Soundpost Fell Travelling in India

Edited: November 5, 2018, 10:42 PM · Hi Everyone,

I'm having a long stay in India and my soundpost fell out a few months ago. I had no idea what to do, so I stopped playing the instrument. I finally found a local luthier, but when I got the violin back, the bridge was positioned way off. When I carefully tried to move the bridge back, the soundpost fell again! I wanted to take Carnatic violin lessons while here and the teacher says for Indian music a soundpost is not necessary. But I've always been under the impression that a soundpost is necessary or there could be damage from the string tension, is this correct? I won't be going back to US until next summer and I'm wondering people's opinion....Should I buy a tool from Amazon and try this myself or wait another 9 months until I go back? I've been playing violin for 25 years and know the delicacy of the soundpost placement, but has anyone really had a problem when trying it themselves? It's not the most expensive instrument, $2500, but I'm not rich or a professional player, only play for fun. I would love advice, thanks!

Replies (8)

Edited: November 6, 2018, 1:14 AM · First thing, do not put tension on the strings without a sound post. You will damage the top plate most certainly. You moved the bridge back? From where to where? Also it sounds like your sound post is too short (too dry perhaps?), it shouldn't fall so easily. You can order a post setting tool online, not very expensive, and reset the post yourself if you have to, but do your homework and read about how it should be done, do's and don't to avoid possible damage to your top plate (crack at the sound post location would basically kill your instrument). A real luthier would be highly recommended but you may not have that option where you are. Certainly the teacher who told you a sound post isn't necessary is an idiot, don't listen to him/her, there isn't much worse you can do to your instrument than playing without a sound post!
November 6, 2018, 1:25 AM · I would think that a sound post that tends to fall over in a strung violin wasn't providing much support to the top plate anyway. I wonder: under what circumstances would it make a difference in terms of risk for damage whether such a slightly short sound post is in place or not?
November 6, 2018, 6:30 AM · A S-shaped soundpost setter is pretty conventional for inserting the post back into the violin through the E-side ff-hole. When I have watched pros do this that setter was all they needed to do. As an amateur I have found it helpful to also have a "scissors-style" setter to move the post - although you have to be careful not to push or pull too hard on it because that could damage the instrument.

Amazon sells a large variety of soundpost setters. The slightly more expensive ones with plastic protection around the middle of the S-type helps amateurs avoid damaging the finish or wood around the ff-hole and so is probably worth the extra few dollars. The various metal gauges Amazon sells as part of some setter packages do nothing that cannot be done with an index card with a few measured pencil marks on it - and as an amateur who has not likely ever measured the original soundpost position one would not be helpful.

The soundpost should initially be set about one bridge thickness south of the E-string bridge foot (toward the end button). Any further adustment in latitude or longitude depend on what gets you the best tone qualities.

November 6, 2018, 6:44 AM · I remember when the post fell down in my bass way out yonder one time. I put it back up with two wooden pencils and some sticky tape. The violin-sized equivalent would be toothpicks.
November 6, 2018, 8:55 AM · It is normal that a violin travelling to a hot humid climate expands, and the soundpost becomes too loose.
The opposite also happens, so be careful when you get back. Don't set a soundpost too tight and leave it going back to dry weather.
Your violin arching has changed. It would need a new, slightly longer soundpost. If you try to put back the old one, you will probably have to move it to the trebble just to put it. Not in the right place.
There are very good and clear instructions about setting up a soundpost. Those include "careful with...". The problem it's that stupid and carefree ignore those advices. If you are not stupid or carefree, order a soundpost tool and a long one you can cut to your dimensions. And following the advices and carefully, put it.
November 7, 2018, 12:02 AM · Thanks everyone for replies and advice for putting in the soundpost! I feel confident I can do it, thanks Andrew for the tool tips! But maybe Carlos is right, it is weird that I never had this problem until I came here to the tropics. It's very probably that the soundpost is now too short and I don't think I feel confident enough to cut a new one! I guess I'll just wait until I get back, unfortunately, but this is great to know for the future. I probably need a longer post or should not bring my violin to a place that has 80-90% humidity year round!
November 7, 2018, 1:18 AM · You can use the old one, but you need to put it with the strings applying some tension to the plate. And be extra careful when loosening strings.
I still advice you to buy a tool and try to learn to put it, with plenty of care. It will not be optimal, but will still be better than nothing.
You can't change the wind, but you can change your sails. Circumstances are rarely perfect. You have to adapt.

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