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Thread: Tailpiece broke

  1. #1

    Default Tailpiece broke

    Hi. I have an Eastman MD505 and it looks like one of the little string hooks on the tail piece broke off.

    I'm a beginner and certainly no luthier, but I'm a pretty handy guy. It looks to me that I just need to order a replacement part, take off the old strings, remove 3 screws, replace with the new tail piece, restring, and go.

    Am I missing something? Is there more to it than that? Any things I should beware of? Is this an opportunity to upgrade the tail piece? Should I take it to a professional repair guy?

    All advice welcome and appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    Quote Originally Posted by rabbimatt View Post
    Hi. I have an Eastman MD505 and it looks like one of the little string hooks on the tail piece broke off.
    All advice welcome and appreciated.
    Also get some green lo-tack painters masking tape (or regular masking tape that you have stuck to your jeans a few times first, just so it doesn't tear up your finish) and tape your (bottom) bridge and (top) saddle down altogether. This is so your bridge doesn't fall right off when you take the strings off. You can also run two pieces of tape on the mandolin top on either side of the bridge base to know exactly where it was (if it does happen to get shifted) Then you can go ahead and replace the tailpiece with the same kind or an upgraded one like you described.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
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  3. #3
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    I would contact Eastman. If youíre the original owner I would think itís under warranty. If not, I would still try to get one from them. I honestly like the Eastman tailpiece and think itís a pretty good design.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    I second the recommendation to try to get a replacement from a Eastman. You want the screw holes in the new tailpiece to line up with the screw holes in your mandolin from the old tailpiece. That is more likely to happen if the new tailpiece comes from the same source as the old one. If the holes donít line up youíll need to fill the old holes in the mandolin and drill new ones that line up with the holes in the new tailpiece. For me, thatís a luthier job.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    You have nothing to lose right now by putting two strings on one hook. You may be right back in business with no fuss at all, because the hooks are not so carefully designed or made to be just barely strong enough; it’s tiny defects that allow them to break. 12 string mandolins share hooks as they don’t always have 12 of them! Getting and installing an identical tailpiece is also not a big deal; tuning back up does no harm, if, as above, you don’t lose the bridge location as Fretbear mentions. As a beginner, at some point hand the instrument to a good player or luthier just to see if the setup is proper; there are things related to measurements and feel that you don’t have to know about yet, but which can make the instrument easier to play.

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Howell, NJ

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    +1 for contacting Eastman to see if it's under warranty. They may actually make the repair for you. If you're set on continuing look through this.

    I'm assuming that your mandolin has the Eastman cast tailpiece on it. You're going to have to get the screw for screw replacement from Eastman. It isn't going to match up with any other retail tailpiece as far as I know. Replacing one is pretty straight forward with few exceptions.

    The bridge placement and orientation is pretty critical on a mandolin. Assuming it's correct now I generally will take blue painters tape and mark where each end sits side to side and front to back with tape. Just put small piece around where it sits on the top. Do this before you remove the strings.

    Make note as to how the bridge top is standing in relationship to your fretboard. It may be slightly leaning forward so that it aligns level with the plane of the fretboard.

    The next thing you need to do is to make sure you know which end of the bridge bottom is on the bass side, the side with the fatter strings. I generally mark the bottom of the bridge feet with a B for bass and T for treble. Now you know how the bridge bottom is oriented. The top should be easy with the smaller slots on the treble side and the bigger slots on the bass side. You will be doing this after the strings are removed.

    The screws are normal wood screws but if the end pin is stuck though it you will have to work that out. They are generally a tapered pin that you might have to gently pry our.

    Remove and replace the tailpiece. Replace the end pin.

    When re-stringing you have to make sure the bridge top and bottom are placed right. I generally will do the two outer strings to make sure I have the bridge right before I do the rest of the strings. Pay attention to make sure the orientation of the bridge top from the side is the same as it was. The strings can cause it to lean wrong.

    It's not real complicated but it's easy to screw it up.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-14-2020 at 11:45am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    Everything covered here, in a great post! As was stated, in the Eastmans I have seen in the past, the screw holes were not the same as a traditional tale piece, Alan or others, so contacting them would be a good bet. Also, mark the bridge position before you start taking down the tension on the strings, as it can tend to shift once tension starts being lowered. This is something to keep in mind when restringing after the new TP is installed as well. Raising the tension while restringing will cause the bridge to start leaning forward, and every so often you will want to grasp the saddle (top of the bridge) in each hand between your thumb and index finger, and pull it back toward the TP. Additionally, when restringing, after the bridge is aligned, get all eight strings on at low tension, and when retuning, consider starting with the middle strings (A and D), bring them up a few steps flat of 440, and follow this by tuning the G and E. Then bring the whole thing up to pitch. In my experience, a bridge can start shifting a bunch when you try to tune to 440 either bringing the G all the way up, then the D, A and E, or vise versa. When going from no tension to 440 it is always a good practice to bring everything up flat, and then raise the whole instrument IMO.
    Shawn Brock
    Free Mandolin and Guitar Lessons

  9. #8

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    I have a 4 year old Eastman. My lower E string pulled through it’s tail price tab. Took about 3 years. And I too hooked that string to to the next tab. After about 4 months those two strings started to pull through their tab. Contacted Eastman, they sent a new one at no charge.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    Thanks for all the great advice. Spoke to Dan at Eastman today and they're sending me a new tailpiece, no questions asked.

    I feel pretty confident I can swap it out myself, especially with all of your detailed suggestions. Thanks.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    Same thing happened to me. I contacted Eastman and they sent me a new one.

  12. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Tailpiece broke

    Going one better, the "trapeze" tailpiece on the Eastman mandocello I used to own, broke at the hinge. Eastman took one of their new, redesigned tailpieces off an instrument in stock in the US, and sent it to me; they were willing to wait for a new tailpiece to be sent from China to reassemble the in-stock 'cello.

    Good customer service from Eastman, as a rule.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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