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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Has your bridge ever broken, or collapsed?

May 27, 2011 at 5:38 PM

I knew that something crazy had happened when violinist Jennifer Koh stopped playing during the LA Phil new music concert that I attended Tuesday.

Everyone seemed just a little more alarmed than they usually tend to be over a broken string, plus there was the alarmingly loud noise that accompanied the mis-hap. I guessed that maybe the bridge had collapsed, but it was actually far more spectacular:


Broken bridge

As Jennifer said, "I attached a picture of the reason I had to switch fiddles! I took it backstage after the fiddle players in the Phil gathered up the pieces for me. It's on my Facebook page too.... I've never had this happen! I've never seen this happen before!"

Nor have I! Has it ever happened to you, in a concert or otherwise? Has your bridge ever just broken? Has it ever collapsed?

From Mariya Borozina
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM

A person run into me while I was walking from stage to a dressing room (now I am always trying to protect it with my other arm) and the bridge broke in two clean parts, exactly in the same place as on Jennifer Koh's picture. I brought it to my very smart violin guy and instead of making me a new bridge, he used... Krazy glue. 60 seconds later it was like new and I haven't change the bridge for years.

From Tasha Miner
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 6:08 PM

 My bridge's left foot broke clean off one day.  Scared the crap out of me.  No idea why, no warning.  Just, BOOM.

From Mary Haarmann
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 6:44 PM
Several years ago, backstage just before a concert, I was adjusting the top of the bridge ever so slightly when it snapped just like the photo! Luckily, I had kept an old one in my case and the sound post did not fall so I was able to slip it into place, make my entrance (I was concertmaster) and go on with the show. I may still have the pieces: perhaps I'll try the super glue idea in case I ever require another "emergency" spare...
From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 6:54 PM

The bridge on my daughter's viola snapped just like that right before rehearsal.

---Ann Marie

From Kathryn Woodby
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 6:57 PM
Of course it always happens right before a concert....!!
From David Burgess
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 7:35 PM

This is what happens when someone has planted a tiny Improvised Explosive Device near your bridge. Terrorists, ya know.  Don't leave your violin unattended.


Seriously, if a luthier had seen the violin right before it happened, they could probably tell you exactly why it happened.  It doesn't happen spontaneously without extenuating circumstances.

From Andre A
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 7:55 PM

A bridge can weaken if it is continually shifted back and forward under full tension to get a better sound or the footing of the bridge does not quite fit solid on the violin and therefore slants and has to be rectified continuously when the violin is tuned. Otherwise a solid bridge that has not been manhandled should last a lifetime.

From Corey Worley
Posted on May 27, 2011 at 8:42 PM

 my bridge fell then proceeded to shoot across the orchestra room and nearly hit a cellist. My week was made :)

From Heather Schuetz
Posted on May 28, 2011 at 1:13 AM

No, but it came wildly close to it, and I ended up replacing it to avoid disaster. I had taken my instrument (cello) in for a check up, and the luthier commented that my bridge was completely run through with cracks, and he was amazed it hadn't exploded yet. I had been hacking away at a ticking timebomb for 4+ hours a day. Eeek.

He had used crazy glue but cautioned that vigorous playing would only invite the inevitable.

Apparently...and no one had told me must carefully watch the cello bridge for potential warping whenever you make large tuning adjustments. I assume it's probably the same for the violin. A few years of never taking heed to my poor old bridge, and sure enough...*sigh* Teachers, please make sure all your students are firmly educated in all the finer albeit alarmingly necessary points of proper instrument care.

From David Burgess
Posted on May 28, 2011 at 2:12 AM

Failing to maintain the bridge at the proper angle is the typical scenario. Problems in the vicinity of the tail adjuster can cause the bridge angle to change faster than normal though.

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on May 28, 2011 at 12:35 PM

It can be helpful (bridge-wise) to use low-tension strings such as gut, and to make sure the bridge notches are well-lubricated with pencil lead.  It is also advisable, no matter what strings you use, to drop the overall tension slightly (half a tone seems about right) before adjusting the bridge – especially with a cello bridge which is proportioned differently to the violin bridge.  

From Ishijah Johnson
Posted on May 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM

This never happened to me but it happened to my stand partner twice unfortunately

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on May 28, 2011 at 2:30 PM

David:  Out of interest, how frequently do you advise your customers to bring their instrument in to the workshop for a general check-up?

From Andrew Pollow
Posted on May 28, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Violins should always come with instruction manuals. Mine didnt and I moved the bridge a little and it has a crack now like it might break someday.

From Erika Burns
Posted on May 29, 2011 at 3:08 AM

I accidentally broke a friend's bridge while trying to straighten it in junior high...I felt horrible, even though it was really old and stiff.

From Rei Miyasaka
Posted on May 31, 2011 at 8:32 AM

Hah, my friend was worried that her bridge was about to snap too. Another of my friends refused to try to fix it, so I took a look instead thinking it was just crooked. Turns out it really was on the verge of snapping.

From Nicole Stacy
Posted on June 1, 2011 at 1:50 PM

This caused me to accidentally let a four-letter word slip in a crowd of wedding guests.

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