Questions on correct bridge placement
Hi. I'd like to know which is the best bridge placement for a violin.
I'm playing on a €400 yamaha student instrument (supposedly 'modeled' after a strad) and want to make it sound the best possible way, but unfortunately, I can't reach a luthier at the moment and I'm not sure it would be worth to do so with such an instrument. On my first class, my teacher placed the bridge exactly where the 'f hole nicks' are. It's been there since. The instrument holds some sentimental value to me since I got it as a gift.
So I'll ask you:
(1) Does the bridge have to be always where the 'f hole nicks' are located?
(2) If not, where should it be?
(3) What are the effects of a 'perfect' bridge placement? A more brilliant/tamed sound? More harmonics? More/less volume?
(4) What could you recommend me to make this violin sound better? (Better = slightly less harsh + slightly more tamed + slightly more rich).
On a "perfectly" made violin the bridge will be best located between the nicks in the f-holes and the soundpost will be located in a specific location relative to the treble bridge foot.
"perfect" translated to standardized means that the ratio between body stop and bridge stop is 2:3. As Andrew mentioned, sometimes this notches are not where they are supposed to be. For a sample if body stop is 130 mm, bridge stop (position of notches) should be at 195mm.
Rocky your figures make no sense, for a neck length (edge of top to nut) of 13cm, and body stop to the notches of 19.5 cm (edge of top to notches) is standard
For a 4/4 violin built to "standard" measurements, placing the bridge between the f-hole nicks will give a playable string length between 326mm to 330mm.
Lyndon, yes of course. corrected. Thanks!
A Yamaha commercial student instrument will be made to exact standardized dimensions, so you can safely assume that the position between the f-hole notches will be the correct bridge placement. Stop second guessing your teacher and carry on with your studies. Though I guess it didn't hurt to ask.
Andrew, Rocky, David, Lyndon and Carmen: Thank you for taking your time to write your explanations and correct any mistake (that I wouldn't have noticed).
The vibration of the strings feeds to the body of the violin mainly through the bridge feet. To maximize the potential vibration of the violin body the "central" bridge placement does that, anything else will not.
I met once a luthier that said was "specialized" in sound adjustments. You give him a violin and he will spend time finding out the best possible fit for the bridge and post. Of course, I guess he will set the violins to a standard, and from there, the owner of the violin should go and tell him what they want: more treble, darker sound, louder, sweet sound, etc... Not really a beginner thing.
To a small extent, soundpost position can act as the tone controls on the violin, but its limited in its effect, and not necessarily the best thing to let the customer dictate what kind of tone a violin should produce, there's a lot to be said for adjusting for the optimal placement and leaving it at that.
I'm not touching anything. And I would never dare to move the soundpost myself, anyways. I'd mess everything up. But I like to learn the reason for things being as they are. Why is the soundpost where it is, and why is the bridge where it is. So thanks again Andrew, Lyndon and Paul.
General soundpost position was arrived at by centuries of trial and error, and some of that is still necessary when finding exactly where in that general area the soundpost should go.
Over the centuries, the dimensions of the violin, which includes bridge placement, evolved as a series of compromises among tone, power and ability for a human to play comfortably. You can research articles on the changes Stradivari made to the dimensions of his violins over the many years he lived.
When it comes to bridge position, any change affects the relationship between the post and the tailpiece. Move the bridge, and you may have to correct both the sound post position and tailpiece (i.e. string afterlength) to achieve optimum balance and sound. Not a trivial thing to do. Before moving the bridge, you should check the string afterlength resonance frequencies and ascertain if it isn't optimal already.
But Lyndon, if a customer comes to your shop asking for a sound adjustment, I hope you ask them what they want, or what are they disappointed about the current sound. Based on their opinions and request, I guess you will check if everything is in place, and then you should move things around to meet the requirements of the customer.
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