Adjusting Tailpiece Makes Acoustic Sense

Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Strings and Things Adjusting Tailpiece Makes Acoustic Sense

This topic contains 15 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by fiddliferous1950 fiddliferous1950 1 week ago.

Viewing 16 posts - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)
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  • #60104
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    I’m selecting this forum for this topic since in a way it relates to strings and things. Moderator, please feel free to move it to its proper place.

    On the 6th of this month, I decided to re-locate my violin tailpiece on my 1834 “Julia” fiddle. I had a conversation a few days prior to that with a guitar/mandolin maker and a professional fiddler and they were discussing the importance of having the end of the tailpiece even with the edge of the fiddle. They were of the opinion that the farther away from the bridge the tailpiece was, the more the bridge was allowed to vibrate and send those vibrations into the sound box.

    It made sense to me, so I went home, got up the courage (it really didn’t take much) and decided while I was at it, I’d change my strings, too.

    So, I moved the tailpiece back about half of the distance to the edge of the fiddle, changed the strings and marveled that Friday night at the increased tone and also volume. It was like a new violin. I couldn’t get over it!

    Today, Tuesday the 10th, I moved it again. This time all the way out to the edge. All I can say is “Wow!” Talk about beautiful tone. I can hardly set it down.

    I strongly recommend this to anyone who dares do it. What an improvement. It’s funny, it’s just one of those things that I had never learned. It makes acoustic sense. Upon examining pictures of professional violins in advertising literature, I notice they’re all like that.

    #60107

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    That’s awesome! Hey, check the note that is played when you pluck a string below the bridge (between the bridge and the tailpiece). I have always heard that the distance between the bridge and the tailpiece should be 1/6 of the string length. If the distance is 1/6 the length, then the note it makes should be 2 octaves and a fifth higher. So, your D string (D4) will be make an A note under the bridge (A6). You can shift the tailpiece to “tune” this note. When the note is tuned, it makes a nice sympathetic harmonic above the string when played open.

    #60108
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    That’s great news Fred.  Here’s something else, not recommended exactly, but was dramatic for me.  My bridge needs to be replaced, so I wasn’t concerned about hurting it…I was changing strings and for forgotten reasons decided to see what it sounded like with my bridge tilted at an obnoxious angle.  We all know the accepted wisdom of having the bridge straight and the feet profiled to set with maximum contact on the top plate, so it should have sounded muted with the bridge tilted to just be on the edge of it’s feet.  But it had a beautiful sound such as I’ve never heard from my fiddle!  No explanation, and not rational, but this gorgeous sound was there.  I couldn’t leave it like that, but when I get time I’m going to do some experimenting with getting a bridge to sound like that.

    Also, with the adjustable tail gut cords it’s really easy to move your tail piece back & forth to experiment with the tail piece location.

    Fred, before you moved it, how far was the tailpiece from touching the saddle.  Mine is right at 5/16th’s of an inch.  Was yours farther away than that?

     

    #60109

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Here’s a super-fast video explaining what I said above…

     

    #60111
    fran h
    fran h
    Participant

    that was weird.  I was typing this long question on my not so accurate laptop and somehow left the website and came back to find a video explanation.

    (spooky music plays)

    #60113
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Thanks for the thread, Fred (oops…that rhymed), and thanks for the other comments plus the video…I was just gonna ask for pictures…lol.  I will have to watch it tomorrow…phone duty tonight and I’m already multitasking beyond my abilities.

    #60118

    Hakan Lindholm
    Participant

    For those who like Wittner tailpieces.

    Wittner has a “Multi-system tailpiece” which allows for up to 5 mm of adjustment for overall string length by regulating the distance beteen the bridge and tailpiece without removal of the strings and tailpice (with use of a screw driver and with the tailpiece fitted). May save lot of time when and if trying to fine adjust the string length.

    Available both with or without finetuners.

    #60126
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I never heard of this before…gonna have to check all of mine.

    #60128
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Seems hard to believe that .02 of an inch (5mm as per the Wittner Tailpiece allows for adjustment) would make that much of a difference in tone and volume, but it probably does for some violins. I moved my tailpiece more than that both times and overall it really did make a noticeable difference.

    Are any Wittner’s made of Ebony? They all seem to be made of metal or space age composite material.

    #60130

    Hakan Lindholm
    Participant

    It does not allow for adjustment over the whole possible distance.

    I think one need to position the tailpiece roughly on the sweet spot or in tune as mentioned  above).

    Then 5 mm might be of help for the final tuning not having to remove the strings completely for every minor adjustment.

    I have only seen the adjustable Wittner tailpieces in composite material.

    #60148

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    That’s cool, I didn’t realize Wittner made those.

    #60149

    Pcquikfix
    Participant

    I have expensive fiddles and cheap fiddles. All of which I try to get the tailpiece 2 up to 2 1/4 inches from the bridge, depending on the fiddle.  (1/6 of the length of the strings from the bridge to the nut).   It is my opinion, having read  for several years that the actual goal is to set the harmonics on the backside of the bridge.

    Behind the bridge the G string will pluck a D, the D string, behind the bridge, will pluck an A.  then the A will pluck an E.  Think about it.  If you are playing a D string and behind the bridge is playing an A note, you have built some harmonics into your fiddle.    Plucking the strings behind the bridges is not a real easy job on some fiddles.  Sounds ugly. If you can not pluck and get a good note, go with measurements.  But your tuner can hear the note.

    Certainly it is likely to put new life in a fiddle.   I read all of this on the net. I don’t remember the site name.   If I see a fiddle I like the looks  of on eBay that is not set this way, I buy them, put appropriate size tail pieces to accomplish my goals.

    Yes I like the tailpiece to go near the edge of the fiddle.  I think you will discover that the real key to scooting tailpiece back to the edge of the fiddle is you are allowing better movement of the strings in general.

    That being said.  Get the intonation on the strings and each finger position set perfect before you measure it.  The bridge must be set right to get the intonation right or you will do a lot of work for nothing.

    #60153
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    pcquikfix: Your information is quite helpful. Thank you very much.

    #60160
    Icebike
    Icebike
    Participant

    Fred, you’ve made me a believer.  I adjusted my tailpiece today, trying to get at the 1:6 ratio John mentioned.  What a difference!  Much better tone – it just seems to vibrate or ring more.  In all, I move the tailpiece about 3mm.  I could go another 1 or 2 mm before I touched the saddle, but I’ll let it set for now.

    Joe

     

    #60164
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Thank you so much Fred for all the great information.  I get the feeling that every member who reads your post will now be busy adjusting their tail pieces (that is the tail piece on their fiddles, not their bodies).  I’ll be adjusting both.   🙂

    When I finish my recording tour and amazing vegetarian safari, I would like to try experimenting on “Ming Woo’, my cheap Chinese fiddle:  But then as the old saying goes, “You can’t make silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”(But you can sure make some mighty fine – tasting Sweet and Sour Pork out of it!)

    Thanks again for sharing this information with us all here, Fred.

    #60182
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Thank you, Icebike. I’m happy that it improved volume and tone. It’s so cool to make such a simple adjustment and have such a radical change in volume and tone; especially tone.

    You’re very welcome, Great Scott. Great to hear from you. Take care.

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