Nut height and fettling
On almost all string instruments there's an obsession with the height of the nut action, so I'm guessing it's the same with the violin and its family? Sure I feel my fiddle probably has a highish action, but I don't think I'll risk filing it down.
Or do people do that kind of thing to a fiddle routinely?
String height is maybe a bit more complicated on a violin- it's based on a relationship between nut, bridge, tailpiece, neck, and fingerboard. If you lower the nut, but not the bridge, then you'll have to press harder with the 3rd and 4th fingers than with the 1st and 2nd. It will probably adversely effect your sound as well.
A commonly recommended rule is that you should be able to slide a business card between the strings and fingerboard right up to the nut. But if the space is much larger than this, the nut is probably too high. If you file it down yourself you may need to make new grooves for the strings (or deepen the existing grooves). For this job you will want an appropriate nut file or set of files from a luthiery supplier.
Isn't this backwards?
Yes, people do this on a semi-regular basis, and that is one of the many things that keeps my shop doors open!
Loved that title!
Well, my fiddle only cost $50, so if I ever wanted to experiment, now's the time! I've got some diamond files. But if you say don't, I won't.
Did you try the business card test or Duane's 1/2 string diameter guideline?
@duane and Guglielmus
Ok now check the distance between the other end of the fingerboard and the strings. This is commonly 3.5mm at E and 5.5mm at G or thereabouts. Some people will like lower, and string type can factor in here, but if your string heights are much higher than these numbers then you might consider lowering the bridge.
4mm e and 6mm G is what a lot of professionals want, its mostly amateurs that want low action.
I'm happy with it now, considering. Even if the nut action were a little high, that only really matters with frets, where the intonation can be awful.