Bridge reversed?

Edited: July 23, 2017, 10:43 AM · Hi all! First, I'm new here, so by way of introduction--I'm Mark. 48 years old. I play mainly Irish tunes on the fiddle, for just over 3 years now, so, not long. I'm shopping for an "advancing student" violin, as I've been playing a cheap Chinese instrument(Luger CV500, $300 plus 150 in proper setup and modifications)and I'm definitely ready for something a bit more playable,and with better tone. Anyway, my question:

The bridge on my fiddle seems to be reversed. In other words the flat side is facing the finger board, and not the tailpiece as it should. this actually clears up one issue I have been having--I have noticed that on other people's violins and violins I am trying out I find notes to be flat, when I play, so that I have to reach farther to be in tune. Today I discovered that everyone else's violin has the bridge on properly, but mine is reversed, which I believe would result in my string length being shorted, thus accounting for the narrower reach required to play notes on mine. I mean, it's only a few millimeters, but I think it could be quite noticeable in practice.

I DID try straightening my bridge, as I am aware that the top can creep one way or the other as you tune, but once I have the bridge looking like it should, the feet have lifted up on the fingerboard side, which tells me that the bridge is reversed, If it were not the feet should stay flat, right?

So is that the worst thing about this? Should I have the luthier who put the bridge on that way reverse it? Are there any bad things that can happen as a result of this, aside from feeling like I can't play when I try other folks fiddles?

Thanks in advance! Mark

Replies (19)

July 23, 2017, 10:43 AM · The G string should be higher off the board than the E. Is it? If not, your bridge was put on backwards and you can turn it around to face the other direction.
July 23, 2017, 10:46 AM · thanks I'll check that too.

I will try to post a pic or two as well.


July 23, 2017, 10:46 AM · testing:


Edited: July 23, 2017, 11:02 AM · lovely--another:


Edited: July 23, 2017, 11:02 AM · As seen above, the arc of the bridge is more symmetrical than many. Bu I think the E is still a bit closer than the G.

Another, here I have the bridge almost perpendicular on the tail side, but the feet are definitely showing space on the finger board side (though you can't see it in this pic:)


July 23, 2017, 11:30 AM · You need to get a new Bridge fitted IMHO
July 23, 2017, 11:35 AM · I agree--it's really just the one that came with the instrument. What does that generally cost, approximately?
Edited: July 23, 2017, 11:55 AM · I have the same "reversed bridge" situation on one of my cellos - it is obvious the luthier who last repaired the cello's serious damage 27 years ago set that bridge up that way. But it is also obvious that even with the bridge with the reversed curvature (which shortens the vibrating string length), the vibrating string length is still about 1 cm longer than on my other two cellos and this causes me intonation problems if I play this particular cello (which was my "student" cello and only cello for the first 12 years). I don't know why this was done, but as it is set up now this cello sounds better than any time since it moved to California with me 55 years go.

Based on my experience with this I suggest you measure the string distance from the nut to the bridge and compare it with 4/4 violin standard before you do anything else.

I can't really see the curvature or foot-gap problem in your photos, but to my eyes and compared to my violins, your bridge looks over-weight to me - I'd guess about 3 grams - while I recall mine weigh about 2.2 grams.

July 23, 2017, 11:56 AM · The things that affect fingering are 1) how high the strings are from the fingerboard, and 2) the length of the strings from where they leave the nut to where they touch the top of the bridge.

None of these things depend on which side of the bridge is perpendicular to the violin body. And there is no compelling reason to have any side perfectly perpendicular to the violin other than perhaps looks.

The feet should fit snug to the top.

The bridge should be reasonably upright so there is no tendency for the strings to pull the bridge to either side and cause it to slam over or warp. Having the side towards the tailpiece more perpendicular to the violin that the fingerboard side helps assure that the string force travels through the feet to prevent the tilting or warping of the bridge.

Take a ruler and measure the length of the string from nut to bridge. The next time you play someone else's fiddle and find your fingering off, measure their string length. Odds are their violin is setup with a different length.

July 23, 2017, 1:34 PM · Vibrating string length should be 33cm- 32.7cm
July 23, 2017, 1:38 PM · I did measure mine and I measured another I am borrowing, and they were about the same. 326mm, at the D string, but this is after I messed with it a bunch today. So maybe it's not a big issue. There certainly aren't alot of search results online for this problem.
Edited: July 23, 2017, 4:41 PM · Measure how high the strings are above the end of the fingerboard e string 3-4mm G string 5-6mm Measuring from the bottom of the string to the fingerboard.

There may be a way I can help you save your bridge

July 23, 2017, 4:56 PM · Hey Mark! Welcome!
Totally unrelated to your topic though, I suggest not using the 'tone killer' (the little green plastic sleeve on the E string) if your bridge has the parchment protector thingie (which it does). ;)
Edited: July 23, 2017, 6:22 PM · The "tone killer sleeve" takes out some of the really high harmonics of the tone on the e string, it does very little to the fundamental tone. I happen to like that, it can contribute to a sweeter, not brighter tone,but to each his own. The problem is the curvature of your bridge would have been determine to work without it, using the sleeve raise the e string relative to the a string and makes it harder to play the a string without bumping into the string on either side, especially in higher position, so don't use it.
July 23, 2017, 7:13 PM · Thanks all! I'll get rid of that sleeve. :) I'll also bring the fiddle to my luthier and see what she says about the bridge. Appreciate your help!

Edited: July 24, 2017, 1:02 AM · If your strings are a little bit high on the fingerboard, as per the measurements I mentioned above, there is a simple way to make the bridge feet fit properly, but it will slightly lower the strings up to about 1/2 mm. If this is a possibility you can call me on the telephone at the number on my website(click on my name, then website) And I'll guide you through a simple way to sandpaper fit the bridge feet to the violin.
July 24, 2017, 7:26 AM · I'll check as soon as I can, Thanks Lyndon!

July 24, 2017, 7:35 AM · you're welcome, might save you expense and trip to luthier to replace a bridge that can still be saved, the back side of the bridge looks flat enough to me as long as it sits perpendicular to the body, it should not angle forward
Edited: July 24, 2017, 8:16 AM · You can get the back of your bridge perpendicular to the body of your violin with your fingers. If it is badly warped then you have to do this gradually or get some pro help. Your luthier will measure the distance of each string from the edge of the fingerboard. If (s)he is worth his/her salt, (s)he will check a lot of other things too, just visually (it's in the nature of the experienced luthier to do this automatically) but especially the clearance of the strings at the nut and the setup of the tailpiece and fine adjusters.

If you have a DIY spirit, I recommend the Kitchen Table Violin Repairs book by Dalton Potter. If it's not in Potter's book, you don't do it yourself.

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