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Broken tailpiece help

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by jtlownds, Apr 13, 2009.


  1. jtlownds

    jtlownds

    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    Last week, I posted a thread about knocking my bass over, and breaking the tailpiece. A piece of wood on the back of the tailpiece was broken out, extending from the pocket, along the tailpiece cord holes to the end of the tailpiece. Yesterday, I found that little piece of wood on the stage where the accident happened, and I'm thinking that I can probably repair this thing. It's a custom made adjustable compensating tailpiece made of macassar ebony. My question to any of you luthiers out there is, what would be the best glue to use for this application? I'm also thinking that maybe I should drill a 1/4 or 3/16 inch hole, front to back, and pin the assembly with a hardwood dowel. Or, would drilling a hole thru the smallest part of the tailpiece only weaken it more? Is this kind of repair even worth the effort?
     
  2. jtlownds

    jtlownds

    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    So, nobody has done this type of repair? From the lack of response, I am assuming that attempting this repair is not a viable option.
     
  3. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    How about super glue or epoxy? Maybe glueing an 1/8" thick ebony 'strap' to the under side in that area to reinforce your work?
     
  4. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Its worth trying to repair it with 24 hour epoxy and Jesse's idea of a cleat over top is a good one.

    Can you post a photo? Maybe you could re-drill the tailpiece right through and take some of the pressure off the repair?
     
  5. jtlownds

    jtlownds

    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    Thanks for the reply Vejesse. I have a guitar luthier friend who recommended Titebond for the repair. Uses it to glue guitar bridges to the top plate. He says that epoxy will creep. He hesitates to make a firm recommendation, because he is unsure how much tension a double tailpiece is under.
     
  6. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    You're way better off with system 3's T- 88 than Titebond. Wood glue works fine for wood to wood contact but you've got gaps. Plus, Titebond creeps like crazy.
     
  7. jtlownds

    jtlownds

    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    Thanks Vejesse and Jake. I'll look into System 3 T88 stuff. Jake were you talking about drilling thru and pinning with a hardwood dowel, like I mentioned in my original post? I will see if I can get a picture posted tommorow. I don't see any missing splinters between the two pieces, so I don't think I should have any gaps.
     
  8. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    If I remember correctly, the fellows who repair bows use water-thin CA for ebony. It holds very well, is completely invisible when the repair is fitted correctly, and you end up with the ebony pretty much as good as new.

    Chet
     
  9. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    No, I meant drilling 2 holes right through for the tailpiece wire to go through.

    CA won't handle the load in this application Chet - better off with West System or Cold Cure - I don't really like the way T-88 foams up...:(
     
  10. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    Foams up? You sure you're using the slow cure stuff? Wow, I've never experienced that. For slow setting epoxy I don't believe you'll ever see bubbles in the cured glue, it just sets up way too slowly for that. I have hit the glue with a heat gun to allow it to flow more into crevices and that gets rid of bubbles.

    Back when I used to do some auto body work we used West Systems epoxy for fiberglass repair on race cars but that stuff was expensive. Check out a catalog for airplane building supplies if you want to see some really exotic epoxy glue.
     
  11. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    This discussion got me thinking. When I first started repairing instruments 15 years ago I used the West systems resin 105 with the slow hardener. It works great and like most epoxy it appears clear of bubbles and kind of brittle. You might say that's the characteristic you want for musical instrument use but I switched to T- 88. It's cheaper, easier to get and it's strong as all hell. I believe T - 88 has better shock resistance as well. Neck repairs will never open. Methylene chloride will dissolve it however, unlike some other epoxy.

    I used some T - 88 last night and when you say 'foaming' I think I know what you mean now. The mixed epoxy combo turns opaque as if there are microscopic bubbles. I don't have a microscope but it is much thicker than West systems 105 without the filler or additives. West systems epoxy looks like traditional, 'clear' epoxy while the T-88 has that opaque look. Because it's thicker I think the glue will cavitate when it's 'pumped' into a joint or squeezed in the final clamping. Any epoxy will do that to some extent.

    I think any of those 24 cure epoxies have similar performance: G series; Cold cure; West systems w. 209 hardener; T - 88.
     
