Tool for Adjusting/Replacing Bridge

Edited: October 9, 2018, 5:01 AM · I recently witnessed a violin maker using a wonderful tool for replacing the bridge. The tool was placed right adjacent to the old bridge in support of the four strings. Then a screw on the tool was turned to raise the height of the tools and the strings it supported, thus releasing the tension between the strings and the bridge. Then the old bridge was easily removed and a new bridge inserted and properly positioned, before the height of the tool was again lowered and removed.

Does anyone know what the tool is called and where we can buy that tool? Thanks a lot for your answers.

Replies (16)

October 9, 2018, 5:16 AM · I have it. Bought it in ebay. String lifter it's how I've seen them called.
Edited: October 9, 2018, 12:16 PM · "Bridge Jack"

I think I bought my violin bridge jack from Johnson Strings decades ago. My son made my cello bridge jack using the top half of an old cello bridge and fastened it to bottom half that rest on the cello itself. Once you know how the design works it is easy to see how to make one.

The version sold now:

How to make one yourself:

October 9, 2018, 12:20 PM · Checking on line in this modern era of electronics and failing infrastructure I find that "bridge jack" may be too general a term in this century. Carlos's "string lifter" will get you to the product faster and cheaper.
October 9, 2018, 12:30 PM · Question for me is, which side of the bridge should it be used on; if you put in on the tailpiece side, then it is right over the soundpost, which should be structurally the best. But on the fingerboard side, the string angle is less, is it not? I say it should go over the sp. I think I purchased my German-made one from International Violin Supplies.
October 9, 2018, 7:22 PM · Might be useful to work on an existing bridge, but won't help much to fit a new bridge, you need to have the strings off for that.IMHO
Edited: October 9, 2018, 9:46 PM · Use your string lifter on either side of your bridge as it suits your requirements of the moment. Worrying about structural issues isn't necessary because you're going to loosen the strings somewhat anyway. You don't just stick it in there and lift fully tensioned strings. (Or maybe you do, but you shouldn't.)
October 10, 2018, 11:59 AM · It's been a while, but if I recall correctly I put the bridge jack on the tailpiece side BECAUSE that way the gentler slope of the strings on the fingerboard side is a better angle for tilting the old bridge out - but Mark is probably right.
October 10, 2018, 12:14 PM · Unfortunately, the device won't help with changing the tailpiece! A different procedure is needed if you don't want the soundpost moving or falling, by which procedure you can safely change a tailpiece in 20 minutes or less, including a different set of strings.

I've done the procedure a number of times over the years, the latest being yesterday when I changed a steel string set and a fine tuner tailpiece for a baroque tailpiece and a set of gut strings on my Jay Haide. I must say the JH is all the better for the change!

October 10, 2018, 7:07 PM · Thanks everyone for your help. I have ordered one String Lifter from International Violin Supplies.
October 10, 2018, 7:16 PM · One good use for a string lifter is to switch between a standard bridge and a piezo bridge like a Baggs. For that you would have to put the lifter on the fingerboard side, because a piezo bridge has a wire coming out of the tailpiece side.
October 10, 2018, 9:21 PM · @ Trevor: What different procedure are you using to replace a tailpiece so fast without the soundpost falling?
October 10, 2018, 10:15 PM · When I have stripped down an instrument (removed all strings at the same time) I have loosened the strings gradually and gradually tugged the sound post laterally toward the ff-hole be assure it will be held in place when the bridge is removed. I understand that the soundpost is supposed to be held by friction when the string pressure is removed - but my luck on that used to fail every time (violins and cellos) so I got fairy adept at resurrecting soundposts - but I really hated having to retreave fallen posts from inside instruments - especially cellos!

But I think I have my ultimate tailpieces and tailcords now so "God willing" my luck will hold.

