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  1. #1

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    I have a nice L5 "copy" in the form of an Epiphone Elitist Broaday, and I also have an L5 type of tailpiece. I'm thinking about putting the L5 tailpiece on the Epiphone (a) because I really like how they look and (b) I'm trying to make myself feel like I have a "real" L5ces!
    However, I wouldn't do this, mainly because the Elitist Broadway is a seriously nice guitar that I don't like drilling a hole into without grave cause, unless I also thought it would have a positive impact on the guitar's sound. If the mass of the tailpiece has an impact on tone, i would think going from the very light "Frequensator" tailpiece to the art-deco style of the L5 would be noticeable tone-wise.
    So... opinions and experience? Anyone have any experience doing this and able to comment?

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  3. #2

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    Attachment 38014

    Not a Broadway Elitist, but I did that on an Emperor Regent. The real Gibson TOM bridge and base had a major effect on tone and sustain when compared to the original - all wood - bridge and bridge base. The pickguard and mount had no other effect than looks. The tailpiece seems to have done very little if any in tone. Besides that, string length is not problamatic anymore when compared to the lower side of the frequensator tailpiece of the Epi.

  4. #3

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    One thing to note is that some of the heavier brass tailpieces (like on L5, Super 400, old Strombergs, D'Angelicos) may emit a sympathetical ringing which may or may nor get on your nerves when playing acoustically. Simple and less massive tailpieces (like the ones used on the Gibson 330, ES 125 etc.) are almost quiet. They are not as fancy but from a functional point of view I like them a lot.

    Me, I'd stay with the frequensator unless I was having problems with strings being too short for the short part of it. But that's just me. And of course, I wouldn't swap the original tailpiece on a real L5 for anything else.
    Last edited by oldane; 12-10-2016 at 05:41 AM.

  5. #4

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    One effect is on the weight and balance of the guitar. Maybe a good thing if your guitar is neck heavy. If your guitar is well balanced and feather light, and you like that, then leave it alone. You can also tart up a guitar without adding a lot of weight with a byrdland tailpiece.

  6. #5

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    The tailpiece can effect the breakover angle at the bridge. Most guitars are designed to have a breakover angle of 12% to 14%. Most tailpieces are similar enough in design to be almost interchangeable. Often with a tailpiece swap there is almost no change in the breakover angle at the bridge provided that the mounting of the tailpiece is done the same. For the archtop guitar, the breakover angle has a big influence on tone. When the angle is increased there is more downforce at the bridge and this can have the effect of choking the instruments voice in the lower register. When the angle is decreased this can cause a loss of richness and volume. Keep in mind I am speaking in terms of the acoustic voice of the instrument. In many ways the acoustic voice effects the guitars electric performance.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman
    The tailpiece can effect the breakover angle at the bridge. Most guitars are designed to have a breakover angle of 12% to 14%. Most tailpieces are similar enough in design to be almost interchangeable. Often with a tailpiece swap there is almost no change in the breakover angle at the bridge provided that the mounting of the tailpiece is done the same. For the archtop guitar, the breakover angle has a big influence on tone. When the angle is increased there is more downforce at the bridge and this can have the effect of choking the instruments voice in the lower register. When the angle is decreased this can cause a loss of richness and volume. Keep in mind I am speaking in terms of the acoustic voice of the instrument. In many ways the acoustic voice effects the guitars electric performance.
    Matt,

    I'm always interested in learning more about this stuff. If one were having issues with the break angle affecting tone negatively, what are the methods you see as the best for correcting them?

    TRM

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman
    The tailpiece can effect the breakover angle at the bridge. Most guitars are designed to have a breakover angle of 12% to 14%. Most tailpieces are similar enough in design to be almost interchangeable. Often with a tailpiece swap there is almost no change in the breakover angle at the bridge provided that the mounting of the tailpiece is done the same. For the archtop guitar, the breakover angle has a big influence on tone. When the angle is increased there is more downforce at the bridge and this can have the effect of choking the instruments voice in the lower register. When the angle is decreased this can cause a loss of richness and volume. Keep in mind I am speaking in terms of the acoustic voice of the instrument. In many ways the acoustic voice effects the guitars electric performance.
    Was that the reason why the Gibson L5 tailpieces for many years had that adjustable spring-loaded thing in the tailpiece? To allow the player to adjust the angle?

