Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (Folkie) » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:16 am

The black "R" tailpiece on my 1991 330/12 exploded about two years ago. Because the black ones from this period are supposedly ticking time bombs, I replaced it with a Winfield Vintage harp tailpiece, made of stainless steel, and much easier to restring. I do miss the elegance of the "R" tailpiece, but I didn't want to have the same problem in the future. Plus that guitar is heavily-modded now anyway.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (Kiddwad57) » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:49 am

A friend of mine has a 330/12, '90s, MB with black trim and hardware that he recently acquired from his father. The R tailpiece was broken at the hinge, so he replaced it with the Winfield harp and is very happy with it for the reasons you mentioned. His dad was an REM fan and the RIC was mostly a wall ornament, so it's nice that it is now getting more actual playing use.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (Folkie) » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:57 am

Mine split at the hinge, too. Small world!
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (electrofaro) » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:18 am

The tailpiece is metal, and unlike what many people think it can break under stress (either short and extreme, or long and constant force).
Even without proof from people I would therefore say it's a fact that they can break... having been national customer service manager and coordinator for a big german car brand I have seen thick metal and vital car parts break like they were glass... explode however? THAT is fiction... due to the string pull parts might start flying around when something snaps, but explode... :lol:
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (Folkie) » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:52 am

Todd Bradshaw recently posted that there are design flaws in some of the "R" tailpieces that make them more likely to "explode." But even Roger McGuinn, in his DVD, warns against excessive string-tension and recommends detuning Rick 12's a half-step. In my experience, though, most players keep their Ricks tuned to concert pitch. As for the terminology, it might be more accurate to say the tailpieces "split" rather than "explode."
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (wim) » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:31 pm

I think the black coated tailpieces are more prone to breaking because of the heat treatment they receive.
Or so I read somewhere from John Hall.
Can't remember where though.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (teb) » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:55 am

In general, I love my Rickenbackers, but R tailpieces are about the sloppiest piece of casting work I can think of on any high-end product - and even substantially worse than those on an awful lot of low end products. From what I've seen, most of them should never have passed inspection before plating and whoever is "deburring" the pieces needs to be retrained. I deal in the Marine industry, and that level of "quality" would be tossed back in the scrap bin and melted down. There simply is no excuse for a $20 cast, plated headlight bezel to be so much better made than a very expensive and important part on a high end instrument.

When I bought my 330/12 I switched the hardware from black to chrome. The first chrome R that I bought from RIC was so bad I sent it back. The replacement was a little better, but still sloppy, substandard casting and finishing. I don't care what anybody says, there simply is no good excuse for a fancy, expensive piece of hardware that looks like this on the back side, and any casting that rough is likely to have some weak spots.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (girllennon76) » Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:12 am

teb wrote:In general, I love my Rickenbackers, but R tailpieces are about the sloppiest piece of casting work I can think of on any high-end product - and even substantially worse than those on an awful lot of low end products. From what I've seen, most of them should never have passed inspection before plating and whoever is "deburring" the pieces needs to be retrained. I deal in the Marine industry, and that level of "quality" would be tossed back in the scrap bin and melted down. There simply is no excuse for a $20 cast, plated headlight bezel to be so much better made than a very expensive and important part on a high end instrument.

When I bought my 330/12 I switched the hardware from black to chrome. The first chrome R that I bought from RIC was so bad I sent it back. The replacement was a little better, but still sloppy, substandard casting and finishing. I don't care what anybody says, there simply is no good excuse for a fancy, expensive piece of hardware that looks like this on the back side, and any casting that rough is likely to have some weak spots.


Good lord, that is awful looking!
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Re:

Postby (steverok) » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:09 pm

ted_williams wrote:Yes, you must drill new holes to switch to the trapeze. And if you ever want to switch back, those holes will not be covered up by the original tailpiece bracket.


You must NOT drill holes in your guitar. I changed my 360-12 from an R to a trapeze tail-piece a dozen years ago. My brother drilled new holes in the bracket for the trapeze tail piece to match the holes already in place. You just need a little machine tooling.
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Re: Re:

Postby (libratune) » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:28 pm

steverok wrote:
ted_williams wrote:Yes, you must drill new holes to switch to the trapeze. And if you ever want to switch back, those holes will not be covered up by the original tailpiece bracket.


You must NOT drill holes in your guitar. I changed my 360-12 from an R to a trapeze tail-piece a dozen years ago. My brother drilled new holes in the bracket for the trapeze tail piece to match the holes already in place. You just need a little machine tooling.


Winfield Vintage offers an "R to Trapeze" conversion kit in which the holes for the trapeze bracket match the existing holes for the "R" tailpiece bracket, so no drilling involved in switching over.

http://winfieldvintage.com/parts/conversion-kits.html
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (larsongs) » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:25 am

In over 20 years of owning R tailpiece Ric's I've never had a problem with either my 360 6 string or my 360 12 string.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (aceonbass) » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:14 am

Some tailpieces break, but most don't. The ones that break cause their owners to complain so often and loudly that you'd think they all break.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (railbob) » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:48 pm

It’s fact alright!
It just seems that 12 strings cause too much stress for the casting. I’ve had two replacements already on my 1989 330/12, both new from Rossetti UK. After signs of stress I have just replaced the most recent one with a Winfield stainless steel trapeze which went straight on without any hole drilling. Not as elegant as the ‘R’ but it’s OK nevertheless.

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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (12_strings) » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:30 pm

Last fall, I took out my 370-12VP to play. As I tuned it, the bottom of the R tailpiece blew off and flew across the room leaving me with a set of TI strings flopping around uselessly. The original R tailpiece is a crummy piece of pig metal. I sent it down to Pic of the Rics and got a newer, better R at my expense of course. I stuck that in the case and installed a stainless Winfield harp tailpiece. Easy to re-string and I won't have to worry about pig metal flying around my living room. The Winfield fits right on the existing bracket, no drilling or alterations.
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Re: Exploding "R" tailpiece? Fact or fiction?

Postby (collin) » Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:20 pm

aceonbass wrote:Some tailpieces break, but most don't. The ones that break cause their owners to complain so often and loudly that you'd think they all break.


+1

It happens often enough for threads like this to be populated with people's experiences. But if everyone posted who has never experienced an exploding 12-string, this thread would be endless.

It's the vocal minority. Not saying this doesn't happen (or that a better replacement system couldn't be arranged), but it's not an epidemic.
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