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Author Topic: Stella tailpiece question  (Read 3810 times)

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Offline onewent

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Stella tailpiece question
« on: January 16, 2006, 06:30:50 PM »
...changed the strings yesterday on my 20's Stella 12-string ... what a pain... it was tough enough with the slotted head stock and twelve tuners, but the tailpiece caused some headaches, too ... the cloth windings just before the ball end hang up in the tailpiece slots and cause some of the ball ends to sort of hang rather than slide in and seat well ... anyway, here's my question:  what are the studs on the tailpiece for?  ...it's a weird arangement, with more on one side than the other, and I guess they're supposed to guide the strings, but, as you can see in the photo, it doesn't really do that .. anyone know the story here?  ...or care to make one up?   ;)

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Offline Pan

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2006, 12:34:16 AM »
Hi Onewent

I'm by no means an expert on the 12 string matters. However a bit similar situation occurs with the tailpiece of some Maccaferri/Selmer type gypsy guitars. I believe the case is similar here. The bumps in the tailpiece are, if I'm correct, to attach strings that have a loop end, rather than the more usual ball end much more common today. So you have a choice of string type with this particular tailpiece.

Yours

Pan

Offline onewent

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2006, 06:47:41 PM »
hey, Pan, thanks for the idea ...but based on the arrangement of the studs, eight in one row and four in the other ???  ...wouldn't it have made more sense to have two rows of four?  ...plus, if you click on the photo and enlarge it, notice the nasty stress it puts on some strings, and absolutely none on others?

Offline Pan

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2006, 02:06:05 AM »
Hi

Looking at the enlarged photo, I think you're right. The bass strings especially seem to be positioned too far away from each other, to back my theory.

Let's hope someone else comes up with a better explanation.

Cheers

Pan

Offline Slack

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2006, 07:20:03 AM »
Hard to tell from the picture -- but perhpas the tailpiece was designed to accomodate either a 12 string or a six string?

Offline Stuart

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2006, 07:35:40 AM »
This is a good one. Did most Stella 12 strings (from the same time and production run) have this kind of tailpiece? Has anyone seen it used on another instrument--guitar or otherwise? Could it have been some kind of aftermarket product? There have been some oddball and idiosyncratic products introduced to the music market over the years--could this be one of them?

Offline Cambio

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2006, 07:52:58 AM »
I've looked at several of these tailpieces in an effort to make a reproduction of one.  One conclusion that I've come to is that there is no rhyme nor reason as to the placement of the posts and the holes.  Their placement seems to be an arrangement of conveniece rather than one of design.   
They were original parts, as the 12 strings came with either pin bridges or tailpieces.  There is also a six string version of the tailpiece which was also on some of the early Nationals (maybe not an identical tailpiece, but one with the option of loop or ball end strings)

blindjoedeath

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2006, 08:14:11 AM »
I can only wish to have that problem! If you're finding it all just a little too confusing I would be willing to trade my mid 70's yamaha 12 string-it has a pin bridge. :)

Orb Mellon

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2006, 11:33:46 AM »
Neil Harpe is renowned as a world class Stella expert. I think he can be reached at stellaguitars.com or something like that. Acousticopia in Maryland sells his old Stellas sometimes. I'll bet he can answer your tailpiece question with certainty. You'll find reference to him on the web for sure. He actually wrote and published a book on Stellas.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2006, 02:08:20 PM »
Before one of the experts provides us with the objectively verifiable correct answer, I'd like to venture a guess. After reading Todd's post that these tailpieces were original standard equipment and considering the fact that they were designed to accommodate both loop end and ball end strings, I think the reason for the offset of the studs for the loop end strings lies in the thickness (gauge) of the loops of the wound bottom strings versus that of unwound top strings. At the time the loop ends of the thicker wound strings probably required more clearance than those of the unwound top strings and therefore the offset. BUT, is this really the reason for the design? It makes sense, but so do a lot of seemingly correct answers, that are ultimately proved wrong.

Offline onewent

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2006, 03:40:51 PM »
...well, thanks for all the comments, conjecture and suggestions ... Neil has seen this guitar up close and personal, as he, at the time, owned one just like it, but we didn't talk tail pieces ... I have Neil's book and looked through the 12-string section and guess what! ... in keeping w/ the zany OS system of accessorizing its guitars, there are basically three stud-type bridges pictured ... A.  like my photo, 8 in one row and 4 in another, w/ the 4 toward the treble side   B.  8 in one row and 4 in another, w/ the 4 toward the bass side  (a mirror of A.)  C.  (you guessed it) two rows of six studs  ::)   ...and just for fun, there are various and sundry trapeze-type tail pieces  :D

Neil, care to chime in on this? 


Quote
I can only wish to have that problem!
  blindjoe, it wouldn't be nice to push my problems off on you   ;)

Offline Stuart

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2006, 05:17:36 PM »
Fascinating. Are there any photos or illustrations from the 20's of guitars with the various tailpieces strung with loop-end strings on the studs? (This is asking way too much, but what the heck...)

Offline harpe

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2006, 06:06:56 AM »
Hi Weenies, I rarely think to check out things here at Weenie Central. I must try to stop by more often!

Stella 12-string tailpieces: Oscar Schmidt used various types. Most common are the stud variety being discussed here. As mentioned, they were made in several variations with differing numbers (and relative location) of studs. My very good friend and luthier for many years, Jim Bumgardner (who incidentally passed away last week at age 84) informed me that the studs were for the loop-end strings sometimes used in the early 20th century ("Before my time" as Jim would say). As the "ball-end" string was first used primarily for wound strings, some of these tailpieces have fewer studs, with only 3 studs on the righthand/bass side (or vice versa for lefthanded tailpieces).

The earliest "ball-end" strings actually had more of a "coil" at their ends, rather than the "ball" that is common on today's strings. This coil was of a smaller diameter than today's "ball". The holes on these old tailpieces were intended to be for inserting this type of string. They are too small in diameter to accomodate modern ball ends. This makes it very difficult to change strings on these old style tailpieces. To help retain their own sanity when changing strings, some people solve the problem by reaming the holes in their original tailpiece just enough to allow passage of a modern ball-end string.

If this sounds confusing, wait. There's more! As well, Schmidt sometimes equipped their 12-string models with a six-hole tailpiece, with two strings per hole. Additionally, they occasionally used a flat tailpiece as well as the more commonly seen "sculptural, stud-type" tailpiece. Some of the flat tailpieces had 12 holes, others had six holes with deeper slots to occomodate two strings in each hole.

In an early Charles Bruno & Son catalog they described the Stella 12-string guitar as having a fixed bridge, and offered the tailpiece as an option at a slightly higher price.

Neil Harpe
« Last Edit: February 01, 2006, 06:49:21 AM by harpe »

Offline onewent

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2006, 05:55:27 PM »
...hey, Neil, thanks for chiming in on this ... so, the studs were a leftover from a  time when loop end strings were used?  ...and the slot and stud combo t-pieces were for either type string end, or a combo of string end types?  ...what I still don't get is why didn't they just use two rows of six for even spacing, rather that the four 'lone wolf' studs like on the picture of mine..?

Fifthtry

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Re: Stella tailpiece question
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2006, 09:12:02 PM »
How's this for a theory?  Perhaps if the gauge is heavy enough, then the 6th and 5th pairs need the space provided by the asymmetric positioning of the 4 studs that are at that end, with the 1st through 4th pairs being able to be closer together, hence the two rows?

Reverse that for a left-handed stringing.

For not-so-heavy gauge, two rows of 6 will provide adequate spacing.

Nothing but a guess.  Everything I know on this topic I read on this thread:)

John

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