How to tell the difference between a plastic tailpiece and a wooden one? (chinrest as well!)

February 18, 2018, 8:27 AM · I recently got a violin and even though the description said ebony tailpiece and chinrest, I feel like they're both plastic. Is there a way to tell how plastic should feel and how wood should feel. The fingerboard is definitely ebony and I get a feel of rosewood from the frog but why do the tailpiece and chinrest feel like they're made from neither material?

Replies (8)

February 18, 2018, 8:53 AM · Post photos, Ms. !
February 18, 2018, 9:41 AM · You might be able to tell by the texture or the look. As a beginner, I wouldn't worry so much.
Edited: February 18, 2018, 10:20 AM · Both chinrest and tailpiece are replaceable; chinrest - easily, tailpiece - you have to know what your are doing! But unless they have negative effects on your sound they are not something to worry about. Even a non-ebony fingerboard will not be a problem in early years. I recall having at least one plastic chinrest during my early years (~1940s) probably before most people knew what plastic was. And there were some quite credible plastic tailpieces in use (even professionally) in recent years; Akusticus is the one that comes to mind
( )
but Wittner and other companies also sell them.

Bow frogs can be made of almost anything - ebony is the most common material used, tortoise shell and ivory have been used in the past, mammoth ivory and bone more recently. The use of endangered-species materials like tortoise shell and ivory are now forbidden - so don't try to transport one of those internationally or you will lose it forever! Beautifully figured snakewood is used for frogs (especially ARCUS bows) on some bows (probably because it resembled dark tortoise shell).

The metal trim used on bow frogs is typically the maker's way of telling a buyer the "grade" of the bow. Nickel is common (often called "German Silver") for cheaper bows. Silver is typically used on bows ranging from about $600 to $4,000 and gold is often seen on bows retailing for more than $5,000. But I have seen gold trim on Chinese bows selling for $1,000 that were definitely better than the same brand's cheaper bows.

More than you wanted to know - I know - but you never know when you might want to know!

February 18, 2018, 10:37 AM · You can sometimes tap them and they will feel very light and click like plastic. Ebony should feel like it vibrates more/better and it makes a better sound. It shouldn't matter to the sound of the violin more than barely noticeable.
February 18, 2018, 4:17 PM · Plastic chin rests are still common today e.g Wittoer.
February 19, 2018, 4:37 AM · Honestly, even as a beginner my violin resonates beautifully and the sound is better than most student grade violin. (i have a hofner) the chinrest doesn't click but the tail piece does. But I guess I shouldn't worry because it doesn't make the sound terrible. It all depends on how I now and how nervously or relaxingly I hold my violin. So I guess I shouldn't even if it is plastic. I'll try to post pictures.
Thank you everyone. You've all been a great help to me. ^_^
February 19, 2018, 5:26 PM · wood burns, plastics melts....
If you scratch wood and plastics, the result is different too.
Edited: February 19, 2018, 7:21 PM · Plastic hardware probably wouldn't float, whereas most woods will. Kidding aside, I would examine any perforation very carefully for evidence of plastic bits.

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