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Thread: Vintage Tiple Restoration

  1. #1

    Default Vintage Tiple Restoration

    I recently completed restoration of a very nice Mahogany "Non Parrell" tiple I'd guess dates to the 20s or 30s based on it's Mother of Toilet Seat headstock and fingerboard.

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    I've got it completed and tried re-stringing it with the old strings (I kept em). I've found several possible ways to tune it and currently have it in A, E, C, G which seemed to suit the string it originally had. Does anyone have any experience with a title (New to me!) and the best tuning and string sizes? I've found a set online from GHS that has strings as follows: 10, 10/ 12, 26, 12/ 15, 34, 15/ 10, 22.

    Any advice on this would be appreciated!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Vintage Tiple Restoration

    That GHS set is pretty much all that's out there. But, La Bella makes some, too. Theirs are the same gauges. Just Strings has both.

    I have a 1932 Martin T-17 that has GHS strings on it. They have lasted a long time, which is great, because they are a pain to change.

    Your MOTS decorated tiple looks great.

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    1920 Martin Style A
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2018 The Loar LM-590 Ms
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Vintage Tiple Restoration

    Thanks! Are you also tuning to A, E, C, G?

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: Vintage Tiple Restoration

    North American tiples used to be tuned like D tuning on the ukulele:
    A4 A3 D4 D3 D4 F#4 F#3 F#4 B3 B3. (Wound octave-lower strings are indicated A3, D3 and F#3.) A more recent manufacturer of similar instruments recommends tuning a full tone lower, as mentioned below, similar to contemporary ukuleles.

    That would be GCEA as you are doing.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Vintage Tiple Restoration

    GCEA for me. I'll capo up to the second fret sometimes. Shubb makes one that works nicely on my tiple.

    1920 Martin Style A
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2018 The Loar LM-590 Ms
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    And one banjo

  7. #6

    Default Re: Vintage Tiple Restoration

    Thanks very much for the feedback. I'll order a new set of stings and try them out, but I must say, I'm fascinated by the combination of high and low tones this instrument produces and can see some wonderful uses stacking rhythms parts on recordings using this instrument! I'm somewhat confused by the ebony bridge, similar in shape to the Martin Tiple bridge but with a fret for the saddle rather than a bone or plastic insert. The string holes were very poorly drilled (some come out too high to actually have the string "fret" on the saddle) and I plan on filling in the old holes with ebony dust and super glue, the re-drilling the holes so they place the strings at a lower position. Right now, some are low enough to create the proper string breaks angle and others barely make the strings touch the saddle.

    I'll post pics as I do this.

  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Vintage Tiple Restoration

    My experience with tiples -- I've owned two, now down to just one Martin T-15 -- is that the combination of the short scale, and string courses with strings of very different diameters tuned in octaves -- makes for frequent tuning issues. You tune open strings to accurate octaves, then fret that course at the fourth fret, and find the heavier strings sound sharp to the lighter ones. And I'm assuming, since you have a bridge with a brass fret as the "saddle," that the bridge isn't compensated.

    I've resorted to not tuning the second and third courses in perfect octaves, thus having slight "out-of-tune-ness" on the open strings, and the same on fretted strings, but within my personal level of dissonance tolerance. I may well be more tolerant of imperfect octave tuning, due to decades of messing around on 12-string guitar.

    Tiples have a wonderful and unique sound, and to get that sound, I'm willing to put up with the tuning issues. I did find that fretting with as light a touch as possible, reduced the dissonant "non-octaves" up the neck. Good luck with yours.
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