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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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5 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

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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9 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

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

That’s quite right. A string spacing of average 11.5 mm between each string center (what I learned ages ago) across the arching results more close to 34 straight between G and E. Less if you reduce the spacing between the higher strings. Nonetheless not to 33 mm.

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1 hour ago, Blank face said:

Just for fun, that's what I would call awkward.B)

bridge dupray.jpg

Please feel free to ignore my ill informed musings but I wonder if in todays more connected world that a "standard" bridge width has emerged? I suppose it sort of makes sense when the top players travel so much these days. I suppose many of the "best" instruments will have passed through a small number elite workshops and likewise many instrument makers have been trained in and passed through these same establishments so what they have tended to do has become today's standard?

Also, I suppose the advent of violin making books and training colleges has resulted in each book or school setting out their notion of how things are best done?

I have heard that the advent of recording, and maybe broadcasting, has seemed to have resulted in a loss of much of the distinct national styles that singers and musicians had and can be heard on early recordings. I wonder if the emergence of a standard bridge spacing is a bit like this?

I have asked this before, but I wonder what effect these differences in string spacings, wider or narrower, may have on the tone? Even I can see that violins have differently spaced and shaped f holes, so I wonder if variety of string spacings at the bridge would "optimise performance" when working with these variations in soundholes?

 

 

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Standards are basically a trickle-down thing, I think. A few shops have done things that lesser shops copy and that becomes a standard, like the 33.5mm string spacing at the bridge. People who aren't in those lines or don't pay attention, or think they have a better idea, or something, do something else, but for the most part I think that most shops hang around 33.5mm. You have to have something to set up unsold violins to that most players will find normal. Spacing is perhaps most important on the E string where if spacing is too wide the player can fall off the side of the board, which is why I asked if those wider spacings went with wider boards. But generally most players are fine with 33.5.

The place where there's a lot of potential variation is in the curve of the top, which determines the bow angle between strings. For a violin it comes in at 15 degrees, which is probably intentional, but I have seen variations for different players. The most common is for folk fiddlers who sometimes like something flatter along with lower strings, and sometimes kid's instruments have a little more bow clearance so they can play more easily.

There are probably tonal implications, but I don't know anyone who's looked at this. Surely someone has.

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2 hours ago, Andrew tkinson said:

Please feel free to ignore my ill informed musings but I wonder if in todays more connected world that a "standard" bridge width has emerged? I suppose it sort of makes sense when the top players travel so much these days. I suppose many of the "best" instruments will have passed through a small number elite workshops and likewise many instrument makers have been trained in and passed through these same establishments so what they have tended to do has become today's standard?

Also, I suppose the advent of violin making books and training colleges has resulted in each book or school setting out their notion of how things are best done?

I have heard that the advent of recording, and maybe broadcasting, has seemed to have resulted in a loss of much of the distinct national styles that singers and musicians had and can be heard on early recordings. I wonder if the emergence of a standard bridge spacing is a bit like this?

I have asked this before, but I wonder what effect these differences in string spacings, wider or narrower, may have on the tone? Even I can see that violins have differently spaced and shaped f holes, so I wonder if variety of string spacings at the bridge would "optimise performance" when working with these variations in soundholes?

 

 

This bridge is in no way standard and surely never was, but was most probably altered from a formerly “normal” spacing and curve to the actual shape by some DIY person. It came, as far I remember, with a usual fingerboard, but broken out neck, so I can’t tell if and how it might have worked.

 I just noticed from a link in another thread that Triangle gives a 34 mm spacing, so 33.5 seems not to be the global accepted consensus even in America. But such measurements usually base on shop traditions, and I doubt that many players would even notice the difference, if everything else is equal.

Coming back to the OP question, the design of the Infeld tailpiece implies that it was meant for a wider spacing.

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@Blank face   Regarding that last sentence, I have often wondered if part of the problem of keeping bridges straight might be related to not only the relative angles over the top before and after the bridge but also the extra squeeze from the back that a compressed-width tailpiece gives. And then there is the tonal issue.

There are a few strategies that could have been taken:
1/ Make the angle the same in front as in back. That is, that the string spacing 55 mm in front of the bridge is matched in the tailpiece spacing
2/ Make the strings come out the back of the bridge parallel to each other
3/ Make the strings come out the back without changing the angle (which would need a very wide tailpiece
4/ anywhere between, but intentionally
5/ and this seems to be the most common: Ignore the problem completely and make the angle whatever.

There's the problem of how the spacing would tend to lock down the vibration of the tailpiece by triangulation. If we could have the strings coming out at right angles (straight right and left, which is not possible, obviously, or maybe making the E, G, and tailpiece centerline be at 120 degrees relative to each other) you'd have one extreme. The other extreme is having the afterlengths all point back to the back saddle tail hanger hinge point. I don't see any way that these and the above alternatives would not have tonal effects.

Most of the setup solutions I've examined have a definite logic behind them, but I haven't seen one in tailpieces, perhaps because we are forced to buy them as the company makes them. I do know that William Lewis & Co had their tailpieces made for them to their design, but I don't know the inception of that idea, and I believe that one current shop also does the same, specifically regarding string spacing, but I don't know their logic either.

At the other end, with the tailgut, I'm well familiar with the differences that spacings over the saddle have, but experimenting at the other end is difficult.

I know that some people will insist on viewing this problem as a tuning problem, but in adjusting it's obviously got a lot to do with the stability of the tailpiece system and what you don't let the tailpiece sap off vs what you force to happen in the bridge's movement. With the excepton of violas, I almost always come in on the side of locking the tailpiece down as much as possible and forcing that movement up into the bridge instead of letting the tailpiece wag around stealing from the sound. 

