The Story of Eight Bridges?

February 13, 2020, 8:25 PM · Earlier this month, I was lucky to get an intriguing new (to me) violin. It's light in the hand, with a longer pattern, an ersatz "Carlo Bergonzi"  label — and, according to a luthier I trust, was antiqued by the original maker, probably 100-130 years ago.

The prior owner told me the violin had been in his family for three generations, so that it would have been played around 1900 by a great-grandfather who emigrated to the US from Germany.

One of the curious things about this violin is the collection of accessories that accompanied it. There are a series of mutes, all made of metal. There is a metal tuning fork — which rings like a bell at 432 Hz. There are four old sound posts. 

And there are no fewer than eight(!) bridges. Several of these are in designs that no longer seem that common today. A couple of these simply would not be playable — including an unused blank that looks to me like it may have been patterned on the virtually solid bridge that was on Paganini's Cannone when he died and left it to the city of Genoa. Of the eight bridges, two or three seem to me to be most promising. These ones all result in quite a low action (which has its appeal to me, as my body ages and I play more solo Bach).

I'm curious what story any of the luthiers — and  "archaeologically inclined" players — on this list might read from this succession of bridges and soundposts. Does this collection of old bridges suggest anything about how the violin was played in the past?

And, on a related note: when I take this violin in to get set-up to sound its best today,  would it make sense to use any of these older sound posts or bridges? Or, as a couple of luthiers have told me in the past, is it important to cut  a new bridge and soundpost as a matched set?

Here is a link to photos of the eight bridges on Flickr

Any thoughts much appreciated!


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