Frirsz Tailpiece

November 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM · Has anyone tried these tailpieces. They look really interesting and they have received very positive feedback. Anyone tried them.

Replies (44)

November 26, 2012 at 12:57 AM · No, and I won't be at the prices posted--but they do look interesting.

I think the ass't prin. cello of the Oregon Symphony uses one.

November 26, 2012 at 11:19 PM · Not a new design. A friend has had one on his fiddle for years. It seems to work well, but he certainly didn't pay $300. I made three for five-string violas a while back that also worked fine, but my objective was simply keeping the strings out of each others' way.

November 27, 2012 at 03:56 PM · Available elsewhere for less:

as an example

November 27, 2012 at 04:51 PM · Reasons for the high price quoted for the Frirsz Tailpiece include R&D, design and manufacture of a fairly intricate product, and the not insignificant cost of patenting.

Incidentally, anyone who does their own patenting "on the cheap" without professional advice and input will very likely end up with a patent that is not worth the paper it is printed on. (I was 30 years a career patents professional during my working life, so I've seen some sad examples.)

November 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM · Since you are faniliar with patents, what is it that qualifies for a patent in this case? The angled tailpiece has been around since the Baroque period. There is one on the Kievman Gasparo da Salò, 1580 that was made in the 50's. I've been making them for twenty years. Is it the harp shaped saddle or the fact that they are cast in metal?

November 30, 2012 at 05:13 PM · Tailpieces do have an audible impact on the sound. A more lightweight one will make the sound more open and brilliant - a heavier one will make the sound darker and mellower. You can easily check what suits you and your violin the best, by putting a small piece of modelling clay on the tailpiece. If you like the sound less, you might want to try a lighter tp, like the ones that are hollowed out underneath. Beginners will typically like a heavy tp and professional players generally like lighter ones.

Tailpiece gut made from kevlar will make the sound more free and resonant, but less focused than nylon or natural gut. I think I still prefer natural gut for most violins.

As for slanted tailpieces...been around for hundreds of years without catching on, but they're common on jazz guitars, and you sometimes see them on folk-style 5-string fiddles. I think the material and weight is more important than the shape.

November 30, 2012 at 06:39 PM · Eric, I haven't looked at the Frirsz patent, but I'll make a few general observations.

Most inventions are modifications of what have gone before. Inventions that do not depend on prior art are quite rare. Essential tests for a modification to be patentable are that it is novel in the light of the prior art and furthermore is not obvious (ie, it has at least a scintilla of invention). It is not necessary for a modification to be big or dramatic, but there must not be any prior publication or disclosure, and the modification should not be obvious to a man skilled in the art, who may also be expected to be aware of the prior art. When assessing obviousness it is important to ask whether it is a solution to a problem. If an outstanding problem has been solved by the modification then the chances of a good patent are greatly improved.

A few years ago some of us in the patents profession became aware that the fundamental tests of patentability were being eroded, the result being that next to worthless patents were, and are, being granted. Unfortunately, the legal costs involved in an infringement action generally outweigh by a substantial margin the license fees that would keep the patentee happy, and such costs are often too much for a small enterprise to cope with. So what happens is that we are getting the intellectual property equivalent of bad money driving out the good.

When I saw the way that wind was blowing I was happy to take up the offer of early retirement, and resigned from my professional bodies. I believe a few others in my age group in the profession reacted similarly.

As I said, I haven't looked at the Frirsz patent, and don't intend to, for these reasons:

Since my retirement there have doubtless been numerous changes in intellectual law and practice, both nationally and internationally, that I am not now conversant with, so bringing myself up to date would therefore be a lengthy task, and essential.

Secondly, assessing the validity of a patent is a time-consuming business, involving, for a start, searching out relevant prior art (Patent Office searches aren't necessarily as comprehensive as one would expect).

Thirdly, and most important of all, auch activity in my retirement would make very undesirable demands on the time I would otherwise devote to playing the violin, so pro bono is not an attractive option!

December 2, 2012 at 07:57 PM · I guess my question really is: what aspect of an item that others have been making for many years would now be subject to legal action if made since the patent? The only new wrinkle that I see is the harp shaped saddle and the cast metal fabrication. How does one find out what items in a patented product identify the exclusivity?

