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Cheap vs more expensive tailpieces

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Mostly, I don't like what light tailpieces do on violins. Once or twice I have thinned one out, but what that does is compress the sound, make it more "pointy", which is something most violins have problems with, already. Violas often like hollow tailpieces---it makes them more focused. Cellos, I just go for a different type, entirely.

In my experience.

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7 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Mostly, I don't like what light tailpieces do on violins. ...

In my experience.

Mine too.

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Well fortunately for me, I make all my own tailpieces and will often times "play" with various things related to weight and length. I often times get it where I would like it, lighten it a bit by hollowing the back,and then usually use some type of decorative gemstones to re-introduce that tiny amount of weight.I like to use bone, copper, brass or silver for my tail saddle, which can be used as a weight additive too. I'm quite sure there is lots of subjective listening in all that. I do agree that there is a "Goldilocks" weight which is neither too heavy nor too light, it's somewhere in between. I do not think species characteristic play into it much other than weight, perhaps the robustness of the type pf grain pattern as that relates to a hole blowing out from a ball pulling on it. 

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I find that light tailpieces are the best,,,,,, by far,,

if the violin has something wrong with it and a normal one won't work!!!

I personally find a lot of nonsense in the different tail piece theory's that I hear.

I've removed wood, added wood, shortened, lengthened, tuned, de tuned, long tail-gut length, short tail-gut length, used clay, lead, boogers and chicken feathers.

Nah,,,

It is true,, (I can repeat it a thousand times over) that if the b-1, the tail piece, and the fingerboard are tuned exactly right, the violin will sound larger and more open, easier to play, speaks easier all around better results,  at least the best results that particular corpus is good for, to a point that is good. But I find that if it requires all that attention and super tuning, then there is something wrong with the basic corpus to begin with, and there will always be issues cropping up where it just doesn't sound right and is always needing adjusting, as soon as the bridge is moved a tiny bit it all goes south, then you get a call, my violin doesn't sound right,,,, always messing with it to get it back to "Its Beautiful Self"  I soon realized that if the corpus worked good enough, it doesn't care so much about all the add-ons it depends upon for it's survival.Tailpieces are just another one of those wishful thinking objects that are focused on to address flaws elsewhere. Certainly they make a difference, and those differences can be heard and felt at times, but there no hard rules,,, because it is only relevant as to the needs of the corpus. Otherwise one size would fit all,, it don't.

I have a special chisel I made to add lead north of the peg-box under the scroll, I don't do it any more but it has proven extremely successful if there is a certain goal in mind. I know of other "High Level makers" that have looked it to this,,,it can do marvelous things, then someone puts another neck on, or changes the board and it never sounds the same because it needed some special secret tweak to sound right, the bridge gets moved, or the tail-gut stretches a bit and all is lost,, nope,, not interested.

If I can't throw on a used bridge, some used strings, jam in a used post and see that there is good potential for a great instrument, then I know something else is wrong. All of those things matter tremendously, absolutely, but there is all of this nonsense about this does this and that does that and a lot of it is just not true, it is all taken out of context. Just because a result happened one time on a certain fiddle doesn't mean it will ever happen again.

At this point, the numbers have been worked out, neck lengths, thicknesses, standard tailpieces, projection,,etc,  that is where you start, if it doesn't work out fairly good, and with in adjusting parameters there are problems elsewhere. I pull the tail piece as close to the saddle as possible to eliminate one potential problem, I do not tune the after-lengths, I would much rather wrap them in yarn and get them to shut up, if it doesn't ring enough with out them, some other problem.

I some times like violin tail pieces on violas,

What do you have to say about THAT  Marty!

 

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Can someone share a detailed article about tail pieces? I have always preferred wood because I think it looks and sounds better. But also I was told that more mass-to a point- at the end of the string would result in a different and better sound. Less mass would result in a faster response, but a brighter and thinner response because the overtones would be different.

My own cello has a cocobolo tail piece with added fine tuners. When I switched it for an ebony B’ois Harmony tailpiece, the resulting sound was so horrible I immediately put the original back on. A colleague with the same cello has a carbon fiber on her instrument and likes it.

A friend and I just took her Testori To the shop for some restoration and set up, and the well respected shop owner insisted that a carbon fiber tailpiece would sound better.

My own experience personally is that wood sounds better, But I would like to have a better grasp of exactly what is happening and what changes when one changes the tailpiece?