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldane
    One thing to note is that some of the heavier brass tailpieces (like on L5, Super 400, old Strombergs, D'Angelicos) may emit a sympathetical ringing which may or may nor get on your nerves when playing acoustically. Simple and less massive tailpieces (like the ones used on the Gibson 330, ES 125 etc.) are almost quiet.
    Had this issue with the tailpiece on my L4-CES. A really heavy, rigid tailpiece wouldn't sympathetically vibrate, nor would a light, trapeze-style one. I stuffed a sock under the tailpiece, replaced the TOM with an ebony bridge, and it is now a superb instrument. I liken it to a baby Grand, but without the "bag of coins clinking around on the soundboard" vibe (literally), which is what it was before.

    I put the TOM onto a Benedetto type acoustic-y, like the one pictured, and it improved the sustain and the chime-y quality. That gtr. has a heavy 90 degree type tailpiece that my luthier-tech guy fashioned for me, and it was a huge improvement over the old cello type thing-y with the cable setup----hated that.

    I would not have predicted any of these results ahead of time.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    Matt,

    I'm always interested in learning more about this stuff. If one were having issues with the break angle affecting tone negatively, what are the methods you see as the best for correcting them?

    TRM
    If you think the breakangle is too shallow or too steep, it may be difficult to correct. It is always possible to reduce the angle by raising the tailpiece further from the top but increasing the angle is limited by the top. If you need a greater angle at the bridge and the tailpiece is as low as it can go then the only option is to reset the neck with a greater angle. The Gibson tailpiece gives you a few degrees of angle adjustment which is often enough to have an effect on tone.

  11. #10

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    AFAIK, the only way to change the break angle over the bridge is by raising or lowering the height of the tailpiece attachment. That requires drilling new holes in the rim for the screws. The tension of the strings will pull themselves, and the tailpiece, in a straight line. IME the tailpiece itself has minimal effect on tone, and even changing from a wooden to a metal tailpiece won't have much effect. The bridge affects tone far more than the tailpiece, IME.

  12. #11

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    Lawson, I share your admiration of the L-5 tailpiece. Next to the D'Angelico New Yorker stairstep with the girder design (as distinct from the Excel type with the curved cross-bars, which is also nice, but not my favorite), the L-5 type is to my eye the nicest, most elegant metal tailpiece. If I'm not mistaken. though contemporary L-5 type tailpieces retain the hole for the "top crusher" Vari-tone or whatever it was called, it is vestigial, which is probably a good thing.

    A metal tailpiece could and perhaps should be designed to vary the angle by restricting the mechanical forces to the metal and not compromising the very valuable and somewhat fragile wood. Just an idea.

    I have an Emperor Regent, which I believe shares the same body dimensions as your Broadway. I'm good with the Frequensator and have had no trouble (so far) with stringing issues, though I have toyed with the idea of wood inserts between the rods to dampen unwanted resonances and to look cool.

    All that said, if I had an L-5 type tailpiece laying around, I'd slap that baby on there and giggle like a loon.

    For hours.

  13. #12

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    Roger Borys has told me that he believes that metal tailpieces are more effective in projecting the vibrations of the strings acoustically on an archtop than wooden tailpieces.

  14. #13

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    I have always preferred wooden fittings over metal whenever possible. I tend to agree with Benedetto in my preference for a wooden tailpiece for an acoustic archtop guitar. You don't often see a metal tailpiece on a cello or a violin. Wood is lighter than metal and it is one way to lose some weight.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Cushman
    I have always preferred wooden fittings over metal whenever possible. I tend to agree with Benedetto in my preference for a wooden tailpiece for an acoustic archtop guitar. You don't often see a metal tailpiece on a cello or a violin. Wood is lighter than metal and it is one way to lose some weight.
    I am one of those who likes the electric sound, the set-in pickups, and I've found the Archtop with the sound I like tend to be heavier than most. I am not trying to sound like a violin, but like a guitar ;-)


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I am not trying to sound like a violin, but like a guitar ;-)
    LMAO!!! Does the Tailpiece Affect Tone?

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Was that the reason why the Gibson L5 tailpieces for many years had that adjustable spring-loaded thing in the tailpiece? To allow the player to adjust the angle?
    I believe that spring-loaded thing was there to crack the top plate.

  18. #17

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    Some new baby guitarists don’t even know that arch tops exist. I understand how it is possible to believe that the less complex, pickup-only, sound is the true sound of a guitar. False, but understandable.

