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Thread: James Tailpiece Opinions

  1. #1
    Registered User jan281969's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    North Georgia

    Default James Tailpiece Opinions

    I recently had L Dudenbostel fit me a James Tailpiece on my F-5L to which he did a great job intsalling without drilling new holes in my mando,it is a subtle appreciation.My question is that i am hearing a louder,richer tone than with a $20 aftermarket tp,is this from the material,weight or just my ears playing tricks?Opinions please---------side note is the design is off the chain.
    p.s. wish i could get it engraved"The Gibson" but i don't need to get sued.
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    1980 Gibson F-5L

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by jan281969 View Post
    My question is that i am hearing a louder,richer tone than with a $20 aftermarket tp,is this from the material,weight or just my ears playing tricks?Opinions please
    My opinion is that whatever Lynn did to the setup while replacing the tailpiece is the most likely culprit.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    Actually the neck angle may be a bit different due to the installation, as well as the set up. This would give you more volume. I remember my luthier telling me that the installation and angle are different using these tailpieces compared to the conventional ones.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  5. #4

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    The only angle that could be different is the angle of the strings crossing the bridge. The James tailpiece requires a straight line for the strings from the tailpiece to the bridge, otherwise the tailpiece won't close correctly and dampen the overtones between the bridge and tailpiece.
    Palatable to a Goat: New Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser, now on bandcamp

  6. #5
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Redwood City, CA

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    The James tailpiece is one terrific accessory. It's extremely well-designed. It looks like traditional Gibson-style tailpiece with a removable cover. But under the hood, it's a wonder. It's solidly machined. You can't lose the cover, which is on hinges. O-rings dampen any sympathetic vibrations of the strings. The pegs make for fast string changes. I love mine.

    But -- as great as it is -- it DOES NOT improve the tone of the mandolin! Either your ears are playing tricks on you (this happens to all of us!), or your mandolin setup changed slightly after installation. That, or the tailpiece string angle was previously misadjusted on your old tailpiece, and was not neutral, producing some extra, undesirable downbearing on the bridge. Or possibly, it's misadjusted now.

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  8. #6
    Registered User
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    So Oregon

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    The James is far superior to the Allen/Monteleone (sp) in my opinion.

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  10. #7
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    Dec 2006
    SF Bay Area

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    I love James tailpieces, but my take it that while the tailpiece alone may have made a small change in the sound, I agree with pheffernan, it's likely mostly Lynn and whatever he did to the set-up, at which he's a master. You may also be playing it more comfortably and confidently as a result, which could add more sound and richness as well.

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  12. #8

    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    I agree with all the other comments. No change in the sound. Brilliant design. Having the Gibson engraved on? I wouldn't see any reason at all not to have that done if it floats your boat. Sued? Can't see that happening. Go for it. I had MandoJimmy engraved on my James tailpiece which is on my Big Mon. Maybe not a great idea when I'm gone and one of my sons tries to sell it.

  13. #9
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
    Blue Zone, California
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    Default Re: James Tailpiece Opinions

    Anything you change on an instrument changes its tone and volume. How much it changes its tone and volume is a very subjective question, especially because we all tend to appreciate sound related features more after we've made changes.

    Here are a few facts about the James tailpiece...

    1) Bill James has reported to me that they are made of bronze. Yet the tailpiece is very light. Bronze is known for its tone properties.

    2) The James tailpiece is significantly more solid and rigid than a stamped tailpiece. Stamped tailpieces can bend out of shape due to string tension.

    3) If the standard Gibson screws and screw holes are used, the James tailpiece will sit slightly higher on the mandolin than the original stamped tailpiece. Even without that orientation difference, there is a potential string/bridge/tailpiece geometry difference with a properly setup James tailpiece.

    Given these points, I'm sure that the James tailpiece has made a tone and volume difference on my mandolin. Whether I or anyone else can hear those differences in sound is a very fair question.

    I would add, changing or cleaning strings, using a different pick, adjusting the bridge, using a pickguard, a ToneGard or an armrest, or using Gold Evo or stainless steel frets may well make bigger differences in sound.

    Despite these doubts, I'm much, much happier with my James tailpiece than my old (Gibson) stamped tailpiece, even without the Gibson name engraved.
    -- Don

    "The less I play it, the better it sounds!" -Zippy the Pinhead
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