Edited by PhilipKT

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What it is made of has nothing to do with it, lite and fast, heavy and slow. Lite is not always good,, think Styrofoam hammer,

It is the frequency coupling and or the mass that the instrument either likes or not,, it does not care what it is made of,,,and there are no hard and fast rules.

The average size and weight work most of the time with in reason, opposed to using something that is extra heavy or extra lite.

That is why they are average, fantastic results can be had on either side of the fence for different reasons.

At the point of trying different tailpieces, if a heavy one makes an instrument sound great, and they can do just that, they can make a big difference,  BUT

 you think that you just have to have a light tailpiece. and a heavy one makes it sound great, , you would have to rework the instrument, as in graduations or adding wood or some major changes to accommodate that.

Some instruments are not so sensitive, others are very temperamental, they are what they are and using a really  odd size or odd weight is just making compensation for something else that could be dealt with in another manner but in most cases,,, as in MOST cases not worth it, just figure what works and go with it. It is neither good nor bad, it just is what it is,,

Unless,,,, there is some other problem that the instrument has, which the whole needs to be taken into account and looked at.

It is simply some mass (Weight) and frequency (Weight and length and distance to the saddle) to mess around with.

Other than that it simply attaches the strings to the instrument.

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48 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

My own cello has a cocobolo tail piece with added fine tuners. When I switched it for an ebony B’ois Harmony tailpiece, the resulting sound was so horrible I immediately put the original back on. A colleague with the same cello has a carbon fiber on her instrument and likes it.

There is no such thing as the same instrument.

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16 minutes ago, Evan Smith said:

There is no such thing as the same instrument.

 Yes that’s true, but the man who made my instrument used the same log for almost all of his instruments, and they are very consistent. I understand your point, but it remains quite surprising that she is very happy with her composite Tailpiece, and on mine , even a slight difference in mass made a shocking difference.

 

plus, that Isn’t really relevant to the information I requested.

Edited by PhilipKT

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12 minutes ago, Evan Smith said:

>

It is simply some mass (Weight) and frequency (Weight and length) to mess around with.

Other than that it simply attaches the strings to the instrument.

I met a quartet cello player about a year ago who played a cello with no tail piece.  It just had four thin cables (steel?) going from the end pin-over the saddle  and attached to the strings.  Sort of like string extensions.   He claimed his cello sounded better with this rather than with a tailpiece.

So the tailpiece isn't really needed for attaching the strings to the instrument.  The original reason why tailpieces were used may have been to simply shorten the length of the strings thus reducing their cost.  

I recommend going back to the possibly original design and using a string after length exactly 1/2 of the bridge to nut length so that the notes they produce are one octave above the bowed portion for open notes.  

Sometimes weights are added to the string after length to tame wolf notes.  This is effective but I found it is difficult to finely adjust their position to exactly hit the wolf note frequency.  A longer after length might make this easier to do.

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Most of you seem to be repeating the idea that total mass is most important factor... but wouldn't a position of center of gravity make difference? Like tailpiece that has most of its mass near bridge vs. one that has more mass near tailgut and less towards bridge but the total mass remains the same?

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4 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

Tailpieces are just another one of those wishful thinking objects that are focused on to address flaws elsewhere. Certainly they make a difference, and those differences can be heard and felt at times, but there no hard rules,,, because it is only relevant as to the needs of the corpus. Otherwise one size would fit all,, it don't.


I have a slightly raspy and barking C on the G string. It’s annoying and so far moving the sound post (while making great improvements everywhere else) and cutting the feet and repositioning the bridge hasn’t really resolved it. Slight adjustments in position of the bridge does change it slightly but it’s never really gone. To be honest I’m not sure what it is and what causes it. Regardless I’m willing to play around with cheap tailpieces to see if it can improve it and if any further improvements to the overall tone are achieved then even better.

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1 hour ago, HoGo said:

Most of you seem to be repeating the idea that total mass is most important factor... but wouldn't a position of center of gravity make difference? Like tailpiece that has most of its mass near bridge vs. one that has more mass near tailgut and less towards bridge but the total mass remains the same?

Gradients do matter. But it's all subjective, so Janis Joplin matters the most. "You know you've got it if it makes you feel good" 

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6 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I met a quartet cello player about a year ago who played a cello with no tail piece.  It just had four thin cables (steel?) going from the end pin-over the saddle  and attached to the strings.  Sort of like string extensions.   He claimed his cello sounded better with this rather than with a tailpiece.

So the tailpiece isn't really needed for attaching the strings to the instrument.  The original reason why tailpieces were used may have been to simply shorten the length of the strings thus reducing their cost.  

