positioning soundpost

November 21, 2004 at 12:53 AM · Where should my soundpost be in relation to the bridge? What should I expect if I have it moved closer? Is there any danger of loosing the sound and not finding it again? (This is on a 19th cent. French violin that cost me an arm and a leg.)

Replies (8)

November 21, 2004 at 02:22 AM · It should be about 1mm inside the outside edge of the bridge, and 2 or 3mm south of the bridge (a 2-3mm space between the north of the post and the south edge of the bridge). You can move it quite close to the bridge, but fit and tension are more important than position, and if you don't have experience it's very unlikely you will set it right. This is the type of thing you should leave for a shop to do, IF you want it done right. Though I know a lot of players are unrepententant meddlers with their posts, I'm absolutely certain I can do it better than 100% of those that think they're doing it right.

November 21, 2004 at 04:03 AM · Well, the shop definitely didn't get it right the first time - it's extremely far from the bridge. I think I'll go in next week and have them meddle around with it and see what sounds best. Thanks for the pointers.

November 21, 2004 at 05:22 AM · Well the very first thing that you have to know is : YOU NEVER MOVE A POST WITHOUT LOOSENING

THE STRINGS OR NOCKING THE POST DOWN TO SEE IF IT IS A LOOSE POST OR A TIGHT POST !

Anyone who does not do this may cause damage to the instrument especially if it is old! There are so many factors to consider. I know that there are the standard specs, but exceptions to the rule within reason are the key secrets of making the violin sound at its best. You must look at the arching, grain, varnish, age, thickness,and play it to reveal it's weakness and strengths. Depending on the character of sound, you move the post closer, farther, inward or outward. Then there is the matter of loose fittng for thicker violins, or tighter fitting for thinner violins. Also we can't forget a wider or narrow post, or a wider or narrower grained post. The age of the post material is a factor. Everything matters.

November 21, 2004 at 11:10 AM · I have a spare violin, the pegs loosened and the post fell. I guess from just not being used. I ordered a post setter and will experiment with this one to get the best sound. It's a Meisel. Not top model but good in the sense it has real purfling, ebony fittings and such. Bridge is very thick so i will change that too. It will be fun to see the difference in sound.

November 21, 2004 at 11:50 AM · I went to get my fingerboard planed, not so long ago, and the next day the shop (a very reputable woman) phoned me to say that they had also adjusted my soundpost, which was "way out".

I was absolutely furious at first that anybody dare move my soundpost when I only took it in for a fingerboard planing (especially as I loved the sound of my violin), but eventually I decided to give it a listen.

Well, apparently it was far too far south (I assume south is towards the tailpiece) and that should create a muffled sound. She moved it about 3mm closer to the bridge.

So, I played it.....and DISASTER! It was the worst sound ever! It was completely uneven and muffled and horrible. She moved it back to where it was originally (as closely as she could get it) and it sounded a bit odd for a couple of weeks, but now I think it's about the same again.

The problem is, after playing with ANY adjustment, no matter how good or bad, you eventually get used to it, and there's no way to tell if it's better or worse than it was before. I know that my violin does still sound slightly different than it used to.

I might add that my violin is a new one, so after working the wood in for a couple of years, I was very annoyed to see that all my work had been undone, and I'm sure that it will need to be worked in for a lot longer still before it is at its optimum.

In short, be careful about fiddling around with sound posts (pun intended), and there is not really any correct or incorrect position. This woman was very surprised that the completely "incorrect" position was muuuch better than her "optimum" position that she recommended (and she agreed with me!)

November 21, 2004 at 02:43 PM · Thomas, the most important thing to do in your experimenting is to not mess up the edges of the f-holes. All you have to do for this to happen is to touch them with the setter, so you should concentrate at least as much on that as getting the post in the right place.

The setter as it comes from the factory is much too large, and the edges are too sharp--you should grind it down, and polish it, if you can, before using it. In this picture, http://www.mindspring.com/~mdarnton/setters.jpg ,

the middle one's been modified (on the left is stock, on the right the one of mine I like the best)

November 21, 2004 at 03:23 PM · Please read my previous message. Some things to add to my previous comment. If the bridge was changed or put back slightly higher or lower, the sound will also change even if the post may be in the old spot. The reason why your violin sounded muffled with the post higher up was probably 2 reasons: As you get closer to the middle of a violin the inner height gets larger thus causing a slightly looser fit (using the same post). Also the thickness of the top changes. Sometimes due to poor fitting methods, the area closer to the bridge is worn down to be thinner.If the violin is new however, the area closer to the bridge might be thicker, thus causing a tight fit that could also choke the tone. Look at the top of the F hole to see if it is slightly higher or feel the area behind the bridge with your finger to see if you feel a bump. This would indicate a tight fit. If it's sinking in that means it's too loose.The post also might not be standing up straight inside. The best way to see it, is to take all of the strings off, the tailpiece and the end button. Then look through the end hole to see if it's standing perpendicular to the top and bottom.If you need more help, feel free to contact me at docenko@yahoo.com

November 22, 2004 at 10:31 PM · Hi Daniel, if you have an expensive french violin you should take it to a highly qualified luthier and work with him/her to find the right position for your post. In general, this time of year--when the weather starts to turn cold--is a time when violins might need to get a post adjustment.

There is an acceptable range with regard to where the post can sit, but in general the top of it should be lined up directly behind the bridge foot. My understanding is that about one sound post diameter (or less) behind the bridge is standard. The bottom of the post is often what gets adjusted more.

I've been assured by many luthiers that learning to do adjustments is difficult and should not be attempted by anyone without significant training and experience. If your post is way out of place or is jammed in too tighly, your violin can be damaged so be careful and find someone very qualified to take care of it.

An out of place post can--if it's too tight--make a dent on the inside of your violin which which future adjustments very difficult. I believe post which is too loose or too tight can also cause cracking on the top of the violin.

Good luck

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