What's the distance between G/E strings and fingerboard

March 11, 2017 at 09:35 PM · I bought a violin from www.corilon.com, whom are known for being very professional and the owner insisted that it's set to international standards.

The G string is about 7 mm high from the fingerboard and the E string is 5 mm.

I have checked several website and it seems that the distance between G and the fingerboard should be around 5.5 mm while for the E it should be around 3.5 mm.

My violin is German made by Georg Winterling in 1922.

Any idea why this discrepancy and what should be the exact distance?

Replies (22)

March 11, 2017 at 10:40 PM · I'm not familiar with international standards but from an engineering perspective, assuming that the nut is the same height for all strings, then the part that determines the height of the string above the fingerboard will be the bridge. Therefore the curve of the bridge, or perhaps some other issue, will lead to the discrepancy. One other possible problem may be a fingerboard that isn't straight (that should not be but it happens). If it is a warped fingerboard I'd have a real problem with the seller.

As a violinist, how does it play? Does the height have a negative effect on playing, particularly in the higher positions?

A new bridge or changing the curve of the existing bridge should easily resolve a bridge discrepancy. However, changing may well change the tonal response or the playability of the instrument.

March 11, 2017 at 11:52 PM · There is no exact distance, it varies with the preference of the player and/or the luthier setting it up, are you measuring from the bottom of the string?? I wouldn't go over 6mm for G and 4mm for e, but I know some players like even higher, at least I have heard.

March 13, 2017 at 04:25 AM · What made you measure and ask? If the string tension feels too high for you, odds are that it is, and if you've done the measurements correctly, they back you up. IMO 7mm is very high for the G string, even if some players happen to prefer it and consider it fine for themselves.

Henry Strobel's "Useful Measurements for Violin Makers" gives 5.5/3.5 as the standard for gut strings for 4/4 violins, 4/2.5 for steel strings, and perlon unspecified but between the two. I presume that the measurements are made close to the end of the fingerboard to the middle of the string as was once mentioned by a luthier on this board if I recall correctly. These precise numbers are guidelines though, as the violinist is the authority on what is best for that player, and there may be further variation according to the specific choice of strings.

March 13, 2017 at 05:39 AM · I set my G 5mm and E 3mm from the finger board and feel very comfortable. However on my viola it is 7.0 mm for the C and 5.0 mm for the A string. 7mm and 5mm is very high for the violin.

March 13, 2017 at 09:41 AM · We should keep their distance and clearance from fingerboard according to our need. We can lower them a lot. There is no hard and fast rule that you must make exact that mm measurement. Gut or nylon strings have lower guage, in other words they need to be higher than steel strings because they would vibrate more.

March 13, 2017 at 02:15 PM · I setup my violins with a standard 5.5 mm for G string and 4 mm for E string. Unless the customer asks for anything else.

March 13, 2017 at 04:15 PM · Look up "fingerboard projection," what it should be, and how to measure it. I fear that your violin's neck might be sagging.

March 13, 2017 at 06:58 PM · To me it seems fine... the issue was raised by a luthier (She graduated about a year ago) that I have met. The luthier told me that the bridge was too high and it must be lowered so I don't have to press much on the string.

The people at Corilon, told me that I should not alter the measurements as the violin was properly set.

So I went with the latter recommendation. I guess, as long as I'm not facing any problem why mess with it.

March 13, 2017 at 07:15 PM · Seems like bad advice from both parties, you should be able to lower it if you want to, and leave it high if you want to.

March 13, 2017 at 07:22 PM · I am having a similar issue with a violin where the strings feel to low relative to the fingerboard. For example, the e-string can be pressed down in the 8th position as easily as the third position. I don't know whether it's issue with the bridge height or the fingerboard projection (angle relative to the bridge), or both. I suppose fingerboard length could be another variable.

March 13, 2017 at 09:47 PM · Mohammed Hajjar, if you are in a different climate than the luthier who set up your instrument it is possible that the measurements have changed since it was set up, but the measurements for the top and bottom strings you cite are too high for a violin - even on the upper limit for a cello.

If it does not bother you , fine, but once you start playing higher up the fingerboard visit your luthier friend again and have it fixed. Not only will it be too difficult to play, but it will stretch the strings too much when you play and you will go out of tune.

March 13, 2017 at 10:02 PM · Raymond, your fingerboard is supposed to be slightly below flat in the middle, perhaps this effect is done too much on your violin, it should be about .5mm below flat on the e string,and about 1mm below flat in the middle on the G string. If its more than that it could explain you situation. A common situation where fingerboard has warped up over time.

March 13, 2017 at 10:07 PM · holding a straightedge along the length of the fingerboard right next to the e string and the G string, you should see a light gap in the middle where the fingerboard is lower that the straightedge, which should be touching at either end.

March 14, 2017 at 04:02 AM · 7mm/5mm is definitely on the high side of standard practice. But simply lowering the bridge can have negative effects on the tone and power of the sound.

You should have an experienced luthier measure the neck and finger board dimensions to make sure nothing strange has happened before deciding to change the bridge height.

In the end, if you are happy with the violin sound and power, and can comfortably finger the strings, then do not change anything.

March 14, 2017 at 05:32 AM · I agree - we do the standard distances G (middle of the string) - 6 mm and E - 4 (middle of the string) mm. The G string has a diameter of 1 mm and we measure to the middle of the string.

Your neck angle has probably slightly changed due to climate changes between Saudi Arabia and Germany, I think you purchased it about half or one year ago. We would do a slight free correction for you immediately. Your local violin shop will be able to help at no or minor cost, but please observe well that the bridge curve is not changed. We would prefer to do it here in our workshop. You mentioned that you will be visiting Europe in the near future, so why don't you bring or send it in while you are in the EU so that we can take a look at it?

Kind regards

Annette

March 14, 2017 at 05:42 AM · @Lyndon Taylor

"March 13, 2017 at 07:15 PM ยท Seems like bad advice from both parties, you should be able to lower it if you want to, and leave it high if you want to."

Altering bridge height and dimension will _always_ alter the sound as well and for this reason we would prefer to do any custom adjustments on instruments we have sold and tonally set up ourselves. The dimensioning and positioning of bridge and soundpost is a very delicate system

March 14, 2017 at 06:27 AM · You're not the only people in the world that know how to custom set up bridge height for a customer!!

March 14, 2017 at 06:30 AM · Sorry I did'n mean to say that. Each luthier or workshop has his own principles though.

March 14, 2017 at 08:19 AM · I'm not trying to put you down, most luthiers would prefer to do adjustments on instruments they sell themselves, but when you are running a mail order business, that becomes more difficult.

March 14, 2017 at 10:29 AM · Exactly, but you know yourself how easily a carefully optimized sound can be messed up.

March 15, 2017 at 01:33 AM · "So I went with the latter recommendation. I guess, as long as I'm not facing any problem why mess with it."

Mohammed, it's your violin, and you're the one playing it, so you're the judge of if it's too high or not, and you might find that in your continued playing, that it is too high and you'd be better off with a configuration which would be easier to play when you start approaching more challenging material.

I know I would be, but before you make any changes, you might want to try other violins to see how they feel to play with lower string clearance.

BTW, clearance can also be changed by lowering the nut, and adjusting the scoop, so adjusting the bridge isn't the only option. Be sure that a good and experienced luthier makes any changes -- they'd be the ones to determine which adjustments are appropriate. I'd consider Corilon's offer myself (including their advice of checking the neck angle), but probably ask them to lower it to 5.5.

March 15, 2017 at 02:35 AM · I'm pretty damn certain Corilion knows how to properly set up nut height, and the scoop of the fingerboard.

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