McMaster-Carr (McMaster.com) is the primary supplier of all things related to engineering and fabricating in North America. They have a large number of options for half-inch rods and tubes, and a medium selection of 10 mm metric rods and tubes. Prices aren’t the cheapest available, but are pretty good, and it’s convenient to choose from such a large selection in one place. Their prices for carbon fiber rods are higher than most, and they don’t offer a wide selection of wooden dowels, so it’s better to shop around for those items. McMaster-Carr is also known for it’s fast and reasonably-priced shipping. Almost everything listed is shipped for next business-day delivery at prices significantly below standard overnight rates.
Sample McMaster-Carr prices (summer 2020):
(7075 and 2024 Aluminum are aircraft grade, frequently used for commercial and military plane wings, landing gear, and other parts. They are stronger than some types of steel, much lighter, and inexpensive, especially when compared to titanium. 6061 Aluminum is less strong, and is the standard aluminum used for most common applications. The hardened “T651” tempered 6061aluminum listed below will have different tonal properties than the 7075 and 2024, and has a tensile strength that is probably fine for most bass players using half inch endpins.)
7075 Aluminum rod .5 inch diameter: $11 for 24” , $17 for 36”
2024 Aluminum rod .5 inch diameter: $10 for 24” $13 for 36”
6061 hardened aluminum .5 inch diameter: $5 for 24” lengths, $6 for 36”
2024 tubes of various wall thicknesses ranging from $20 to $36 for a 36” section
(Half-inch steel or stainless steel tubing is heavy. Some bassists like the tonal properties, but if using a half-inch endpin, tubular steel may be a better choice for weight. Likewise, cellists who prefer the sound of steel may want to consider tubular endpins.)
Smooth bore steel tubing, both ½” and 10 mm $10-15 for a 36” length
Zinc plated 10 mm with 1.5 mm wall thickness for $17/meter
(304 Stainless is the most common choice, with 303 and 316 a close second. In my experience, harder stainless steel options often sound less lively)
Stainless steel options $25 -$52 for a 3 foot section depending on wall thickness
(either grade 2 or grade 5 Titanium can work well for endpins. Grade 5 is harder, and generally a little crisper and brighter sounding)
Titanium Grade 2 solid rod: $102 for 3 feet
Titanium Grade 5 solid rod: $113 for a 3 feet
(this is a high price for carbon fiber, only to be considered if combining shipping with other options. Check out cheaper sources for carbon fiber below)
Pultruded ½” solid carbon fiber $51 for 24”
https://www.bairdbrothers.com/ Wooden dowel supplier
Baird Brothers is an excellent source for inexpensive wooden endpin dowels. Hickory, maple, walnut, even unusual choices like mahogany, are available for low prices by the foot. Common hardwoods are $1-3 per foot. These can easily be glued into Saddle Rider brand 1/2 inch endpin tips for a warm and wonderful sound, but should only be extended to 8″ or less, according to UptonBass.com. Wooden endpins will last longer when used with washer-style mounts like New Harmony or Saddle Rider brands, because washer-less thumbscrews will dig into the wood and eventually fracture it.
Goodwinds.com sells rods and tubes primarily for kite makers, and offers some fairly good deals:
.394” carbon fiber tubing (10 mm) pultruded (not woven) rod $11 for 24” section
Half-inch carbon fiber tubing $15 for 24”
Solid ½ inch black carbon fiber rod $72 for 48”
(no 10 mm solid rod option)
(Fiberglass rod, listed below, is very cheap and can be a nice sounding choice for some basses and cellos. It is similar to carbon fiber, but is slightly more flexibly and slightly heavier)
Solid ½ inch black fiberglass rod 48” for $8
(this supplier offers some decent prices on custom-cut rods, but doesn’t offer a great selection or metric sizes)
6061 T651 temper AL 16 inches .5 inch diameter. $19
304 Stainless Steel tubing or solid 16 inches, .5 inch diameter $19-20
Also offers brass and copper, no metric sizes
(a reasonably-priced supplier of American made carbon fiber products. Unfortunately, they don’t sell 10 mm solid rod at this time)
Carbon fiber black pultruded tube .394 OD (10 mm) .288 ID $6 for 24”. 48” $11
24” x .5” solid rod $20
48” .5” pultruded Tube $13
8 mm solid 24” $8
A NOTE ABOUT CARBON FIBER: As with all materials and commodities, carbon fiber prices fluctuate based on market conditions and demand. The US market is driven, to some extent, by kite makers and drone hobbyists. Lately, 10 mm solid rod in 500 mm lengths for cello endpins has been a little tricky to find outside of China, but searching carefully on Amazon or eBay usually reveals some dealers who have a stock in the US for reasonable prices. Half-inch rods for bassists are currently abundant. Care should be taken when ordering tubes: Most endpin manufacturers use 1.5 mm or 2 mm wall thicknesses, and the most common drone stock CF tubing has a 1 mm wall thickness. It may work well for some players who use a fairly short endpin — they may even prefer it — but just be aware when ordering. Also, be aware that pultruded and woven CF tubing have different mechanical and acoustical characteristics. Both are used in endpin manufacturing.
Sample Summer 2020 Amazon and eBay carbon fiber prices:
4 pieces of solid black 10 mm pultruded rods, one meter long, (8 cello endpins worth) Supplier: “Carbon Kevlar Supply” “Truly Exceptional Products” ships from New Jersey. $47 plus $6 shipping. Total $53 for 4 meters.
eBay has lots of options, averaging approximately $20 for a 1000 mm x 10 mm rod (2 cello endpins). Look for a supplier that ships from US to avoid shipping headaches and customs delays. If you purchase tubes, 2 mm wall thickness (10 mm OD, 6 mm ID) is preferable to 1 mm wall thickness for most players, unless they use a short endpin.
Here is a current link to eBay 10 mm diameter solid rod options: 10 mm Carbon Fiber Rods on eBay Summer 2020
Coorstek.com is Ceramic supplier (unfortunately with a high $500 minimum order, but it’s a good place to check out relative costs for a variety of ceramics)
Acoustically, based on their material properties, all well-known ceramics are probably more similar to each other than to the more commonly-used materials like wood, metal, carbon fiber. The only ceramic I know of that has been used for endpins is the gray-black Silicon Nitride (Krentz Endpins). One consideration when experimenting with ceramics is that impact damage can be a consideration. If you drop a ceramic endpin on a concrete floor, it may crack. If you purposefully hit a ceramic endpin against a concrete floor, it probably will crack. (As reported by material engineers I consulted, not personal experience!) Most ceramics are white or off-white in color, but Silicon Nitride is gray-black, and has a higher impact resistance than most. Zirconia is a little cheaper than Silicon Nitride, and has and higher-still impact resistance. Silicon Carbide and Alumina are more prone to cracking from impacts, and probably should be avoided when experimenting with ceramic endpins. All the ceramic options require diamond tooling, and are expensive, particularly in small quantities. Alibaba.com offers some reasonable prices for Silicon Nitride, but it is difficult to obtain affordably in the U.S. in retail quantities.