Bridge breaking?

Edited: October 21, 2019, 1:17 PM · My bridge seems more bent/curved on the E string side than on the G string side. Is this usual or should I be concerned?

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Replies (9)

October 21, 2019, 1:38 PM · If you take it in to a violin shop/maker they can straighten the bridge a little, at this point, but you will be needing new bridge in the not too distant future. Straightening it can buy you some time.
Edited: October 21, 2019, 1:49 PM · And why did this happen? Maybe I was careless?
The problem is going to one, I hope I can soon.
I've seen new bridges on Thomann, but they're all blank, which is a real shame!
October 21, 2019, 2:15 PM · There's a lot more to getting a new bridge than simply ordering and installing one. You need a skilled luthier to fit the bridge to your instrument.
October 21, 2019, 2:25 PM · Until you've been trained to shape bridges properly, you don't want to buy a bridge online and try to slip it onto your violin. The feet of the bridge have to be shaped to match the exact shape of your violin's top. Then there is the question of how thin the bridge needs to be at the top, where the strings cross over.

Taking your existing bridge off to put a new bridge on runs the risk of having your soundpost fall down. If that ever happens, loosen your strings and lower your bridge so it doesn't cause problems with the belly of the violin. And take the violin immediately to a luthier to have the soundpost reset and the bridge properly placed.

Luthiers have a neat gizmo which is effectively an adjustable bridge, which they can place just in front of your current bridge and screw it up so the strings are lifted off your bridge but the tension is maintained on the belly of the violin so the soundpost won't fall over.

You can gently straighten your current bridge under the E string by grabbing it between your first finger and your thumb and very gently pulling it straight, exerting just enough pressure to get it to move. I do that frequently on my violin. If you're the least bit uncomfortable doing that, then take it to a luthier. He/she will be best able to advise you as to whether you need a new bridge.

What causes it? Temperature fluctuations can cause the bridge curling as strings shorten and lengthen with the temperature changes. If you keep checking it and keep your bridge straight all the time it should last for a long time.

Edited: October 21, 2019, 3:32 PM · It happens because you tune the strings with 1 or 2 fine tuners from that side and the bridge is pulled backwards each time. Loosen the strings and let the bridge relax for some time (minutes to overnight) before tightening the strings again. It works for me.
October 21, 2019, 3:52 PM · Do not loosen all your strings at once. You risk having the sound post fall over.
October 21, 2019, 4:03 PM · Bridges warp for all sorts of reasons, but without having the bridge in hand you really can't say why it happened. Generally, with a well cut bridge, if it warps it is because the player didn't properly maintain the bridge. The key here is the phrase, "well cut bridge". I've got fiddles with 50 year old bridges that are perfectly straight, and I have instruments that have bridges that were recently cut that have warped.

How to cut a bridge is beyond the scope of a post on Violinist.com, but a good violin maker can help you when it is time. David is correct. Fitting and carving a bridge is a skill that takes time to develop, but only after you have learned to sharpen the tools that you will fit and carve the bridge with!

Edited: October 21, 2019, 6:48 PM · I have always checked the bridges on the instruments I am playing frequently, probably every time I have to retune close to 1/4 or 1/2 a half-tone and at least weekly regardless. As a result I have never had to replace a bridge because of bend or warp.

When teaching I always checked my students' bridges at every lesson and adjusted them if they needed it.

I have had my own bridges replaced because I wanted them higher or lower or because I thought a different luthier might improve the instrument in some way. But I still have utile bridges that came on instruments I obtained from 45 to 70 years ago.

Edited: October 22, 2019, 9:44 AM · I had a bridge snap in two without warning when I was practicing a couple of years ago. The bridge was about 20 years old, certainly wasn't warped, and I had always made sure it was perpendicular to the violin's top. Close examination with a lens of the break, which was right across the middle of the bridge, revealed an internal defect in the wood which I don't think I would have spotted externally. When I had the new bridge installed I then got my luthier to replace the other bridge (also about 20 years old) on my second violin - "just in case".

Replacement of the two bridges resulted in an obvious improvement all round on both violins.


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