October 10, 2018, 11:16 PM · I have only been able to remove a tailpiece without the soundpost falling once. Every other time I hear the dreaded clic-roll-roll-roll.
I found my tailpiece but sometimes I think about changing the string afterlength to experiment in +/- 1 or 2 mm, and to do it by adjusting the tailcord. But I dare not, because it takes me days or weeks to find the right soundpost position.
Soundpost is easy to place, but it takes days to settle the sound, then adjust, wait for it to settle again, etc...
Edited: October 16, 2018, 8:32 AM · Carlos, the procedure I use for changing the tailpiece is this:

1. Mark the position of the bridge accurately with little strips of "Magic" tape or similar that can be peeled of later without marking the varnish.

2. Wrap a cloth firmly round the violin's waist between the bridge and fingerboard.

3. Hold the cloth in place with an adjustable strap wrapped round it and tightened firmly. But not so tight that you hear creaking - that's bad news! The cloth is there to protect the varnish from the strap material.

4. Have violin horizontal and held securely - in its carrying case is usually a good option. This is a backstop "just in case" part of the procedure.

5. Let the strings down gradually, not suddenly - you don't want unexpected dramatic changes in the forces within the instrument. The bridge will loosen and fall away. Remind yourself which way the bridge should be facing for when you later reinstall it.

6. Do whatever you need to with the tailpiece. When I changed the micro-adjuster tailpiece for a baroque tailpiece I had already installed the gut strings on that baroque tailpiece. It was then a simple matter to remove the old tailpiece together with the old strings and replace it with the baroque tailpiece and insert the gut strings into their pegs.

7. Tighten the pegs just sufficiently to take up the slack in the strings with just a suspicion of tension. Make sure the tailpiece is properly attached, paying particular attention to the tailpiece button which should be firmly inserted into the end block of the violin. If you don't check this there is the chance that the button will have loosened without being noticed, which is potentially not a good mechanical situation (i.e. it could break).

8. The strings should now be lying flat along the fingerboard. Insert the bridge under the strings exactly in its proper location. Doing so will raise the strings and increase their tension sufficiently to hold the bridge in place. Make sure the bridge is standing straight.

9. Gradually tune up in stages, at each stage making sure that the bridge hasn't wandered or isn't standing straight. If so, correct it before proceeding.

10. When all the strings are up to pitch - or preferably about a quarter tone flat at this stage - remove the strap and cloth from around the waist, and also the bridge position marker tapes.

11. Wait a few minutes for things to settle, bring the tuning that last quarter tone up to concert pitch and again check the bridge to make sure it is straight. If it's a change of a string set you'll probably have to check the tuning over the next hour or so.

I've carried out this procedure perhaps half a dozen times or more over the years with my violins. The sound post has never fallen over or shifted.

October 11, 2018, 1:35 PM · I made a "lasso" for retrieving a dropped soundpost out of a six inch length of narrow brass tubing, a used ball end e string, and a small spherical wooden handle from the hardware store. Basically you make the lasso by putting the e string through the brass tube with a loop at one end and fastening one end of the e string to the tube. The other end, with the ball on it is left to stick out so you can pull on it to tighten the loop once you've rolled the SP into the loop. The wooden sphere is just a refinement to make the tool more comfy to use. You drill a hole the diameter of the brass tube half-way through it, and a smaller hole for the e string the rest of the way through. Then you thread the e string through and stick it onto the outer end of the brass tube. I can usually retrieve an SP pretty easily with this.
Edited: October 12, 2018, 4:27 AM · Hi Trevor.
I tried that method before, but it doesn't work in my violin. The tourniquete (that's what it is) around the waist, actually loosens the sounpost easier because the force on the sides is bigger than on top and bottom.
Tried it many times unsuccesfully.

There is one theoretical way to remove the tailpiece without releasing tension on the top, but I have not tried it yet. Involves the string lifter.
The idea would be to set the string lifter. Remove the A string and put an old one in its stead this way: Make a lasso using the loop of the old string and tie the lasso to the tailpin. Direct that string to the peg without attaching it to any part of the tailpiece and tighten with the peg. When that string has the appropiate tension, you can release slowly the other strings and remove the bridge and tailpiece. The bridge lifter and that extra string should be able to keep the tension on the soundpost. Then, reverse the procedure.

As I said, I didn't try it yet, but should work.

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