I recommend going back to the possibly original design and using a string after length exactly 1/2 of the bridge to nut length so that the notes they produce are one octave above the bowed portion for open notes.  

Sometimes weights are added to the string after length to tame wolf notes.  This is effective but I found it is difficult to finely adjust their position to exactly hit the wolf note frequency.  A longer after length might make this easier to do.

That fellow wasn't Camden Shaw, was it? He used to play on a Zygmuntowicz  cello with that cable tailpiece setup. 

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Yes,   I  believe it was Camden Shaw of the Dover quartet when they visited here in Buffalo NY a few years ago.  If you do a search you can see a photo of him holding his cello with no tailpiece.

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7 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

 Yes that’s true, but the man who made my instrument used the same log for almost all of his instruments, and they are very consistent. I understand your point, but it remains quite surprising that she is very happy with her composite Tailpiece, and on mine , even a slight difference in mass made a shocking difference.

 

plus, that Isn’t really relevant to the information I requested.

I suppose that it could be quite surprising to you, coming from your view of the world.

When I was a kid, as other kids played with balls, I was trying to find out why the pedal on the car made it go and stop,,,

I was eternally surprised by the things I didn't understand,

The point is all things are a variable,

That is why we do this,, it is the eternal question that matters,,

Wood is not the same from every tree.

Trees can have fantastic spots of wood in them, some parts are only worth burning.

The heavier dense heavy grained stuff, burns the best.

The good parts of the tree, are straight and true,,clean and light.

It has good strong Medullary Rays

You search for the best, then take it,, and clean it up,,, then work your way up through the rest,

till you decide that anything beyond this point is destined to eternal waste.

Using the same tree,, It is a good thing, but not good enough to ensure the same instrument.

That is exactly my point,

Everything is a variable, wood is different, we are different, the toes on one foot are not a mirror of the other.

It is these differences that we are addressing .

Life is different in the world of truth and honor and etiquette and respect, than it is in the dark, with snitches and gossips and unhappy whiners.

The straight and narrow road is 24, 32, 42 , 4.5 ,5, 6.5 16.5, 130, 195, 27, 32.

Do things perfectly and everyone will still be different,,pleasant, functional, and worth it no doubt, but different.

Then every thing normal will probably work just fine, the sensitivity that you witness is not surprising, it is normal to the  situation.

If someone is lawless and does his own thing, the result could be that something odd,,,,like  a huge tailpiece sounds the best, or a really short one might do the trick.

A longer tail gut lowers HZ,, some fiddles love it, some hate it bad!

Tail pieces are simply vibrating chunks of wood that either absorb, and or output vibrations.

They can make things quick and lite, or heavy and slow.

And they are used to attach the strings, and it is usually tuned close to the a-o,

So,,whenever you are neighbors, you have to decide if you like the other guy.

Sometimes he moves right on in, and everyone's happy,,,   other times the best thing would be,, to move far away.

In the realm of normal, the selection of tailpieces we have available to us seems able to cover all of the situations that we encounter in the world of adjustments.

Our needs are covered,, and it is perfectly normal, no two exactly alike,

Things only get weird,,,

IF you don't follow the law.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Don Noon said:

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

I love these. I just had a friend mail me a few from his "spares" pile in exchange for a couple old inlaid ebony ones that he likes. 

I much prefer these to Wittners.

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On 3/20/2020 at 3:26 AM, Bill Merkel said:

(or exact copy, since it doesn't have a brand stamped on it)

Never use anything but a Wittner - the cheap copies fail at the tailon and the adjusters break. I have no brief for Wittner, just experience

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9 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Yes,   I  believe it was Camden Shaw of the Dover quartet when they visited here in Buffalo NY a few years ago.  If you do a search you can see a photo of him holding his cello with no tailpiece.

 

Screen_Shot_2020-03-21_at_7_47_47_AM.png

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8 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

I suppose that it could be quite surprising to you, coming from your view of the world.

When I was a kid, as other kids played with balls, I was trying to find out why the pedal on the car made it go and stop,,,

I was eternally surprised by the things I didn't understand,

The point is all things are a variable,

That is why we do this,, it is the eternal question that matters,,

Wood is not the same from every tree.

Trees can have fantastic spots of wood in them, some parts are only worth burning.

The heavier dense heavy grained stuff, burns the best.

The good parts of the tree, are straight and true,,clean and light.

It has good strong Medullary Rays

You search for the best, then take it,, and clean it up,,, then work your way up through the rest,

till you decide that anything beyond this point is destined to eternal waste.

