.

Possible inference 1:  Heavy tailpieces always work.

Possible inference 1a:  Light tailpieces sometimes don't work.

Possible inference 2:  If a heavy one doesn't work, it's easy to make it lighter.

Which one? Or which ones?

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