Which bridge to use?

February 26, 2010 at 06:04 AM ·

I have a question

Which violin bridge is the best? in terms of sound quality. Aubert deluxe or Milo stamm Royal? even Despiau Superieur Extra-choice Bridge ?

I will listen to all of your answers

Replies (27)

February 26, 2010 at 10:42 AM ·

I still have some nice Aubert Luxe, but I've been buying Despiau and Milo Stamm  too. But the final result will depend on the bridge's quality and the luthier's skill to carve it.

www.manfio.com

February 26, 2010 at 11:31 AM ·

Which violin bridge is the best? in terms of sound quality. Aubert deluxe or Milo stamm Royal? even Despiau Superieur Extra-choice Bridge ?

 It depends also on which violin are you going to put the bridge on. For an average violin you will probably find that you will not notice the difference between an Aubert No.7 and an Aubert deluxe. For the good level student violins at the school I am carving Aubert No. 7 lately, but merely because I bought a big bunch of blanks at a good price.

Talking about those brands, I find that Milo Stamm and Despiau are making very good blanks nowadays, and Aubert slowly going downhill.

 

Of course, as Maestro Manfio says, a well carved standard bridge will sound better than a bad carved top quality one.

February 26, 2010 at 02:03 PM ·

IMO, checking for very good grain back and front is more useful than choosing between makers of bridge blanks.

February 27, 2010 at 12:26 AM ·

Thank you all for these wonderful replies. In short, this question actually applies to any bridge in a controlled condition: i.e the top grade/quality from any bridge maker + with the same best craftmanship + in standard size.

When these bridges, whether milo stamm royal, aubert deluxe or despiau Superieur Extra-choice Bridge  are all in the same condition, which one is more likely to stand out, in terms of sound quality?

February 27, 2010 at 01:12 AM ·

There is no hard and fast answer to that.  Good blank, good maker > good bridge.

Whose violins are the best, who is the best player, etc?  All depends on criteria, and opinions do vary.

February 27, 2010 at 08:20 AM ·

When these bridges, whether milo stamm royal, aubert deluxe or despiau Superieur Extra-choice Bridge  are all in the same condition, which one is more likely to stand out, in terms of sound quality?

Frances,

In my absolutely personal opinion, lately I am preferring Milo Stamm blanks. Take it as an average.

 

 

February 27, 2010 at 03:46 PM ·

I think you are asking the equivalent of which shoe size is the best. Or which strings, for that matter. Or which fabric. If you say silk or natural untreated cotton, then would you prefer a silk or untreated cotton raincoat? The bridge should fit the violin, and different violins need different things. That means, for instance, that the "best" blank may be the wrong blank for the particular violin. A harsh violin may need to be smoothed out; a smooth violin may need some edge and harshness, and the same blank won't be the best choice for both violins. And then there's the fitting: if it's done by someone who doesn't know what he's doing, then a 45 cent blank from Ebay will probably work about the same as an Aubert DeLuxe.

If this is a matter of what to put on your violin, first, I'd spend my concern over finding the right person to do the job, and second, if you want the best results, you are definitely not going to get them if you do it yourself, no matter what bridge source you use.

February 28, 2010 at 12:01 PM ·

"Start with a straight grain.Those are  the lines up the edges.They need to be parrallel with the side facing the player.This will show up also with the darker streaks called Medullary Rays.(towards the player and vertical).The fingerboard side looks speckly as the wood has been shaved at an angle to the grain."

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If anyone finds that their bridge isn't done this way, don't worry about it. Some very good luthiers have other strategies for grain orientation.

March 1, 2010 at 12:03 AM ·

I agree with you David.

March 1, 2010 at 01:23 AM ·

Greetings,

>Some very good luthiers have other strategies for grain orientation.

I like mine with curry.

Cheers,

Buri

March 4, 2010 at 01:17 AM ·

Well~ it seems Milo stamm royal is getting the lead then! cheers

March 9, 2010 at 02:50 PM ·

 Some very respected makers, restorers, violin houses have the dots on the tail piece side and the stripes on the finger board side. Other equally respected folk have the stripes and dots the other way around.

Personally I like the rays going straight down the middle of the bridge from the top to the foot centre viewed from the side so my bridges show a combination of stripes and spots on both back and front. I also have a breast on the back and front .

