Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mandolin Tailpiece

For quite awhile, I’ve wanted to design and make my own mandolin tailpieces. I won’t dwell on the merits of current designs; let’s cut to the chase!

I wanted a design that’s predominantly wood so that:

One, I can match it to the tonewoods used.

Two, I can vary the shape to complement the head design.

I feel that the tailpiece needs to be anchored to the mandolin firmly rather than use the violin style “gut” fastener that is sometimes used with wooden tailpieces.

So, I’ve gone for a design that has a brass base/fixing which is “housed” in hardwood.

Here's the base plate before bending-

Hopefully, the aesthetics speak for themselves; so here's the function part!

The brass pegs are made from machine screws, which means that they are threaded along their length. I decided to use these rather than plain brass rod, so that the thread grips the loop end of the strings and stops them from riding up the pins.

The strings pass through holes in the wooden body- this has the effect of dampening them, so that they don’t vibrate and buzz like they can on some metal designs.

The idea of the raised sides is simply to protect the player from the pegs, although I’ve left the end of the tailpiece open, this means that you slide the strings easily through the hole as you don’t have to bend them.

One unintended advantage is that the strings seem to stay in place before they are tensioned because they are held in alignment by the hole and griped by the thread. Jolly successful if I say so myself!

This tailpiece is going on to Standard II hence being made from rosewood and koa and the sloping end to match the headstock, however, this won’t be a regular component on the Standard as it’s a good days work to make. It will be used on the more expensive twin-point.

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Anonymous John Kelly said...

what an excellent design, Gary. Just came across it via a reference on the Mandolin cafe website. What gauge of brass are you using for the basic body?

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very cool looking.

5:30 AM  

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