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Thread: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

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    Exclamation Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I had to use a hammer and a screwdriver with a padded tip to tap the too-tight tailpiece cover off my new Kentucky mandolin. Impossible to remove with the bare fingers. How ridiculous.

    Here's hoping that the 21st century will put an end to this g_d-forsaken piece of outmoded technology. We don't write with quill pens, we don't ride in buggies behind horses, but we still use this cursed, clumsy mandolin tailpiece, invented before women could vote. The cover is either too tight - can't get it off - or too loose - falls CLINK on the floor.

    I for one have had it.

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Next time place a quarter on the end of the tailpiece cover that points towards the neck and pull back with your fingers holding your thumbs against the tail of the mandolin. They will always slide. I've taken rusty tailpieces off that way that hadn't moved in decades. You aren't the first person to use the screw driver method of removing one these it comes up every few years.

    Looking at some old threads John Hamlett had some he couldn't get to slide so I guess it's possible depending on how old it is.
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I usually bend the side to fit easy until the last 1/8" so it comes off and goes on easy. but doesn't rattle. They work great when properly adjusted. Cheaper ones may need to be filed as there are burrs from manufacturing that may need to come off.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    If they was good for Monroe and them there Loar mandolins they good enough for me

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Replace it with a cast tailpiece. I like the Allen AR2, but if you want to keep the classic look, many like the TR2. These ones are direct replacements for a standard stamped tailpiece, no new screw holes.
    http://www.allenguitar.com/tpcs.htm

    If you need to go less expensive, there is a Chinese knock off of the AR2. Not as good as the Allen, but still way better than the stamped tailpiece
    https://www.amazon.com/AXL-PM-196-To...dp/B00870ELMI/

    I suggest the Allen, but not sure what your budget is.

    This is the first thing I ever do when I get a new mandolin, before any other setup steps

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I have a very nice tailpiece on my mandolin, it's heavy and two piece. I have the top off as it sounds better without all the weight. For some mandolins the weight of a cast tailpiece may be just fine, for others the stamped one will sound better. I have several with stamped tailpieces and all work well and easy.
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Quote Originally Posted by T-E-F View Post
    ... hammer and a screwdriver with a padded tip to tap the too-tight tailpiece cover off my new Kentucky mandolin. Impossible to remove with the bare fingers.
    Been there, done that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    If they was good for Monroe ... good enough for me
    Fair enough sentiment, but possibly not accurate. The OP may be dealing with a far-less-than-optimal version that, fortunately, most of us will never actually see. I have one on my '90s Carlo Robelli (cheapo Sam Ash house brand).

    It resembles the Gibson standard slide-on-from-the-top design, but it's actually not. The base is simply too wide and/or the cover too narrow for any sliding action to occur. The side rails are NOT bent to interlocking angles at all, but are at pretty much of a right angle on both the base and cover. In effect it's a "press-on-from-the-top" design, even though that was probably not intended.

    When I first tried removing it way back when, it became apparent that the only cover movement from the bridge end was going to be upward, and it did come off smoothly with some gentle prying. Once open, it was clear that the geometry was not going to allow any sliding to happen, and getting it back on (after the expected deburring) was another adventure of bending the top's sides out just enough to allow a finger-press fit. Yes, poor design, or execution of the intended design, but it's been holding that way ever since. It's the instrument I still take out where there's a fair risk of it being damaged or lost along the way.

    I'm mostly surprised that the Kentucky folks would allow such a tailpiece on a current instrument. Maybe there's a warranty issue here?
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Jan-21-2017 at 11:58am.
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Thanks for the excellent replies.

    After reading the last post, it occurs to me that my mandolin may have had a less-than-optimum setup when I bought it - hence the immovable tailpiece. I was gonna be a "good guy", therefore I paid a premium to buy from the local mom-and-pop music store, rather than from one of the highly qualified mandolin specialists who advertise on MC.

    This may have been a mistake. I should have been a jerk and, as so many do, sampled locally, then bought at a lower price from a store on the Internet, who'd give me a better setup.

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I struggled against these for years before finally getting a a new-to-me mando with an Allen-style TP. I'm loving it. Hopefully the indentation on my forearm from the cover-less TP will soon fade.
    Mitch Russell

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    Registered User Kalasinar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I tend to use some thick material to cushion my thumbs when I push the cover away and off the tailpiece. I forgot how stuck they can get. I have an Eastman with a cast tailpiece now, but changed the strings on my starter Tanglewood the other day and struggled with the tailpiece cover.

