(Links to a directory of suppliers and sample prices at the bottom of this page)
Hickory half-inch dowels (or walnut or other hard woods): These half inch dowels are getting more and more popular among bassists, and are offered for sale by Upton Bass. For Do-It-Yourselfers on a budget, they’re extremely easy and inexpensive to make using Saddle Rider brand endpin tips. Check out https://www.bairdbrothers.com/ for a large selection of inexpensive wooden dowels. Each hardwood sounds different! Please note: For half-inch dowels, endpin length should be limited to 8 inches or less (according to UptonBass.com). For players or shops wanting to use larger-diameter wooden dowels, SaddleRiderMusic.com offers affordable custom-diameter mount options. For more information, please contact: SaddleRiderLLC@gmail.com
Carbon fiber rods: Try rods from different manufacturers, they do sound a little different! My students and I frequently prefer cheap Chinese rods from Amazon.com to “famous brand” endpins costing up to 8 times as much!
Carbon Fiber Tubes: Popular with kite and drone builders, there are many options with different wall thicknesses, both woven and pultruded. Woven tubular endpins look very nice, but are often too flexible, in my opinion. Klaus Bender endpins (see below) are made with a nice-sounding gauge of pultruded carbon fiber tube, which I think sounds and functions better than the woven tubing used by some other well-known brands. That said, I have a Bender endpin in my drawer which I rarely use, and a $9 Amazon.com solid carbon fiber rod on my cello! Please note: Most cello and bass endpin makers use pultruded or woven tubing with walls approaching 2 mm thick, while the most common tubes on eBay and Amazon are geared towards drone makers, and have 1 mm thick walls. Some players may like this tubing gauge, but over-flexing may be an issue for others. Thicker gauge 10 mm O.D. (outside diameter) with 6 mm I.D. (inside diameter) tubing is available online, but is less common.
Fiberglass Tubes and Rods: Slightly heavier than carbon fiber and slightly more flexible. These properties affect the sound of different instruments in different ways. Some anglers prefer the feel of fiberglass rods, and I suspect the same may be the case for musicians? I haven’t experimented much with these, but plan to in the future!
Steel Rods and Tubes: Chrome plated 8 mm steel rods were a standard choice for cellists for decades before 10 mm Carbon Fiber came along, and are still widely used. I find that 8 mm endpins, however, even when made of steel, are too flexible and wobble for most people. I don’t recommend them to my students. Lots of 10 mm and .5 inch carbon steel and stainless steel options are available online for experimenting — check out our endpin rod and tube suppliers page for more information. Keep in mind that harder types of steel often aren’t better, and can frequently sound less resonant, than the most common stainless steels (304, 303, 316). Non-stainless, “carbon” or “chrome-moly” steels may sound excellent in tube form, but I haven’t experimented much with them. They’re readily available and cheap, and worth trying out! Unless you’re playing cello outdoors in the rain, corrosion generally isn’t a problem with non-stainless steel. Chrome, zinc, or nickel coatings protect against corrosion, but aren’t usually necessary for musicians’ purposes.
Aluminum Rods and Tubes: Aluminum endpins have recently been gaining in popularity because steel is so heavy. I haven’t experimented much with aluminum endpins yet, but be aware that different types of aluminum have extremely different properties. The most common type, 6061, may be too soft and could bend for players who use a long endpin — although the “T651” or “T6” tempered version available online is probably okay. 6013 is an exciting and affordable new type of military-grade aircraft aluminum which will hopefully will be available in stock tube and rod sizes before long. 2024 or 7075 are other excellent aircraft grades. The last three types (in tempers of T3 or higher) have a higher tensile strength than stainless steel, but are significantly lighter.
Silicon Nitride (Si3N4): Another material I haven’t tried yet, but look forward to trying soon. It is a ceramic, and is very hard. From the material properties, it looks like it should sound bright and accentuate the higher partials, which could be a good or bad thing depending on the instrument. Unlike the other materials in this list, Silicon Nitride should be purchased in the length you want, because it is difficult to cut. Check out more information on ceramics as an endpin material on our endpin rod and tube suppliers page.
Titanium (Grade 2 or grade 5): Grade 5 is somewhat more expensive and significantly stronger. It depends on the instrument which sounds better, and manufacturers of titanium endpins frequently don’t specify which they are using. An attractive looking 10 mm titanium cello endpin model with a sharp screw-off tip is widely available on eBay. It’s made in China and sells for between $68 and $100. For DIY folks, there are also several domestic providers of titanium rods.
Tungsten Carbide: Extremely hard and dense, this metal is occasionally used as an endpin material and often used as a tip insert. Because it is so hard, carbide tips stay sharp for a VERY long time, and dull only very slightly, even when used on concrete or stone floors. Some players love them, others complain that when they chip (which isn’t uncommon), they can’t be sharpened with a hand file. My personal experience is that the A string on my cello generally sounds a little more open, warmer, and less thin with a stainless steel tip, as compared to carbide, but I’m sure that other players have other experiences, depending on their instrument.