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  #1  
Old 12-14-2007, 07:07 PM
John Horne John Horne is offline
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Default Effect of tailpiece material on archtop tone?

I've read the comparisons on how bridge pins affect the tone of an acoustic guitar (ebony tends to be warmer than bone, etc.) and it got me thinking -

would an ebony tailpiece have any effect on the tone of an archtop guitar?

I currently have a metal tailpiece on mine (an Ibanez AF120BS)

If you have any ideas or anecdotal evidence, I'd love to hear it.

John
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:28 PM
old_dog old_dog is offline
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I have an Eastman archtop with an ebony fronted metal tailpiece. I can't say for sure if the ebony changes the tone of the guitar because I've never tried it without the ebony installed.

I've heard people complain of a metallic resonance from metal tailpieces but I've never had that problem with the ebony fronted version. I've also heard that metal tailpieces ground the strings to prevent or reduce hum.

Is the ebony fronted metal tailpiece the best of both worlds? I can't say for sure but I definitely like the sound I get from this set up.
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:42 PM
bluemt. bluemt. is offline
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I've never owned an arched top guitar but I know from experience that changing mandolin tailpieces has an effect. I replaced a couple of stamped metal tailpieces with cast bronze with good results. I also replaced a stamped metal tailpiece on an octave mandolin with an ebony one and it got rid of some unwanted resonance.

I'm not sure if the material the tailpiece is made of is the important factor or if it's the weight/mass.
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Old 12-15-2007, 12:10 AM
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Livingston Livingston is offline
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From what I have read, the traditional heavy brass hinged tailpiece increases sustain and volume. The lightweight ebony tailpiece with cello gut or Sacconi cable attachment creates a more acoustic quality - a more rapid decay and warmer tone.

I have two electric archtops and one semi hollow. All three guitars have ebony over metal tailpieces. I suspect this type of tailpiece falls some where between the traditional heavy brass tailpiece and the lightweight ebony tailpiece.
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:24 PM
John Horne John Horne is offline
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Thanks all.

Does anyone know where I can look into purchasing an ebony tailpiece for an archtop?
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Old 12-16-2007, 04:45 PM
old_dog old_dog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Horne View Post
Thanks all.

Does anyone know where I can look into purchasing an ebony tailpiece for an archtop?
John,

Stew-Mac carries Benedetto ebony tailpieces but they're expensive.

Benedetto Archtop Tailpiece
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Old 12-16-2007, 04:49 PM
John Horne John Horne is offline
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Besides the price it looks like a real PITA to install. AND the fastener is sold separately - that's ridiculous!
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Old 12-16-2007, 08:59 PM
old_dog old_dog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Horne View Post
Besides the price it looks like a real PITA to install. AND the fastener is sold separately - that's ridiculous!
And that's not all. Your Ibanez has an endpin already installed but your current tailpiece is probably fastened with screws so you'll have to have the holes filled when it's removed. Benedetto also recommends you fit a piece of bone between the tailpiece and the binding edge of your guitar.

Bob Benedetto is widely considered the world's premier archtop guitar builder so anything that bears his name comes with that price premium attached. But the reason he is considered the very best at what he does is...he IS the very best at what he does.

If I had an extra 26.5K lying around I'd buy a Benedetto Venezia tomorrow. But that's not likely to happen any time soon.

Here's a photo of an Ibanez AF120 with upgraded ebony tailpiece and pickguard by Bill Moll. Check out the price of that upgrade! Give him a call! Problem solved!

You can buy ebony tailpieces for far less on eBay or you can try to find a luthier to hand carve one for you. Bill Gagnon sells hand carved archtop bridges on eBay. You could try contacting him about carving an ebony tailpiece for you. He does excellent work and he provides installation instructions -- if you're brave enough to try the upgrade yourself. But if you decide to go through with the upgrade I suggest having it done professionally.
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