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Thread: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

  1. #1
    Registered User MT2's Avatar
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    Default Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Has anyone ever taken off their Collings MT2 tailpiece and put on a James tailpiece? I was wondering how much work was involved. Did you just take out the screws and pull off the Collings tailpiece and the James tailpiece lined up perfect or did you have to take it to your luthier and have him fill the old hole and drill new holes for the James tailpiece. Iím keeping my fingers crossed that everything lines up perfect because I donít want any additional holes put into a new mandolin just to install a nice engraved James tailpiece. My reason for doing this is I just donít like the way you have to bend a string just to pull it through a Collings tailpiece. You would think as good as Collings is they would come up with a better design in their tailpiece.

    One more question when you ordered the James tailpiece from Axiom did you tell them that you wanted the tailpiece to match the holes in a Collings tailpiece? I would really appreciate hearing your comments especially if you have tried this and any problems you encountered and if you recommend doing thisÖ.. Thanks
    2018 Collings MT2 Birdseye Maple
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    Bob Ayers Ranger Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I did that switch on an MT I had. Perfect hole match. No alteration necessary.

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Nice to hear from somebody else who dislikes the Collings tailpiece. They’re even worse on the mandola.

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    Registered User Christine Robins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I too am baffled why my Collins MT tailpiece is so poorly designed. It's the worst I've ever encountered. Makes changing strings twice as difficult. It has smooth pegs instead of the usual hooks, and the strings go through a "tunnel". So it's very easy when changing strings for the new string's loop to slip off the peg and get tightly wedged inside the tunnel. I try to remember to secure the loop onto the peg with tape until the string is tightened up.

    I'm a mechanical klutz, so I may ask my luthier to change it to a James for me.

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I concur, not sure why Collings wouldn't go to a James tailpiece, exclusively. I believe the Mandolin Store has changed some instruments out to make them more desirable.

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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Christine, an easy no cost fix is to use a capo somewhere on the mando neck to maintain a bit of tension on the string while you're winding the string around the tuner post at the peghead. I've also heard of people using a piece of blu-tac over the post on the tailpiece so the string doesn't slip off.

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by doc holiday View Post
    Christine, an easy no cost fix is to use a capo somewhere on the mando neck to maintain a bit of tension on the string while you're winding the string around the tuner post at the peghead. I've also heard of people using a piece of blu-tac over the post on the tailpiece so the string doesn't slip off.
    You could also weld the loop to the pin and then there would be no way it could slip off!

    Weíre not talking rocket science here, its only a mandolin tailpiece. Yes, you can use a capo, you can use bluetack, you can use a piece of tape or you can ask a friend to stick their finger over it. The bottom line is why should you have to? Collings instruments arenít cheap and deserve better than their awful tailpiece design.

    I think Iíll ditch mine and fit a James.

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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Ray T.... People sometimes have difficulty stringing slot-head guitars. If you know how to do it, you can re-restring the Allen tailpieces used on Collings mandolins without aids. It's a matter of maintaining tension on the string through the operation. James makes great tailpieces. Go ahead....

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Doc - I last strung a slot head guitar over 50 years ago and I’ve avoided them ever since. I’ve been restringing mandolins for almost as long, so I should know what I’m doing by now, but, as far as I’m concerned, tailpiece technology in the Collings/Allen camp has gone backwards purely in the interests of something “looking good”. Most cars these days are smoother, easier to drive and more comfortable than they were 40 years ago but, apart from those produced by James, tailpiece design doesn’t seem to have followd suit.

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I learned a trick right here on Mandolin Cafe that solves the stringing problem. Bend the string end slightly on the loop with your thumb nail. That creates a little spring action onto the tailpiece when the string goes thru the hole, holding it onto the hook. I've been doing this for years on my mandola too BTW. It works so well, I don't even think of it.
    Problem solved guys!
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    String changes should be easy. Fighting with a tailpiece is ridiculous.

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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Buckingham View Post
    String changes should be easy. Fighting with a tailpiece is ridiculous.
    Amazing the things some people are prepared to put up with! String changes are easier on my 1914 Gibson; you’d have thought things would have improved in the intervening 106 years.

    Should have said in my previous post that I do have 2 mandolins with James tailpieces. I wonder if they do one engraved “Collings”?