February 23, 2013 at 11:47 PM · Actually, there's a lot more to the Frirsz tailpiece which is not immediately noticeable. The slanted design is only one small part of the workings of the tailpiece. Some other aspects which contribute to the uniqueness as well as functionality are the following:

1, the unique profile of the slant was designed through 15 years of research as the best for opening up the sympathetic harmonics of the instrument.

2, The tailpiece is dimensionally stable yet light, providing less mass and a subsequent amplification of the sound (on a side note, if you check out the Frirsz Music website, you will see that they are now offering wood versions at a much cheaper price, which have all the good aspects of the metal but more mass and therefore a slight downgrade in projectional improvement)

3, the tailpiece has a 3D twist, which causes a greater concentration of force downward on the bridge, and also improving the sound.

Currently, a scientific research project at Siena College in Loudonville, NY, is going on to mathematically determine exactly how much difference the tailpiece makes.

February 24, 2013 at 12:19 AM · "Currently, a scientific research project at Siena College in Loudonville, NY, is going on to mathematically determine exactly how much difference the tailpiece makes."


That's great, but at the present time, there is no mathematical model which has demonstrated itself to be equal or superior to player and listener impressions, despite some really good physicists working on it for many years.

Player and listener impressions are still the gold standard, to which measurements are compared for validation, for obvious reasons.

February 25, 2013 at 12:05 AM · Perhaps since you work for the Frirsz company you can tell us exactly what aspects of this tailpiece are patented. This angled style of tailpiece has been manufactured in several forms for many years even going back to Baroque times.Is it the alloy that is new or the curved harp shaped saddle.

February 26, 2013 at 04:07 PM · David, as you mentioned, there is no current mathematical model by which we can determine the effect of a tailpiece on a violin. We are working on it, and, I may say, are excited at our results so far. However, there HAS been significant player/listener feedback which suggests that the Frirsz tailpiece does make a significant difference on the sound for the reasons I mentioned.

Eric, obviously I can't discuss specifics about the patent, but the points I mentioned (3D twist, profile of tailpiece not just angle, and dimensions) have a lot to do with why the patent was accepted. There is nothing even close, as far as tailpieces go anyway.

February 26, 2013 at 10:59 PM · Of course you can discuss specifics of the patent. That's what patents are all about and they are public documents. You are implying that it is a trade secret rather than a patent. If the patent has been "accepted," even if not issued, no one else can beat you to it.

February 26, 2013 at 11:01 PM · "Eric, obviously I can't discuss specifics about the patent,"...

Why? If it's patented, the information is already in the public domain.

There's probably more, but I found this in a 30 second search:

February 27, 2013 at 05:26 PM · I'm sorry it wasn't clear, I didn't mean that I couldn't share trade secrets but rather that I didn't have the patent in front of me. The patented aspects (as you can see in the link David posted) are related to the topography/profile and the 3D twist of the tailpiece.

February 27, 2013 at 10:24 PM · Looking at the patent and the previous claims about uniqueness and functionality, I don't see any specific physics or acoustics explanations, just arm-waving and technical-ish words.

Basically, the tailpiece (and its adjustment) define the frequency of the afterlength pitch, and there are some vibration modes of the tailpiece itself as well. The goodness of the final result depends a lot on the character of the instrument you start with, and since all instruments are different, I see very little chance that one tailpiece will be superior to another in any substantial way, other than comparing with a 2-kg lead tailpiece.

If there is any real physics or double-blind testing results that are contrary to my beliefs, I will gladly retract these statements.

March 1, 2013 at 02:32 AM · I'd love to be able to give you straight up physics on why the tailpiece works. Unfortunately, it is still a fairly new product and we don't have data on it YET. There is a project currently working on that. I hope to have data in the next couple months that will prove it to critics, but at this point the best I can say is that players all around the world have tried it and found it to make a difference. This comes from blind tests between the player's original tailpiece and the Frirsz. Most significant is the removal of the wolf tone, which has been flawless up to this point.

March 1, 2013 at 05:04 PM · Can you tell us how much they weigh?

