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1920’s GIbson Window Tailpiece Advice

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Aug 5, 2020 - 10:02:16 AM
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1058 posts since 5/19/2018

So this is outside my wheelhouse.

I have a 1920’s window tailpiece that has metal fatigue right at the 90degree joint. It’s not broken or failed yet, but a few good tunings would probably do it in.

It’s off an ol RB that is 100% original , so I would like to keep it that way.

Anyone out there know of someone who could braze or reinforce the angle?

Any advice would be welcome.

I know that many would say that tailpiece is complete rubbish on Amy and all levels, but I would like to keep it original and I k ow from past experience, another window tailpiece will have me posting this exact same thing in a few years.

Thank you for your answers.






Aug 5, 2020 - 10:22:26 AM

rcc56

USA

3091 posts since 2/20/2016

I'm sure it could be brazed, but the heat might compromise the appearance of the plating. Whether or not it would hold for a long time, I do not know.

I'd just put another tailpiece on the banjo and keep the original in the case pocket. I like originality, but when a part is worn out and no longer serves its purpose, it may be time to retire the part.

Aug 5, 2020 - 10:43:44 AM

1058 posts since 5/19/2018

Rc56- so here is the irony. Was havin a hard time keeping it in tune.

Starting tracking back, pegs, neck - tailpiece. Tailpiece it is so hence to post.

I took that tailpiece off and dropped on a old 60’s Waverly and Boom! That banjo opened right up.

So I really would like to get the original fixed if possible and then keep it In The case, but I am most likely going to keep a newer tailpiece on it for the sound and playability.

Aug 5, 2020 - 10:45:02 AM
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205 posts since 4/17/2011
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I'm in the same situation right now: I just purchased a 100% original '33 TB-1, and the windowframe tailpiece immediately snapped in half. Worse, this banjo lived in Iceland for a while, and there are two Icelandic coins glued onto the part that slides on to cover the string ends. I'm not sure how old the coins are (if they are dated, they are glued dated side down), but it's part of the charm and history of the banjo. I agree that another vintage windowframe would wear pretty quickly. Right now I'm thinking about finding a '30s Presto and gluing the coins on that, maybe? Is there another, more structurally sound vintage solution?

Edited by - BigFiveChord on 08/05/2020 10:45:18

Aug 5, 2020 - 10:50:18 AM
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1058 posts since 5/19/2018

Yep. And just happened on my buddies all original RB-11.

I smell a cottage industry for someone here on the hangout.

 

as for those two coins, keep them on it. I love seeing those old personal touches. 

Edited by - Alvin Conder on 08/05/2020 10:52:01

Aug 5, 2020 - 11:12:23 AM
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Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5259 posts since 10/12/2009

I had a jeweler silver solder one that was cracked at the 90° bend, she managed to "flux" enough silver solder into the crack to hold it, without over-heating the tailpiece and damaging /dis-coloring the nickel plate.

It seems to be holding up, going on 3 + years. It's on a 1929 TB1 that I converted to 5 string.

Aug 5, 2020 - 11:26:35 AM
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189 posts since 4/17/2015

Perhaps a jeweler, or someone with those skills, could silver solder a (brass) patch on the reverse.

Maybe similar process, but I think a plate /patch might have more integrity than the brazing, without adding enough extra as to alter either the appearance or relationship of the parts.

Still a high heat operation, but very strong and perhaps less invasive than brazing.
Although it might also still have an impact on plating.

This works well on bracelets where there is quite a bit of stress bending putting them on and pulling them off.

I have a very early "No-Knot" which is in need of such treatment, so I will look forward to hearing of other's experiences.

I typed this reply while RioStat was making the same suggestion (I saw when I posted) which appears above. About the only difference was the suggestion on a patch in addition to the silver solder.

Edited by - Jarvie on 08/05/2020 11:30:28

Aug 5, 2020 - 2:56:32 PM
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1122 posts since 8/10/2009

My opinion only:

Get a nice PW Presto. It will hold up better and will outperform the window every day.

