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May 16, 2020 - 1:47:33 PM
148 posts since 10/8/2018

I have recently acquired a couple go turn of the century elite tail pieces and was wondering if they can be used with light steel strings? I know they were designed for gut strings and I use nylon classics on my old Farland that has an elite, but I have seen pics of steel strings on and elite but I've also seen pics of Elites that have lost posts and was wondering it that was from using steel strings. I have a 1930's Harmony tenor that I changed to 5 string by swapping the tenor neck for a 1950's harmony 5 string steel reinforced neck and that is what I was thinking about using the Elite tailpiece on. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

May 16, 2020 - 2:17:54 PM
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656 posts since 5/31/2004

Some tenor banjos (W.A. Cole, Orpheum, others) from the 1910s used Elite tailpieces for steel strings. They should be OK for steel.

May 18, 2020 - 9:26:49 AM

148 posts since 10/8/2018

quote:
Originally posted by vintagetenor

Some tenor banjos (W.A. Cole, Orpheum, others) from the 1910s used Elite tailpieces for steel strings. They should be OK for steel.


Thanks for that info!

May 18, 2020 - 11:36:08 AM

5399 posts since 9/21/2007

I’ll post a photo this evening of one I have with two studs pulled off.

May 18, 2020 - 11:46:16 AM

656 posts since 5/31/2004

Joel, do you mean that with two studs removed the Elite tailpieces are better suited for four steel strings? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding.

May 18, 2020 - 12:35:52 PM

5399 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by vintagetenor

Joel, do you mean that with two studs removed the Elite tailpieces are better suited for four steel strings? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding.


I mean that I have seen many that have had studs pulled off by the tension of steel wire strings.  I got one in a parts box.

They also tend to get crushed or bent out of shape.   Don't know if this is from the strings or people dropping their banjos on the tailpiece.

May 18, 2020 - 12:43:31 PM

656 posts since 5/31/2004

Oh, yes, I see. I have one or two of those as well. Someone repaired one for me once by adding a couple of studs to it.

I thought I'd add this photo. The rear posts seem to be much sturdier than those on top.


 

May 18, 2020 - 6:56:28 PM
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1604 posts since 1/13/2012

The primary reason that they loose studs is that they were poorly manufactured. The studs aren't peened in place nearly as well as No Knot studs, so loosen and fall out with much less provocation.

May 18, 2020 - 7:10:36 PM
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7389 posts since 8/28/2013

Although these were used on tenor orpheums and therefore one might think they'll take the tension of steel strings, I've noted that a large number of Orpheums I've encountered no longer have them, possibly because the extra tension broke them.

May 18, 2020 - 8:54:35 PM

5399 posts since 9/21/2007

In the two examples below, the one on the right (that is missing the studs) Is actually made of thicker metal with heavier studs that are riveted on in a more secure manner.

There are plenty of tailpieces made for steel strings, I don’t see any reason to use these. They are no longer made. It would be better to keep it in the case (or sell it for someone to use properly).

I have a feeling that the reason they were used early on was due to not knowing that they would eventually fail, or to save money by using parts they already source.




May 19, 2020 - 8:31:47 AM

656 posts since 5/31/2004

Makes sense, Joel. The makers who used them on 4-string banjos might or might not have suspected they'd eventually cease holding up. They just knew Elites worked at the time.

But I've also seen 100 year-old tenors with them intact without a problem. Now, whether they'd been at full tension for a century, I don't know.

May 19, 2020 - 8:46:36 AM

5385 posts since 12/20/2005

Do you know if Elite made a 6-string tailpiece ?
Seems like they would since there were a number of 6-string banjos being made in that time.

May 24, 2020 - 10:21:19 PM

148 posts since 10/8/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

Do you know if Elite made a 6-string tailpiece ?
Seems like they would since there were a number of 6-string banjos being made in that time.


I don't know for sure, but I have never seen a 6 string Elite. The four I have are all for 5 strings.

