Pernambuco Violin Tailpieces
Has anyone tried a Pernambuco violin tailpiece and what might be the acoustic attributes be compared to ebony, rosewood, or boxwood?
Would it be more of a brighter & resonant, or a darker sound? No notable difference?
They are similar in mass to ebony, I believe. Heavy and stiff anyways. I think using pernambuco for a tailpiece is a right waste; it seems like a gimmick ("hey, the best bows are pernambuco, so the best tailpieces must be, too!"). The species of wood has very little bearing on the tonal effect of the tailpiece.
Since pernambuco wood is an endangered species, why would anyone want to add an unnecessary use when it’s already difficult to get enough for good bows?
I certainly would not advocate cutting down
The pernambuco for good bows is apparently a very-strict selection of wood, so lots of wood leftover to make fittings from. I say good that it is not wasted. My daughter's good cello came from the maker with a pernambuco tailpiece and pegs, rather beautiful medium-brown wood that's lighter in color than most bows. When we tried a set of higher-tension strings once, I needed to open up the hole in the peg just a bit so the heavier-gauge C string would go through, and was pretty surprised at how tough it is.
Basic arbitrage-- slice up Peccattes into 4 1/2" pieces to suit the whims of violinists.
@ Stephen. I don't really understand what you're saying....
Precisely-- I was speaking of the source wood.
Somehow I doubt the factories churning out these tailpieces go to the great inconvenience of soliciting irregular offcut wood from luthiers and wood shops. Even here in North America I see that companies dealing in wood will rather toss it in the trash and buy good pieces in bulk than recycle, donate, or sell imperfect stock. Can't imagine the situation being better in India or China.
I've heard only about 1% of pernambuco is good enough for bows, so that other 99% should have some uses.
There are many uses for exotic tropical woods. My son's business for the past 25 years has been making and selling beautiful dringking vessels from many such woods (as well s mor mundane ones). This instagram page ( https://www.instagram.com/goodlywoods/?hl=en ) shows many examples - and the first figure is a video showing the loading of many wood varieties in of his trailer in Phoenix, Az prior to the 5 hour return trek to his workshop in the mountains of southern New Mexico. But I have never seen a vessel he has made using pernambuco.
Pernambuco is a very good wood that’s dense and strong and has a good appearance without needing any dye or stain to get a nice color. It seems to carry vibrations well, a crucial reason for its prevalence as a bow making wood.
I have a Bois d'Harmonie pernambuco tailpiece on one of my fiddles and I was pleased with the result. It brightened the sound and seemed to give it more impact.
Pernambuco fittings will certainly affect the sound of instruments. You have to experiment and be willing to take a loss or reap the benefits, but when it works well, pernambuco for tailpieces or fittings can smoothly brighten the tone of instruments in a radiant and sunny way, allowing more color modulability, along with retaining focus. When it dosen't work, it just sounds brighter, brittle, less projecting, and sometimes harsher.