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Tailpiece Project (upcoming)
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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DanielB
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December 19, 2012 - 8:01 am
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100_0352.JPGImage Enlarger100_0353.JPGImage Enlarger

 

So this was an early xmas present from an acquaintance who liked some of my music projects over the years.  Ebony tailpiece.  I think it is a "Hill" style, if I've identified it correctly. 

Very similar to the plastic one on my electric.  But my current thinking on the matter is that if I put the new tailpiece on my acoustic, I can get rid of the plastic (Ok, carbon fiber, but it still looks and feels like a piece of plastic to me) tailpiece that is the *only* plastic part of my acoustic violin. 

I could also then try the carbon tailpiece with built in fine tuners on my electric.  The fine tuners I put on the electric's tailpiece work fine, but they throw off the afterlength adjustment if they are adjusted much at all away from where they were when I set the tailgut to adjust the afterlength. 

If I put the ebony tailpiece on the acoustic, I am thinking of trying going without any fine tuners.  Peg tuning doesn't worry me much.  The pegs on the acoustic hold good and move smooth, and violin isn't the only peg or 1:1 tuners I have to deal with.  I'm thinking I can get a better afterlength adjustment without them. 

The carbon fiber tailpiece has built in fine tuners that don't change string length noticeably while tuning, so that may settle that little situation with the fine tuners currently on my electric and it's afterlength.

My thought is that putting the ebony tailpiece on the acoustic and then maybe trying the carbon fiber tailpiece on the electric, it is possible that I might manage a bit of an upgrade to both instruments with one part.  Of course, it's possible that they may sound/play better as they are.  But it'd be a low fence to put them back as they were, if that is the case.

Anyway, I probably won't be able to get to it for at least a week or two, due to this being a busy time of the year in my household.  But the new tailpiece looks like a nice little piece of wood, and it certainly was a pleasant surprise.

 

 

  

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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cdennyb
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December 19, 2012 - 2:35 pm
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http://www.catgutacoustical.or.....index.html

 

http://follandviolins.com/arti.....tailpiece/

 

Two very techincal and informative articles concerning the dynamics of the tailpiece and how it affects the final sound from your violin.

I suppose being as technical as you are D, you already have been reading up on the physics involved.

 

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"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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DanielB
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You're right, Denny, I have been reading up on it a bit.  LOL Nothing in near the depth of that first article though!   That is some great stuff and has some very interesting ideas in it.

A lot of why I've been wanting to go to a hardwood tailpiece is personal aesthetics, though.  I've rather envied you folks with the nice ebony or boxwood tailpieces, particularly on the acoustic violins.  I don't like having plastic in the.. I don't know the word, so I'll borrow one from motorhead terminology and say the "drivetrain" of an acoustic instrument, and hope that makes sense.

There is, of course, the chance that I won't actually like the sound better.  But there's really only one way I know of to find out for sure.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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cdennyb
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In addition to all the potential enhancements you can perform by cutting, sanding, shortening the tailgut length and other detailed mods, you can try this one too.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rosewo.....1c2da06a4a

 

And to discuss and analyze the merits, meet the inventor of this weird contraption... I have to say, this is really interesting me, since I do sound analysis on violins. But I doubt I drop $200 for one. I'll break out the band saw, grinder, sander, and pocket knife before I do that! dazed

http://zmtsound.com/

 

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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ozmous
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that looks awesome!..I myself removed all(including the E of course) the finer tuners from my violin, because it bothers me well, i mean, the height of the fine tuners were odd because of the fine tuning, so i just removed them all amuse ...and with pegs alone, i can still fine tune them, my violin is tuned precisely and accurately without even having fine tuners (trial and error, that's all tongue)

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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DanielB
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@cdennyb:  I've seen those available online.  While I think the concept itself is sound, the amount of compensation those are applying seems a bit extreme to me.  I'm not sure how they developed those.  In any case, I would think they'd only actually be optimal for one very specific instrument and set of strings, so I'm a bit dubious.

What I've thought would maybe be workable would be to make a tailpiece with the strings inserted maybe an inch closer to the tail, and then have grooves/slots with frets that could be slid/adjusted separately for each string.  But I can think of several ways that might end up not working as well as the simple tailpieces currently in use. LOL

 

@ozmous:  Yeah, I've been thinking for a while about taking off the fine tuners and seeing if there is any reason to actually have them.  I mean, it doesn't make logical sense to have an extra mechanism unless one actually needs it? 

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Mad_Wed
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Hey! We have "No fine tuners" club here, LOL!

It should work fine without fine tuner on E, DanielB. Well unless You have -28C outside and have to walk through that frost to your teacher roflI've noticed that after this, tuning is quite tricky... Frozen pegs, i guess... 

Though if i would be a violinist that always have to be ready to perform in no time - i'd prefer to have a FT on E string. But since i have 3-5 minutes to tune it to my pleasure - i don't worry. So it depends. 

