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:
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?
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.
My bridge's left foot broke clean off one day. Scared the crap out of me. No idea why, no warning. Just, BOOM.
The bridge on my daughter's viola snapped just like that right before rehearsal.
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.
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.
my bridge fell then proceeded to shoot across the orchestra room and nearly hit a cellist. My week was made :)
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 this...one 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.
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.
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.
This never happened to me but it happened to my stand partner twice unfortunately
David: Out of interest, how frequently do you advise your customers to bring their instrument in to the workshop for a general check-up?
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.
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.
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.
This caused me to accidentally let a four-letter word slip in a crowd of wedding guests.
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