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Tailpiece Talk

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Don Kasper, Feb 6, 2016.

  1. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    I have an old tailpiece that I'm considering modifying to reduce mass and, more importantly, reduce rigidity and stiffness on the afterlength side of the bridge. I'm wondering if the movement of the bridge, (WRT the static G foot and the elastic E foot driving the bass bar), can be enhanced by reducing the stiffness introduced by a traditional, solid, full-length tailpiece. I'm thinking of cutting the tailpiece at the chalk line below, then using a long SINGLE strand (or 2 strands twisted together to form a single strand), of synthetic tailpiece rope to attach conventionally (over the saddle/around the endpin.)
    This would create less mass, a mini-tailpiece/a less rigid system overall, and (perhaps) allow the bridge to move a bit more. (Hat Tip to the Marvin Tailpiece.)
    An Idle Mind Is The Devil's Workshop(?)
    Release the Hounds!

    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  2. Is that ebony? If so, I can't see hacking up good ebony considering all the cheap boxwood tailpieces that are floating around out there.
    robobass, powerbass and salcott like this.
  3. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Yes. It's Ebony.
    Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
  4. Nooo. Lotsa luthiers I know cut up dead fingerboards to make nuts and saddles. There's only so much decent ebony left in the world.
  5. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    So the objection is to the material, and not to the method? Cutting up a lesser wood would be acceptable, or at least tolerable?

    The reason I ask is that years ago I got off eBay a mandobass that had the type of abbreviated tailpiece Don is describing. I discerned no ill effects to the tone, but I don't have the A part of the comparison, only the B.

    I say mandobass, but what it actually was was a body made of half a circa 1890s California olive barrel, with a plywood oval soundhole top, and a looong neck added in the 1960s. I had an octave and a major fourth between the nut and the heel. Thing weighed seventy-five pounds. Just trying to hold it in playing position was like driving a Lincoln Town Car with the power steering gone out.
  6. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Do it and report back. Maybe consider cutting away only one of those "x's" at a time to experiment with different amounts of wood above the wire.
  7. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Hmmm....I hadn't thought of that.
    I need to.
    Thanks, neilG.
  8. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Do it, but not with that tail piece.
    salcott likes this.
  9. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    As a woodworker I'm against cutting up the ebony tailpiece, to me that is wasteful, it is a perfectly fine tailpiece that can be used for another 100yrs. If you want to DIY tailpiece make your own, get a bunch of different woods and make several that way you test out shape, weight, material etc.
    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  10. eh_train

    eh_train Commercial User

    Jan 12, 2004
    Owner, Stand Up Guy Basses (Repair/Sell/Buy upright basses)

    Please make us that tailpiece omelette!

    And make it out of any material you like, including that piece of ebony, because it's an experiment. People, just think of all the ebony that will be saved if it turns out to be a good idea.

    Looking forward to hearing the results.


    Don Kasper and ErikvanD like this.
  11. Any update on this experiment, please?
  12. Tailpiece Talk...one of my favorite Neil Hefti charts!


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