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Instruments Climate Case Luthier Supplies Tailpieces Inlay

Allen Cast Tailpiece Reviews

We have labored for many years to bring you the best in cast instrument tailpieces. We are constantly working to make improvements. These are the finest cast mandolin tailpieces available,  and are a high quality addition to your instrument!!  Available in a variety of jewelry quality finishes to match your present hardware. Not only beautiful in design, they are also an important factor with regards to improving volume,  tone & sustain. 

 Click here to see a side by side comparison of the various finishes available, including the patina after several years of aging.

All models are made in the USA!   

  • One piece cast design (no more lost, stuck or rattling coverplates!!)
  • Improved Tone, Volume & Sustain!
  • Improved string hitch (easier string changes!!)
  • Holes on the Allen model match standard pattern (no modification of instrument!)
  • End is radiused to fit instrument contour better.
  • Custom engraving available on some models
  • We also have a 10 string model. TR-10

 

 
TR - Series Allen Traditional  Design I have been asked by many over the years for a traditional looking tailpiece in one of our one piece solid cast designs. We introduced the first TR model in 2001. We have several variations based on our original TR design. 
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TR-1
 
I received the tailpiece yesterday and it puts the stock Gibson unit on my F5L to shame. It fit right on and the new strings - a brand I hadn't tried yet for mandolin - were wonderful. I have better tone and more volume along with the good looks - thanks!

 

Ron writes....

I wanted to let you know how incredibly pleased I am with your TR1 tailpiece. I have a 1983 Gilchrist F5 mandolin that I've been playing for the past 20 years. A couple of weeks ago as I was re-stringing it one of the prongs on my old standard tailpiece just gave out, this happened to me one time before about 15 minutes before I had to be on stage! I'm not the kind of player that keeps up with the newest and latest stuff for mando's but I figured there had to be a better design out there now than the old Gibson tailpiece. ....... I installed it on my Gilchrist and WOW!!!! I was astonished at the increase of volume, and it seemed to bring out more of the highs and increased the sustain. I LOVE this tailpiece! Thanks for making such a great product!

 
TR-3
"Hey Randy. I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that Jesse just had your tailpiece installed. My god what a difference!!! It enhanced both the tone and volume of what was already an awesome instrument. I just played it last weekend, and I'm blown away. I'm sure you'll be hearing from him. Thanks. Mike Cleveland" Michael Cleveland and the Flamekeepers

"purchase was for an mk dragonfly" .. "just wanted to let you know that the tailpiece is wonderful" Michael Ryan


The tailpiece is safely here, and quite easily I managed to install it :-)  Although I have been satisfied with the sound of my Old Wave mandolin, it just sounds so much better now!  It has more depth and resonance and sounds more articulate and - yes- alive.  What a good investment!
 I would also thank you for very quick and to-the-point answers to my questions before I bought the TR-3.
 Keep up the good work! Ragnar
 
 
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TR-2 
 
It is fantastic. It took away some of the metallic sound and the tone is more clear now. Thanks, again, Keith

I received my new TR-2 via UPS Friday afternoon and installed it later that night. First, the construction looked great, flawless. Like a nice piece of jewelry. I put it on the Summit with a new set of strings (same brand I'm used to) and played for about 20 min. Saturday morning, I practiced some getting warmed up and that evening, at the singing, I was very pleased with what I was hearing. It looks great, sounds great, string changing is easy and it's comfortable on my arm. The other piece I was using left the wound loop ends open to my arm/sleeve and string changing was a bear.


i bought a tr-2 tailpiece from you a while ago, which totally transformed my mandolin.  it rings like a bell and gets better every time i take it out.  i'm a serously satisfied customer.


I just put one on my Collings MT-2. Great improvement.


