tailpiece cable strength

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Jul 31, 2003.

  1. I am about to get rid of the coathanger on my Swingmaster. Yesterday I went to Lowe's and did a little cable shopping. The 1/8" cable is rated at a 350 lb working load. Is this strong enough for the job or should I look for something stronger? I notice from reading several posts on the subject that "aircraft" cable is mentioned several times. Is there a difference in aircraft and regular?
  2. Before I discovered super flexible aircraft control cable, I used hardware store cable like you saw a Lowes. I'm sure it is strong enough. However, aircraft control cable is certified and appears to be much stronger (1/8" stainless steel 7x19 strand aircraft control cable is rated at 1700lbs.) What you should be look for is flexibility. The cable I use (3/32") has seven strands, each with nineteen wires and is rated at 920lbs. That means that you actually have 133 strands of very small diameter wire in the cable. Very strong and very flexible! Here's a link to the Wicks Aircraft Supply catalog showing what they have.

    Wicks Aircraft control cable
  3. So where can a guy get some of this good aircraft cable locally? I'd like to play around with the length of mine but since it's set up with the tailpiece just about as low as possible I don't have any extra to use. I'm in Portland, so I'm thinking it should be available somewhere close by...
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Cool link, Bob. Thanks.

    Do you use the matching stainless steel compression sleeves also? Is there any other way of crimping them other than the press? I've tried a good pair of mighty water-pump pliers before and hardly made a dent in the sleeve...

    I work in the electrical utility industry where we join and splice all kinds of rather serious wire and cable. The sleeves are simple enough, but the MD6 press is a serious piece of business -- hundreds of dollars, and there's at least one on every truck. The transmission line guys have even bigger hydraulic presses.

    I notice that the "nicopress" is hardly an insignificant tool cost-wise.

    In the past I've use the el-cheapo steel cable joiners with little bolts and nuts. Nowhere near as elegant as a nicely-crimped stainless sleeve.

    Also: is bicycle control cable the same thing as hardware store stuff? Not sure I've ever seen stainless control cable for bikes.
  5. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    anyone check out that cable tension gauge thing? Seems like you could get a better handle on just what is happening to your bass under different strings or tailpiece adjustments.
  6. Lemur sells a kit that includes a length of very flexible cable, a brass barrel with two sets screws and a hex key to tighten the screws. Inexpensive, and they do mail order. I bought one recently, to allow me to play with the length of my tailwire to see what sort of a difference it makes in sound. I made a second barrel, plan to use one on each side of the wire between the endpin and the saddle. A little loctite on the setscrews would be cheap insurance too.
    Remember that repositioning the tailpiece will change the spot on the strings where they break over the bridge- so if you lengthen the tailwire and move the tailpiece up, you will now have a kink in the string where it used to sit on the bridge in the vibrating length of the string. Possible problem.

    Bob, when you fit a new tailwire, how do you fasten it? I don't want to rehash the length thing, (I've read all the old posts here regarding length,) what's your rule of thumb for length?
  7. Both Lowes and Home Depot carry tools for compressing the nicopress clamps (look in the section where they have cable). You do have to make 2 or three crimps instead of the one crimp with the genuine nicopress, but with care, you can get a nice barrel shape in the end just likle the expensive tool. I think the cost is about $30.00 which is pretty insignificant as tool costs go.
  8. First - I'm not a believer in "tuning" the afterlength of the string. Unless someone wants the tailpiece itself tuned (as in A0-B0 matching), I usually use the old German standard of setting the afterlength to 1/6 of the string length.
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I use these guys. Arnold got me into them. Very easy, cheap and you can change the length if you are into that sort of thing. Doesn't need a 30 dollar tool. Our friend Will de Sola [Nick-named Gasparo] sells 'em. Anyone inersted can mail me for his #.
  10. Hey Jeff - I did have to buy a crimping tool once for about $30.00. However, my Nicopress clamps only cost me 20 cents each and there are no screws to vibrate loose. Crimped size is 14mm long and about 7mm in diameter.
  11. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Yeah, that's cool Bob. Now that I think of it not all my guys want the ability to change the length. I should include this Nico Dealio into my arsenal. Where do you locate the clamp when there is no cavity under the tp?
  12. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Hey fellers, it's been a while...

    As far as strength goes, your bass is not a Cessna twin-prop. Hardware store braided cable works fine. I like the two-screw version; it is much more user friendly down the road. Also, I've never seen the screws work loose. (Bob, don't scare the yung'ins) Lemur's price is @20 bucks, which is fine if you are ordering other something else...
  13. I like to hide it under the tailpiece between the saddle and TP if there's sufficient room for it without touching the tailpice itself. Otherwise, between the endpin and saddle. It's small enough that it's not very noticable. It's also very light weight - 2.4 grams. I always make a point to cut the cable close at both ends and then grind the wire down flush with the clamp so there's no sharp wires to stick you (and make you bleed) if your fingers happen to be around it.
  14. I have! This should be one of those items in Martin's post on what causes buzzes in basses. The one I had it happen on was a sleeve with two screws. It didn't break loose or anything, but one of the two screws had indeed worked loose and caused a very hard to locate intermittent buzz.
  15. I'm forgetting my manners--thanks guys for all the advice and information.
  16. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Damn... well, thanks Bob!