Is it alright to remove the bridge while carrying it on an airplane

February 22, 2017 at 09:21 PM · Is it ok to loosen the strings completely and remove the bridge while you travel with your violin on an airplane or when you send your violin to another place through courier. Is there a negative impact or consequence?

Replies (24)

February 22, 2017 at 09:33 PM · Why would you do that if you're keeping the violin with you in the cabin? I don't make any adjustments when I travel with my violin.

If you're shipping it, you might want to tune all the strings down a half step and be sure that your violin is well cushioned--I would suggest looking online for detailed instructions. But even then I wouldn't remove the bridge--your soundpost would likely fall and you'd have to find a good luthier to put it all back together.

In short, don't do that.

February 22, 2017 at 11:35 PM · Excellent advice. Taking down the bridge could have extremely costly consequences. Keep your strings at normal tension when you're carrying your violin in the cabin.

February 23, 2017 at 01:12 AM · I would just pack it up as if you are going to a local rehearsal, and go!

Don't worry so much. And don't take down the bridge / post.

February 23, 2017 at 01:20 AM · If it is going as checked-in luggage on a plain (or is being sent by a currier), there are other this to worry about:

1. physical impact (they do throw and dump luggage)

2. low / high temperature

3. change in humidity

Another detail often neglected is that, unless you have an insider, you have no idea where and for how long your parcel will be stored. There are trains, tracks and hubs, but also sorting facilities and possibly customs.... the last thing they worry about is your precious fiddle.

I recently ordered a CD player - it was well under zero on that day and it came so cold that I had to wait for an hour before turning it on. Do you really want to abuse your instrument like that?

February 23, 2017 at 01:53 AM · Noooo... don't do that... unless you're willing to pay a Luthier to reset your post and bridge, and even then, your instrument may never be the same! A fraction of a millimeter difference in post position can have drastic impact on sound production, never mind removing it altogether. I once experimented with my Luthier resetting the bridge by 1mm as it wasn't totally centered, and it took us nearly an hour just to reset it back to a position near its initial optimal position, and even then the sound wasn't the same as it was, though a little better, not what it was.

February 23, 2017 at 02:45 AM · I would never check a violin that I cared about. ONLY travel as a carry on.

No carry on, no travel.

February 23, 2017 at 09:39 AM · Are you guys telling me that you go to a luthier if you want to change your tailpiece?

Anyways, I am scared if the bridge may break due to pressure. I know someone whose bridge broke into two pieces during transit.

February 23, 2017 at 10:01 AM · Your soundpost will either fall over or probably move if you take the bridge down, unless you are going to have it set up by a luthier at the other end, definitely keep string tension, and use carry on luggage, not the hold if you possibly can.

February 23, 2017 at 02:00 PM · Gautam, changing the tail piece, which means taking the bridge down, isn't particularly difficult and is safe as far as the sound post is concerned if you take precautions. This means that you have to maintain some pressure on the top table to ensure that the sound post is stable.

So, before I do anything else, I wrap a cloth firmly round the waist of the violin between the bridge and fingerboard, holding the cloth in place with a tightened strap. The strap probably does not provide quite as much pressure as that applied through the bridge by a set of tuned strings, but is sufficient. Do not over-tighten the strap - a creaking noise is bad news!

I then lay the violin in its case for additional stability while I do the rest of the job - taking the strings down, removing the bridge, replacing the tail piece. Then I replace the strings loosely, put the bridge back up under the strings and gradually bring the strings back up to pitch, monitoring and adjusting any bridge lean as necessary.

It is important to know exactly where the bridge is located. If you have an old violin where the bridge has made an obvious mark in the varnish over the years, that's rarely a problem. Otherwise, before you move the bridge, mark the position of its feet with little pieces of sticky paper (Postnote or similar is ideal).

Btw, I like Douglas's succinct advice!

February 23, 2017 at 02:01 PM · Gautam - What "pressure" are you talking about? Aircraft interior pressures these days are no lower than they are at California mountain ski resorts and I have spent weeks playing in orchestras at Mammoth Mountain.

February 23, 2017 at 02:10 PM · Gautam. There are three types of people in this world. One of the types is learning from mistake they made themselves. You probably know rest.

So, if you insist, you can go ahead and try it yourself, but be aware, if the sound post falls, you will not be able to put it back yourself PROPERLY. If you like the tune of your violin right now, you may not ever get the same tune back again after the sound post is put back.

Good luck, buddy.

February 23, 2017 at 02:52 PM · "Anyways, I am scared if the bridge may break due to pressure. I know someone whose bridge broke into two pieces during transit."

If you check your violin as luggage, there's a good chance the bridge will break but it won't be due to air pressure. It will be due to rough handling. Don't check your violin, ever.

If you're thinking that the air pressure in the cabin would present a danger to your bridge, please consider that in such a circumstance your violin would be the least of your worries. That kind of air pressure would present a bigger danger to you.