May 25, 2020 - 10:46:44 AM

Paul R

Canada

12951 posts since 1/28/2010

Just for what it's worth, I had an Orpheum from about '78 until I traded it last year, and it has the original Elite tailpiece. I used steel strings, both loop end and ball end (shown). No damage at all.


 

May 26, 2020 - 10:00:17 PM

148 posts since 10/8/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Just for what it's worth, I had an Orpheum from about '78 until I traded it last year, and it has the original Elite tailpiece. I used steel strings, both loop end and ball end (shown). No damage at all.


Thanks! Always good to hear from someone with experience to share! What type of strings did you use and did you wrap around the top posts or just use them as guides?

May 26, 2020 - 10:44:53 PM

Paul R

Canada

12951 posts since 1/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by TriMD180
quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Just for what it's worth, I had an Orpheum from about '78 until I traded it last year, and it has the original Elite tailpiece. I used steel strings, both loop end and ball end (shown). No damage at all.


Thanks! Always good to hear from someone with experience to share! What type of strings did you use and did you wrap around the top posts or just use them as guides?


I usually used D'Addario light gauge (there's no truss rod in the neck, so I wouldn't go to medium). The strings were attached to the bottom posts with the uppers used to guide them. I found ball end strings much easier to install. In case it's not clear in the photo, there are holes in the posts to thread the string through.

May 27, 2020 - 11:17:20 AM

148 posts since 10/8/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Paul R
quote:
Originally posted by TriMD180
quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Just for what it's worth, I had an Orpheum from about '78 until I traded it last year, and it has the original Elite tailpiece. I used steel strings, both loop end and ball end (shown). No damage at all.


Thanks! Always good to hear from someone with experience to share! What type of strings did you use and did you wrap around the top posts or just use them as guides?


I usually used D'Addario light gauge (there's no truss rod in the neck, so I wouldn't go to medium). The strings were attached to the bottom posts with the uppers used to guide them. I found ball end strings much easier to install. In case it's not clear in the photo, there are holes in the posts to thread the string through.


Thanks!! I have a couple extra of these Elites and I am using light strings on the 1930 Harmony that I was thinking of using it on.. I went to your pics to see  what kind of a Lange you had. Looks like a very nice one. I have a1900  R&L made A.A. Farland  that I love to play but  I use nygut strings on it. I also saw that you were a bicyclist as well!  Thanks for the help! 

May 27, 2020 - 6:33:30 PM

Paul R

Canada

12951 posts since 1/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by TriMD180
quote:
Originally posted by Paul R
quote:
Originally posted by TriMD180
quote:
Originally posted by Paul R

Just for what it's worth, I had an Orpheum from about '78 until I traded it last year, and it has the original Elite tailpiece. I used steel strings, both loop end and ball end (shown). No damage at all.


Thanks! Always good to hear from someone with experience to share! What type of strings did you use and did you wrap around the top posts or just use them as guides?


I usually used D'Addario light gauge (there's no truss rod in the neck, so I wouldn't go to medium). The strings were attached to the bottom posts with the uppers used to guide them. I found ball end strings much easier to install. In case it's not clear in the photo, there are holes in the posts to thread the string through.


Thanks!! I have a couple extra of these Elites and I am using light strings on the 1930 Harmony that I was thinking of using it on.. I went to your pics to see  what kind of a Lange you had. Looks like a very nice one. I have a1900  R&L made A.A. Farland  that I love to play but  I use nygut strings on it. I also saw that you were a bicyclist as well!  Thanks for the help! 


Hey, you taught elementary school, too! I taught in Toronto for 32 years, retired in '02.

The Orpheum is probably before 1915. I traded it in last year for the Jake Neufeld. I got a Neufeld around '77, traded it in for a resonator banjo, then needed an open-back so got the Orpheum in '78. Funny, but this Neufeld comes from '78. I've re-strung the two banjos with medium gauge strings. I wouldn't do it with an old one with no truss rod, though.

Funny as well - I traded in the Orpheum at the Twelfth Fret in Toronto in March of '19. I was back there this March and the Orpheum was still there - probably because they never posted it on-line.

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