Zinc vs. Bell Brass tailpieces

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by edguidry, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. edguidry

    edguidry Senior Member

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    Oct 7, 2013
    Hello there,

    Got a 2016 Gibson Firebird, upgraded the bridge and tailpiece to Faber, including the aluminum tailpiece.
    Used it like this for a while, but felt I lost some sustain. I'm thinking the aluminum works on a Les Paul because it balances out against the dense, heavy body.

    So I recently put the stock zinc tailpiece back on. Wow. Sustain is back, but I do miss the immediacy and punch of the aluminum.

    I've seen some comparisons between Aluminum and Bell Brass tailpieces, but not between Zinc and Bell Brass. Or what about steel (Callaham?)
  2. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member

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    Mar 12, 2009
    It's not just the material but the processing method, also. Cast metals will sound very different than cold processed milled billet or heat treaded metals or extruded or stamped metals, etc. There are also at least dozens of various alloys that fall under "brass" or "steel" etc. so you really must compare a single part to another single part, as generalizations don't account for all the various differences.

    There are many ways to voice a guitar/rig.
    6077dino likes this.
  3. AbbeSauniere

    AbbeSauniere Senior Member

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    May 4, 2010
    Had a brass tailpiece on a MIJ ES-335. A really lightweight and bright guitar. Had it on there for all of 30 minutes.
    Very bell like, but over emphasized the highs and lows. Was like nails on a chalkboard for me.

    Aluminum was nice and airy, but robbed too much of the lows. Took some sustain and punch away.

    The stock zinc tailpiece sounds more balanced than the others. Brass tailpiece was a Philadelphia Luthiers and the aluminum was a Faber.
  4. moreles

    moreles Senior Member

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    Apr 16, 2011
    I've found a wide range of "fit" for stoptails, independent of the metal used. I find that a tight, close fit creates good coupling which retains overtones and sustain, while the wobbly, inexact "fit" of some of the units I tried (including some pricey ones) did not accomplish those goals. I feel that this fit -- or lack of it -- is a significant factor. I use threaded, screw-down studs/bolts and skateboard washers to eliminate all play entirely, and that enhances tone big time. I have no idea why some of these parts are so imprecisely made.
  5. TM1

    TM1 Senior Member

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    Sep 27, 2007
    6077dino likes this.
  6. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    Apr 16, 2012
    Mainly as if they were very precise then even the slightest drilling out of place or out of square with each other would render the tailpiece 'unfitable'.
    Given they were being drilled into a carved top that was/is a distinct possibility.
    cooljuk likes this.

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