March 2, 2013 at 11:49 PM · If the design has been around since Baroque times yet none of the greats whose names we all know have used it, is it really making a noticeable difference? Of all the videos I've seen of past & present virtuosos, I've never seen a single one use one of these. If it's so critically important, then why isn't the the other end of the string being given the same consideration and modified? As soon as you stop a note on the fingerboard with your finger and the pitch changes, is the Frierz tailpiece still effective for what it's allegedly designed for? If a Strad, Amati or Guarneri can't be improved upon, then how can this make them better? Are they just for poor toned lower end instruments that need all the help they can get? Too many questions and to me it sounds like something a snake oil salesman would peddle. Can't see it catching on.

March 5, 2013 at 07:58 PM · I don't know the weight offhand, but I'll try and get that for you. It's pretty light.

I don't know if people don't read what has been posted or not, but this tailpiece has not been around since Baroque times, nor anything even like it other than the varied afterlength. The Frirsz Music Company does offer a 30 day complete guarantee so you can test it out. There's nothing better than that if you are skeptical. Noted virtuosos currently using the Frirsz Tailpiece (although not on their Strads because they want to keep the integrity and aesthetic character of the old instrument) include Elmar Oliviera, Paul Arnold, Joshua Bell, and Yo-Yo Ma. The tailpiece would improve a Strad or Guarneri, but many people don't want to change the character of their old instrument when it already sounds good.

March 6, 2013 at 05:27 PM · Do you also produce the Schmidt Super tailpiece It says they have a Swiss patent. Is this a copycat?

March 10, 2013 at 01:00 AM · I wonder what Albert Einstein would say about this beautiful idea? Would he use one?

March 22, 2013 at 05:22 PM · The approximate weight of the Frirsz tailpiece is about 32 g. The wood laminate version weighs slightly more. We do not produce the Schmidt tailpiece, and there are many copies out there. Keep in mind, however, that despite what "technology" may have been around, a patent owner is the first to patent a particular idea. That is why the Frirsz tailpiece has a US patent and the others do not. Some other tailpieces (such as those made by ZMT) have patents in other countries.

March 22, 2013 at 06:21 PM · Doesn't existing prior art invalidate a patent?

I.e.- let's say the asymetrical tailpiece has been around for a hundred years but nobody bothered to patent it. You can't get a patent on it just by being the first to file, because at that point it is common knowledge, not an innovation. Unless, of course you have a particular improvement upon the existing prior art that is non-obvious.

April 4, 2013 at 10:53 PM · Yes, you are right, but this is an improvement. It's not simply a a graduated tailpiece.

April 5, 2013 at 08:38 PM · I'm curious about the statement "3, the tailpiece has a 3D twist, which causes a greater concentration of force downward on the bridge, and also improving the sound."

Is putting more pressure on the bridge always a good thing? Might it not compromise some older instruments' structural integrity? I'm not a luthier, but I know that more pressure in most areas isn't necessarily an improvement, so wondered about this.

April 6, 2013 at 02:26 AM · The tailpiece has no effect on the downforce at the bridge. Downforce is determined by the geometry of neck, arching and saddle. The tailpiece can change the relative downforce of the individual strings, but the total downforce will come out the same.

April 6, 2013 at 06:57 PM · Hey Don

Have you ever done any experiments with the downward force on a simulated bridge using different weights and configurations of string attachments on a tailpiece? Many times normal commercial tailpieces twist toward the E string. I always wondered what effect that was having, if any, on the bridge other than theoretical. It would be easy enough to measure with a gauge but I haven't seen any empirical results on this. Have you? Perhaps Eric Fouille is working on this.

April 8, 2013 at 12:08 AM · Hi Eric,

Twisting down of the TP on the Eside is due to the difference of tension between G and E (from 30 to 60%). Strings, leaving from the top of the TP press the nut like a lever, each differentely,according to their tension. There is no any effect on bridge angles with the Frirsz twisted TP. This patent is a deception !

The only effect of this TP is to limit the torsion resonance mode #7, and to limit its torsion ability .

May 5, 2013 at 02:01 AM · The patent is definitely not a deception. Many players have found it to work. Preliminary results of the scientific experiment have proven that tailpiece does have an effect of an instrument's sound. what exactly these differences are remains to be seen, but they are definitely recognizable even to an untrained eye. If anyone would like to see preliminary graphs, you can contact me personally with your email and I'll send you the comparisons.