  19. #18

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    Rich Severson believes it does. I remember in at least one of his videos he said he always swapped light tail pieces with heavier ones. He is convinced heavier ones sound better. I can't remember which video it was.
    In my experience pretty much everything has an effect on tone, so I find it believable. I never experimented with that so I don't know how they sound different or which one I like.
    But then I also think I hear a difference in tone if a tuner is clipped on the head stock. So may be I'm a little on the cuckoo side about things having an effect on the guitar tone.

  20. #19

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    As long as the hinge point is just above the guitar's rim, the angle remains unchanged, as pointed out already. Banjos are a different story, as the distance from the rim to bridge is so much shorter. Most banjo tailpieces are adjustable for the angle; the Oettinger style has individually adjustable fingers. The nearer the skin (= increased angle), the sharper and brighter the tone. Years ago I tried two Vestax D'A NYL2 guitars at the soon-to-be-lost Ivor Mairants shop in London. The ugly greenish blue colored version had the metal stairstep tailpiece, the claret version a similarly contoured piece of ebony. The metal tailpiece gave a brighter tone and more sustain. Jazz guitars don't need sustain IMHO, so I chose the by far more beautiful claret. BTW, many apparently wooden tailpieces (e.g. on Ibanezes) have a metal sheet underneath. And BTW, I have seen the Frequesator string holders in reverse order on a Broadway. Wonder if a patent was ever awarded to the rather stupid design. String length has never been an issue with my Emperor Regent, however.

  21. #20

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    Break angle changes if top sinks. That's a concern for some vintage archtops.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by customxke
    I believe that spring-loaded thing was there to crack the top plate.
    Beat me to it, you bastard.

    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    If the mass of the tailpiece has an impact on tone, i would think going from the very light "Frequensator" tailpiece to the art-deco style of the L5 would be noticeable tone-wise.
    So... opinions and experience? Anyone have any experience doing this and able to comment?
    Yes, it is noticeable, in my experience. Try it! If you are worried about screwholes, start with the two near the top of the rim, where they will be hidden if you revert back to the light "Frequensator" tp.

  23. #22

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    I have zero experience with L5 or other instruments mentioned in this thread. But I installed a new tailpiece to my ES-175 VOS 1PU and it was a significant change in the sound.

    The ES-175 VOS 1PU has a zigzag tailpiece as stock. I once started to wonder what would a traditional 'three diamond' tailpiece make it sound. I was astonished, notes became more solid, more focused, fuller, thicker and got more substance in a way.

    Only bad thing is that the 'three diamond' tailpiece I found from the Ebay is chrome plated and my VOS is, well, You know, VOS treated. But I play eyes closed anyway most of the time, so what the heck!

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    I have zero experience with L5 or other instruments mentioned in this thread. But I installed a new tailpiece to my ES-175 VOS 1PU and it was a significant change in the sound.

    The ES-175 VOS 1PU has a zigzag tailpiece as stock. I once started to wonder what would a traditional 'three diamond' tailpiece make it sound. I was astonished, notes became more solid, more focused, fuller, thicker and got more substance in a way.

    Only bad thing is that the 'three diamond' tailpiece I found from the Ebay is chrome plated and my VOS is, well, You know, VOS treated. But I play eyes closed anyway most of the time, so what the heck!
    wow that's interesting, I find that counterintuitive...
    did you change strings when you changed to the new TP ?

    I thought the TP on an archtop's job is mainly to hold the strings
    not to transfer vibrations to to top ...

  25. #24

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    Definitely it matters acoustically, either directly and indirectly.

    By indirect way: The string parts between the bridge an tailpiece are resonating also. Some regards this is a good thing, some want to be eliminate this. Anyway, the length of this sting parts and also some other parameters of their resonance are depening on which kind of tailpiece is installed. This is well audible. It is easy to experience this by completely dumping those string parts, and notice the change in guitar acoustic tone. Those sympathtic resonation are part of the intrument natural character.

    In direct way I suppose the tailpiece itself is resonating too so I suppose some minimal way it contributes to the sound, I am not sure how audible it is.

    I am also not sure how the acoustically audible effects are noticable via amp, but I suppose the more acoustic the instrument the more audible the effect, but may remain below under the audible difference.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    wow that's interesting, I find that counterintuitive...
    did you change strings when you changed to the new TP ?

    I thought the TP on an archtop's job is mainly to hold the strings
    not to transfer vibrations to to top ...
    No I did not.

    The 3-diamond tp is a bit heavier and sturdier than the zigzag one. I do not know has anybody in the audience noticed the difference, but I have.

    The tailpiece is a continuum of the strings so apparently it has a significant role in how the strings vibrate and sound.