  12. jtlownds

    jtlownds

    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    Jake, you just solved my problem. I forgot that there is more than one way to hang a tailpiece. I probably don't even need to glue that little piece of wood back on. (it won't be visible anyway) Thanks, Jesse and Chet, your input was muchly appreciated. :hyper:
     
  13. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Cool Jim! It might be better for you to re-attach that chunk though...

    Jesse, its the teeny bubbles trapped in there that pissed me off. I'm used to Cold Cure and the way it will disappear after it hardens. I'm sure the T-88 is terrific for airplanes but I'm not going to use it any more. :(

    On the other hand, I love the System 3 colourants. :)
     
  14. vejesse

    vejesse

    Apr 8, 2006
    Madison, Wi
    Double Bass Workshop
    I think both T -88 and West systems 105 standard epoxy are formulated for boats and maybe fiberglass/carbon fiber auto body work. Cold Cure is formulated for general cold and wet weather use and the only slow cure epoxy I know of marketed explicitly for use with wood is the the G series stuff. Maybe 3M makes something.

    I'll tell you what. If I can hear about which slow cure epoxy has the strongest shear strength with wood joints I'll post that here. That will be the stuff to use.
     
  15. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    If you get a Wittner composite tailpiece or a Marvin wire tailpiece your bass will sound significantly better than any ebony one. If you repair the broken one, there is a possibility of it failing on you (or on the owner of your bass 100 years from now).

    A Wittner TP weighs about 6 oz. whereas an ebony TP weighs about 14 oz. And a wire TP only weighs about 2 oz. The Wittner looks like a regular TP; from 3 feet away you can't even tell it's not made of ebony. The light-weight, inert material doesn't absorb as many vibrations as an ebony TP so more of them go into your instrument. It improved the sound of my bass a great deal. I now have a homemade wire TP. Being even lighter, it absorbs even fewer vibrations and it's made my bass sound $15,000 better. I highly recommend getting one.

    A luthier might even give you a deal to order one for you if you give him/her the old tailpiece for scrap ebony as the luthier could make small components with it.
     
  16. bassist14

    bassist14

    Oct 17, 2005
    Germany
    can you post some before/after soundclips please?
     
  17. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I don't have any before/after soundclips but I can assure you my bass is a significantly better instrument now.

    My bass is rather large at the bottom so the 3/4 sized ebony TP was too small for the instrument and the after length of the string between the bridge and TP was too large. This created harmonics that fought with tones made with the sounding part of the string. (This is the cause of wolf tones, by the way). To play an open A, I'd have to close the octave A on the G or D string. And the Bb on the G string had a weird phasing sound that was very noticeable.

    Not being a very pricey instrument, I thought it was a symptom of a new, inexpensive bass. I was thinking I'd have to remortgage my house to get a better bass if I was to get anywhere after getting back into playing.

    But some notes did sound really good so I knew the bass could sound good if I improved it somehow.

    I took a lesson with a teacher in Toronto who mentioned his TP of his bass had been at the wrong length for decades. He had his adjusted to the correct spot and said it improved his instrument a lot. (Which is saying much as his is a real Panormo).

    I tried the Wittner 3/4 sized TP with the afterlength set at the proper distance (1/6 of the sounding length - ie. if string length is the standard 104 cm then the afterlength should be 17.3 cm) and the phasing Bb was gone. The A string was still a bit iffy though.

    Then a thread started here about the Marvin Wire TP so I thought I'd give that a try. ( http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=419245&highlight=marvin) I used my own design though. Everything the Marvin website says about the effect of the wire TP is true (http://www.marvinusa.com/aboutus.html) with my instrument.

    Here's some pictures: http://picasaweb.google.ca/bjoycefamily/WireTailpiecePhotos#

    Since those photos were taken I've shaved the coloured wrapping from the ball end of my strings so it's just wire from the black wrapping at the bottom to the nut at the top of the bass and it looks pretty cool!
     
  18. bassist14

    bassist14

    Oct 17, 2005
    Germany
    thanks for the detailed answer to my cheeky question:)
     

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