Using the same tree,, It is a good thing, but not good enough to ensure the same instrument.

That is exactly my point,

Everything is a variable, wood is different, we are different, the toes on one foot are not a mirror of the other.

It is these differences that we are addressing .

Life is different in the world of truth and honor and etiquette and respect, than it is in the dark, with snitches and gossips and unhappy whiners.

The straight and narrow road is 24, 32, 42 , 4.5 ,5, 6.5 16.5, 130, 195, 27, 32.

Do things perfectly and everyone will still be different,,pleasant, functional, and worth it no doubt, but different.

Then every thing normal will probably work just fine, the sensitivity that you witness is not surprising, it is normal to the  situation.

If someone is lawless and does his own thing, the result could be that something odd,,,,like  a huge tailpiece sounds the best, or a really short one might do the trick.

A longer tail gut lowers HZ,, some fiddles love it, some hate it bad!

Tail pieces are simply vibrating chunks of wood that either absorb, and or output vibrations.

They can make things quick and lite, or heavy and slow.

And they are used to attach the strings, and it is usually tuned close to the a-o,

So,,whenever you are neighbors, you have to decide if you like the other guy.

Sometimes he moves right on in, and everyone's happy,,,   other times the best thing would be,, to move far away.

In the realm of normal, the selection of tailpieces we have available to us seems able to cover all of the situations that we encounter in the world of adjustments.

Our needs are covered,, and it is perfectly normal, no two exactly alike,

Things only get weird,,,

IF you don't follow the law.

 

 

Oh brother...I wrote more but deleted it. You remind me of too many people.

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23 hours ago, HoGo said:

Most of you seem to be repeating the idea that total mass is most important factor... but wouldn't a position of center of gravity make difference? Like tailpiece that has most of its mass near bridge vs. one that has more mass near tailgut and less towards bridge but the total mass remains the same?

The amount of mass and its position definitely has an affect and I suspect each violin has its own optimum tailpiece. So you can't generalize what's best for all of them.  Attached is a report describing some tailpiece tests.  

Apparently the tailpiece can be selected or adjusted  with additional weight to minimize wolf notes but the down side is that this also diminishes the overall loudness and brightness--sort of like what a mute does. 

It a pure guess on my part but I suspect an overly bright instrument might benefit from using a heavy tailpiece and that a dark sounding instrument might benefit from using a light one--or even none as Camden Shaw uses.

ma_leung_2015.pdf

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1 hour ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

The amount of mass and its position definitely has an affect and I suspect each violin has its own optimum tailpiece. So you can't generalize what's best for all of them.  Attached is a report describing some tailpiece tests.  

Apparently the tailpiece can be selected or adjusted  with additional weight to minimize wolf notes but the down side is that this also diminishes the overall loudness and brightness--sort of like what a mute does. 

It a pure guess on my part but I suspect an overly bright instrument might benefit from using a heavy tailpiece and that a dark sounding instrument might benefit from using a light one--or even none as Camden Shaw uses.

ma_leung_2015.pdf 9.36 MB · 2 downloads

Thank you, I haven’t read it yet but this I think is what I was looking for. I am assuming that this is equally applicable to Viola’s and cellos?

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13 hours ago, reg said:

Never use anything but a Wittner - the cheap copies fail at the tailon and the adjusters break. I have no brief for Wittner, just experience

When I noticed a brand wasn't marked on it, I started looking at pictures of originals for sale and it looks identical to the pictures down to the finest details from what I can tell.  But I did have the E string screw strip.  Fortunately I had another violin from the same shop with a tailpiece that looks the same that I used a screw from.  I'd like to get a known real Wittner or maybe a wood one so I can choose my adjuster.  Maybe sometime I'll seek out some experienced person I trust and let them mess with it. 

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3 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

I'd like to get a known real Wittner ..

You can buy one online for less than $20.

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16 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Thank you, I haven’t read it yet but this I think is what I was looking for. I am assuming that this is equally applicable to Viola’s and cellos?

Doubtful.  The paper concentrates on the effects of tailpiece mass and modes when mounted on an extremely stiff violin (VSO?)  For violas and cellos, the tailpiece mode frequencies are in very different places relative to the playing range and body resonances. 

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On 3/19/2020 at 6:55 PM, 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.

Hi Michael, do you use Dov's pegs, fingerboards, or other parts? They seem to have everything at reasonable prices, I'm just wondering about the quality...

Thanks

 

Pete

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