1. #1

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    I bought my first Gypsy jazz guitar around 2002 after seeing Bireli Lagrene play live. Over the last 19 years I have owned 13 of them (2 Dell Artes, 3 Duponts, 2 Shelley Parks, 4 Gitanes, a Dunn and a Favino) and still have 2 (a Dupont and a Shelly Park). I have heard about the tailpieces failing on these guitars but until the other day, that had not happened to me. I was tuning up my 2000 Shelley Park Encore when I heard a snap and my D and G strings went slack. I looked at the tailpiece and it had split. The tailpiece was made by British luthier Killy Nonis, but I know that Shelley has since switched to Dell Arte DR tailpieces.

    I looked online and the following choices were available to me here in the USA:

    Dupont made DR tailpieces ($120-$175 depending on who is selling them)

    Dell Arte DR Tailpieces ($80-$90)

    Gitane Tailpieces (around $45)

    Miller of Switzerland tailpieces (I did not check the price)

    Killy Nonis advertises on his Facebook page that he makes and sells them (I did not check the price).

    I chose the Dell Arte DR and bought it from my friend Tommy Davy at Djangoguitars.com. I asked Tommy to switch the red leather to green which he did and it was promptly shipped to me along with some new screws.

    When I went to install the new tailpiece I found that the screws had different threads, so I reused the old screws. As luck would have it, the holes lined up and installation was a cinch.

    The Nonis tailpiece lasted 21 years (the Dupont tailpiece is now 28 years old....I may be doing this again up the road I suppose). The new Dell Arte Tailpiece is guaranteed for 5 years and is a heavier guage than the Nonis or the Dupont. I have heard that the Gitane tailpieces fail a lot, so I did not consider that one.

    Here are the before and after shots: Broken Gypsy Jazz guitar tailpiece-old-tp-jpg Broken Gypsy Jazz guitar tailpiece-new-tp-jpg

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  3. #2
    Heard about this, but haven't seen it.

    Good it didn't happen on a gig!

    New tailpiece looks dapper.

  4. #3

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    I've got a Killy tailpiece on my Gaffiero and it's so far been rock solid. Tommy knows his stuff just as good or better than anyone, and it looks like you've been taken care of well.

    Not sure if this matters, but do you use loop end or ball end strings?

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by littleknicky
    Heard about this, but haven't seen it.

    Good it didn't happen on a gig!

    New tailpiece looks dapper.
    Finishing a gig with only 4 strings would have been challenging! I have finished a set with 5 strings and that was tough enough.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSanta
    I've got a Killy tailpiece on my Gaffiero and it's so far been rock solid. Tommy knows his stuff just as good or better than anyone, and it looks like you've been taken care of well.

    Not sure if this matters, but do you use loop end or ball end strings?
    I use both ball end and loop end. When this happened, the guitar was strung with ball end. Because of that, I am likely to stick with loop end going forward, but it probably does not matter.

    Tommy Davy of Djangoguitars.com, Michael Horowitz of Djangobooks.com and Alain Cola of Dell Arte/Gypsy Jazz Distribution are all friends of mine from the Djangofest circuit. I have done business with all three and can say all know their stuff and are a pleasure to do business with.

  7. #6

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    Broken Gypsy Jazz guitar tailpiece-mc30-3-jpgThanks for the heads up on this potential weak spot/failure area. Your post had me running to my 1998 Dupont MC-30-14 to check the DR tailpiece, which I'm sure is original to the instrument. Mine looks sound, however 23 years of tension can be rough on metal parts!

    Although not personal friends of mine, the gentlemen you mention are all super knowledgeable and helpful with all aspects of GJG's, in addition to being fine players. I spent a delightful afternoon with Alain Cola auditioning guitars, he had so many great stories about playing Gypsy Jazz music at Disneyland before it became fashionable is this country.

    Enjoy your new tailpiece!

  8. #7

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    Aha, thanks for the heads up. Should probably get a spare tail piece just in case. Can’t imagine the one on mine is the best quality

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    Aha, thanks for the heads up. Should probably get a spare tail piece just in case. Can’t imagine the one on mine is the best quality
    I have two Gypsy jazz guitars, so i can wait for a replacement, but guys who only have one, and gig with it regularly, should probably keep a spare on hand.