Upright Bass Composite Tailpiece Failure – Snap! Bang!

I was standing in the same room as my basses when I heard something give and then there was a loud bang. When quickly glanced at each bass, I discovered that it was the Old German Bass with the composite tailpiece that I just installed a few days ago, which I was going to write about. Yup, broken in less than a week. I found that the composite tailpiece had failed at the joint where the tailgut goes. C’mon, they were strung with Animas so I wasn’t asking them to hold bridge suspension cable type strings. “Space Age Material”… riiiiight. I’m not going to try these again, because when something breaks like that, it sticks in the back of my mind even with a replacement. I definitely don’t want to wonder it the tailpiece is going to give again when I’m on the way to my next gig.

I’ve always been open minded to newer materials and advancements in materials that seem promising in improving on older pre-existing norms. Right when I received it, I was already questioning if these composite tailpieces are an improvement over wood tailpieces. I had my apprehension even before installing it anyhow, but it was more-so because it didn’t sound very good even in hand. Tapping on the ebony tailpiece it had a resonant sound, but with the composite tailpiece it sounded like plastic, because well …. essentially it is fancy plastic. Yes, because it was very lightweight the bass seemed louder and more open, but there was some loss in quality in the upper harmonics. The bass just didn’t sound as crisp. The lighter weight is welcomed, but plastic as a material just isn’t. I’m not sure that I can recommend that you switch from the common ebony tailpiece to a composite, such as a Wittner. The tailpiece gave up on me before I did on it so let’s just part our ways and move on.

Onto the next thing. I contacted both Mike Pecanic and Jake at the BassSpa in Vancouver because they both make tailpieces out of several types of woods so maybe I can have the best of both worlds, light and resonant.

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3 Responses

  1. I had the same failure with a Cello tailpiece …
    Mike Pecanic makes wonderful TPs, but if you want to have something of light weight, go for a simple, stained “hardwood” TP. They are usually used on entry level basses and often considered as cheap crap, but they may work great if you need something lighter than the standard ebony TP.

    • Thanks For stopping by Jonas! Thanks for the tip. Function over form, the cheap hardwood tailpieces seem great, especially considering that the BassSpa one will cost a few hundred to get one to me.

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