And I just realized that one traditional viol method of tailpiece attachment, a square peg in a square hole in the tailpiece, offers an extreme in this regard! Also, baroque violins sometimes used a stiff heavy gauge wire as a tail "gut"--the same idea, perhaps.
https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55da07a8e4b0838dce52237b/1620219371056-U95QPE7UCNQ0V3CTQ28K/Viola+da+gamba+front?format=1000w

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it seems to me the steeper angle of the bridge for the G string and the e string should mean the afterlength should angle somewhat inward based on the angle, a straight afterlength would make the string want to pop off to the outside. just my thoughts, does this make any sense??

obviously if the bridge was at a 90' angle you couldn't have the afterlength go straight but would have to be heavily angled inward

So it would seem the greater the angle of the top of the bridge, the more inward the afterlength needs to proceed

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1 hour ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

it seems to me the steeper angle of the bridge for the G string and the e string should mean the afterlength should angle somewhat inward based on the angle, a straight afterlength would make the string want to pop off to the outside. just my thoughts, does this make any sense??

Yes, with a wider spacing on the tailpiece, the E and G strings would have a higher sideforce outward due to the bridge curvature.  In practice, I have never had a string pop off the bridge, and I have been using these things for several decades.

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On 3/17/2023 at 7:06 AM, Don Noon said:

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.

I like these tailpieces too for all the same reasons as Don.  I just wish they were longer in length, especially the 5 string versions. My 5 stringed fiddles are a little wider  and use a wider bridge so the wider spacing tailpiece works. 

Question for Don,...What do you set the afterlength to on your fiddles when using these tailpieces? You've mentioned before that you like to leave the tailgut close to the saddle and that would leave a long afterlength on a 360mm fiddle.

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With a compressed (or expanded) width tailpiece, the downward pressure on the bridge will be less than if the straight line of the string was continued.  You can prove it by showing that if the width was compressed to the minimum, the force would be totally to the side and there'd be no downward pressure on the bridge at all.

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If you tilt the violin so you sight the string at a right angle to the curve of the bridge for any string, you will see with a regular tailpiece the afterlength and the string make a perfectly straight line, there is no side angle to the afterlength unless you look at it from straight above, which does not take in to account the angle of the top of the bridge for each individual string, there is very solid reasoning behind the spacing of the regular tailpiece IMHO

And if you think about directing the vibrations of the outer strings, you don't want them going straight down the wings of the bridge, you want them directed at an angle towards the solid parts of the bridge connecting to the feet

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4 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

@Blank face   Regarding that last sentence, I have often wondered if part of the problem of keeping bridges straight might be related to not only the relative angles over the top before and after the bridge but also the extra squeeze from the back that a compressed-width tailpiece gives. And then there is the tonal issue.

There are a few strategies that could have been taken:
1/ Make the angle the same in front as in back. That is, that the string spacing 55 mm in front of the bridge is matched in the tailpiece spacing
2/ Make the strings come out the back of the bridge parallel to each other
3/ Make the strings come out the back without changing the angle (which would need a very wide tailpiece
4/ anywhere between, but intentionally
5/ and this seems to be the most common: Ignore the problem completely and make the angle whatever.

I see what you mean, but there are other variables in it, for example what Strad O mentioned:

39 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

If you tilt the violin so you sight the string at a right angle to the curve of the bridge for any string, you will see with a regular tailpiece the afterlength and the string make a perfectly straight line,

maybe not a perfect straight line (always), but a line across the tangents at the upper bridge arch different from what you're seeing from straight above. And this line varies with different shapes of the arch, not to mention the implications of finetuners (one or several) etc. I guess one could reason about all this for a very long time, with unknown outcome for tonal aspects, so the result is that most people prefer to choose #5.

 

2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Not to me it doesn't.

We could agree that this is mostly speculative.

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6 hours ago, charliemaine said:

Question for Don,...What do you set the afterlength to on your fiddles when using these tailpieces? You've mentioned before that you like to leave the tailgut close to the saddle and that would leave a long afterlength on a 360mm fiddle.

I don't set afternlengths.  With the short Thomastik tailpiece, I measure ~63mm afterlength on my fiddle.  I have not been able to detect or notice any effects related to this.

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10 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

>

I almost always come in on the side of locking the tailpiece down as much as possible and forcing that movement up into the bridge instead of letting the tailpiece wag around stealing from the sound. 

>

I don't like the idea of a tailpiece wagging around wasting energy either so I got rid of them and their tail chords and end pins.

The strings are mounted onto an extension of the fingerboard with the same string spacing and arch shape as the bridge such that the string after-lengths are parallel. 

downward view JPG.JPG

side view.JPG

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37 minutes ago, charliemaine said:

Good to know Thanks Don, that's about what I'm getting too on my recent 5 string when I adjust the tail cord up to the saddle.

Have you tried the opposite and leave the excess on the saddle side?

The bounce frequency of the end of the tailpiece gets low into the playing frequency range, at the same time the damping of that movement decreases.  Thin makes for a response dropout as well as funny transients. I have tested it.  I have also tried tuning it to act as a wolf eliminator (which actually worked), but the odd transients were undesirable, and hard to keep tuned accurately.  It's simpler to keep the gut short and not bother about all that stuff.

There are tailpieces on the market with sliding weights or screw-adjustable guts, but again this to me is more dinking than necessary, unless you have a problem that resists other efforts and HAS to be fixed.

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9 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

I don't like the idea of a tailpiece wagging around wasting energy either so I got rid of them and their tail chords and end pins.

The strings are mounted onto an extension of the fingerboard ...

What about the resonances of the fingerboard extension??  They would tend to get much more excitation than a normal fingerboard, due to the string attachments and proximity to the bridge, I'd think.  If the resonant frequencies are below the playing range, maybe you're OK.

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