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Otto-Infeld old style metal tailpiece with 4 fine tuners and solid metal wire tail wire


Mat Roop

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I see these tailpieces on many old violins but really am not a fan. The strings spacing at the tailpiece is 33mm.The normal bridge spacing of strings is 33mm.  So what happens is that the strings continue parallel behind the bridge which to me looks odd. The Wittner and other tailpieces otoh, that I am familiar with, have the string spacing at 28mm which means that beyond the bridge the strings converge , and that looks normal to me.

Question is.... is there a tonal impact on the wider string spacing at the tailpiece?

Thanks... Mat

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  • Mat Roop changed the title to Otto-Infeld old style metal tailpiece with 4 fine tuners and solid metal wire tail wire
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33 mm bridge string spacing is IMO for 3/4 violins. I've always used 36mm for wide and 34.5 as narrow spacing for 4/4. I'm also not a big fan of integrated finetuner tailpieces, but the Infeld system worked for me (or students) more stable and long time reliable than Wittner. One can also replace the wire tailgut with a synthetic, needs a bit widening of the holes sometimes..

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Dr. Franz Thomastik, who started the firm, was a prominent anthroposoph who also made violins where the bridgefoot goes through the belly to the back instead of the soundpost etc. etc. (an example in the Technische Museum in Vienna). Indeed the Infeld firm still has such stuff in the cellar. Drescher cites an article in the Strad, Feb 1984 page 708 to 711. Dr. T will surely have had his theories why the strings were so wide apart, or how long the (steel) tailgut should be and much more, bur several generations later, no disciples of his seemingly wacky theories exist. The tailpiece has fallen into disuse, more because it is so ugly, first Weidler in Nürnberg, and more recently Wittner having succeeded them

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3 hours ago, Blank face said:

33 mm bridge string spacing is IMO for 3/4 violins. I've always used 36mm for wide and 34.5 as narrow spacing for 4/4. I'm also not a big fan of integrated finetuner tailpieces, but the Infeld system worked for me (or students) more stable and long time reliable than Wittner. One can also replace the wire tailgut with a synthetic, needs a bit widening of the holes sometimes..

Do others use string spacing as wide as 36 for violins? I have always used 34 as per Francais shop and it seems to me D.Burgess has suggested 33 as standard. What would be the results  of wider spacing from the players point of view?

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8 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

We've been wondering the same question lately and I've been thinking of splitting a normal tailpiece and putting a shim down the middle to make it wider just to see what would happen. I have a feeling I'd like the results but there's only one way to know. . . 

Would you like me to ask the Technische Museum if they would like to make you immortal too?:)

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I like the old Thomastik tailpieces.  The tuners operate smoothly, and the tuning range is such that you can often get to alternative tunings in a jam session without using the pegs.  Tonally, I haven't noticed any difference... but I'm a fiddler.  I would expect that the shortness and the high weight would matter more (if anything) than the string spacing, which I measure at 33mm.  I use 34mm at the bridge.

Thank you Jacob for the word "anthroposoph", which I had to look up.  Reminds me of the gas station attendant who thought and thought really hard in his darkened apartment and came up with a unified field theory, which he documented with all kinds of diagrams and then submitted to one of the engineers at JPL.  No, it did not rock the scientific world, but it was mildly entertaining.

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1 hour ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Do others use string spacing as wide as 36 for violins? I have always used 34 as per Francais shop and it seems to me D.Burgess has suggested 33 as standard. What would be the results  of wider spacing from the players point of view?

I took a lot of measurements from old German branded bridges and most of them were in the range of what I wrote, a very few around 34mm. The new school seems to prefer a more narrow range, allegedly to have the fingering more close together in the very high positions, but I never saw a master bridge as close as 33mm. Maybe that's a new tendency which I missed. At least the old time wider spacing explains the dimension of the Infeld tailpiece.

I agree completely that the Infeld looks clumsy, maybe ugly for some taste, but I never found one buzzing, in opposite to the Wittners which I had to put into the dustbin often.

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22 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

 

Thank you Jacob for the word "anthroposoph", which I had to look up.  

I wasn’t sure if “anthroposoph” was even an English word, but it is/was a fairly widespread movement here, the best known one being Rudolf Stainer, he didn't make any violins though (as far as I know)

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Just now, jacobsaunders said:

I wasn’t sure if “anthroposoph” was even an English word, but it is/was a fairly widespread movement here, the best known one being Rudolf Stainer, he didn't make any violins though (as far as I know)

Rudolf Steiner, just because I'm a pedant.:rolleyes:

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I have no knowledge on this subject, but I can suggest what my intuition tells me...
I don't think there is a reason related to 'improving the sound, only technological. Wider gaps between the microtuners were needed to properly and solidly mount the axles on which the microtuners work.
In the case of guitars, there are many examples, various solutions that have nothing to do with improving the sound.
However, there is an outstanding fusion rock-jazz guitarist Scott Henderson, and he, in his endoerser's model, proposed that Suhr set the keys so that the strings behind the nut run in the same line as above the fingerboard. However, in his case, it was about using a whammy bar, i.e. the strings were alternately loosened and tightened.

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14 minutes ago, Spongebob said:

I have no knowledge on this subject, but I can suggest what my intuition tells me...
I don't think there is a reason related to 'improving the sound, only technological. Wider gaps between the microtuners were needed to properly and solidly mount the axles on which the microtuners work.

The "axles" on my Thomastik talipiece is a single continuous piece of bent rod.  There is no technological reason why the string spacing couldn't be shortened.

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Just now, Don Noon said:

The "axles" on my Thomastik talipiece is a single continuous piece of bent rod.  There is no technological reason why the string spacing couldn't be shortened.

:) After a moment of thought, I came to the conclusion that there is a certain relationship :) but I don't know if it was the reason.
Namely, we make cuts on the bridge for the strings, however, they can be made sloppy (too widely) or, over time, these grooves become wider, and this can cause transverse vibration of the string on the bridge - i.e. buzzing.
Beveling the strings behind the bridge gives the strings a second angle, across, which prevents jitter.

 

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13 hours ago, Blank face said:

33 mm bridge string spacing is IMO for 3/4 violins. I've always used 36mm for wide and 34.5 as narrow spacing for 4/4. I'm also not a big fan of integrated finetuner tailpieces, but the Infeld system worked for me (or students) more stable and long time reliable than Wittner. One can also replace the wire tailgut with a synthetic, needs a bit widening of the holes sometimes..

perhaps some clarification... depends on how you measure... straight across or "over the hump" ... makes a difference! I measure straight across.

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10 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

We've been wondering the same question lately and I've been thinking of splitting a normal tailpiece and putting a shim down the middle to make it wider just to see what would happen. I have a feeling I'd like the results but there's only one way to know. . . 

Love to hear your results! Good luck!... Mat

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17 hours ago, Blank face said:

33 mm bridge string spacing is IMO for 3/4 violins. I've always used 36mm for wide and 34.5 as narrow spacing for 4/4. I'm also not a big fan of integrated finetuner tailpieces, but the Infeld system worked for me (or students) more stable and long time reliable than Wittner. One can also replace the wire tailgut with a synthetic, needs a bit widening of the holes sometimes..

I've never encountered a bridge from a reputable shop that had strings all the way out to 36mm. 33.5 is what I use, and players seem to generally like that. 36mm would just look awkward and wouldn't be ideal for string crossings with the bow. 

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