My take on the tuneable tailpiece

July 7, 2019, 12:11 PM · Finally got around to making my version of the tuneable tailpiece we saw on here a while back.

The workmanship is a little rough around the edges—especially on the back (yikes)—but
it's just a prototype, so that's my excuse.

I have no idea what kind of wood this is. It's some sort of mystery hardwood I found in my garage. The grain is similar to maple but the wood is quite soft and springy. If you can tell me what you think it is, I'd appreciate it. If it helps, the colour is just from baking and a thin coat of oil.

Anyways. Now to wait a month for a new tailgut to come in the mail so I can actually try it. I'll make a new thread when I get around to that.

Replies (12)

July 7, 2019, 12:32 PM · "Now to wait a month for a new tailgut to come in the mail"

Have you considered the pony express?

July 7, 2019, 1:01 PM · It looks interesting to experimment with Mr.Mather. Have you weighed this tailpiece compared to the one you will be exchanging it for? Not a wood expert buf it looks like Black Walnut except that is quite hard so my second guess would be some sort of soft Mahogany such as Phillipine.
Edited: July 7, 2019, 1:16 PM · Haven't weighed it exactly, but it is considerably lighter. Probably half the weight or less.

It would actually be faster for me to ride a horse all the way to Minnesota and pick it up myself, but I don't own a horse.

90% of the time it takes for packages to reach me is spent in Canadian customs...

July 7, 2019, 2:51 PM · It is really hard to tell from a bad lit photo and without touching it, but could that be palisander?
It would have a more “open” (lack of better word) feel to the touch than let’s say ebony or walnut. Slightly more “dry” feeling too.
July 7, 2019, 5:39 PM · I found an old nylon hanger and stuck it on my "outdoor gig" violin...
Tuned the afterlengths to a fifth and two octaves above each string, and I'm not noticing much difference. Then again, this violin is no master instrument.

I can't remember who had a tailpiece like this one, but how should I tune it? Maybe to all the odd notes like F#, B, etc?

Edited: July 8, 2019, 7:27 AM · I'm trying to imagine what kind of "hardwood" scraps someone might have in his garage that would be "quite soft." The only thing I can come up with is poplar.
July 8, 2019, 7:47 AM · "I can't remember who had a tailpiece like this one..."

July 8, 2019, 8:47 AM · Poplar would be my guess as well.
July 8, 2019, 9:14 AM · My own tunable tailpieces are made of black poplar.

As far as my experience is, be prepared to modify the tailgut lenght, if one of the strings goes out of range with the tunable piece.

Regarding tuning the pieces, it can be difficult to hear the high pitch of non vibrating string. I use to hit it with a pencil stick, and compare it with the correct harmonic on the real string, or the above strings.

Strangely, i've noticed that i like the way a piece is tuned when the note corrisponding to the 7th interval from the open string sounds with strong harmonics even when played lightly (ex: the F on the G string).

Good luck.

July 8, 2019, 10:03 AM · Interesting. I'll try that today on my good violin.

I tuned mine by bowing on the afterlength and comparing it with the fourth harmonic on the next string.

Fun fact: old D strings can be twisted together and recycled into a new tailgut. Looks like I don't have to buy a new one from Gamut ×v×

I made the slots quite long on my tailpiece, so I shouldn't run out of room, but I have plenty of gut if I mess up.

Edited: July 8, 2019, 10:35 AM · "hit it with a pencil stick" is a very interesting concept. When you strike an object sharply you get more high overtones. Rubbing it (as with a bow) brings out more fundamental. But what I have already said exceeds my knowledge of mechanical vibrations. I'm lucky I have colleagues, mechanical engineers, who are expert in such things.
July 8, 2019, 12:53 PM · I hit the strings very lightly.
Sometimes i use (lightly) a heavy guitar pick.

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