From time to time I'm running into different kinds of asymmetric shaped tailpieces, like www.saitenhalter.com or even more extreme www.zmtsound.com and others, each of them surely claiming to be the most innovative, revolutionary and anyhow the best invention since the times of Gasparo da Salo himself. By the elongation of the afterlength (and eventually by reduction of the tailpiece's mass?) the tone should become larger and richer.
Has anyone of you used such a tailpiece, and if so, how did it improve or change the sound and playability of your instrument?
I installed one on my 15.5" Ming Jiang Zhu viola. It noticeably improved the richness and power of the C and G strings. But I didn't get one of the expensive ones, just a sub-$20 one from an Ebay seller!
I have used harp pieces, and detested them...
Thank you for your input. Okay then... I'd say for my very balanced and strong enough violin it sounds to me like a no-brainer to let it with it's standard tailpiece as it is. With my viola... Well, it is a fine instrument from a living maker, and it would definitely be a rude exaggeration to say it would suffer from a weak C, but like with many violas you have to work quite a bit on the C to bring out a proper forte. Maybe I'll try it on that one, if at all.
And David, is there any rule of thumb which kind of instrument might profit? Would you regard this only as problem-solving in instruments with severe weaknesses in the lower register?
There are old instruments that have similar concept tailpieces on them.
I think there isn’t a universal result that can be expected, it will all depend on the instrument and bridge setup and the resulting balance between strings. I have such a tailpiece on my instrument and it works well, having improved the G and general ring of the instrument, but this may not be the case for all instruments. What are you hoping to achieve?
On the viola I would hope for an easier responding C, which might be easier to modulate with less effort. The C actually does everything it's supposed to, but the amount of weight I have to add in comparison to the G is a bit much. Maybe it is because I'm not used to the Viola so much yet, and it would be simply a matter of adaptation...
It seems these tailpieces, on average, seem to have a very strong positive effect on the lower two strings and usually don't bother, or worsen, the top two. I had one of these on a previous instrument, and this was certainly the case for me.
There is usually a "sweet spot" for the afterlength on each fiddle, where going either shorter or longer starts to take things downhill.
So, David, the general accepted rule for the optimal ratio afterlength = 1/6 of the vibrating string length in any well built instrument is only a rule of thumb and not generally applicable? And which way does the tailpiece's mass mix in then? It's obvious that a too heavy tailpiece might dampen the resonances (?), but what happens with a too thin and light tailpiece?
I should not have seen this. Now I have to go out and try one.
Same disease than mine, huh Timothy? ;-)
Yep! And we even know where to look. Ebay. I think I'll try the ones with built in tuners.:)
The ones I mentioned cost up to €500 - no kidding! (That one from Switzerland made from Pernambucco...) But at least they have a generous return policy. On the other hand, €500 already goes into quite a decent bow, or a really nice case. And with the prices of ordinary tailpieces in mind, I'd say this is almost piracy.
I think David is saying that the question is answered empirically, one violin at a time. I suspect most such questions are answered that way.
So no math and no rule if thumb... Just belief and trial & error. Would surprise me, but hm... Anyway, not really my problem.
I should add, I did spend quite a bit of time adjusting the tailgut length until I found the balanced sound I was looking for with my viola, just focused enough, and not too "boom-y." The advice from many here, that it's really up to the specific instrument, is on the mark.
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