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Thread: James tailpiece question

  1. #1

    Default James tailpiece question

    I wanted to take my James TP to an engraver. Is it possible to remove just the top so that I can leave it installed on the instrument? I notice there are two small pins at the base acting as the hinge - perhaps at that point? I tried gently pressing on them with a paperclip with no luck. Thanks.


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  2. #2
    Registered User northfolk's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Yes it is possible, but be very careful; those pins are spring loaded and the pins and springs will pop out when you lift the cover. I have not attempted to put the cover back on yet?
    Thanks for your support?

  3. #3
    Registered User jan281969's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    I would simply dismantle your entire instrument removing the strings, bridge, and then you can just simply unscrew the tailpiece from the instrument. Seems safer to me. Just remember your setup of the bridge is the only thing to keep in mind. I was informed that these are plated that custom builders that have them engraved are engraved before they are plated?

  4. #4
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Quote Originally Posted by jan281969 View Post
    ... are engraved before they are plated?
    Yes. So optimally, in order to add engraving, the plating will need to be removed, the engraving added, and then the cover re-plated.

    You could opt to simply have the cover engraved through the plating. My understanding from talking with Bill James in the past is that the tailpiece is made of bronze, so after engraving through the cover the bronze will show goldish-red at first, then if and as it tarnishes it will show darker-to-black.

    I'd suggest contacting Bill James and ordering just an un-plated cover that you could then send out for engraving and plating. Then you have use of the tailpiece until the project is completed, keeping in mind that the cover is not just a decoration on these tailpieces.
    -- Don

    "The less I play it, the better it sounds!" -Zippy the Pinhead
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  5. #5

    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Thanks, I understand. I'm thinking that having the bronze exposed, then darkening, won't be a bad thing at all. It's going to be a simple thin script similar to the traditional "The Gibson". I think it should be fine, possibly even stand out a little.

    Try as I might, I can't depress either of those little pins. I'm using a paperclip which has a good fit, tried open and closed, I'm applying as much force as should be required. So??? I guess I'll just take it off with the next string change . . . no big deal.

  6. #6
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Alternative; I added a piece of ebony over my James TP lid *, you could have an inlay within a piece of ebony engraved & add that ..

    * Then I installed the TP ..
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  7. #7
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dillon View Post
    Thanks, I understand. I'm thinking that having the bronze exposed, then darkening, won't be a bad thing at all. It's going to be a simple thin script similar to the traditional "The Gibson". I think it should be fine, possibly even stand out a little.
    ....
    I had one engraved as you describe. It was the silver plated one and it turned out nice. You could see the bronze color, but over a year or so, I didn't notice any dramatic changes in the bronze color. Maybe I just take good care of things or maybe I'm not a good observer. In any case, I was quite satisfied with the job. I did take off the entire tailpiece to have the work done.

    Be sure to discuss the exact location and angle of the engraving with the engraver. They don't always have the advantage of often seeing mandolin tailpieces or Gibson type instruments.
    Phil

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  8. #8
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    The cover can be removed but the springs inside were QUITE strong and on one side somewhat hard to move (apply drop of WD-40 few hours before you attempt removal just to be sure things are not stuck) and you need good tool with solid handle to push the pin (paperclip is not going to work) and take care not to scratch the tailpiece while doing so. I had the silver tailpiece engraved through the plating and it looked good. You can re-plate over the engraving if it was not too shallow.
    Adrian

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  10. #9
    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Dillon, I had a tailpiece engraved by Weldon Lister. I bought an unplated one from Bill James, and when the engraved tailpiece was done, I sold the one that was on the mandolin. ( axinc.net )

  11. #10

    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    One last question. I think I'd much rather take the top off rather than the whole TP. So, I'm going to get a proper tool w/ handle, I've put on a spot of lube. My question --- can anyone offer some advice, tips, tricks or prayers on getting the top back on . . . I can see that being tricky with the pressure of both springs fighting you while you try and get both ends of the top on over the pins and lined up, etc. Thanks to all.

  12. #11
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    as said earlier .. I'd suggest contacting Bill James , and ask the source..
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    is like dancing,
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  13. #12
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    The steel pins are approx 1/8" diameter inside with small protruding tip you see in the hole so if you push it in (I used somewhat blunt awl) and lift the cover tiny bit so the wide edge of the pin will stop on the inside edge of the cover and not shoot out at you, then proceed on other side. I don't remember but perhaps after loosening one side there was enough play so I could just "unhook" the other side.
    To mount the cover on just reverse the procedure. Engage one pin without any tool and push the other pin inside below the surface of the edge of base with some tool (you can use the awl but be careful it won't slip from the pin as now you are working on the "outside" of the base) so you can place the cover over the protruding tip of the pin, then slowly nudge the cover in place till the pin clicks back into the hole of the cover.
    Adrian

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  15. #13
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Sounds just like the sprung pin holding a watch strap; but possibly more difficult to access.

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  17. #14
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Looking at one of mine, there also apprars to be to be a pair of very fine washers between the top and bottom parts which could be a pain to replace.

  18. #15
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Sounds just like the sprung pin holding a watch strap; but possibly more difficult to access.
    Yes, that's it.
    In my case the one on players' hand side was somewhat stuck, prehaps because of perspiration... That's why I suggested some WD40
    The springs were stronger than what I expected so you need a steady hand.
    Adrian

  19. #16
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    I did once think of getting the top part of one of mine re-plated but eventually decided it was too much trouble. I do, however, think that it would be advisable to remove the whole tailpiece before trying to get the top off; unless you’re intent on giving your mandolin’s top more mojo!

  20. #17
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Dillon: When you get the top back and reassembled please report in and describe the WHOLE process.
    I think it will be very entertaining.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  21. #18

    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Philphool, you're right it would most likely have been quite entertaining, but I would have been the one not entertained. So, I've decided to remove the TP with the next string change. I know for sure I can unscrew three screws. Not losing them?

  22. #19
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Spring loaded gismos have a tendency to shoot off in unusual directions so I’d make sure you do the job somewhere you’re likely to be able to find the thing again. Eye protection?!

  23. #20
    Registered User jan281969's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    by the way I would like to see a picture of the finished product once you have it engraved, I have an unengraved one and thought about getting it engraved. Pic of the finished product?

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  25. #21
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: James tailpiece question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dillon View Post
    Philphool, you're right it would most likely have been quite entertaining, but I would have been the one not entertained. So, I've decided to remove the TP with the next string change. I know for sure I can unscrew three screws. Not losing them?
    Dillon, You are a wise man............... (but I do think it would have been fun.)
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

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