I have flown dozens of times with a violin, with no problems. Removing the bridge for travel is a terrible, terrible idea. Do not do it.

February 23, 2017 at 03:29 PM · I've traveled all over the place, including internationally. I've never tuned the violin down. I'm not sure why you would if you're the one handling it. I guess the biggest danger is putting the violin in an overhead compartment AFTER it's been partially loaded. then some impatient passenger could knock yours out while digging for his bag. Never happened to me though, and I try to put it in the back of the bin. Traveling by plane should no more knock a violin around than traveling by car.

I have also dealt with many dealers and makers who don't bother tuning the violin down for shipping. It doesn't seem to matter.

February 23, 2017 at 04:41 PM · Ok guys. Thanks. But what does Steven Xu mean by this

You may not ever get the same tune back again after the sound post is put back.

Wouldn't a luthier be able to reset the soundpost and bridge to revive the violin

February 23, 2017 at 05:52 PM · Because the luthier probably won't get the soundpost back in the exact same position it was, and it may sound worse, or possibly better, but almost surely not exactly the same as it was. Assuming you were happy with that.

February 23, 2017 at 05:54 PM · I think Steven Xu meant the luthier might not get the soundpost back to exactly the same position as before it fell, and the tone could suffer as a result.

What I want to know is, what did your friend mean by "in transit"...shipping? What did your friend mean by "pressure" and how did he even know what had caused the bridge to break?

February 23, 2017 at 05:54 PM · duplicate deleted

February 23, 2017 at 06:26 PM · He used some soft cushioning between the fingerboard and the bridge as well as another cushioning between the tailpiece and the bridge and sent it via courier. However, after receiving the package, he found the bridge broken into two pieces after opening the case. Since he had loosened the strings beforehand, the sound post did not collapse. Whether the soundpost has shifted or changed position is a totally different question but there wasn't a noticeable change in tonal quality. I am not sure if a violin sound post, if secured properly, can easily collapse or shift. I too had a similar experience after buying a violin online from a reputable store. The bridge broke into two but the soundpost didn't. I don't know much about this subject but imagine the damage if a bridge breaks under full tension.

You are probably right in saying not to mess with the bridge. Taking your violin as a carry on is probably safer than checking it in or sending it via cargo. But sometimes you are forced to choose the latter.

February 23, 2017 at 06:44 PM · Usually when a bridge breaks in two its because it either falls over abruptly and/or it is not standing up straight but rather sitting at an angle, usually leaning forward as this is what gradual tuning higher of the strings will do to the bridge position, it also tends to want to make the bridge warp, its very important to keep your bridge standing straight up, and check it regularly, usually the back flat surface of the bridge should form a right angle to the sides, but ask the luthier who fit your bridge how he recommends it, some luthiers make the middle of the bridge a right angle not the back face, the optimal fitting of the bridge feet demands that the bridge be set at exactly the angle it was fitted otherwise the bridge feet are only contacting on one edge, not the whole feet.

February 23, 2017 at 06:48 PM · Yes, bridges just don't spontaneously break in half. You have to do something else very wrong. There has to be a shearing force.

February 23, 2017 at 08:11 PM · Yes, a bridge standing straight up like its supposed to is not going to snap in two, but if its leaning forward, the more the angle, the greater the likely hood it can snap, fall over, or warp.

February 23, 2017 at 10:28 PM · Gautam wrote: " Since he had loosened the strings beforehand, the sound post did not collapse."

Note: Loosening the strings does not guarantee that the soundpost will not fall; au contraire-- loosening the strings sufficiently releases the bridge's pressure on the top plate, which holds the soundpost in place.

February 24, 2017 at 01:29 PM · Just returned a couple of days ago from a trip, so these issues are fresh with me. As many have suggested, keep the violin in its normal state, (no taking anything off or down or loosening of strings, etc.) never check it with baggage, etc.

Just a couple of other things that I do:

1. I put it in a good case with suspension features and I make sure to secure the neck with the velcro neck restraint.

2. In the spring and summer I use an arch protector under the fingerboard (not when playing). I put it in snugly but never force it - just enough so that when I hold the violin vertically it doesn't fall down. For plane travel I'll use it no matter what the season.

3. Additionally, I'll put some foam under the tailpiece.

February 24, 2017 at 05:40 PM · I just saw the follow up question. Lyndon, Erin. Thanks for explanation.That's exactly what I meant.

Gautam, I guess there are enough people suggesting you not to loose the bridge already and explain why not to. If you have a good violin, the right thing to do is to keep the string tension especially when travelling. This is to protect your violin instead of risking you thought of.

When I traveled, I always took my violin as carry-on even if the airline said otherwise. I would check in all other bags just to keep my violin with me at all time. To myself, the violin worth more than the rest of the luggage combined.

oh, and a good violin case if your violin is worth protecting. For some cheaper violin, you may not care the sound that much.

Anyways, keeping the string tension and bridge would still keep you from a trip to the luthier and violin being out of commission.

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