Tailpiece appearance (twill/unidirectional/black/painted) and finish (glossy/matte) have no noticeable effect on sound — the twill and unidirectional tailpieces differ only in their outer decorative layer of carbon fiber. Inner layers are always twill. Black and wood grain finish tailpieces are functionally the same, differing only in their durable surface coat of paint.
Classic style (French/Tulip/Hill) tailpieces also sound the same, so you can choose whichever you prefer visually. They are almost identical in weight, varying only by 1-2 grams (the Tulip style is the heaviest).
Harp style tailpieces offer a greater “afterlength” between bridge and tailpiece on the lower strings, adding overtones to the sound on many instruments. The small harp can make it easier to attain a perfect 5th tonal relationship between the afterlength and the main portion of the string on most instruments, while the medium harp style has wider tonal pattern. Because each instrument and each string has individual afterlength pitch patterns, harp styles affect each instrument differently.
As with all tailpiece installations, care should be taken to tie the Kevlar tailgut to the optimum length, which is a matter of personal preference. On traditionally-shaped tailpieces, most luthiers adjust the afterlength to 1/6th of the string length between the nut and bridge. (See the video linked here for more information on tying a tailgut.)
“Precision” model tailpiece allows tuning the afterlength of each string “on the fly” (without releasing tension of strings) via titanium rollers that can be moved with your fingers. This unique trademark design offers a way to assess the best afterlength relationship for your particular instrument.
Mini levers are lighter – a set of 4 weights 8-9 grams and offers better resonance on many instruments — and are also less expensive. That said, many people prefer the elegant aesthetic of the titanium tuners, which are affixed to the tailpiece in ConCarbo workshop. The mini levers, by contrast, can be installed or removed by players. The brass nuts are glued into the string holes, and the lever is held in place by the tension of the string. Players of gut strings may notice that, because the string slides through a hole on the mini-lever, these tuners are less likely to damage the string than traditional fine tuners.
Hook style titanium fine tuners are somewhat heavier – the set of 4 cello tuners weighs 14-15 grams, and adds additional expense to the cost of the tailpiece. Please keep in mind that they cannot be installed outside ConCarbo workshop because installation requires drilling additional holes and enlarging thickness of tailpiece in specific areas.
Using carbon fiber composite as material for string instrument tailpieces gives many advantages, but there are 3 most important of them.
High resonance conductivity of carbon makes it an excellent material for crafting tailpieces. It transfers resonance from string to body through tail gut. Combined with low weight carbon fiber composite, it minimizes sound loss in the tailpiece. As a result, the sound of the instrument becomes more powerful, louder, richer and has faster response.
Carbon fiber has 2 – 5 times more strength to weight ratio than aluminum and steel. This feature makes products made of carbon absorb resonance much less. The lightweight tailpiece allows string after bridge to vibrate more freely. Combined with high resonance conductivity of carbon fiber composite, it minimizes sound loss in the tailpiece.
Carbon is strong material, unlike wood, is not prone to cracks and chips. Not sensitive to changes of temperature and humidity. Due to the special structure and direction of carbon fiber fibers, the tailpiece has elasticity at diagonal loads, but high hardness under longitudinal loads, which is important for this part.
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