Personally I tend to use Despiau. Stamm are also excellent. the Aubert bridges are normally excellent wood but to my taste they come from the manufacturer with too much wood already cut out from them so can be a bit difficult to customise to my spec.

an excellent research resource for bridges is......

www.violinbridges.co.uk

 

 

March 9, 2010 at 08:13 PM ·

"David     The only other way is to turn the bridge round t`other way.Give us a bit more of your version to clarify things.I have an idea the reverse way ( might as well call it that as "my way" was here first  ) will reduce the bending in the bridge.But that will then impinge on the belly.Come on ,all open and above board now.Violin experts have to share their knowledge these days. "

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Melvin gave the other common ways. One idea behind putting the long rays on the scroll side is that it gives this side greater compressive strength, and reduces the tendency to warp if the bridge isn't pulled back regularly and ideally.

When you asked about impinging on the top, were you thinking of unequal load distribution? If a bridge isn't kept straight, that will happen anyway with either approach, either when the top of the bridge moves forward, or when it's returned to its original position after warping slightly. Or if it's pulled back too far. In other words, it's somewhat out of the bridge maker's control, and more in the hands of the user. The person who fit the bridge might only have some control over how fast the bridge deteriorates.

Some people also try to preserve the manufacturers stamp on the bridge, and think it should go on one side or the other, and that's how they prioritize.

Am I supposed to have a strong opinion on this or something?  LOL    I really don't, but tend to cut them like Melvin. As I said before, and Melvin has said, good people do it different ways. What I was mostly concerned about was that people might think there is some kind of a rule, and beat up their luthier with some information they got off the internet. ;-)

March 9, 2010 at 11:35 PM ·

'Melvin   An unexpected 3rd way. But is there a reason for one or the other.Technically the pressure in your style will run straight down through the tree ,so to speak. But you get shorter attractive medullary rays and odds on somebody will put it on back to front.You can bet on that.  Also you`ve lost a good flat surface to work with.That`s very useful when fitting  the feet.    Last but not least.Do you tune the bridge at all or use measurements alone ? '

...................................................

John. I'm not sure what you mean by a flat surface being useful when fitting the feet. Also I am not sure what you mean re tuning the bridge. If you meantuning  to a certain frequency, no I do not do that. I do tailor a bridge to work on a particular instrument. That would start with selecting a blank of the correct width, heart height and texture and then using various adjustments to the way the bridge is cut to suit the instrument and player...that is not unusual I think.

March 10, 2010 at 06:55 PM ·

John, I appreciate your enthusiasm for lutherie.

A few quick things:

On good violins, bridges are not fit using sandpaper.

A maker can plane a flat surface on the bridge at any angle desired, until running out of wood, so even if the bridge was fitted using a fixture, there would be no need to use the existing flat surface or orientation..

The tone you get by dropping a bridge on a hard surface is not the one the violin researchers are talking about, and isn't the one associated with the "bridge hill". It's a different vibration pattern.

March 11, 2010 at 01:57 AM ·

 Hi John, It is best to  fit a bridge to the exact area of the belly it will be sitting on. This is often marked out in pro work by tiny delicately applied squares of drafting tape to spot the exact location. There is no room for any movement in the fit which is why sand paper is never used. In all but the rarest cases the places where a bridge foot stands is not a uniform arch. Very often and especially on the really great old instruments the areas where the bridge feet sit are sunken and scarred. This requires a far more careful fit than sandpaper can provide. It is customary to use a knife for this but in the final stages of fitting the curved knife blade is normally used as a scraper, fitting the bridge to incredibly exacting standards on what is often a very uneven surface.   

 

 

March 11, 2010 at 02:26 AM ·

"What were they writing about in Sweden ?"

There is so much information from Sweden, as well as other countries, that the mind boggles. Which information would  you like us to evaluate?

March 11, 2010 at 01:27 PM ·

John, there's a lot of information on the net. Some of it's good, some isn't so good, and some has been superseded by other information. Without knowing specifically which study you're talking about, it's difficult to comment.

