Suppose you have a fiddle that only has a fine tuner on E string and want fine tuners on all strings, can a fella install those himself or is it a job for a luthier? Do fine tuners change the string length and is that something to think about? Also, I've read of tailpieces that have fine tuners built into them. How bout one of those?
The Whittner tailpieces are indeed considered better than added on fine tuners, as they do have the tuners built in. And they are not expensive. Fine tuners do not change the string length between the nut and the bridge. And they are simple to install.
How exactly would you proceed? I assume you would clamp the body in some fashion. Then mark the bridge location, probably with tape. Then remove the strings. Then remove the tailpiece. Install new tailpiece. Restring. Remove tape from bridge. Remove clamps. Am I close to the procedure?
Not even close. No clamps are needed, and no tape is needed. The bridge location is marked by the nicks on the inner side of the f hole. You need to make sure that the string length between the bridge and the tailpiece is correct. You also need to be very careful not to dislodge the soundpost when the string pressure is off. If the soundpost comes loose, a trip to a luthier may be in order. Or, you could just have a luthier do it in the first place, and not have to worry about the set-up, or the soundpost.
jacroom, you can't beat this deal. Go onto ebay and type in "Aluminum Violin Tail Piece Fine Tuners FREE TORTE MUTE" This item is about $25.00 cheaper than an aluminum Whittner tail piece and works great (have on two of my violins). If you are comfortable changing your own strings, installing is not a big deal. You might make a VERY LIGHT pencil mark by bridge feet for reference. Don't bump or squeeze sides of violin while string pressure is released, could cause sound post to fall, but if it's fit right not likely to be a problem. When installing tail gut, adjust to same length as original from point where strings attach to center of gut when folded. If all else fails there is always the luthier, but you have to learn some of this stuff some day. Can't learn if you don't try.
Installing fine tuners on an existing tailpiece is very easy to do. It does require removing or at least loosening each string, but all you do is unscrew the fine tuner, screw it into the tailpiece string slot, then reattach the string. Do the strings one at a time. There must be some videos showing this on the internet somewhere, but really it's quite easy.
Installing a new tailpiece is a little more complicated, but not much. You will have to remove all strings, which will dislodge the bridge, but that's easily replaced as Doug described. You also need to get the tailgut (that holds the tailpiece onto the endpin) situated to the proper length, so that the bottom end of the new tailpiece extends just over the saddle. A luthier would do some fine tweaking of this length, but for most people and their fiddles, this isn't absolutely necessary as long as you're close. Do allow for the tailgut to stretch a couple of milimeters over the first few days after installation. And when you reposition the bridge, make sure it's centered between the inner F-hole notches, aligned well left-to-right, and vertical so that the feel are absolutely flat against the top. I'd suggest doing this on top of a soft cloth or towel on a stable table-top, so that you won't accidentally knock the soundpost loose. If you do, it's not the end of the world, but it will be time to take it to a shop.
jacroom, you can't beat this deal. Go onto ebay and type in "Aluminum Violin Tail Piece Fine Tuners FREE TORTE MUTE" This item is about $25.00 cheaper than an aluminum Whittner tail piece and works great (have on two of my violins). If you are comfortable changing your own strings, installing is not a big deal. You might make a VERY LIGHT pencil mark by bridge feet for reference. Don't bump or squeeze sides of violin while string pressure is released, could cause sound post to fall, but if it's fit right not likely to be a problem.
Looks like a good deal, but only if you want an aluminum tailpiece. many people, including myself, think the Wittner Ultra composite tailpiece is much better than the aluminum one, and the real Wittner composite is quite inexpensive.
Composite in reallity is plastic. and still costs three times as much and can break. I did'nt notice any huge difference in sound between my wooden tail piece and aluminum, but I'm no old time purist. Pay attention to what oldtimestrings said about "burping the bridge" as you bring up tention on the strings. There are threads on this site to explain this proceedure.
There is plastic, and there is plastic. The Wittner composite material feels pretty crisp and tough under a chisel or a file. Never had a problem with one of those. Wittner quality control is good-- about the only thing I do to them out of the box is run some wax or grease into the screw threads. If there is extra tailgut flapping in the breeze after I get it adjusted, looking like it might want to rattle against something on the underside, I will clip that off, still leaving room for adjustment. No biggie.
The aluminum clone tailpieces are a different story. When I was setting up rental fiddles one after another, I kept a pair of needlenose pliers handy to twist the levers into place, so they wouldn't slip off the end of the adjuster screw. Needed to twist a lever or two on more than half of the tailpieces I saw.
The aluminum clones usually came with brass screws and threaded inserts, that would strip out more than I liked.
Composites are fibers held together by resins, or resins reinforced with fiber. They make airplanes out of the stuff now, using carbon fiber.
I much prefer composite tailpieces over aluminum, and as far as know, aluminum tailpieces are more expensive than Wittners. Given the choice between metal and composite tailpiece with integral fine tuners, I'll go composite every time.
Even better is Perfection Pegs or Pegheds with a wooden or composite tailpiece and maybe one Hill style fine tuner.
Getting the tailgut length right can be important. I usually let a tailgut stretch in overnight with the strings up to pitch, and then make a final adjustment on the afterlength.
Jacroom, I certainley don't make my living as a luthier, nor do I sell violin accessories. Just trying to past along what worked for me. I have'nt experienced any of the problems that transplant refers to, in fact the two tail pieces I made reference to are the smoothest working on any of my fiddles, far better than the screw in add ons. not trying to be argumentitive but just because this tail piece sounds like a good deal, does'nt mean it's not a good deal.
Fiddlephile, those cheap and cheerful aluminum tailpieces work OK, or the boss would have made me swap them all out. Only thing is, there is a fair chance that they will need a little extra massaging to work smooth and slick. No big deal if you are good with your eyes and hands and the occasional squeeze with a pair of pliers.
Perfection pegs can be removed. It may require rebushing the holes in some cases (depending on several factors). But that is not really that big of a deal if you need to do that and is seen on most older instruments eventually. They comes in a variety of sizes so they can closely fity the size of the hole that is there. I have installed several sets over the past few years for clients and they love them.
Adding certain types of fine tuners does change the afterlenght and add quite a bit of mass (the old style ones that I don't know the name of thta stick out past the nut of the tailpiece). some instrumentss don't mind the extra mass, but for most it is a disadvantage, as well as shortining the afterlength (distance from the bridge to where the string is "stopped" on the tailpiece.
Two violins I did had older 1:24 taper and not alot of wood left after cleaning up a few of those holes up. They did not want to get a rebushing at the time and there was marginally enough wood left so that they didn't really need it. If they take those pegs out, and clean the threads off the holes (which I assume you would need to do although I have never reversed the process) , I am pretty sure it will warrent rebushing in a few of those holes at that time. But in most cases it wouldn't be necessary. Since the perfections place no wear or strain on the peg box directly I felt there was enough wood there to let it go as is for now
I'm a Wittner Composite fan myself, but if you want to do a cheap, easy do it yourself job, the individual fine tuners can be bought at most music stores and if you can change a string, you certainly have the skill to install them. They will add weight and may mute your fiddle a bit,depends on the instrument. Some fiddles can stand to be muted a tad. If you are new to the instrument, then this is not a factor anyway and they will make tuning much easier. Proper tuning is much more important than a subtle tone or volume change, especially if you are new to the instrument.