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Thread: Upgrading a tailpiece

  1. #1
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    Default Upgrading a tailpiece

    I have a Loar LM-375 mandolin. Since I only play for hobby, I really don't have the money for a really high end mandolin. Would upgrading the tailpiece make a huge difference? Something a little more solid might Make it sound better, but I am not sure if it would be worth it. Even recommendations for decent tailpieces would be appreciated.

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    Registered User Eldon Dennis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    I've changed the tailpiece on three mandolins from the original to a James. I couldn't really tell any difference in the tone, volume, etc. However, changing strings on the James is so much easier. Likely it wouldn't be cost effective to put a James tailpiece on an entry level mandolin. On one of the mandolins the original tailpiece was was a Weber cast tailpiece - very solid but not the easiest to change strings.
    1992 Flatiron F5 Master model
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  4. #3
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    Actually, the tailpiece is probably less problematic than some other aspects of your mandolin, if it is anything like the LM270 (or was it 290?, I don't remember) I had. Number one, if you haven't had a good setup job done and can't foot the bill for a good luthier to do it, check out Rob Medrum's ebook (see my signature text). In particular, I noticed the difference when I got the nut slots down to a playable height and also when I fitted the bridge to the top. Another thing that I swear made a difference, but wasn't an easy job, was taking the finish off the the thing -- it was glommed on really thick like putty. But the bridge and the nut are quite doable.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

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  5. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    In my country they would say, rather crudely, like putting lipstick on a pig. Listen to the wise men above aned get some refined setup work to make your mandolinas good as reasonable.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    I like this one. Sonic difference, in this case? Doubtful, but maybe.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    There are very few that say they can hear the difference. I cannot. In my opinion there are a few reasons to change a tailpiece. The first would be that yours was broken. The second would be for the ease of changing strings on some (not all) cast tailpieces. The third would be for the looks.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    It was properly set up before purchase. Nut is fine with no other issues I saw.

  11. #8
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    To reiterate the advice already given, it is highly unlikely that changing your tailpiece will do much of anything to improve the sound of an entry-level, LM-375 Loar. The contribution of a tailpiece the to the tone is minimal. If you want to explore possible improvements, you might want to get better (or better-fiitted) bridge, or play around with different types of strings. These have a far more significant effect on tone.

  12. #9
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    From my experience the James tailpiece sits noticeably higher (~1/16") off of the top than the traditional style stamped tailpiece that came with my F-9 (using the exact same mounting screw holes). In fact my stamped tailpiece had been noticeably bent down from string tension. That height difference means there is also a tension difference at certain points of the top and the ribs near the end block. From my experience with other instruments I know that tailpieces and their adjustments can make a huge difference in tone and volume.

    Sound-theory says if you change anything, there will be a sound difference. But human hearing usually cannot pick up less than a 10% difference. So, while I believe there is at least a subtle difference with mandolin tailpieces, I don't know if it can be heard. At this point in time about 6 months after making this change, especially in deference to the wise souls here who report otherwise, I question my earlier reports...

    When I changed to my James tailpiece I made a point of using the exact same strings and setup so I could tell if there was a difference, and I thought I noticed one. But, if my James tailpiece does make a difference in sound, I'm pretty sure that how you hold your pick, or seasonally raising and lowering your action, probably makes a much bigger difference.

    I do have an easier time tuning now with my James tailpiece, my old stamped tailpiece was pretty flimsy.

    The other thing to always be aware of is that your audience may hear things that you may not hear, and vice versa.
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  13. #10

    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    Spend your money on a good setup, perhaps a Cumberland Acoustics bridge, but I wouldn’t. I’d save up and look for a used Kentucky 900 some day.
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  14. #11

    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    Fretwork & properly filed nut and bridge slots are two things which, for the cost or less of a James tailpiece, might have a good chance of improving both the instrument's tone, and your playing (since better action makes every player better).

  15. #12
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    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    Those of you who have replaced a tailpiece, what did it cost? Every time I change strings I think about replacing the tailpiece. This is what I've currently got (https://www.stewmac.com/Hardware_and...SABEgLSEfD_BwE), and I feel the design makes changing the string way harder than it should be

  16. #13

    Default Re: Upgrading a tailpiece

    I put a James on my #1 and absolutely love it. But putting $160 of hardware on an entry level mando is going to be a limited improvement in tone, due to the construction of the instrument. If you are really loving playing the mandolin, I'd advise you to save for a better instrument. Unfortunately, you're looking at $1000+ (even used) for a good sounding mando, and $4000 is where they start sounding really nice. Not a cheap hobby (but less than a bass boat).

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