Randy,

Received the tail piece Wednesday. Installation was a breeze. Played a gig Friday night. Guess what? No more scratches on my arm! The tone seems a little beefier. I think the "sweet spot" has moved a  little closer to the bridge. All in all a cool addition to my mando. Regards Ernie


I put a TR-2 tailpiece on my mandolin, a Michael Kelly Legacy Solid, and what a difference it made. My mando midrange sounded not great, but there wasn't any bass or treble. I kept on changing strings to different brands and sizes and nothing worked. Now I have a full range of tone, great bass, midrange and treble and I can feel the mando vibrate which it never did before. I was ready to sell it and get
another one, but not now. Great product, it fixed everything on my mando you said it would, should be on every mandolin.

Ralph Julian
Asheville, NC

 

TR-10   10 string
TR-10
 
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AR-2 
 
I received the tailpiece yesterday. Wow! Talk about a beautiful design. Simply stunning - the workmanship is really impressive. I installed it immediately, and the difference in tone is amazing - it sustains better and just rings so much clearer and brighter. But the single most impressive difference is the look - I hadn't realized how cheap the old stamped tailpiece made the whole mandolin looked until I put the new on. My wife noticed immediately how good it looked - it just classes up the whole instrument. Anyway - thank you for such a beautiful made piece of art. It was well worth the money.  Thanks!  David ........ Centennial, CO
Hello Randy,

My name is Chuck Jones, and I recently purchased a Michael Kelly Evolution mandolin that had been upgraded with an Allen AR-2 tailpiece. It's a great instrument, and I credit the tailpiece with giving it an even brighter tone. I'm very pleased.

"I have installed the ar-2 tailpiece and love it. it makes the Kentucky 350s really sing, great tone and loud, will be purchasing a new tailpiece for my Kentucky 700s model soon. thanks for a great product.


" I just wanted to say that the AR-2 tailpiece I got from you last year has transformed my MK mandolin - sound and looks alike. When my mando playing friend from Glasgow visited me recently, he was blown away by the sound and on getting back home he went into Jimmy Moon's shop to get an Allen TP for his Fylde mandolin. Many thanks. David, UK "

 

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Photo of hand engraved model click here
MR-2 
This is the model used on better models of Breedlove Mandolins
 
About six months ago my Epi MM-30 was mouldering away in the closet because 1) I couldn't get the thing intonated, 2) the tuners crapped pout & I could no longer tune it, and 3) I hated the tone. It was way too trebly. You couldn't really hear the wound strings and the plain ones sounded so bright that you could have shaved with the tone. A friend of mine named Peter Dragge (a luthier with a heart of gold) put new tuners and a new ebony bridge on it. Voila! Problems #1 and #2 solved. But the new ebony bridge didn't really improve the tone. So, I decided to spend $85.00 on a new Monteleone style tailpiece made by Randy Allen rather than $1000.00 on a new mando.

What a difference! Problem #3 solved! The tone was improved 100%. It's richer, more complex, and the wound strings have come out of aural hiding. It now sounds like a cross between a Celtic mando and a BG mando, albeit a little too quiet. I STILL can't compete with that damn b*nj* in my jam circle. You'll have to ask Randy why this works so well. I ahve my theories, but I'm not a luthier. Daniel


Mr.Allen, I just purchased one of your tail pieces from FQMS. I was so impressed when I put it on my KM-675 Kentucky. It brought my mandolin to life. I just wanted to thank you for making such a great tail piece. The tail piece that I bought was the Monteleone style in nickel. Thanks again and God bless, Kenneth Newell


My compliments on the tailpiece. It is a beautiful piece of work and a nice addition to the instrument. Unfortunately I can't give a before and after testimonial since there wasn't one before, but the instrument sounds great, was easy to string, and is just darn nice looking with that nickel plated string holder.

Thanks for your help.

Ron


Randy:

The Monteleone-style mandolin tailpiece you recently shipped to me arrived this past Monday. Thanks for shipping it so fast.

Greg Smits


It might produce a better sound, as well, though Lawrence Smart makes a better mando than Gibson, in my experience, so I'm not comparing apples to apples there. The good thing is that basically the Allen tailpiece holds the string for you--you don't have to worry about keeping the tension on it. Fewer scratches to the mando that way, less worry for the player in a hurry.