This will also help you to preserve what is left of the original tailpiece.

In the end... you will spend a few dollars more, but you will be happier without having to worry about breaking off those fragile “fingers” and the joints popping unexpectedly. On that note... it may even save your life! (Okay, maybe a little too far that time).

Aug 5, 2020 - 3:02:16 PM
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1122 posts since 8/10/2009

For the record... I was in the same situation with my RB1. I have my window TP sitting one the shelf and a presto on my banjo. Like you... I wanted originality, but I gave into playability (with rationalization through preservation).

Edited by - Smelly Old Gibby on 08/05/2020 15:03:07

Aug 5, 2020 - 7:53:24 PM
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GStump

USA

377 posts since 9/12/2006

If you can find a good jeweler who knows how to silver solder - i mean PROPERLY, or even a very good welding shop near you that has someone on hand who knows how to silver solder small parts, and you have that done - the part will hold up from now on. YES - it is very possible that the required heat will tarnish or discolor the plating, but such is life. the cover on the tailpiece may very well hide most of the discoloration IF you are lucky and the discolored portion isn't too large. I have had several of the window pane TP's, and also presto tailpieces, repaired in this manner, so I speak from personal experience. WORKS GREAT. as they say down south, tastes great, less filling....

Aug 5, 2020 - 11:20:48 PM

10819 posts since 10/27/2006

If that Waverly tailpiece was ever strung up without its cover, the question was not if it would break but when. My Bacon had one of those.

I don't see the cover for this one, however. The ridges that hold it on are easy to see.

Edited by - mikehalloran on 08/05/2020 23:23:15

Aug 6, 2020 - 4:50:52 AM

1058 posts since 5/19/2018

Thanks for all of the suggestions.

I’ll go the jewelers route. I know the process and do know one who is a very experienced repair person for vintage pieces.

I do have the cover so I’m sure the repair with be minimally invasive to the look.

Aug 6, 2020 - 6:28:07 AM
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5495 posts since 9/21/2007

Just for some fun trivia, this tailpiece was put on the market in January of 1922 by A. D. Grover.  It was offered in two configurations, the OP design was for wire strings, the other was for attaching gut or silk strings without knots.

https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1922-74-7/38/

https://patents.google.com/patent/US1589755

I have not seen one of the gut string versions, does anyone have one they could share photos of?

Aug 6, 2020 - 8:16:18 AM
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13245 posts since 10/30/2008

I've had TWO pre-war Grover clamshell tailpieces that cracked right at the bottom "L" bend tab where the fastening bolt connects it to the L tab in the rim. Not cracked all the way across thank goodness, but I could see the crack starting on one side and headed toward total failure. I was horrified!

I took them to a jewelry store who had a good repairman, and he silver soldered it so that it holds fine. They use a tiny tiny torch to keep the heat to the smallest possible area -- flame smaller than the tip of a sharpened pencil. Most of the gold plate surrounding the crack survived, but not all... But I was satisfied. Getting a pre-war replacement would have been HUNDREDS of dollars. These tailpieces are just stamped brass sheet, and if you yarn down too hard on that fastening bolt, the brass weakens QUICK anyplace it was bent in the manufacturing process.

This is one reason why I think the Kerschner is a much better tailpiece. It's not stamped brass sheet.

Good luck with yours.  Your other choice is simply to buy another one.  They come up for sale fairly often, because people upgrade their banjo to Presto, as mentioned above.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 08/06/2020 08:17:11

Aug 6, 2020 - 11:20:35 AM

2568 posts since 4/16/2003

Alvin wrote:
"I took that tailpiece off and dropped on a old 60’s Waverly and Boom! That banjo opened right up. 
So I really would like to get the original fixed if possible and then keep it In The case, but I am most likely going to keep a newer tailpiece on it for the sound and playability."

Sometimes "old parts" are nuthin' more than just "old parts".
And -- as you have discovered -- their best "value" is when left "in the string pocket".

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