From Chakko Joseph
Posted March 18, 2009 at 04:11 PM
I read somewhere that the bridge has a profound influence on the tone of the violin, but have the dimensions of the bridge been standardised, like those of the violin itself? When looking for a replacement bridge ( an uncommon event ) my violin shop ( in Bangalore ) sold me a perforated wooden blank with feet saying that in addition to trimming the feet to stand securely on the sounding board I would have to carve it myself to the desired profile, height and indentations for strings.
Carving and fitting a bridge are best left to the professional luthier. If you must do it yourself or want to learn, take a look at the Reference section of this website: www.violinbridges.co.uk. It has dimensions and how-to articles.
Yes, carving a good bridge is not an easy thing.
If you have a good instrument you may also damage the top if you fit a bad bridge on it because the bridge feet must have full and precise contact with the top's surface. If high spots are left on the bridge feet they will damage the soft wood of the top (because all the pression of the strings are transmitted to the top through the bridge feet) making the fitting of future bridges more difficult.
But if you have an unexpensive instrument you can try it. Good luck!
I am not a trained luthier, but I have dabbled with this kind of thing and I agree it's a job best done by a professionial. With that said, I have done it myself before with satifactory results on a couple of my lesser quatlity violins and I found the following website very helpful: www.musictrader.com/string4m.html
Chakko, it's not clear to me whether you just asked to purchase a bridge, or whether they made it clear that a lot of work was required to install it, and offered that option.
What you probably purchased was a "bridge blank". Bridges come this way because violins are not standardized, any more than people are. Installing an "off the shelf" finished bridge would be like trying to wear someone else's dentures. :-)
I found this useful
Thanks, everyone, for the very informative links and tips. I am encouraged to go ahead by myself since my violin is inexpensive. And David, to answer your question, at the shop I simply asked for a violin bridge. I guess I just assumed it would come ready -to- use, like when I bought my violin. Thanks to all of you I now know better.
Bill - the bridge is pretty thick which is not something common from what I've seen. My luthier told me that, fitting a bridge is more than getting the correct curve/strings spacing/bridge feet. There're also relationships between string height with the arching, thickness of the bridge to compensate the sound character. It's more complex than what you thought.
Regarding the action being high done by a pro, I think there's a reason. When you try to take string length into consideration, when you lower the bridge, the string length will become shorter. So for some player, the intonation will become off, and you can compensate by moving the bridge, but then, you also need to move the sound post too. Or maybe making the fingerboard higher or something, but I don't know cause I'm too don't have such knowledges.
So many things got affected by just messing around with the bridge, it's really complex indeed.
But you're right, it doesn't really harm to try to cut a bridge by yourself. Just don't mess with it on a fine instrument then I think it's OK. I did mine before on a cheaper instrument, it definitely get the job done pretty OK but I'm sure it doesn't really bring out the potential of the instrument...
Bill, my primary violin is a wee bit smaller than a regular one, and the string length is also a little shorter. So when I play other violin that has a standard string length or even a longer string length I can go out of tune very easily. It might have minimal differences but it definitely feel differently. I've also once adjusted my bridge to the standard string length, but turned out I feel a little uncomfortable with it, it's subtle, just doesn't feel "right".
Bill, Ive cut a few bridges and I'm no expert by any means. I purchased some cheap blanks to start with and learned from there. One thing I can see by your pics is you are not removing any material. You need to taper your bridges at the top. Buy some cheapies and dont be afraid to mess a few up. Ive even repaired a crack in a peg box, I enjoy being able to do my own repairs and adjustments.
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