May 5, 2013 at 02:13 AM · Eric,

your statements about the tailpiece having no effect on the bridge isn't quite accurate. Perhaps I misunderstood, but you seem to say that the strings exert no downward force? Studies by noted luthiers such as the late Roger Siminoff (formerly of Gibson guitars) have proven that there is considerable downward force from the strings onto the bridge in a stringed instrument. This is true of all strings, not just guitars. The downward force contributes greatly to the quality of sound of the instrument. Actually, the Frirsz tailpiece does not add or decrease this force, but rather redistributes it along the bridge, which helps to balance the sound and response of the instrument.

May 5, 2013 at 08:43 AM · Hi all, I'd just like to contribute my little nugget. In January I ordered a Frirsz lookalike tailpiece made by Dov Schmidt, to put on my previous main violin, a very dark, full, and rich but somewhat muddy sounding English violin from 1776. It has to this day a terrible wolf tone on G# an octave and a bit above the open G. I'd tried hundreds of possible solutions - I've had the sound post minutely adjusted, I've put on one of those wolf killers behind the bridge, I've tried all different kinds of low tension strings, but nothing seemed to work. Then I tried this tailpiece and, while it didn't go completely, it certainly reduced the wolf a little, but more importantly it imparted extra vibrancy and clarity to the middle and top registers. I swapped it out as I'm probably going to sell it at some point, and I put it on a Chinese Yitamusic violin which didn't have any sound problems. It's a great backup instrument, perfect for travelling and holds it own against many concert quality violins. The difference was even more noticeable! The brightness was enhanced, the G and D strings became richer in tone, there was more continuance to the sound as you let go of the string with the bow, and really the whole thing just opened up. And the tiny wolf that it had on C# an octave and a aug. 4th above the open G string has virtually disappeared. My only issue with using it was that I got some weird looks from people. Plus, my new main instrument doesn't require one really as it's already got the sound that I want. So I'll keep it on my Chinese fiddle and needless to say I'm pleased with the result.

May 5, 2013 at 02:30 PM · Slightly off-topic, but have you tried using a very heavy chinrest? That would be my best guess for taming a wolf at G# (the B1- resonance, for anyone interested in technical stuff).

edit: original post I mistyped it as B1+, actually meant B1-. B1+ is around C#.

May 5, 2013 at 08:58 PM · I don't understand, Don,didn't you write G# instead of C#, no ?

B1 is around 550Hz ~ C#.

May 5, 2013 at 09:58 PM · A Hill boxwood tailpiece for violin averages about 13grams without any fine tuners. A tailpiece of 32.5 grams is not what I'd call light. Just the weight alone will have some effects on wolfs (or is it wolves)? I'd like to see a drawing or diagram of how this 3D twist looks or works.

May 6, 2013 at 02:47 AM ·

Another tailpiece based on the concept of extended afterlength, although this one seems to take it to an extreme (requiring specially made extra long fourth strings to accommodate the extremely long afterlength)

May 6, 2013 at 02:03 PM · Eric,

I meant B1-, not B1+. The lower resonance is generally G# or A. Edited my post accordingly.

May 12, 2013 at 01:23 PM · Actually, the zmt tailpiece is a patent infringement in the US.

May 12, 2013 at 04:09 PM · Maybe, maybe not. Many of the descriptions in the Frirz patent appear to be for concepts which were already in use by others prior to the patent (and which I have used personally well in advance of the patent date), so they may not be protected.

May 13, 2013 at 10:47 AM · David brings up a good point (as usual). Not that I'm claiming anything with regard to this tailpiece, but I can say sometimes patents are granted for things that shouldn't be patentable at all on the basis of them simply not being new.

I was myself once challenged by a colleauge for the shape of one of my case shell designs, who claimed to have patented it so I couldn't use it. It turned out that his patent itself was null and void, being that the very shape he described in the patent had already been in vogue in the 1700s, and nobody at the patent office had bothered to check.

14 years later I'm still using that case shell design.