Anyway i'd suggest You to try different ways - there will be no harm if You tune it without FTs for a while - You can put them back if You won't like it dunno

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DanielB
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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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coolpinkone
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Your string winding is great.  Did I miss something about the rice cleaning??? You don't have to repeat...but Rice eh?  hUm....

Love to see all the talented folks "work" on their violins...I just wipe and play...too chicken s... to do anything else. 

I live vicariously through the techie posts. :)

 

Fine tuners to me are a must.. I am just needy.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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DanielB
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@coolpinkone: Uncooked rice can be used to clean the inside of a violin.  It got mentioned back when Fred had that viola with the bad smell in it.  I'd never tried it, so it seemed like a good time to give it a go.  I'd heard that sometimes even new violins have a lot of sawdust and crap inside them.  But this came out quite clean, a couple of very tiny wood shavings and a trace of dust and a few cat hairs (the dust and cat hairs most likely from here).   

String winding, and for that matter peg tuning.. I do a lot of that, even without violins.  I have an oud, which has 12 peg tuned strings, and the autoharp with over 30 peg tuned strings where it takes a wrench to get enough leverage to turn them.  No fine tuners anywhere in those.  So I'm just more used to it than some folks would be.

I've seen a lot of violin/fiddle pics over the past several months and I prefer the look of a painted pegbox.  I think that's strictly an artistic/aesthetic choice, rather than a sound or quality one, but to me it just looks more "complete".  And since I had the violin apart for this, it was no big thing to break out the artist watercolors and take care of it.

I don't think there is anything wrong with "living vicariously through the techie posts", coolpink.  It would be possible to really mess up an instrument with going in and changing things or fixing things yourself.  I've done it with my instruments since I was a teen, but not everybody is comfortable with this sort of thing.  Our room-mate wasn't brought up that way, and she always stresses a bit when I'm working on instruments.  Can't figure out why I'll take a "perfectly good, brand new instrument with nothing wrong with it" and take it apart and put it back together.  But I do that to check the workmanship and make sure everything is right and fix up any little things that need it.  But to her, I apparently seem kinda like this movie scene:

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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DanielB
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For those curious about how the violin sounds with the new tailpiece and strings, I cut a snip out of my practice session.  I will do a test recording after a couple days after the strings settle a little and I have the afterlength set right.  I'm a little clumsier than usual on this because I haven't put the chinrest back on yet, and one has to relearn a little with any change like that.  Recording was made from about 12 ft away, to get an idea of how she would sound to a listener.

I'm not sure what the violin sound terminology is for what I hear with this, but I can say that I do like it. 

 

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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DanielB
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Se far I am having no big problems with doing without any fine tuners on this violin.  It was a little more bother the first day when the strings were doing most of their settling, but not all that bad. 

I do have to admit to using one trick learned from other stringed instruments with a 1:1 tuning ratio.  When you get a string close (within a few cents) you can take hold of the string and give it a little tug if you need to ease it's pitch down a little, or press the string length that is up in the pegbox if you need it to go up a little.  Only want to use that for fine adjustments though, and I don't know if it works well if you didn't lube the nut with some graphite.

The change that is taking the most getting used to is that I opted for the aluminum wound E string (this particular set comes with two E strings, one plain and one wound, so you can choose).  I like the sound of it, it sounds like the other strings in the set so far a timbre/tone, but it is definitely louder than a plain steel E.  So I have to get used to using just a little lighter touch on the E string. 

So far, so good, though.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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DanielB
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February 2, 2013 - 2:52 am
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Forgot to put up the test recording for cdennyb, so here it is:

 

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Steve
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How does one capture the audio from these web samples to use with Audacity for analysis?

Well, that was a stupid wording of my question, as the soundfile is included at the bottom of the post. What I meant was, is there a way to extract audio from a video, to use the audio by itself? 

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Fiddlerman
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I'm not happy that the auto-play keeps going on for me. In this post there are to files playing at the same time. I look forward to a solution to this problem.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Steve
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Hi FM,

Yes, all the posts with audio samples do this for me--most annoying! Hope you can find a solution to stop this!

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Tyberius
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The rice cleaning needs to be watched. It will also draw out moisture (as well as bad smell). I noticed in one of your painted pegbox pics that it appears your E peg was repaired. Is that just a scratch or did the peg itself get snapped and glued. I was wondering if it was repaired did it cause any additional swelling and sticking?

When I changed out my strings in December, I removed all but the E tuner. I have since put them back on and am contemplating removing them. I rarely tune any string other then A open , by ear. The rest by 1/5ths. I have been playing "Arrons boat song and Ash Grove" recently. I'll record them both today with the tuners on and then with them off to see if I hear anything different. I know the D tuner does vibrate from time to time, but usually on a long G(D string) note or several 1/16 rapidly.

 

BTW nice wrap job on the strings Daniel. I do like how the strings look against the painted box interior.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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Tyberius
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Ok, I took the GDA tuners off. I recut 1 peg to fit a little better. I also applied peg compound and returned my precious to its playable glory. I can tell you, the D string ringing is gone. I also notice a different clarity on the G string. No apparent change in A.