Greg D.


I have a Phil Crump bouzouki (B-II model) with an Allen tailpiece, and I love both the instrument and the tailpiece. Since I usually use guitar strings on the bouzouki, but have, in a pinch needed to use loop-end strings, the tailpiece's ability to let me use ball-end -or-

loop-end strings is fantastic. And, although I can't quantify it

scientifically, I feel that your cast tailpieces contribute something that I like very much to the sounds of mando-family instruments that use them.

 

RS-2 on

Allen Reso

click on photo to enlarge
RS-2  Resophonic  Resonator / Bouzouki
 
Steve writes re RS-2: "Just received my Allen Resophonic RS2 tailpiece Bottom end is dramatically improved as is the sustain Best upgrade short of a new high end resophonic!"

"Thanks for the super quick service and great product. I installed the tail piece last night on my national resonator. The guitar had a great sound before, but I can't believe the difference, both louder and clearer tones."


I just installed your cast tailpiece on my circa 1980 metal bodied Dobro. What drove me to get it was honestly I was just fed up with string-wrangling with the stamped piece every time I changed strings. I figured there had to be SOMETHING better in that regard in the world now. I was ever so slightly skeptical about the tone and volume claims on your site, but the string routing improvement alone was enough to sell me. HOWEVER - I was astonished at the difference in tone that was unleashed! It sounds way more "open" than it did with the standard tailpiece. Much fuller tone.  I can't wait to gig and record with it. I use this guitar in a bottleneck Blues style (roundneck).


I received the RS-2 today.  It is a beautiful work of art and the install was very easy.  Since I put on a new set of strings, everything sounds great, but I do think that I have more volume and sustain.  I like the fact that the 1st and 6th string come off the back of the saddle in a straight line.  Thanks for the quick ship.  Ron


It's about time I put into the mix on Randy's new Allen RS-2  tailpiece.  I took him up
on the deal and he got it down the coast to me fast.  I put it on my
cheapo (and only) "Galveston" (read Korean, possibly Samick) box that
I've been improving on the installment plan (install this, install
that...).

First of all I was surprised at how small it is.  About half the length
and width of my original stamped tail piece.

Second of all, it's a thing of beauty!  I got the basic bronze one.  It
looks good with the imitation Hound Dog sunburst top and Mahogany
plywood sides.  It contrasts real nice with the chrome cover plate.

Third the sound.  The reso is now louder.  I don't know if part of it is
opening up the area covered by the old tail piece or the slight change
in the angle of attack for the strings over the bridge and out farther
to the shorter tail piece.  To me the trebles aren't as harsh
acoustically now as they were before.  Yet when I rip a muted cord (my
name for it, the ignorance of only having played reso a few months) it
seems to have more grab.  Again, my suspicion is that this is due to
opening up almost a quarter of the sound holes in the cover plate.

My delay in reporting out on my impressions is because as I was
stringing the critter back up one of my tuner gears striped.  I told you
the thing was a cheapo.  I got a new set of tuners on after doweling the
old mounting holes.  I got to play the critter for about four hours and
then went on travel for 10 days.  Today I played out with the band I've
been sitting in with and got a lot of comments on the looks and the
sound.  I highly endorse it!  Oh and the Kathy Fox / Jim Beeler CD is
killer too!


While I was putting in Randy's tailpiece the mounting hole didn't line
up and it looked like tailpiece was better suited to having it's own
mounting screw, separate from the strap pin.  So I doweled the old
whole, mounted the tail piece and remounted the strap pin slightly to
the side, staying on the end block.  This works out better for me as far
as positioning the guitar around a little farther to left.  Much more
comfortable.  The jack for the pickup cable is centered on the end block
and below the tailpiece.  I guess it sounds cluttered but it looks
pretty good.

After I replace the cover plate, there won't be much left that is
original other than the body, neck and frets.  I've had fun tweaking on
it though and I've learned a lot.  I recommend the experience.

