Strings too high?
Ive been playing on a violin that was donated to me for about a year now, but theres always been something that's felt off. The strings were very hard to press down. Even when using minimum viable pressure, which I spent a long time trying to perfect, It still felt like I was pressing too hard. This ended up causing an injury which I am currently healing from. 2 days before I began resting my left hand, I went to my orchestra teacher and asked if I could try out different violins after school to see how they felt. To my surprise, all of the other violins I've tried were drastically easier to play than the one I've been playing. Pressing down on the g string with my fingers, which used to be a huge issue with the donated violin, required little to no effort at all. This made me believe that my bridge was too high, so I switched the bridge on the donated violin with another violin's bridge in hope that it would change how easy it was to press the strings down
yet it didnt. The bridge did nothing, so now I'm not exactly sure what is wrong. I would go to a luthier if I had any money. Could it be the nut? Are my strings truly too high or is there something that is causing this issue?
I tried sharing an image but it didnt work.
Measure the distance from your strings to the end of the fingerboard with a small, precise ruler and report those back to us.
The height/angle of the fingerboard varies between violins, so a bridge that is the right height for one violin may not be the right height for another. Your violin may have a low fingerboard. I had the same issue with the violin I inherited.
A bridge replacement usually isn't very expensive (that being a relative term, I realize) and a competent luthier will be able to match the bridge to the instrument for proper string height. You shouldn't develop pain in your left hand from playing a properly set up instrument.
This article by violinmaker, Jonathon Price, has plenty of info with some basic measurements that might help you better pin point what might need to be addressed on your violin: https://adbowsllc.com/2019/11/12/checking-over-a-setup-on-a-violin-viola-and-cello/
To clarify what Paul wrote:"You should be able to shove at most a business card in between your strings and the nut, that's all."
Here are some good starting heights (I use the top of the strings):
OP, with inclusion of everything which has been mentioned so far, there also could be some huge problems with the fingerboard shaping,
"I switched the bridge on the donated violin with another violin's bridge"... yikes! Unless that second bridge wasn't set in place onto its violin, you now most likely got 2 violins in need of bridge adjustments.
Switching bridges usually doesn't work because the feet need to fit flush with the top plate.
If you can't easily get hold of a bridge jack a workable alternative is to wrap a cloth round the waist of the violin between the fingerboard and bridge, and hold it in place with a tightened strap. Then you should be able to take the bridge down safely without the sound post moving. As a further precaution it is a good idea to carry out any further work on the violin when it is safely lying horizontal in its case.
This question does bring up a few aspects that aren't very clear among such discussion, and the answer can't always be to schlepp it all off to a luthier- I'm wondering if this is real advice, as impractical as it sometimes seems, or just discouragement to those who may be faltering under bewildering concerns.
you shouldn't go near violins!!
.............had a subtle up-curve...….
They make a great gauge these days for guitar that would work well for violin to measure string height- it's just a rectangular steel "ruler" about 3 x 5 with mm and inch scales right along the side to place directly on the fingerboard. Search it at ebay- I think mine cost about $4 about 6 months back.
OK- this is interesting- I just took that gauge and measured the string heights on the 3 violins I have- but more revealing is the height from the bottom of the fingerboard to the body, and that varies.
"I just use an electric drill with a grinding bit"... a powered hack-saw and sandpaper on the top of the violin also works well for fitting the bridge feet I saw on Youtube once!
this is turning into the hack forum!!
What? I can't shape my own bridge now? Me or gullible students I guess. And sandpaper turned up on the top of the violin IS a great way to shape the feet! eh?
you suggested gluing the soundpost in place!!
Nancy, would you consider taking an introductory setup course such as this?
On a par with (lightly?) gluing a soundpost in place, but IMO much worse, is gluing a bridge in place, presumably to stop it from falling over. I've come across an instance or two of this during my time in pub sessions. I sighed, muttered something and averted my eyes.
The last instrument I purchased (a new cello - 15 years ago) had the strings set too high for me (at least what I had grown used to after playing the same instrument for 55 years) so I had the dealer (Ifshin Violins) lower the bridge (while I went to lunch) before I took it home.
I thought Nancy was joking at first, but further posts suggest not...
Back in the early 1960s there were a couple of magazine-size soft cover publications on "home repairs." One was aimed at school orchestra directors. One was published by Sherl & Roth - I'm not home right now so I can't check my library.
YES, I AM trans.
you're obviously not qualified to be near violins!!
You're getting repetitive, Lyndon. I own three- that makes me qualified, for at least those three.
It's her violin.
Lyndon, don't be unpolite please - isn't it obvious that owning three violins is enough of a qualification to give bad advice to others?
"Bad advice" is your own poor opinion, and I'm sensing the usual vendetta I sometimes experience.
Actually no, bad advice is not just my opinion, but the opinion of all professional violin restorers.
@All -- DIY is Ok if you only have cheap instruments and are too far from a real Luthier. I have also done some DIY work on student grade instruments. There are reasons why a Luthier school lasts 2-4 years, and restoration can be as difficult as constructing a new instrument. Every Luthier sees instruments that have been damaged by botched amateur repairs.
You can probably get away with unorthodox DIY work on a cheap instrument because they're not very well made to begin with. Additional problems aren't really going to be noticed... of course this means "works like a charm" could be very very inaccurate.
Definitely a trip to your local luthier if you can. I know it can be pricey, but preferable to go now then later on if there is damage or alterations that need to be done.
If you would rather spend the time practicing than DIY then a visit to the luthier is well worth it. Because, the thing with DIY is that you need to make many, many run throughs to learn how it's done, and even then you may very likely not get it right.
Very well said, Henry.
On another thread I mentioned two books I have found useful for the self-repairing I have done on some of my instruments over the past 50 years (since the books were published).
Oooops. I'm back.
sorry but I don't have any violins that cheap!!
That was uncalled for, Lyndon.
Maybe you just don't PRICE them that cheap- who knows what you get them for?
I don't deal in VSOs, what's wrong about that??
Sorry to interrupt the food fight, but...
Thank you, Don. More than a string diameter - measured at what point?
no, he means in the middle of the fingerboard length, it should be slightly lower than the ends, .5mm on the e string, 1mm on the G string
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