The Fults Banjo Tailpiece System
Rock Solid Stability and Great Sound
When I was at SPBGMA in early February of 2005, Bob Fults gave me a couple of his tailpieces to try out. These are really nice pieces of equipment.
He has two basic models, the Cumberland, which has a curved "head" and the Blue Ridge, which has a flat "head." These "heads" are made of brass, then tuned by removing some material from underneath them and adding lead to them to balance their sound. Then they are plated.
The two models differ in several ways. The Cumberland is a bit lighter, about the same weight as a Presto tailpiece. The Blue Ridge head weighs about the same as a Price tailpiece. But the construction of these tailpieces is completely different from any other tailpiece I have ever seen. Let me warn you. If you are a purist, you probably won't even try one of these. But if you are a "tweaker," then the Blue Ridge tailpiece will put you right into banjo tweaker Heaven.
The tailpieces attach to the two bracket hooks at the tailpiece end of the banjo. The mount is totally stable, so it will not move from side to side. However, if your neck is out of alignment or there is some other discrepancy, you can adjust the position of the tailpiece before you clamp it into position permanently. What this means is that if you suddenly lose tension on a string, you don't loose all the tension on the other strings. So you won't go completely out of tune. This is also true of when you are using D-tuners.
With the Blue Ridge, you have the option of using "tone pins" and "kicker pins" to do additional sound tweaking. These pins screw into the adjusting screw end of the tailpiece head. They are hollow metal pins that have been filled with various materials. By experimenting with these, you can get different tones out of your banjo.
I have always believed that the only thing that counted with a tailpiece was the angle of the strings as they break over the bridge. As far as I was concerned, the material the tailpiece was made of had little to do with the sound of the instrument. Working with these tailpieces has convinced me otherwise.
To view these tailpieces, which are priced quite reasonably, go to the Fults banjo tailpiece home page
One other thing -- these tailpieces are fully adjustable for height and angle. I should also add that the workmanship leaves nothing to be desired. They look like a fine piece of jewelry sitting in the plastic shipping boxes.
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