Gut/Loop strings and Afterlength

April 22, 2018, 11:59 PM · Just a silly question... We all know of the initially best setup of the tailpiece to allow for a 1/6th afterlength of the string.That is measured from bridge to the saddle on the tailpiece (the line on top of which the strings rest).
However, when using a loop string (normally from gut), the afterlength ends naturally on the knot of the loop, not on the saddle, which actually shortens the afterlength up to 3-4mm.
When you use these loop strings, do you correct the tailpiece accordingly, or you don't give a toss? In that last case, I assume it is not noticeable...

Replies (9)

April 23, 2018, 3:59 AM · ???? The string is still resting on the saddle of the tailpiece.
April 23, 2018, 4:21 AM · Yes, it rests there but the afterlength vibration stops now in the knot, just before the tailpiece. Not in the saddle.
April 23, 2018, 1:27 PM · Are you pulling the string through the loop? I just let the knot and loop sit below the tailpiece. Exactly as I do with strings with a ball.
Edited: April 23, 2018, 1:59 PM · I assume that you are NOT talking about raw (plain) gut strings.
With wound gut, such as Eudoxa, one can not control the after-length, since the loop ending (wound by cotton thread) is of a random distance from the loop.
Edited: April 24, 2018, 9:34 AM · The saddle should control the length, in the same way that pressing with your fingernail would.

Correction: you're talking about using the loop to feed the end of the string through, and not putting the knot in the tailpiece holes, whatever they are called? That is different-- but perhaps you could instead use those knots as stoppers so you're back to the previous situation.

As far as making adjustments, you can very the pitch of the afterlength by (carefully) shaving off bit of the colored thread to reduce the weight. You can usually raise pitch by nearly a semitone that way. Obviously that doesn't work for plain gut, although, conversely, you can lower pitch on any kind of string by wrapping the string with light thread.

April 23, 2018, 6:47 PM · Yes, I was going to use the loop to tie the string instead of using the knot. Actually, I didn't even think about it. After reading you all, I will use the knot the same as with a ball-end string. Cheers!

Stephen: I didn't know that trick of adding or removing wrapping. It is very useful! Thanks.

Edited: April 24, 2018, 9:33 AM · I invented it myself. Not many other people know or care about it. No extra charge. :)

The result, though, is that for Rondo and Dominant, I can more or less set the tailpiece to get the correct pitch for D and G strings and then lighten up the A wrapping so that it produces an "E" when plucked. As a bonus, the E strings I prefer tend to produce an F# at that tailpiece setting-- which is two fifths above E, not just one.

Small changes are always possible once you're sure the bridge is in the right place. The end result does mean occasionally checking your bridge after you tune up, to avoid some nasty dissonances, but it allows for some very nice sound when it's all working properly.

April 25, 2018, 6:55 AM · Stephen, when you pluck the after length, do you damp the playing length of the string?
Edited: April 26, 2018, 3:52 PM · That is probably best. Otherwise, you can excite the open string and make the shorter bit sound more correctly tuned than it actually is.

If it is out of tune, there are a number of things you can do. First, of course, is adjust the tailgut. That is a pain, and can cause other problems. It will also affect all four strings, which may or may not be helpful.

Then, you can adjust the bridge. You should, of course, make sure the feet are correct and that it is vertical in the right way. But even then, a tiny bit of correction can change pitches.

You should also make sure that the string moves freely over the bridge. Graphite, etc. But even then, you might push down or pull on any single string to re-jigger the tension that is between bridge and tailpiece.

If you've done all that and everything is otherwise set up for the best, then you can get the razor blade (or sewing kit) out for the final-- semi-permanent-- adjustment. Another good blade to use is the little knife included with some corkscrews. Small, sharp, and you get good control. Or, you can use a nail clipper. Hold it perpendicular to the string while it is closed and rub it up and down. You'll get thread to come off pretty quickly. (Don't use it as a clipper! I did that the first time I experimented with this and ended up snapping the string in two.) If you are removing thread, start with a small bit-- maybe 1/4 inch. See what happens to pitch and then do more if necessary.

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