    I will say one positive thing for the covers though. On some cheap mandolins the tailpiece designs do not feature hooks to hold the strings, but rather bolts. Setting up a mandolin for my best friend with one of these tailpieces was scary. Whilst setting the intonation and tuning up, a bolt broke off the tailpiece, and if not for the tailpiece cover in the way, it could have hit me right in the face or damaged the surface of the mandolin top. Suffice to say, I replaced that tailpiece for one with the hook layout...

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I see no reason to Improve my 90 year old Gibson A4.. yea the cover should fit snug to not rattle..

    Just dont lose It when you take it off ..

    so many Tailpiece covers of the Cloud type go missing you can hold out for a Big Check
    if you have one to Sell .
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I have to admit I didn't know replacing tailpieces was a thing. But now that I've seen them, those cast tailpieces look amazing.

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I'm with the op, they are a low cost design that is rubbish compared to a cast or solid tailpiece that is well designed. . I leave the cover off, it looks a bit ugly but makes it easier to use and get on with picking a tune.!

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I use the cover on my stamped tailpieces as they don't seem to change the sound and with a little bending they go on and off easily. I leave the cover off my heavier tailpiece because it adds too much weight and changes the sound in a way I don't like. The cast tailpieces may not be as heavy as the one I have as they are most likely porous and I think mine may be machined out of brass, as opposed to cast which may be lighter. Weight is a factor that I don't believe helps sound, I also try to lighten my bridge, keeping the strength. It seems to sound much better. I understand mandolins vary and some may benefit from some extra weight, mine does not and I don't think it should be assumed that all mandolins will benefit from the added weight of a cast tailpiece. When using stamped, I use stainless steel as it seem to be a better quality tailpiece.
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Those 'tin' tailpieces can be either good or 'lethal' to use. The one that came with my very first 'el-cheapo' mandolin must have been tailor made to fit,it felt like it had been put on sideways - it was nothing less than atrocious. I removed it within days & bought a cast Allen tailpiece.
    High quality 'tin' tailpieces can be bought. The ones made by Jaroslav Prucha in the Czech.Republic which are fitted to many high quality mandolins,are excellent. So - 3 choices. Buy a high quality 'tin' one / buy ''cast'' Allen type or buy a James tailpiece. It depends on how you want your mandolin to look, & how much cash you think is worth spending on it,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    +1 for the James tailpiece. I changed out my cast Weber for the James and couldn't be happier.

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I recently acquired a mandolin with a very (very) stubborn tp cover.

    1. Tried Mike's trick with a genuine, official, US quarter. It worked! But still a pain.
    2. Did the mod on the cover's side-grabbers with a pair of pliers. That worked, too!
    3. Ordered a James tp from Cumberland Acoustic anyway because I really don't like those stamped tp's whether they work right or not.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I actually put a video on Youtube a few years ago.

    https://www.youtube.com/shorts/fLIRe-0wprA
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    I switched out the two piece tail on some of my mandolins to a cast piece for the simple reason being the cover on the two piece dug into my arm and made playing
    very uncomfortable. And yes I like the look of the cast pieces.
    (I didn't change out on the Epiphone because the cast piece would have cost more than I paid for the instrument, and the Mid Mo seems fine as is, the cover doesn't bother my arm).
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    The trick with these (once you have the cover off the first time!) is to add some wax to the sliding parts and then they'll slide on and off dead easy. Honest

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Good suggestion - US quarters aren’t exactly commonplace in these parts!

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Good suggestion - US quarters aren’t exactly commonplace in these parts!
    Might create a small "cult" demand -- like when Billy Gibbons mentioned in an interview he used a peso for a pick...

    (I was one of the idiots who tried it and thought it was stupid, FWIW!)

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    corks work, too

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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    Apart from the obvious of 'buy a cast tailpiece' of which I think the Eastman ones are really good (If you can get them) . Bill James best of course but without that expense, there's an easy answer. You may find it hard to get off once, but just judge how tight or slack it is and get your pliers and with a piece of cloth pull the sides out or in slightly until you get enough and once that's done, no future problems. You only need to do it once and GET IT RIGHT.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old-style taipieces with covers: threat or menace?

    On all my mandolin family instruments (8 now) only one has the old style sliding cover stamped tailpiece. I don't know the brand - it came on my 2010 Morris hybrid F4. It's never given me any trouble.

    Most of the others have Allen cast tail pieces. No problem with any of them either.

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