Well enough of my long wind.  Time to pay some bills so I can get back
to pickin'!  Thanks for such a great list out there!

Bob Bueling
Port Hueneme (Ventura County) Ca.

Proud to be a High-Tech Red Neck!
 



Hi Randy,

Ron Bednar here. Great talking with you the other day!Just short note about the RS-2 tailpiece I recently bought. Wow, what a difference it made on my reso, it really opened that guitar up! A marked increase in volume, richness of tone and sustain...and it looks very spiffy cool too! You did a great job on it, everyone should have one, that's my honest opinion. Thanks a bunch for the best tailpiece ever!

Cheers,

 Ron


 

Randy;

That Allen RS-2  Tailpiece is amazing. I tried it on my D60 and a friends National and Beard. I could not believe the difference it made on the sound of my D60 and the National. It really wasn't very impactful on the Beard. The improvement of the sound on the other two were unbelievable. I had no idea such an otherwise not thought of part could play such an integral part in sound performance. I want one.

 

Thanks for the test drive, Randy.

Benny Barrett

Dallas, Texas

Hello.  Here's my (lengthy and belated) review of the Allen RS-2 Tailpiece I tried out earlier this month.

First, much thanks to Randy Allen for sending the review sample.  With the number of requests he received for tailpiece tryouts, he sent a couple more out for parallel processing, so I received my tailpiece quickly.  Another example of the cooperative spirit in the reso community.

My first impression is of a finely crafted piece of hardware, nicely styled and beautifully rhodium (lighter/brighter than nickel; warmer than chrome) plated.  The tailpiece is quite solid, rigid and weighty.  Two design features make this part easy to retrofit on the guitar:  the slotted hole for the mounting screw allows height (and therefore string angle) adjustment, and the string spacing matches that at the saddle for straight string pull (these are both great improvements over the RS-1).  The RS-2 is shorter than the standard dobro tailpiece; that combined with the styling and plating present a non-traditional look, while exposing more coverplate openings.

Installation was straightforward as expected.  I couldn't use the screw from my Dunlop Straplok strap button (too large in diameter).  So, I used the supplied screw with a toothpick to take up the slack (no glue required, but I'd plug and re-drill for a permanent installation).  Of course, I may be the only person in Reso-land that uses the Dunlop Straplok instead of the Schaller system, so it may be a moot point.

I installed the RS-2 on my 1985 OMI Model 27, with Quarterman cone, bone nut, ebony/maple saddles (Tim Scheerhorn set it up once before I bought it, but I've had the cone out a few times since, so I guess that doesn't count…).  I mounted the tailpiece so it cleared the coverplate by about 3/32".  The red damping strip on the underside of the tailpiece is too far back to be effective on my instrument, but the slot allowed a mounting which cleared the coverplate.  I may have increased the string break angle by about a degree or so.

The first thing I thought I noticed was more sustain, but after replacing the original tailpiece, I realized that was I was hearing was a stronger, more solid fundamental (the sustain was about 15 seconds either way).  The range of solid tone moved up from about the 7th fret to about the 10th fret.  I thought the sound was louder and punchier.

One interesting observation is the significant string length between the tailpiece and saddle.  With more string length, the strings behind the bridge vibrate louder than behind the longer standard tailpiece.  On my dobro, the pitch was very close to a C chord, two octaves above a fifth fret bar position.  The sympathetic vibrations may have helped the sound up the neck (above the 7th fret) when I played in G and C, but not as much when I played in A.  I tried damping the strings behind the bridge; the sound became drier and less pleasant to my ears.  Please note that the pitch behind the bridge may be different on other instruments, based on the length from the back of the saddle to the leading edge of the tailpiece.

Summary:  The Allen RS-2 tailpiece is well made.  I found the tailpiece improved the overall tone of my instrument.  It looks good if not traditional.  If I were going to keep my 27 (another good story for another time), I would purchase this tailpiece.

As always, your mileage may vary, close cover before striking, imaginary luthier on closed track, etc.

