Violin Bridge Maintenance
April 27, 2008 at 1:27 AM
To maintain your violin bridge:
-remember,there is 40 pounds of pressure exerted upon the top plate with your strings in tune
-when you replace a string [any string] your bridge may correspondingly change
-your bridge must be at a 90 degree angle to the top plate
or slightly less =  degrees [tough to judge]
-if your bridge is not constantly consistent with the above
then your bridge will warp because of pressure [40 pounds] exerted on the top of the bridge will warp your bridge,causing a nasty sound
-"eye" up your bridge constantly to make sure it is exactly perpendicular to the top plate
-if you do not play for a few weeks,your bridge will-of its own accord change positions--so,you must be constantly observant in this regard
-if you will not be playing your violin for a few weeks,then loosen your strings--to prevent warpage of your bridge
-these are important lessons
-your 'sound' is subject to the position of your bridge
-and this is important
-we may not really notice,but your bridge position changes
quite often [especially in sudden changes of humidity or temperature]
-so,pay attention to bridge placements
-your violin sound is heard by all within hearing distance and this is important and a reflection upon you as a violin player
-nothing new really,but something to remember--as we try to progress into more significant playing modalities..
Okay, maybe a luthier can answer this: do you keep the bridge 90 degrees to the area on the tailpiece side, or 90 degrees to the area on the fingerboard side? Because for my fiddle, it ain't the same.
Maybe someone can comment on how to fix it if it's not at a 90 degree angle.
From Nigel Keay
Posted on April 28, 2008 at 9:29 AM
Good point Laurie, I'm not a luthier but I'm reasonably sure that it's 90° to the area on the tailpiece side. It's also best to verify this looking from a particular side which I think is the G string side of the violin.
I thought that it was 90 degrees from the fingerboard side, with the G string closest to you. Correct me if I'm wrong, because I'll need to fix my bridge if I am! :)
Having just spent too much time (and money) at the local luthier on new bridges for 2 of my violins, the specific instructions I received are to keep the back of the bridge (the side facing the tail piece) perpendicular. Indeed, it would be impossible to keep the front side of one of my bridges straight up and down--I think they cut some corners because it's got real curvature in how they shaped that side. However, the back is perfectly straight, so I have to assume that's design, not early warping.
My superb Luthier showed me how to do this last week after putting on the Passione strings and constantly tightening them up as they stretched. Of course the bridge kept changing also.
He showed me how to put the tail of the violin in my waist and the scroll braced against something. Take a few fingers and exert upward pressure on the strings behind the bridge and then simply with your other fingers gently pull the top of the bridge back. He also said measure the angle of the bridge against the verticle edge of the
bouts using both eyes as that's basically the only thing that's 90 degrees on the instrument. Larry also said it should be just a tiny hair leaning towards the tailpiece.
I've done this several times and it works just fine.
The front of the bridge (facing the pegs)is normally cut on an angle to thin the bridge.
The back side (facing the tail) is normally kept flat from top to bottom and should be at a 90 deg to the belly.(there are exceptions depending on who's doing the carving)
When you change strings put a bit of graphite in the string grooves of the bridge and the nut to help the string to slide better when tuning. That will help keep your bridge at a 90.
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