Strings & Bridge

December 25, 2017, 10:00 AM · Does the strings placement on the bridge influence the sound ? (closer or wider to the middle bridge espacially for E string Violin or A string Viola)

Replies (6)

December 25, 2017, 10:35 AM · The strings should be spaced out evenly for playability. Can't really answer your question. Sorry.
Edited: December 25, 2017, 11:09 AM · I read somewhere that the cutouts in conventional-design bridges are intended to create equal-length paths for vibrations from all the strings to the top of the instrument. Therefore small changes of separation between strings will probably not have much effect on this.

However, if you cluster all the strings closer to the middle of the bridge it will increase the downward force of the bridge on the "deck" and if you separate all the strings further from the middle of the bridge it will slightly reduce the downward force. These changes occur because with the tension of the strings remaining the same the vector into the bridge becomes greater or less, respectively as the strings are raised or lowered. Depending on the sensitivity of your instrument, this can have an effect on playability and sound.

Then of course, playability will change depending on the hands/fingers of the player.

December 25, 2017, 12:04 PM · @Andrew : I asked this question, because I mistakenly placed the D string in the place of the A string on my viola, and the sound of the D string was really less warm voluptuous sound... It sounded different !
December 25, 2017, 12:21 PM · The bridge transfers the string vibrations to the feet of the bridge and this transfer may be a bit different (low/high frequency emphasis and distribution between left/right feet) depending on where the string is connected to the bridge. The construction of a violin is not left-right symmetric (bass bar, sound post); it is optimized for the conventional string order.

Whenever the topic of a left-handed violin comes up, it is pointed out that swapping the string order won't work unless the bass bar and sound post are moved as well.

Edited: December 26, 2017, 10:25 PM · Placement on the bridge was noted specificly by cellist Paul Tortellier in 'How I Teach .. Play." As I remember it, he stated that the inner two strings often sound muted compared to the outer two because of the construction of the bridge (,in that the center is stiffer and the outer are cantilevered out.) In my reading on bridge fitting, the sideways vibrations are converted into downward vibrations as they travel through the legs. Also, the heart partly functions to separate the pathways into the two legs. It stands to reason that the difference between the freedom of the bridge feet over the bass bar versus soundpost would also create a difference if you swapped the a and d strings.
December 27, 2017, 2:23 AM · Before changing my viola string set through wear & tear, I swapped the D & A. (The D would suffer from the A's narrower slot, so I didn't want to damage a new string.)
The A then sounded sweeter, like a violin A, and the D became clearer, less "like playing on wet carboard".
So, yes, it matters.


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