The Frirsz tailpiece features three very innovative design elements that dramatically improve the performance of a string instrument:
• The open string area below the bridge is progressively increased from the treble to the bass strings.
• The leading edge has a lower, flatter profile
• There is a twist in the tailpiece that adds down force to the bridge on the bass side.
These design elements yield the following benefits:
• Improved clarity, projection, and sensitivity
• Enhanced balance across all four strings
• Stronger, richer bass notes
• Improved resonance
• Significant reduction or elimination of wolf tones
While these innovative devices may look simple with their organic curves and rich finishes, the principles on which they are designed are scientifically robust.
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How a string instrument produces sound...
To comprehend how the Frirsz tailpiece works it is important to have a basic understanding of how a string instrument produces sound. When a string is bowed or plucked it vibrates. Most of the energy from these vibrations is transferred through the bridge to the body causing the body to vibrate, or resonate, at very nearly the same frequency as the string. However, many parts of the instrument, including the string sections below the bridge, are set into motion causing sympathetic vibrations, or more commonly, harmonics. It is the combination of all of this energy resonating and projecting from the instrument that determines the overall timbre of the audible tone.
The harmonics generated by a quality instrument are generally pleasant and desirable, as they add warmth and richness to the primary vibrational tone. However, some instruments can produce harmonics that are slightly off pitch and out of phase with the primary note. This condition, most common on violas and cellos when certain notes are played, creates a very undesirable effect that is referred to as a wolf tone. The wolf tone is a dissonant sound that is often accompanied by an audible pulse. While luthiers and musicians have tried to address this issue for over 300 years, most popular solutions to this problem compromise the overall performance of the instrument. The Frirsz tailpiece offers a no-compromise solution.
Improving the balance...
The Frirsz tailpiece is designed so that the open string length below the bridge is progressively longer for each lower pitch string. This feature provides more string area for the longer wavelength bass tones to resonate. The Frirsz tailpiece balances the instrument by adding clarity and strength to the bass tones and creating a clear tonal path for the entire range of the instrument.
Fighting the wolf...
The lengthening of the bass strings virtually eliminates all wolf tones by changing the harmonics of the instrument. The sympathetic vibrations are still present – and very much needed to get the most projection and tonal richness from the instrument – but the unpleasant harmonics are eliminated.
There's a twist...
Study the Frirsz tailpiece closely and you will notice a built in "twist" in the area where the strings attach. This subtle yet ingenious feature positions the bass strings lower than the treble strings, which redistributes the down force on the bridge. This, along with the lower profile leading edge, significantly increases the efficiency of the bridge and enhances the volume and projection of the instrument.