Dave Ross

  

I received Randy Allen's new tailpiece with the wider string spacing today (Monday, September 20th). First of all, I must say it looks *nice*. All around good looks and nice finish.  There are three or four features I really liked even before I installed it on a guitar.

(1.) The way the strings come out from underneath the leading edge. That is good in my book. It gives a positive "jumping off" point to the bridge.

(2.) The slotted hole for the mounting screw. This allows for a couple of different things. One thing (the original intention, I believe) is it allows the tailpiece to line up with screw holes that are not quit "standard." You have some leeway there. The other thing is that the slotted screw hole allows you to place a piece of leather under the tailpiece should you want to raise it up to adjust your down pressure to the cone.

(3.) The tailpiece is about an inch shorter than a stock tailpiece. This gives more string length behind the bridge, and makes for "good vibrations" for the cone. Since the tailpiece is shorter, there will be more of a drop in the string height from bridge to tailpiece, especially as the strings exit from beneath. If you fear that the drop is too much, you just place a piece of leather under the tailpiece about even with the ball ends of the strings. I did this to see how it would work out, and it works just fine, thanx to that slotted screw hole. Of course, there is the ability to add one or two more strings with this tailpiece as well. You got your six, seven and eight stringer right here, folks.  I figured the best test would be on my OMI D 60.

It sounds great as is, so I wondered what the result would be. The tailpiece is no trouble to install. There may be some who complain about the fact that you have to thread the strings through from the back, but that is a non-problem for me. I did space it up to sort of match the string drop I had before, since it was where I had found that I liked it. The first thing I noticed (other than the spiffy good looks) was that it made my guitar more fun to play.( Most will know what I mean...there are lots of great Dobros, but some are simply *more fun* as soon as you start to pick...). The tailpiece seems to have given my D 60 a more lively action. I *really* liked that. It had an improved response over the entire range, but especially in the Bass. I would not hesitate to say that I found a definite improvement in my guitar after installing the Allen RS-2  tailpiece.

I LIKE IT.

The only thing I don't like is the fact that I gotta take it off and send it on to Benny Barrett. Hang on, Benny, relief is on the way...

D - S – W

For those of you who remember Randy Allen's great offer to circulate a couple of his new reso tailpieces among the list members, well, I finally received one and had a chance to try it out. Thought I'd post my thoughts here as a thank you to Randy and to let you all know my take on the Allen RS-2  tailpiece.

 

First of all, the RS-2 is a thing of beauty. Heavy, beautifully-finished, and a real eye-catcher. It would be worth having one just as an eye-pleaser. When it arrived, the finish looked wonderful except for some markings on the matte-finish behind the rearmost 2 extra string holes. Don't know if this was from strings being installed, but I don't think so. More like somebody doodled on it with a pencil. A small thing, and shouldn't be an issue. The rhodium plating is quite striking--not an exact color match for nickel or chrome finishes, so it stands out.  (I'd love to see the bronze tailpiece, just for comparison.)  I ended up trying it out on a circa-1971 Dobro.

I recall someone saying they thought that feeding strings through the holes on an Allen tailpiece was more inconvenient than slipping them into the slots of a traditional tailpiece. With the exception of the rare occasion when you're actually changing and comparing tailpieces and trying to save the strings, I disagree. It was great not having to use a piece of masking tape to hold the string in the slot while I fiddled at the far end to get the string on. I find the Allen design a definite feature and not a bug.

Others have described the design of the tailpiece, so I'll just describe what it did for my Dobro. It definitely improved the lows, while the highs were a bit softer--not a bad thing, just a mellowing of some of that Dobro shrillness. In the midrange, it somehow seemed to eliminate that Dobro funkiness--coupled with that new Quarterman cone, it sounded a lot more like an open soundwell guitar than I ever expected that instrument to sound. Now, I happen to like that funky tone on the Dobro, but the sound coming from that Dobro was very pleasing.  Makes me really wonder what I could have done with a screw hole in the right place and a little judicious adjustment.

