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Thread: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

  1. #1

    Default Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    What exactly do these two changes change on a higher end mandolin?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedotom View Post
    What exactly do these two changes change on a higher end mandolin?
    Looks and the amount of money in your pocket.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    I don't care who you are, that's funny. I almost spewed my coffee.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedotom View Post
    I don't care who you are, that's funny. I almost spewed my coffee.
    It's true though... A higher-end instrument should already have a well-fitted, structurally sound bridge and a structurally sound tailpiece. If you don't have those things, then you may notice an improvement in tone, volume, and playability by replacing them. Or just by properly fitting your existing bridge. CA bridges are awesome, but offer nothing different than any other properly made ebony bridge. This is 1920's technology.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    On a pragmatic note; James TP is a snap to replace strings..
    Gig working musician would probably like that, when a string breaks.

    FWIW My Lebda cast original tail piece had a smaller footprint and the Au plating quickly wore off exposing the nickel base plating..

    I got a James tailpiece , epoxied an ebony face on its top/cover..

    my Luthier guy plugged and re drilled the various holes for the new tail piece,
    which had a bigger foot print covered up all the changes..


    but Lots of people have asked this.. "will it change the sound?" their typical query..










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  7. #6

    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    They accentuate the opening up of your mandolin
    Play it like you mean it.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    They increase the reliability of your mandolin.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    What make is your mandolin ?. If it's a good quality one,i'd expect the t/piece to be at the very least 'good'. CA bridges are about as good as you'll get,but there are many 'good' bridges other than CA ones & yours might be one of them. unless you have any 'real doubts' re.the quality of your t/piece or bridge,usually there's no reason to change them,especially if your mandolin is a ''higher end'' one,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    What make is your mandolin ?. If it's a good quality one,i'd expect the t/piece to be at the very least 'good'. CA bridges are about as good as you'll get,but there are many 'good' bridges other than CA ones & yours might be one of them. unless you have any 'real doubts' re.the quality of your t/piece or bridge,usually there's no reason to change them,especially if your mandolin is a ''higher end'' one,
    Ivan
    It is the Kentucky KM1500

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  12. #10
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    On Kentucky km 1500, you should have a good quality ebony bridge. Just make sure it is fit correctly to the instrument. The tailpiece will be a stamped one but should be decent. I personally prefer cast tailpieces, and put them on all of my mandolins, but it won't really change the sound, unless your stamped tailpiece is rattling

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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    There are some who have claimed that changing out the tailpiece from the stamped version (Gibson style) to a cast version (Monteleone or Allen), or a machined version (James) improved their mandolin tone. I do not buy this. Tailpieces, unless they are improperly installed or rattle or are out of proper alignment, have essentially no effect on tone. The reason for getting a high-end tailpiece (like the James) is that it never rattles and it makes string changing much easier. It won't change the sound.

    Bridges, on the other hand, can exert a profound effect on the tone. The essential aspect is a good fit of the base to the arched top. An inexpensive rosewood bridge that's fit well will typically sound better than a more expensive Cumberland bridge which is not fit especially well. Most high-end mandolins already come with well-fit, well-made bridges, so there is no particular reason to change out to a CA bridge on one of these, in general. However, if the base on such a mandolin fits badly, then I would look to first re-fitting/re-sanding the existing base to match better, which is easier and less expensive than springing for a new CA bridge -- and then fitting that.

  14. #12
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    From sblock - ".. I do not buy this.". It's something that you have to experience first hand - like many other things that seem to be inexplicable !. When i put the ''cast'' Allen tailpiece on my Michael Kelly mandolin,it didn't change the 'tone',but it did give the mandolin more 'sustain' - to a degree. My thoughts were that the shoddy fitting 'tin' tailpiece was simply ''damping'' the sustain. I think that it also depends on the mandolin itself. A lighter built mandolin might respond more,whereas a heavier built one,might respond less,
    Ivan
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  15. #13

    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Stamped tailpieces are susceptible to rattles and vibrations. Sometimes you have to rebend the covers to get them snug. Then there's those sharp corners and plating that wears away. Allen tailpieces are classier and more comfortable on the arm but threading the strings through the holes, up, over, and in-between is not fun. Last time I went to order one, they wanted $21 dollars shipping so I sprung for a James-Wow! String changing has never been such a pleasure. You get what you pay for.

  16. #14
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    From Rob above - "..String changing has never been such a pleasure.". I have a James t/piece on my Ellis "A" style & despite everything fitting & working perfectly ,& it also has new 'O' rings,the A & E strings still need something to hold them onto the string 'hooks'. I use a small piece of Blue-Tack. There's no way that the top cover or 'string plate' (?) can distort,so why those strings simply refuse to stay in place is a bit of a mystery !. However,the James t/pieces are superb,as are the Allen t/pieces in the 'cast' t/piece stakes,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  17. #15

    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    i prefer unbleached bone or corian for nuts. either are relatively cheap, a few bucks. it's the labor and know-how that costs.

    more important than the material is how the nut is cut in terms of slot back angle, width, depth, and spacing.
    Mandolins are truly *magic*!

  18. #16

    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Plenty of builders use CA bridges, so some nice mandolins already have them. I would imagine their sweet spot to be Kentucky and Eastman mid line instruments. Too cheap and you might be trying to polish a turd, too expensive and you probably have a pretty good bridge.

    I may yet get a CA for my 199.00 Michael Kelly, just because I've done most everything else I can do, but I realize it would be a just for fun exercise.

    Tailpieces are more of a quality look and ease of string changes issue. For me Allen hits the sweet spot in those respects.
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    I special ordered a CA Bridge (the lowest possible) for my Flatiron 1N and replaced the existing clamshell style T/piece with a stamped Gibson style. I definitely feel like the bridge made a difference, however I know the T/piece change was just for looks.
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Have a CA on the Strad-O-Lin Californian. It was on hand when the mandolin arrived. What was on there was It replaced a block of wood that had not been contoured at all. So I won't say that it's improved or hurt the sound. Just that it works.

    For a KM1500, would imagine the bridge to be good. No reason to change it out, IMO.
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    Default Re: Tail Piece and CA Bridge

    Hmmmm ... With a KM 1500 a poorly fitted bridge is unlikely. If you want to significantly alter the tone of your mandolin try different strings and picks. These two changes will effect the tone of your instrument more than anything other than good or bad technique. Other than that start saving money and playing different makers instruments. To get something significantly better will cost you $$$$$ . R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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