Composite Tailpiece

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by jlattuada, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. jlattuada


    Apr 25, 2001
    Richmond, Va
  2. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    I seem to remember Arnold Schnitzer, one of our resident luthiers, saying that he installs them as standard equipment on his New Standard laminated basses. He stated that a lighter tailpiece, such as the composite, is better for jazz, while a heavier hardwood is better for classical.
  3. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I put one on, and the difference I can tell is it is more resonant. That also means "feeds back more" in hostile playing situations.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'm curious about this as I own two LaScala basses. The hybrid, which I understand may be the very first one made, has a solid wood tailpiece and is the best amplifying bass I've ever owned; the sound is very focused and (with a pickup, at least) almost feedback proof. The ply has a composite tailpiece and is much more loose and resonant sounding, and it seems to feedback easily. It's also a flatback, which may also contribute. I'd be interested to know if adding a more solid wooden tailpiece would be likely to tame the resonance of that bass a bit, or whether the difference isn't likely to be all that pronounced.
  5. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I had one on for a while before putting on a wire tailpiece. They weigh about 5.5 oz compared to 14 oz for the ebony one. I also fixed the afterlength of the strings so it was 1/6th of the sounding string length.

    This tailpiece improved the tone of my bass quite a lot. And from more than 2 feet away, you can't tell it isn't ebony.
  6. wayne holmes

    wayne holmes Banned

    Nov 12, 2008
    Milan, TN
    Proprietor, Holmes Bass Viol Shop
    My experience with the lighter tailpiece is that it helps the bass to vibrate more, and that it makes a postitive difference on most basses. I would also recommend a light, but strong stranded tailpiece wire. I have found that the string distance from bridge to tailpiece can be like the sound post- you have to find the right spot(length)- usually it will be 6 to 7 inches, but on my old French bass, it's best at around 5 inches.
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Maybe you could try taping some different weight wood pieces to it and see if that makes a difference.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That's an interesting idea. Too bad I don't have a block of ebony lying around. :D I do have a chunk of oak, though....
  9. martinc

    martinc Supporting Member


    My experience is different.
    I have been using a Wittmer Ultra tailpiece with the Pecanic tailpiece cord. It sound great at first but I kept hearing some vibrations/resonances and a bit more sustain than I was used to on my Eberle ply. I replaced the cord with aircraft cable and the problem has been solved. The notes seem more solid and less ringy. Sustain is more manageable. No noticeable change in volume.
    On my bass the light cord with the light tailpiece opened things up...but a tad too much. Along with that came the resonance.
    The light tailpiece seems to match better with the aircraft cable which makes it more stable. And maybe a dense ebony tailpiece with the lighter cord would bring out the best in the bass too. For now though, I think I will leave it alone.
  10. Cody Sisk

    Cody Sisk

    Jan 26, 2009
    Lilburn, GA
    Ronald Sachs Violins
    I like to pitch them as a lightweight alternative for those who want more resonance but think that wire tailpieces are ugly.. :D
  11. MIKMAN


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
    My 1 cent.
    I used the composite tailpiece in two of my basses, the TIANGE and the Paulus (both carved) and things improved in both of them in piz playing. The sound can be described as brighter, more resonant and louder. I tuned the afterlength to fifths during the process, playing with the aircraft cable's length. Then i tried the Marvin wire tailpiece. My Paulus remained indifferent but the TIANGE showed a dramatic improvement, showing less tension, gaining more sustain and becoming more "user friendly". Both were strung with Spiro mittels. Now i keep the wire tailpiece permanently on my TIANGE. As for the Paulus, the composite one gives better piz tone than the ebony, while the ebony prevails for arco work.
  12. bassfixer


    Nov 24, 2009
    Long Beach
    bass luthier, World of Strings
    When changing out tailpieces materials don't matter. What you're dealing with are frequencies. Some basses require more mass on the tailpiece or endpin to work. Lighter does not mean better.
    Plus in experience those tailpiece were bad. They will sometimes vibrate on some notes and if you have a metal tailpiece wire it will transfer that note into your bass cause a weird ghost harmonic or wolf.
  13. Really an interesting thread. Different experiences.

    Martinc, I am getting great sustain but also some metallic sounding resonances on the open strings (a Spiro Mittels), particularly on the A string. This is on a bass with a very light tailpiece, a Laborie made of pear wood, with a synthetic TP cord. The resonances started just after i installed a carbon endpin. I was wondering what the cause could be, but your comments make sense to me.

    I've been going for lighter, thinking "lighter is better". but now I can see that that ain't always necessarily so. Maybe i'll try the good old "heavy" ebony TP again. Or at least put the metal wire back on. :meh: