How To Setup A New Violin Bridge
I have a Meisal I bought about ten years ago, and haven't played it since then. I would like to start "fiddle" around with it again.
The bridge is warped from sitting, and the finish under the bridge is gouged. Other than that the violin seems in fine working order.
I have asked about having a professional set it up, but they all want over $100 where I live. That was about a year ago. I bought some new bridges on aliexpress. What do I need to do to set up a new violin bridge? Does anyone have any online tutorials? Also do shallow scratches and gouges on the surface of the wood in the area where the bridge rests make the violin sound bad, less playable, or worth less money?
A warped bridge can be straightened out with moisture, pressure and heat.
You will not make a good bridge on your first try. There are too many mistakes you can make.
Make yourself a bridge jack - or buy one - you will find it advantageous to keep pressure on the violin belly and soundpost. You could buy one but if you look them up on line you may be able to figure out how to make your own.
This is what a skilled luthier does to provide the best performing bridge for a violin, which is what tone and playability is all about:
Would you take your violin to be worked on by a complete inexperienced amateur, there are reasons why you go to an experienced professional for difficult operations.
This will give you a rough idea of what's involved in fitting a bridge:
David, that trianglestrings link, which usefully can be downloaded as a pdf, certainly fills in the enormous gaps in my very brief summary. Thank you!
You'll need a professional bridge jack in your tool kit if you're taking down bridges for whatever reason on a regular basis and don't want the soundpost to fall or move. If, on the other hand, taking a bridge down is a rare event - in my case changing a tailpiece - you can make your own jack which does the job effectively.
I stopped counting my violins after the first dozen or so. Picked up one today. Vastly improved by my amateur efforts. You must have one of these:
Bridge jacks and other fancy gizmos are just an added cost. I do fine without them. Besides—it's a good way to learn soundpost setting at the same time.
That tool only allows you to rough out the feet of the bridge, it is entirely unsuitable for a final perfect fit.
What gets me is of the luthiers I've used none has asked what sound I wanted to end up with. Also, as mentioned above, get yourself a sound post tool. Real cheap from China. Look through the tailpeg hole (tailpiece out obv.) and make sure it ain't slanted.
SO you're claiming that unlike the luthiers, you're able to customize the sound to your wishes by doing the work yourself???
I guess one can play luthier and practice with cheap violins, but none of you "self-made" tinkerers will ever touch my instrument (I wouldn't mess with it myself, actually.) Only thing I do on my own is change strings, pull back bridge whenever necessary, change fine tuners the rare case it's needed, and change the chinrest (which I do not need to do for the time being.) All other "simple fixes" such as soundpost adjustment, gluing seams, and whatnot I leave to the true experts.
I can hear the difference between a thick vs thin bridge (and the graduations).
The mass of the bridge (thick vs. thin), has a large effect on the sound. The wooden mute adds mass to the bridge. I have done a few bridges on cheap student grade instruments, making the adjustments by feel and sound. You must have a bridge jack. The feet need to be thin enough to be slightly flexible. It is Very time consuming. For any instrument of quality and value the Luthier's labor cost is actually cheap compared to their time and expertise.
By the time you buy the tools and the blanks and whatnot, you might as well just spend $100 with the luthier. Fitting a bridge is mostly a one-off.
This is the first David Burgess video I have watched and there was about 280 likes and 220 dislikes on this video. Reading the comments shows that there is a large percentage of people with no sense of humor.
Yes, there were some people who thought I was really doing this on an actual Strad, and others who didn't realize that the whole process was a satire on fitting bridge feet with sandpaper, which high-level pros do not do. The negative reactions from the clueless have been quite amusing. :-)
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