July 11, 2013 at 02:48 PM · Hello,

I am all for anything that will help the "resonation" of an instrument, whether it is a chinrest or tailpiece or whatever. Let's assume that for most instruments, the Frirsz tailpiece will help your sound, at least to some degree, which of course depends heavily on the instrument itself, and which is a very individual thing.

The issue that I don't think anyone has mentioned is "quirkiness" - how quirky does a new thing make your instrument look and/or feel, vs. how much difference does it make in your sound? And what is the cost, and ongoing cost of that difference?

If you don't mind your fiddle looking "different", then it is a moot point. It truly is mind over matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Some do and some don't. But I believe that in the string community there is a bias against an instrument that is not perceived to be like the instruments made by the old masters.

For example, what if at a contest, a judge is a strict traditionalist? Could that judge, either consciously or unconsciously, rate a player lower because of a perceived "quirkiness" on the instrument? Of course that is possible, and I don't know if I would want a student of mine in the "quirky" camp in that case.

So where is that fine line, where the instrument ceases to be traditional, and becomes "quirky"? For example, while the Frirsz tailpiece doesn't seem to me to slant too much (personally like its look), it is different. And of course the $300 price tag for many is too much. But check out the ZMT tailpiece. Not only is the slant more extreme, but it is expensive, and you can't even use your own strings on it! You have to use their proprietary extra-long "lowest string", and of course they sell their custom made lower strings so you can use their tailpiece. What if the tone of their lowest-string tone doesn't match your other strings? Are you going to switch brands of strings just for that? And what is the ongoing cost of the ZMT G (lowest) strings, over time? And what if they stop selling these custom strings? What would you do then?

Or maybe the ZMT tailpiece tonal differences would far outweigh these issues for you. Likewise for the Frirsz tailpiece.

Of course, there are some top professionals whose instruments are outside the norm. And if I was one of them, I wouldn't care what anyone else thought either.

Sometimes a very simple, inexpensive thing can make a difference. I'm sure that someone has mentioned this, but removing the mute from behind the bridge of the violin can make a small, but noticeable difference in the sound (when the instrument is not to be muted).

And of course there is the shoulder rest. Some people have quit using a shoulder rest because they find that yields a fuller sound, but at the cost of it being more difficult to get around the instrument with the left hand. There was a reason that the shoulder rest was invented in the first place. I custom-trimmed the feet of my shoulder rest for minimum contact and greater resonance.

And the same thing is true of the chinrest. Remember way back when there were no chinrests?

So the questions are, what is the cost - now and ongoing? How much difference does it make in the sound? How much difference does it make in how you physically navigate on the instrument? And how quirky are you willing to go?

To go to the extreme, I'm sure that some sophisticated computer program could grind through all the permutations of how an instrument that sounds like a violin could be designed and built for maximum resonance, but in the end, would the thing with the best sound really be a violin? Is one-upping Stravari a good thing? I suspect you would end up with some alien-looking fiddle - and I would be the first to try it!

As they say in Fiddler on the Roof - "Tradition!!!". Or not.


Gary Anderson

July 13, 2013 at 04:51 AM · Gary, is your product essentially a set of non-damping pads that replace the traditional cork?

July 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Hello Gene,

I see we're not supposed to directly advertise things here, but please write to me and I'll talk to you about it. Or see for more info.

Thanks, Gary

July 29, 2013 at 06:52 PM · Hi Gary,

you definitely raise a valid point here. Overall, I think that most people using the tailpiece have found that the sound is improved enough to make up for the difference in looks. But it's definitely an obstacle to the "path to acceptance," at least right now.

I'm currently involved in a scientific research project which is attempting to define what are the specific sound components which generally cause a person to like the sound of an instrument. It's a little subjective because everyone has different preferences, but I think most anyone can recognize the difference between a Guarneri and a $300 violin. Then, we are going to see how the Frirsz tailpiece affects those sound components, and by how much.

It will give us some scientific evidence which is not wholly computerized by which we can evaluate the tailpiece and whether it is really as good as claimed, or if there is some psychological effects which make it seem better to players.

As for your other questions, I think (from experience) that people have been very happy with the fact that the Frirsz tailpiece doesn't change things regarding the playability of one's instrument. It's particular design attempts to keep the same "feel" of the instrument but improve the sound.

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