From what you've said, I'm guessing that you're talking about research by Erik Jansson. Some makers find it useful to tune one mode of their bridges to a specific frequency. Some don't use a specific frequency, because they find that the ideal frequency varies by the instrument, and also the player. Still others believe that similar results can be achieved other ways, so they don't mess around with the bridge too much. There are also those who do bridge tuning intuitively, without the use of measuring equipment, so they may not call it "bridge tuning". To them, it's just part of the normal process of making a bridge.  These are the kinds of things that  can happen when research is evaluated by players and makers, on a larger number of instruments, out in the real world.

If you have an interest in the technical side, much of the cutting edge stuff shows up at an annual "Acoustics Workshop" organized by the Violin Society of America. This workshop includes some of the major researchers, and also a lot of makers.

March 13, 2010 at 03:24 PM ·

>>>One more question about the words Bridge Tuning.Is this a made -up phrase without any real meaning ?<<<<

I can give you a recent example: I had a well made violin that was unplayable, hence unsellable.  It had a resonance around 600hz on the G string that made it honk like a mad goose. The bridge looked like an OK cut, so I looked for other sources with no success.  Everything I could tell about the instrument led me to believe that it should have good sound in it.

Finally, I tried fitting another bridge from scratch with a "plain vanilla" cut. The honk went away, but it was distinctly too bright, and the G was weak.  I carved on that bridge a while to see what happened, and finally made another bridge based on what I learned from that one. 

The violin sounds fine now.  It's very responsive and the sound is even across the strings, and complex. There's always room for improvement, but I'm inclined to quit while I'm ahead.  Someone will like this violin and buy it as a good step-up violin. . Still, I'm tempted to cut yet another bridge to see what else I can achieve........

It's really hard to tell these bridges apart by casual inspection.  The differences are small, but in this case they make the difference between an awful violin and a good one.

As far as sound posts go, resonance frequency is determined largely by length, I think.  I just pick good, stiff material that cuts clean.  If you make them from scratch, I think violin top wood works well.  Others may think differently.

 

 

March 13, 2010 at 05:34 PM ·

Yes, the bridge does a lot.

A little story along this line: I maintain a Stradivari cello. In the course of time, at the owner's request, I've fit several different bridges to it, trying to cure some minor tonal problems and shape the sound a bit. Every bridge has been a definite failure. As I get new bridge sources and ideas, I try again, but no progress yet.

It appears, though, that I'm not the first with this problem. In the last 100 years, the cello has been through various owners and sold by a series of famous shops. Any of those shops would have been happy to have their own name stamped on the bridge, yet the bridge is one that was made in around 1900, by the dealer that sold the cello at that time. It's obvious that over the years everyone has made a special effort to keep the fingerboard pointed at that bridge, rather than replace it. I suspect everyone subsequent to 1900 has had the same problem I've had: the inability to improve that one bridge.

March 17, 2010 at 03:39 AM ·

....

February 14, 2015 at 03:08 AM · My problem is that I have collected unusable bridges made by all you mentioned through mail order and need to throw them away.

February 14, 2015 at 06:47 AM · The best results for me is with Milo Stamm and all my violins have them.

Before I used old Aubert bridges, but the Stamm are better.

February 14, 2015 at 10:43 AM · In my Informed Amateur bridge fitting, I have found considerable differences in the placement of the "heart" and "kidney" (yuk!) cutouts, leaving more or less wood at the top of the finished bridge on the same violin. This has a very marked infuence on tone (from dull to harsh). In my expereience.

February 14, 2015 at 10:59 PM · "Next time try making a SOLID bridge with the lower curvature (between the feet) matching that of the belly and the 'minor tonal problems' will almost certainly disappear."

Wow. That would be a massively heavy cello bridge unless you make it paper-thin.

February 15, 2015 at 01:38 AM · "I own an 18th century Italian cello which produces a phenomenal tone. It is mounted with a solid bridge (made of willow) that has never been changed and was almost certainly fitted by the maker. The strings on it are made of gut, still in very good condition, and I know for a fact that they are well over 150 years old."

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Hmmm, would you describe your taste in sound as being "mainstream"?

February 15, 2015 at 02:01 AM · David,

this was something of a tradegy. That was the first sheep with the potential to live to over a hundred years. Slaughtered for the sake of an obstreperous cello.

Baaaaaaaaa. Humbug.

Burp

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