I am not comfortable enough to remove the E string tuner.

I was thinking about this tuner bit, the ball/slot end. I know tradition and everyone has a new way to eventually destroy anything..lol.. I was wondering why an adjustable cam lever was never used to tighten or even tune strings on a stringed instrument. I guess the ratched pegs they sell are of a similar concept.

 I think when i find the cheap pawn shop violin i've been looking to modify, I'm going to ruin...er.. i mean experiment on it with different idea I have.Since Daniel was shaping his bridge, here's a site i keep marked.

http://www.oosterhofonline.net.....odgers.pdf

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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DanielB
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February 2, 2013 - 8:49 pm
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@Steve: I don't know what can be used for every OS, but for Linux/Ubuntu I use Pitivi video editor when I need to do split audio off a video file.

 

@Tyberius: I was trying the rice as a quick cleaning to chase out any loose shavings or shop grime that might be left in the violin.  Figured I may as well, as long as I had her that far apart.  Hadn't had any problems, but loose minor debris in instruments can cause mysterious intermittent buzzing and etc.  As you can see from the rice, though, the instrument was pretty clean from the factory.

With the peg, it isn't a scratch or glue, it appears (in person) to be just an unfortunate spot/flaw in the bit of ebony that was used.  One of the other pegs is a bit "streaky" on the grain.  Doesn't look like any attempt was made to dye or buff such imperfections out of the pegs.  This is an instrument from the low end of Shar's beginner line.  Those are going to get the less pretty fittings.

I noted those in the first few days I had the instrument.  But they turn well and hold well, and it actually isn't obvious unless one is looking close with very good lighting.  When I first get an instrument (or pretty much any piece of gear), I like to go over it minutely, especially if there is a period where the instrument can be exchanged or refunded with no questions asked.  I documented a bit of that on the forums at the time, but it was being very annoying to one of the regular members, Fiddlestix, for some reason.  So I continued the examination, literally under magnification, that I do, but quit posting about it because it wasn't worth arguing about *why* I do it.  

But I look for anything that isn't right, I look at everything that could be done better, and decide if it is likely to be a problem.  Then I look at the things that are just cosmetic issues, and decide if I can accept them as they are or if they're something I'll want to touch up at some point, etc.  I always try to do that fairly soon, since even the 30 days return period on this instrument was a bit too long if I want to avoid "wrong puppy syndrome" kicking in. 

Anyway, I haven't had any problem with using no fine tuners.  But as mentioned, I do a bit more peg tuning than most folks with assorted instruments anyway.  It is one of those things where I wouldn't personally recommend either way, since if a player isn't comfortable with using the pegs a lot to tune, maybe they're better sticking with the fine tuners.  I don't think fine tuners are super bad or anything.  I just think I like the instrument better without them.  A little bit of difference in sound, and aesthetically it seems more "stripped down and tuned up" to me to run without them.

I have 4 fine tuners that turn easy and work well "left over" from this whole project, so it would have been no big thing to put one or more of them on if I decided it was a mistake to eliminate fine tuners on this instrument.  So far, so good, though.

The painted pegbox is kind of controversial, from what I have seen.  Some folks like them painted, some folks don't.  Having looked at a lot of pics over the months, I'd developed a preference for the painted look, and I find getting out the artist colours and my paintbrushes and doing a little mixing and painting an enjoyable way to put in a little time on the instrument.  I also touched up the edges of the F holes a little.  That sort of thing falls under stuff I'd noticed early on that could be done better but where it's a minor cosmetic issue I can enjoy touching up myself.

Looks aren't as important as sound or functionality.  But if you like how an instrument looks, you just tend to take better care of it.  It also sets the stage for practice/play.  If taking it out of the case and wiping it down after playing are times when you can admire your instrument a bit, it is a point of pride and I feel it makes a really good way to begin and end sessions.

All that aside, though, the tailpiece change, along with a change in strings, adjusting the afterlength, and leaving off the chinrest as well as fine tuners made some drastic changes in the sound.  Denny isn't 100% pleased with how the trace shows.  I find it very interesting, anyway.  But most of my determination of whether a change was good or if I should maybe revert to how it was before is the rather experienced ears of some family members and friends.  I look at chart and graphs and etc to try and understand the *why* of the changes in an instrument.  But in the end, it is always going to be about what you like and what listeners you play for like.  I like what I'm hearing, and the people I play for like it better. 

I'll show the chart though, rather than rambling on more about it.  Even folks who maybe can't figure much out from charts/graphs would still be able to see the amount of change was large.

http://fiddlerman.com/wp-conte.....ument2.pdf

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Tyberius
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Not too surprising on the upper end, as your are already approaching/ exceeding normaly hearing limitations. I was really suprised in the mid range. The black indicator shows you need more drive from your amp. Are you getting less distortion on the upper end with the new tail?

 

I wonder if you did a comparison with each string separately with the old tailpiece and then again with the new instead of an all encompassing freq response

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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