Thursday, June 21, 2012

Archtop Guitar Build - Tail Piece

The more I thought about putting the final coats of finish on the guitar, the more I thought that this is a bad idea seeing that the finger rest, pickup, tail piece and bridge are not built yet.  If I finished the guitar I was taking a chance that one of these pieces would have problems, not fit correctly and something would need to be done to the front plate that would require redoing the finish.

The tail piece is made from ebony and I had to wait a while to find a piece on e-bay that was big enough to make both the tail piece and finger rest.  I looked around at different designs and really liked the tail piece design that McCarthy guitars uses.  Instead of having the strings sit through the tail piece in slots, they run their strings through holes bored into the front end of the tail piece. 

A 12 inch radius was cut into the top of the tail piece and holes were bored for the strings.  Corresponding holes were bored for the ends of the strings and channels were cut into the top to allow for easier passage of the strings.  I made mother of pearl inlays that match up in design and form to the fret markers.  The back of the tail piece had holes bored for the tail strap and channels were routed to accept the retaining nuts for the tail strap.  A channel was cut into the back and a fulcrum of ebony was installed.  I also made side bevels to make the tail piece look less "bulky".  I also used some color-tone black dye in water to make the ebony a uniform black.  Here is the end result with a couple of scrap strings in place to aid in checking the angle for the finger rest.


  1. I need to make one for my 7 string. I have the between string distance, but i need the offset value for the holes, 1 string zero offset.

  2. Scott would you share pictures or drawings of this tail piece? thanks

  3. Sorry that I've been slow to see these last two posts.

    Mauro, I would take the string spacing at the nut and at the bridge and measure the distance between them (scale length). I would then take the distance between the bridge and the tail piece and set up a ratio to determine where the holes for the tail piece need to be located. For example say the nut was 1.5" between the outermost strings and the scale length was 24" and the distance between the outer strings at the bridge was 2" and the distance between the bridge and tailpiece was 6 then the distance between the outer strings at the bridge would have the ratio of (2-1.5)/24 = x/6 where x=1/8" for a total of 2 1/8" at the bridge.

    edadmartin: The tail piece is taken straight off of the Benedetto plans so I don't think that I can publish them here.