Early 1906 Gibson A mandolin tailpiece problem/question

Previously I posted about a 1906 Gibson A4 that I'm renovating.


The mandolin is now back in one piece and I've fitted medium strings. I bent the standard Gibson tailpiece up so when fitted there was about 1/4 inch clearance between the soundboard and the front of the tailpiece. When the strings are brought up to full tension the front of the tailpiece is pulled down and comes into contact with the soundboard.


Would someone who has worked, owned or has experience of the early Gibsons tell me if they found this happened with their instrument?. Should felt or something be placed under the tailpiece to protect the French polish/wood.


Many thanks



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All mando's I have seen have felt.
It happens w/ the cheap tin tailpieces and the more you adjust the less the effect.If it were mine and wanted to improve I'd get a good solid 1 piece like an Allen Or Montelione or try a newer of the thin 2 pc. JMO



I've managed to temporarily sort out the problem, by following advice I got on a mandolin cafe thread. 

I removed the tailpin and raised the position of the tailpiece by about 1/8th inch. At full tension the front of the tailpiece just missed the soundboard.

I say a temporary solution as this was a complete renovation rebuild and I've deliberately left the action high. It's a lovely sounding mando, so I'll play it for a couple of months to give it time to "settle". Then do the fine tuning.

Ideally I'd like it to look original, but may go for another tailpiece if I have to.

Cheers Mike

Take a look at the photo below - it shows an early F style that's never had any top damage, but has the usual deformation we see on those.  The top and back contours were very flattened compared to later ones, and they were clearly not as strong, so even with the low break angle over the bridge, they tend to flatten even more, or even sink in that area.  Even more interestingly, the top develops a bulge between the tailpiece and the bridge, quite often enough so the tailpiece is jammed hard onto the top.  Most of the time, we leave that situation as it is, although sometimes the top not only bulges in that area but also dips drastically right in front of the end block, and may even fail catastrophically there, as in the second photo.

Thats very interesting.


I've replaced the original tailpiece with a modern Gibson tailpiece. The modern one is slightly shorter.


I've attached a couple of pictures. The sideview is after I've removed the tailpin and moved the tailpiece up by about 1/8th of an inch. It looks as if it has bulged a bit.


This mandolin is the one I posted in about November last year. The neck had been snapped off and the  glue was brittle so I have stripped it down and reglued every joint and did a refret.


The wood is luckily in good shape, and it sounds great - loud but a very sensitive full and well balanced. Also it's lovely to play.


I take some decent pictures and post them on the website.


Thanks Mike


Did the orginal tailpiece have the strings passing under the front section and up throught the slot before anchoring.

This may have an affect on how high the front of the tailpiece sits.

Can't tell for sure because ther is no perspective in the photos



The mandolin arrived in bits without strings, with the neck snapped off. The story was it was found a few years ago in the New York garbage. It had dirt and wall plaster decorating it - Inside and out!!!!


I think Franks reply (above) has put my mind at rest.


Cheers Mike

Actually,this may be a good time to ask if the ht.of the tailpiece is raised, won't this decrease the amount of tension coming of the back of the bridge allowing the top tp relax? I use this concept thinking it also "softens" string action but have no knowledge why I think this way!Please clear this up for me...........

Raising the tailpiece is also likely to increase the torsional load on the end block, which might result in the bulge and dip in front of it getting a bit more pronounced.  I think it's probably best to allow the tailpiece to rest directly on the top.  I can't think of any particular damage that might cause.

In view of what you've said I'll put the tailpiece back to it original position when I next change the strings.


Jeffs point is also interesting. If the original tailpiece was used and the strings past through the slot they might miss the top.

Running the strings backward under the tailpiece isn't likely to get them to clear the top, but it will be holy murder to restring, especially when you break one in the middle. . .


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