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Thread: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

  1. #1
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    Unhappy

    October 3, 2005

    Hi folks,

    I have been using Elixir Nanoweb strings on my new Collings MF5V mandolin.

    One drawback that I've discovered with the design of the cool-looking Collings mandolin tailpiece is that, when securing the loop end of the string over the tailpiece post and then pulling the string through the corresponding hole in the tailpiece towards the headstock, the strings rub against the sides of the small metal holes, thus scratching (and possibly damaging) the delicate ultra-thin GoreTex coating on the wound G and D strings.

    I thought about using pliers and crimping the loop ends of the strings to a semi-sharp point and inserting them into the metal tailpiece from the other direction, but I didn't know if this would fatigue the metal core and possibly cause breakage problems down the line.

    Are there any Collings mando owners who hear that awful grinding sound when they pull a new set of strings through the tiny holes in the factory tailpiece?

    Wouldn't it be better if Collings enlarged those string holes and lined them with some type of teflon bushing so that it wouldn't grind the new coated strings being slid through them?

    I know that many mandolin players don't use coated strings but, it seems to me, that this tailpiece grinding could also damage the delicate windings of non-coated strings as well and may negatively effect their tone and longevity.

    Is this tailpiece string abrasion issue also a problem with other manufacturer's metal tailpieces?

    Am I installing my strings incorrectly?

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to work around this problem I am having?

    God bless,
    "louisiana"

  2. #2
    Registered User fredfrank's Avatar
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    I don't think it would be a good idea to crimp the loop. I'm sure that would weaken it considerably. I don't use coated strings, but I'm sure you could minimize the damage by pulling the string through very slowly. It's not clear from your post, but it sounds like you said you hook the loop on the post and then pull it through. I'd pull it through and when the loop gets up to the post, that's when I would loop it over the post.

  3. #3
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    I've installed every kind of string imaginable on my Collings as well as others Collings with this same tailpiece, which I believe is made by Randy Allen. I have found that watching the angle that you pull the string at makes all the difference. If you lay the string at about the same angle as the hole and not go over the bridge until you get to the end of the hole, you will minimize that sizzling sound. You can, and I have, take a fluted reamer and ream the rear holes out a little bit to minimize any sharp edges of the leading hole. In fact, Dremel makes the perfect star point reamer that is about 1/4" wide on the top, approximatly 1/4 in long and comes to a sharp point that looks like a counter sink with serious teeth that will do the job just right. Kenc
    "Just my opinion, but I'm Cartwright."
    Cartwright's Music & Repair Shop
    "I repair what others sell"
    Stayton, Oregon

  4. #4

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    I didn't like that tailpiece at all and put a James on my Collings..big improvement in restringing.

  5. #5
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    So did I. Best tailpiece out there in my humble opinion. Kenc
    Cartwright's Music & Repair Shop
    "I repair what others sell"
    Stayton, Oregon

  6. #6

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    I like Ken's idea, it can't hurt to have a little more room inside the hole. I'm wondering if there is a roughness inside the hole causing the abrasion on the string coating. If so, there is a product called "crocus cord", it's like dental floss with fine grit impregnated into it. They make it down to .030 diameter. You could "floss" the inside of the holes with it to polish the surface. Trouble is, by the time you buy a roll of it and pay the shipping you'll have 15.00-20.00 bucks invested. Let me know if interested and I'll dig up a supplier for you.
    Bill James
    www.axinc.net

  7. #7
    Registered User Jim Roberts's Avatar
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    I've changed strings on my Collings many times and never had a hint of this problem. #I'd call the folks at Collings. #They are great folks and they'll fix it if there is indeed a flaw in that particular tailpiece. #

    I have a Bill James tailpiece on my other mandolin and it works great, too. #Fit and function seem flawless...just wish he'd design and produce a set of lightweight mandolin tuners that were as slick and didn't cost $500 like W's!




  8. #8
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    The Collings tailpiece with the recessed hooks is the worst design I have seen. It is pretty, but a lot of trouble. Have squeezed the loops and bent the end of the loop and the strings still come off the hook when the string is being tightened.
    1940s Gibson A that needs refretting
    2017 Collings MT-2 Italian Spruce
    Old bowlback
    Kentucky 250
    Considering a Big Muddy because I still regret
    selling my Mid-Mo

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    I believe this has been discussed. You can put painters tape over the hook to hold the loop on until you get tension on. I pull the string tight and wrap it around the post however many wraps are appropriate for wound or plain string, then put it thru the hole in the post. You now have all your wraps on the post, with some tension, and very little to turning to tighten up to pitch. This way you shouldn't need the tape.

    When I opened this up it went to the post above mine, just read the rest. Carry on
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    CHASAX 

  11. #10
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    FWIW, I've had the same problem. I don't think it's the worst tailpiece design ever, but it most certainly is not the best. It does take a nice polish.
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  12. #11
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    Yes I don't like em, Northfield has the same style! Gibson old school traditional is the best IMHO! Don't like the Allen either like on old Mote GA's!

  13. #12
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    So far, I really do like the James tailpiece that came on another mandolin.
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  14. #13
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by CHASAX View Post
    The Collings tailpiece with the recessed hooks is the worst design I have seen. It is pretty, but a lot of trouble. Have squeezed the loops and bent the end of the loop and the strings still come off the hook when the string is being tightened.
    Using a Shubb type guitar or otherwise capo you can clamp the new string around the 12th fret once you have it pulled thru and hooked. Works great but frowned on by some
    or...
    learn to wrap the loose end on the tuner without letting go of the tension on the hook
    or...
    get a james tailpiece - you can probably get one with Collings engraved on it thru Collings

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    Will try that sort of wrap. Have been doing what I was taught for a guitar.
    1940s Gibson A that needs refretting
    2017 Collings MT-2 Italian Spruce
    Old bowlback
    Kentucky 250
    Considering a Big Muddy because I still regret
    selling my Mid-Mo

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by CHASAX View Post
    Will try that sort of wrap. Have been doing what I was taught for a guitar.
    I do that wrap for every instrument, it is easier, quicker, and no need for string winder. Sorry string winder makers.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  17. #16
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    I love Collings and have sang their praises here as much as anyone, but I do wish they would consider going back to the drawing board with their tailpiece (and ditching the Golden Age tuners too). It looks cool but isn't very practical.
    ...

  18. #17

    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    Caleb: yep, not a fan of the Golden Age tuners, which are on my MT. I have the Gotoh's on my MTO and Schallers on my Eastman MD815V; both work way better than the Golden Age tuners.

    And speaking of the Eastman, the Art Deco tailpiece on the 815V looks good and works good too, using "claw" posts for the string loops so the strings are less apt to fall off.

    You'd think with Collings' reputation for quality (I own two of their mandolins) they'd take the minor steps to remedy these issues.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Collings Mandolin Tailpiece

    Fortunately, my Collings mandola didn't come with the GA tuners or I wouldn't have bought it -I had to take them off my GBOM; they were so awfull. As far as the tailpiece is concerned, the one on my National is by far the worse for fitting strings is; although I fully understand what the o/p means. What I particularly dislike is getting old strings off - bent mandola strings require an amount of brute force to ge them back through the holes. The James wins hands down in the tailpiece design stakes

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