I plugged a microphone into my computer and made some quick and dirty recordings, first with the RS-2 installed, then with the old tailpiece back on (and a new set of strings), then, for the heck of it, my newly set-up Jones. Now, it's hard to do this and know how much of what you're hearing is the guitar, or the slight shift in angle and position of the microphone, or maybe even the change in humidity from the time I made one recording to the next. For what it's worth, though, the recording of the guitar with the RS-2 sounds clearly different from the old tailpiece. Less muddy, less overtones, louder, and sweeter, even with a slightly used set of strings. Less midrange "funk." Overall, it's a pretty amazing difference.

I'd love to find one of these in my Christmas stocking. It's not going to make as big a difference as a new set up or putting in a new resonator. It definitely falls into the category of a subtle but real shift in the tonal qualities of the instrument. I'd love to have one for the Jones guitar and the time to really work with it, adjusting the height and tweaking the angle of the strings.  I think it could be a real asset.  And sound issues aside, the thing just looks great.

 

Thanks, Randy.

 

Jim Norman.


...Aprox four weeks ago I had an Allen tailpiece placed on my beautiful new Seven String McKenna "dobro" (Ms April)...{thank you, Gregg, for this exquisitely luthiered "handmade" instrument}. This Allen tailpiece was installed per Mr Tim Scheerhorn...gotta say that we (Mr Scheerhorn and I) both agreed that there was an increase in sustain/clarity past placement of the Allen "dobro" tailpiece on this unique resonator guitar...the tailpiece is quite attractive and extremely very well made...it is SOLID with a capital "S"...consequently, I have purchased a few more of these Allen TailPieces...this Saturday Mr Scheerhorn will place two more...one on my Crafter's TN-9 Biscuit bridge roundneck reso and one on my OMI DM-33 (metal body) squareneck reso...(two more to be placed in another week or so)...I spread it out as I really love going out there to visit...anyway, FYI: I do not "upgrade" my resos unless a "real" upgrade is available...the Allen tailpiece is a definite upgrade (in my opinion) and is available...(remember, this is only my opinion)...respectfully, rez...(many thanks again, Gregg, and thank you, Mr Randy Allen, and thank you, Mr Tim Scheerhorn)...YeeeHaaaaaa...love, rez
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RS -1   Allen Resophonic  Resonator / Bouzouki Tailpiece (Ball End Strings) RS Series  resonator tailpiece is designed for 6,7 & 8 string configurations. Although the tailpiece was designed with the resophonic in mind it will do nicely on other instruments. This model will also work with bouzoukis and mando-cello where a ball end string is to be used. We have been receiving reports that the solid cast design has an effect in  increased sustain and volume. Jewelry quality finishes include  polished bronze, nickel (rhodium) & gold. 
 
Friends -

I can't remember if I mentioned it or not at the time, but I installed the Allen tailpiece on my Scheerhorn-L a couple of months ago. When I ordered it from Randy, I assumed I'd be putting in on my Dobro DS-60, but the endpin hole of the Allen tailpiece didn't line up with the Dobro endpin (as I recall) and installing the new tailpiece on the Scheerhorn ultimately required less surgery.

The new hardware looks and sounds great, though the Scheerhorn wasn't exactly hurting for sound in its showroom stock condition. In fact, I don't know how to accurately assess the sonic impact of this tailpiece change. I went from a stock tailpiece with dead strings to a new tailpiece and new strings a few hours later. If the new tailpiece creates a change in tone, it's for the better, I'll go that far. Additionally, the restringing procedure is a bit quicker with the Allen tailpiece, I find.

If there is any advantage to the increased string length behind the bridge with the new tailpiece, I pretty well nullify it by using a piece of vinyl tubing wedged between the coverplate and the strings. I do this to keep these strings from ringing when I hit a chord and then mute it with my right hand, for example.

In short, I'm pleased with the Allen tailpiece...

Regards, Gary Mortensen,

 

 

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