Parchment under the E-string?

November 9, 2006 at 04:08 AM · I read everywhere that you should use a parchment under the e-string, yet when I look at pics of good violins, I never see one.

I assume it affects the tone, and probably in a bad way.

Do you use one? On some e's but not others?

How about an ebony insert?


Replies (19)

November 9, 2006 at 06:02 AM · My shop has reinforced the E groove on my bridge with a lining of some sort.

November 9, 2006 at 06:56 AM · I thought it was rawhide.

November 9, 2006 at 01:35 PM · Real parchment is a kind of rawhide. Just as real vellum is a kind of rawhide, too. (One is sheep, and one is cow? I think the parchment was sheep).


From John Neal Books, Ltd:

"What is Vellum?

Only the luckiest of calves gets to become vellum. Other animals only get to be parchment ... sheep or goats, for instance. Vellum is also "parchment," the limed hide of an animal, but vellum is strictly calfskin, Although there is some historical doubt about these designations, in today's world, this definition applies. After slaughter, the animal is hung a certain way to allow the blood to drain. The skin is then soaked in a vat of lye (kind of like lutefisk, if you're a Scandinavian) to remove skin and other particles. The hide is then stretched on a frame, scraped and coated with whiting and allowed to dry. The skin is cleaned again to prepare it for a variety of uses. Your piece of vellum could have become a lampshade or a drum head! But only the luckiest skins get to become a work of art. Treat this skin with care, and it will last forever."

November 9, 2006 at 07:00 PM · Ohh.

November 9, 2006 at 07:33 PM · i FOrgot to teLL aLlEN that I use an Ebony insert. now that I told'm, that should dissuade him;-)

November 9, 2006 at 07:42 PM · Parchment or velum under the e-string is really very commonly used, most probably the main reason you are not seeing it in the pictures you are looking at is that when it is glued to the bridge it becomes pretty much transparent when saturated with glue so it is not very noticeable.

There are some who feel it has a detrimental effect on tone, but in my experience they are a very small minority and also any effect, positive or negative, is so negligible that I am quite happy to continue using it on every bridge that I cut.

November 9, 2006 at 09:56 PM · Bilbo sez: "now that I told'm, that should dissuade him;-)"

This is true (g) but I'll consider it anyway!

-But are really good bridges available with ebony, or is this considered somehow inferior to parchment?

November 9, 2006 at 10:13 PM · I'd like to know the answer to the second question, too. So far, a few guys mentioned that they just never seem to use them.

November 9, 2006 at 11:56 PM · An Observation:

The bridge on my Klier violin had no parchment. The E-string was beginning to cut into it, so I decided to sand-down the high parts and then add some protection. Since I have no parchment handy, I added a double layer of aluminum foil.

Interesting. The sound definitely changed just a little. It got slightly rounder, less squeeky. On this violin, with Vision-T Orchestras, it is an improvement.

Hmmm .... Using the foil, one might be able to tune a string to a particular violin, by starting with a single layer and then adding layers as needed.

-Or you could just play the durned thing and be happy. That works, too.

November 10, 2006 at 12:03 AM · In Cincinnati they used to glue on a little piece of white drum head. One drum head last your entire looty-a career.

November 10, 2006 at 12:13 AM · Hey, that's a great idea, Jim.

I'm going to try that as well, and see which sounds best with my rig. Thanks.

November 10, 2006 at 12:17 AM · Another thing for the same purpose is the little piece of plastic tubing that some E strings come with.

November 10, 2006 at 01:02 AM · Jim, I had to stop using those tubes when I switched teachers and the new guy said, "Oh no, you have a tone killer on your E!"

November 10, 2006 at 02:52 AM · I like the aluminum foil trick. Keeps the CIA from reading your violin's mind!

Groove can be armored with superglue, too.

I've used drum head scraps. Have little commercial tabs now.

But aluminum foil takes the cake. Gotta try that on the bow, too. See if it improves that!

November 10, 2006 at 06:06 AM · Most of my violins have vellum on their E string. If my luthier worked on them, he would also put one on A string as well. I think my luthier likes vellum quite a bit; he got rid of the skin, which came with my Warchal strings. I am not "allowed" to leave the plastic tube on the E string...

November 10, 2006 at 02:47 PM · Any of the ideas mentioned sounds OK to me. Even at the cost of a little tone loss or change, anybody who plays a lot and/or plays vigorously needs to protect the bridge from the E, and even sometimes the A, cutting into the wood. I think the bridges with inserts work very well, unless the proportions of things on your instrument require bridge shaping that is quite low on the E string side. I've used bits of gum wrapper under the nut to raise strings a little bit seasonally, and wonder how that would do for the bridge. ;) Su

November 10, 2006 at 11:11 PM · I absolutely agree with Nathan Cole. The rubber tubings kill the E-string vibrations. Best to stick with parchment or a bridge with protective wood for the E string area.

November 12, 2006 at 06:39 AM · I have this problem - the vee in the bridge is getting deeper and deeper. I tried the aluminium foil, but it added a tinny tone, not only to the E string but to the others too. My wife's violin teacher kept saying in her lesson - your violin sounds odd, what have you done?

Out in the sticks here, how can I get hold of vellum, parchment, bit of drum cover or whatever? Can I buy something over the internet?

November 12, 2006 at 09:29 PM · gO TO THE LINK i GAVE that descibes what parchment really is. It give s a source for it.

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