12-String Bass Tailpieces

There are two primary types of 12-string bass tailpieces: 8-hole and 12-hole.


8-Hole Tailpieces

Hamer 12-String Bass 8-Hole Tailpiece

The 8-hole tailpiece has been a standard feature of Hamer 12-string basses for decades. The fundamental strings are strung through the smaller holes, with both octave strings sharing the larger hole. This works fine as long as the octave strings have the larger ball ends used for standard bass strings. Octave strings with the smaller guitar-size ball ends will slip through the holes since the ball ends are smaller than the holes. These strings can still be used as long as they are anchored somehow. See here for details.

Note that when a 12-string bass is strung Inverted the small holes are drilled out so that all tailpiece holes are the same size.

 

A common criticism of the Hamer tailpiece is that it is positioned "backwards"; by this the critics mean the screws anchoring it to the body should be underneath the ball ends instead of being on the side nearest the bridge. Hamer has positioned their tailpieces the same way ever since building the first Quad basses; presumably if there were major problems a change would have been made years ago.


A minor problem that is sometimes reported with this style of tailpiece is that it may start to lift off the body due to the prolonged string tension. An easy fix for a lifting tailpiece is to place a layer or two of tape underneath the tailpiece on the bridge side, then screw the tailpiece back down securely.


12-Hole Tailpieces

Typical 12-Hole Tailpiece

Almost all 12-string basses made in Asia incorporate a 12-hole tailpiece. This type of tailpiece is made to be used specifically with the octave strings with the smaller guitar-sized ball ends. Not surprisingly, most 12-string bass string sets made in Asia have octave strings with these smaller ball ends. USA-made string sets that have large ball ends on all strings will work fine with these tailpieces.

 

12-Hole Tailpiece - Front View

 

Tailpiece of a Kid's Dragon bass


Custom Tailpieces

Doug Pinnick's custom Yamaha 12-string bass incorporates a custom tailpiece.


This custom tailpiece was made by Alan Witherbey of Pasadena, California for use on James Hunting's Hamer B12A. It utilizes an inverted "T" shape with four screw holes on each side. James uses a piece of "E" string as a guide to keep the string ball ends aligned.

James told us, "I have upgraded the design of my Hamer 12-string bass. Whoever decided on the tailpiece was not thinking design and durability at all. It belongs on a Fender Strat. I have amended their poor design."

"If anyone is interested in upgrading their tailpiece for their Hamer, hook them up with my machinist Alan Witherbey. He can machine anything you need using any type of metal, alloy, etc. Alan is the man folks, and you can't beat the price. My word."

James on stage with his Hamer B12A and Vince Neil


Tailpiece Maintenance

Be sure to regularly check the screws holding the tailpiece. The tailpiece bears the entire pull of the accumulated string tension, which on a 12-string bass is considerable. Loose screws can rip out, damaging the finish in the process.