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Our exclusive, one-on-one interviews with 27 of today's best-known violinists, including Hilary Hahn, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, David Garrett, Anne Akiko Meyers, Maxim Vengerov, and others.


I've let my bridge warp

Instruments: Is it about to blow up?

From Marianne Hansen
Posted September 25, 2008 at 11:19 PM

Well, I finally lost track of what I'd been told a year and a half ago, when I first bought my violin, and I forgot to look on a routine basis at whether the bridge was tipping over. Examined it last night, and found it was laying over towards the fine tuners. (What can I say? Stable instrument, stable strings; I seldom touch the pegs.) Did what I'd been told in the first place, and tweedled it back up. But, of course, I was too late: the bridge has warped.

Now, I'm entirely new to this type of problem, and I'm not sure how much trouble I'm in. I'm pretty sure I need a new bridge. On the G-string side, the bridge looks straight. On the E-string side, you can see that the top tilts forward enough that the little ear of the cutout on the side (no clue what to call it) no longer lines up parallel to the main body of the bridge.

So, is the bridge about to snap or do something else weird, so that I ought to rush to my nearest repair guy without pausing? Or do I have time to make a leisurely appointment? It truly does not look like it's about to blow up, but I could use some advice (and, of course, I just saw my teacher right before I found the problem, so she's not on tap until next week).

Thanks for any advice.

From Paul G.
Posted on September 25, 2008 at 11:55 PM
You dont NEED to have it fixed immediately...

Mine did the exact same thing, and it was a beautiful bridge from germany, one of a kind made with the violin and was the original on it. I looked and looked with no luck.

My violin fell one day and i was so scared some bad damage had been done, and it was only the bridge that broke. It might have snapped anyway, but didnt.

I would just leave it like it is until it breaks and then have it fixed.

My violin went in this summer for an "overhaul" and it was expensive. Revarnishing was 70 dollars, peg fix was a lot, the bridge and fitting were 90, and between rehairing two bows, the total was 400 dollars.

From al ku
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 12:12 AM
"I would just leave it like it is until it breaks and then have it fixed."


paul, do you recommend wearing safety goggles because the flying bridge pieces are only couple inches away from her face? :)

i say,,,get it replaced ASAP. for argument sake, this particular warped bridge may never break, but you just don't want to take a chance.

From Brian Hong
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 12:23 AM
Yeh....Paul, leaving a warped bridge to snap is a very very very bad idea. My friend had a bridge snap while she was playing and the wood nearly hit her face. Also, while I was playign once, my bridge snapped and, while I was not hurt, it did scare the living daylights out of me.

Dunno about you, but I think that it's a bad idea.

Cheers,
brian

From Giovanni Gammuto
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 12:53 AM
Leave it alone... wait until it breaks is very bad advice! If it is warped get it replaced ASAP, or relieve the string tension and stop playing the instrument. Obviously, the person that told you to leave it alone has never witnessed a bridge collapsing. It is a terrorizing noise that scares the "heck" out of you when it happens. The tail piece slamming into the top sound plate may cause severe damaged... especially if you use one or more fine tuners. As a violin maker and "repairman," please get it replaced now before it costs you some serious repair money. Giovanni Gammuto
From David Allen
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 01:41 AM
Yes, I too vote for getting it fixed now. If you wait you could also have sound post problems to deal with. Why risk further damage and expense? Do it soon.
From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 01:49 AM
I would concerned if there are any sort of explosions near your violin. My suggestion is to call the police; they will bring the bomb squad.

Sincerely,
Charlie

PS. Take the violin to the luthier asap and be sure to take better care of your instrument! Things like this can and should be avoided.

From al ku
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 03:27 AM
ok, easy on paul,,,read his blog,,,blame it all on football, the all-consuming center of the american universe, i'd say:)

well, did i ever read this practice somewhere,,,that luthiers sometimes wet and iron (yeah, like how you iron your shirt) to straighten a warped bridge?

there are just way too many warped ideas in a luthier's backroom so fess up...:)

From Marc Bettis
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 03:51 AM
Hold yer horses,


Is the bridge actually warped, or has it become pulled out of true?

Warping means the bridge-unloaded is of a different shape (happens as a result of heat/humidity/and forces at work), the solution being to buy a new bridge and have it cut and shaped appropriately.....pulled out of true meaning that the friction of the strings over the bridge has pulled the bridge into an unusual shape (this is a fairly regular occurence with todays metal overwrapped strings) but the shape is not hard set, this simply requires someone experienced to gingerly nudge the bridge back into proper alignment with their hands.

I have a problem imagining what you brisge looks like over the internet, so best to take it to your local violin guru, so "staighten" things out. Ha al, beat that!! ;>)

Before you go spending money, check if simple and easy does the trick. In either case, you don't want to leave your bridge as it is

From Kylie Svenson
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 06:10 PM
I'll second Mark on this one and add that not only is it quite simple to straighten out a bridge yourself - ONCE YOUR LUTHIER HAS SHOWN YOU HOW - but it is also something you should probably be doing every so often to prevent this problem in the future. Your luthier can show you the correct angle to look for and how to gently pull it back into place yourself, so that you do not have to go to a luthier every time tuning tugs it too far out of alignment.
From Bruce Patterson
Posted on September 26, 2008 at 09:41 PM
If you feel a strong sentimental attachment to that bridge then perhaps you could save it and do something with it - put it in a paper weight or something else that would enshrine it.

I would recommend getting a new bridge if the fiddle is good and it needs one. If you cannot tell then ask someone who knows.

Sooner or later it will also need strings and other things as well.

Once we visited the Boston area from where we live high up in the Rocky Mtns. and my wife's fiddle grew a bridge that looked like a potato chip. It straightened itself out soon after we got home.

From Nicole Stacy
Posted on September 27, 2008 at 04:25 AM
As concertmaster of my high school orchestra, I was tuning up the group when I noticed one of my strings suddenly go terribly flat, and my bridge literally went flying into the viola section. They had to duck as it whizzed past their ears. Moral of this story: warped bridges may be weapons of mass destruction.

If there's something special about the bridge, you could do what I did and turn orphan violin parts into artwork.

From Brian Hong
Posted on September 27, 2008 at 05:12 PM
Who cares about Bin Laden? Bush should be focusing on warped bridges! ;)
From Jack Rushing
Posted on September 30, 2008 at 03:01 AM
I would take Mr. Giovanni Gammuto's advice. He knows what he
is talking about.
Ilya Gringolts

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