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Thread: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

  1. #1

    Question Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    Just got my first mandolin, it's a Kentucky km-171. Got it at a good price, and it is secondhand. When received it I noticed the tailpiece is slightly off center of the strings. As in the sides of the tailpiece do not align with the strings (see photos). From the naked eye, it doesn't appear to be crooked on the instrument itself- but I'm not 100% sure. It sounds just fine, but is this ok? Will it cause any structural problems? Again first instrument, not sure what is going on here.
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  2. #2
    Registered User Caberguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    As long as it's solid it's not really a big deal. But, I'd make sure the screws are snug (and if they're not, I'd loosen string tension and look into fixing that).

    We could tell more if you took the cover off... it might actually only be the cover that's crooked, it'll slide right off the end.
    '91 Flatiron Signature A5 / Silverangel Econo A / Eastman MD-315

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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    It looks like the cover is crooked, and the bridge is slightly off center looking at the strings on the fingerboard. It could also be the neck is not on correctly and the tailpiece should be moved to compensate for that. It is impossible to tell without the instrument in hand.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    I would need to see what it looks like with the cover removed. As pops1 said, the cover might be just installed crooked, while the tailpiece itself is straight. But from one photo with the cover on, I can't tell. I also can't tell if the bridge is centered, because of the possibility (probability) of parallax.

  5. #5
    Registered User Caberguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    I would need to see what it looks like with the cover removed. As pops1 said, the cover might be just installed crooked, while the tailpiece itself is straight. But from one photo with the cover on, I can't tell. I also can't tell if the bridge is centered, because of the possibility (probability) of parallax.
    I mean, to be fair, I said it first.
    '91 Flatiron Signature A5 / Silverangel Econo A / Eastman MD-315

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    I know, but his was the closest. I apologize for failing to give you fair credit.

  7. #7
    Registered User Caberguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    I know, but his was the closest. I apologize for failing to give you fair credit.
    Thanks. Now I feel seen!
    '91 Flatiron Signature A5 / Silverangel Econo A / Eastman MD-315

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    I formerly was employed by a major mandolin importer. We had an issue with excessive numbers of mandolins arriving with tailpieces mounted askew. The company decided to return them to the manufacturer. Then they changed their minds and passed the imperfects on as “B” stock. I never thought it was a problem, although I would prefer perfect alignment.

  9. #9
    Registered User romei's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    It doesn't appear to be a problem to me as far as play-ability, but it would trigger my OCD if it were mine.

  10. #10
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    If the neck is askew, the tailpiece would have to be askew and the bridge as well, in order to have the strings track properly along that neck.

    It seems that perhaps that is what’s happening here.

    The first time I reset a neck on an parlor guitar, as a learning tool, I made such an error myself which required a crooked tailpiece.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    That has been a reoccurring problem with Saga instruments for a while. I had hoped they solved that problem. If that is new apparently they have not.
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    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

  12. #12

    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    thanks everyone. To caberguy, pops1 and sgosnell; I tried to get the tailpiece cover off. It was very tight. If you have recommendations on how to do that let me know, if I can get it off I will add a photo. Mark Gunter and pops1, there is a possibility that everything might be askew, as the bridge does also seem to be rather lopsided.
    I checked the intonation on the 12th fret with a tuner in hand and that is all good, not sure if that means anything, but figured I would add that information in case. Appreciate the help and any further thoughts you guys have

  13. #13
    Registered User Caberguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    It'll pull parallel (more or less) with the neck away from the headstock. Some people use a coin for leverage and as a finger saver. They can be tight, if they're crooked it might be tighter. But, you'll have to get it off if you ever want to change strings (and it looks like you might need to do that sooner than later, those look a bit corroded). Pull firmly and slowly away from the body.

    Here's a video from Mike:



    The bridge seems like it might be slanted the wrong way, but that likely just means you'll need to adjust the intonation, which is pretty normal. Properly intonated mandolins frequently have bridges that are slanted, but for a right-handed instrument it's generally the other way round.
    '91 Flatiron Signature A5 / Silverangel Econo A / Eastman MD-315

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    The guy in that video looks familiar
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    It's an inexpensive, import instrument...me, personally, I am not shocked. Years back, a customer brought me his Late 1980s Gibson ES-175 with the tailpiece factory mounted off center. Whilst disgusted that QC in Kalamazoo had let this out the door, again, I was not shocked
    too many strings

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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    I prefer a stick of wood to a coin to remove a tight tailpiece. You can put one hand on each side of the piece of wood, with the tailpiece in the center, and pull back. Once you get it off I would bend the cover or the bottom piece (usually both) until it slides on easily and snugs up at the very last bit of movement. It will make it much better during the time of your ownership, and everyone later too.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  18. #17

    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    I got the cover off! here are some photos with it removed. The tailpiece itself is not straight.
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  19. #18
    Registered User Caberguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    Check that it's not loose. If it is, you'll have to address that.

    If it's tight, put some new strings on it and play the thing. The only job of the tailpiece is to hold the strings in place, everything else adjusts elsewhere, so long as its doing its job, it's really just a cosmetic issue. It is thin sheet metal, you could potential bend it so its straighter, or replace it, but it doesn't seem worth the trouble.

    Get the intonation set (dollars to donuts it's off by the looks of the bridge), and play it.

    There are a bunch of videos and instructions on how to set intonation... here's the shortest one I could find:

    '91 Flatiron Signature A5 / Silverangel Econo A / Eastman MD-315

  20. #19

    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    Resetting the tailpiece properly would require a good deal of work. If it were mine I would probably just leave it as it is, as long as everything is securely in place. It should work fine, it's just a cosmetic issue as far as I can see. If any screws are loose, tighten them.

    Caberguy, you keep slipping in ahead of me.

  21. #20
    Registered User Caberguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Caberguy, you keep slipping in ahead of me.
    I'm procrastinating from doing real work!
    '91 Flatiron Signature A5 / Silverangel Econo A / Eastman MD-315

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    Default Re: Tailpeice alignment- is this a problem?

    It looks like it should be moved to the left. The bass strings are angling much more than the treble strings, and could pull the bridge off center. You can see they are more to the treble side of the fingerboard. It's not that much work to relocate it. Remove the tailpiece, fill the screw holes with toothpicks glued in, reposition and drill new holes.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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