  18. #13
    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Collings does indeed offer the engraved JTP on new mandolins. Good luck with getting one from them. I've attempted twice, still no TP. Two emails and no response. Lp
    J.Lane Pryce

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    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by Lane Pryce View Post
    Collings does indeed offer the engraved JTP on new mandolins. Good luck with getting one from them. I've attempted twice, still no TP. Two emails and no response. Lp
    Interesting—- I bet I have emailed 10 + times over the years and always got a response. Did you use customerservice@collingsguitars.com?
    Russ Jordan

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    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Russ, I sure did, both times. Lp
    J.Lane Pryce

  21. #16

    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I had a James put on an MT a few years ago, Elderly did the work and I don’t think it was a direct replacement. I can’t remember though, I think it was the lower hole that was off.

    I also don’t get how you can have so much trouble with the Collings tailpiece. Push the string through the tailpiece hole, anchor the loop, pull taught, wrap around tuning peg, push string through peg-hole, tighten quarter turn.
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

  22. #17

    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Rather than fight City Hall (or the Collings tailpiece) I have a roll of blue painter's masking tape handy. I use a little piece of the tape and stick it on top of the string area once I have the loop hooked under the peg. Keeps the loop from raising up off the peg and diving into the tunnel. I just reuse the little piece for each string. Not a lot of time wasted and not a very big deal.

  23. #18
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I assume you’ve never tried to get a set of mandola strings off again?

  24. #19

    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    So the holes line up between the Allen and James TP. How about the height? I tried to put a James on another mandolin and the mounting holes lined up the James sat really high. So I would have had to fill the holes and the hole for the end pin and drill new holes to get it to the correct height. So will the James TP be at the correct height?

  25. #20
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I just installed an engraved James tailpiece on my Girouard mandolin and according to the mounting instructions, lay the mandolin on a flat surface with the tailpiece installed and the cover open. Put the bridge in place and set a small straight edge across the tailpiece to the bridge. The straight edge should intersect the top of the bridge or slightly above (less then 1/8th ").
    If yours is too high you would need to redrill.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  26. #21
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I just installed an engraved James tailpiece on my Girouard mandolin and according to the mounting instructions, lay the mandolin on a flat surface with the tailpiece installed and the cover open. Put the bridge in place and set a small straight edge across the tailpiece to the bridge. The straight edge should intersect the top of the bridge or slightly above (less then 1/8th ").
    If yours is too high you would need to redrill.
    NO, not necessarily redrill! The James tailpiece was designed so that it can be carefully bent (at a thinned region, near where the main tailpiece body joins the vertical mounting bracket) to get the break angle to the bridge just right. You need to remove the tailpiece before gently bending it, preferably using a vice or similar. Read the installations directions before you consider anything like redrilling (!), or contact the manufacturer. You may not need to redrill after all.

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    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    I pinch the loop a bit with needle nose pliers and that creates a narrower end. It fits over the hook and stays when I wrap the string before tuning it up. Works fine. I like the look of the TP on the Collings, but it isn't for everyone.

  29. #23

    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    The James tailpiece is a wonderful design and a joy to use if you change strings much. The satin finish does attract dirt a bit IME. I put an Allen on an earlier build and, to me, the advantages (especially over the old stamped TPs) are the lack of sharp corners and a finish you don't have to polish all the time to keep it looking decent. Changing the inside strings is the biggest bear. I've taken to using a 3" x 4" sheet of plastic magnet to protect the top, then bend up the magnet sheet to guide the string up and over the bridge. The rest is coming up with a winding process that keeps tension on the string and double checking to make sure the loop hasn't popped off the peg before bringing the string up to pitch.

    As to why Collings has stuck with their design? I imagine durability and their image are part of it. It's what folks expect to see. Also, economics I'm sure is a factor. Their cast TP is probably 1/3 the cost of a James. Although considering most of their instruments run north of $5k, spending a little more on the hardware shouldn't be much of a factor.

    Edit- I just remembered what drove me to take the leap on a James: I was on the Allen site ready to order another TR-2 and got to the checkout to discover they wanted $20 more for shipping! Well, a James wasn't that much more, and it's actually machined and nicely finished.

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  31. #24
    Registered User MT2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Replacing a Collings tailpiece with a James tailpiece

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    I had a James put on an MT a few years ago, Elderly did the work and I donít think it was a direct replacement. I canít remember though, I think it was the lower hole that was off.
    Are you glad you made the switch to a James tailpiece on your MT even though they had to drill another hole for the tailpiece?
    2018 Collings MT2 Birdseye Maple
    2019 Austin Clark Two Point

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