Despiau violin bridge 1 tree

January 3, 2020, 5:07 PM · I have a question about how Despiau bridges are being graded for 1-tree, 2-tree and 3-tree. I have a Giuseppe Pedrazzini mounted with a 1-tree Despiau bridge. The luthier who made the bridge for the previous owner commented that his typical bridges are 1-tree, and the importance should be how good the bridges are being cut. The luthier is very reputable so I have very little doubt in what he says, but my question is whether or not I should take a chance to have a new bridge if I want more ring and more sensitive of my violin. It does not have much ring but it has a lot of depth without the sound cracking. The tone characteristic is warm, sweet and clean. I am hoping with a new bridge it will bring more brilliance, sensitivity but without dismissing the rich characteristics. Or a new bridge will not help with getting these new characteristics? Many thanks! Yuk

Replies (21)

Edited: January 3, 2020, 6:11 PM · This is a matter of how the blank was cut, mostly not what blank was used. Given what you say, the solution could be made by modifying the current bridge.
January 3, 2020, 8:35 PM · Michael, tks for your advice, the luthier who made the bridge is not in my country, I will discuss the options with my local luthier then! Tks.
January 4, 2020, 5:30 AM · Discussing the options with your local luthier is the way to go -- my advice is not to modify the current bridge since you like it. The "ring" factor may be more because of the bridge placement -- sometimes moving it a tiny amount to lengthen the string length can add more ring. Another factor is the placement of the sound post. Your local luthier can check all those things.

But if your luthier suggests a new bridge, you should do that and be sure to get the current bridge back so that it can be put back if you aren't happy with the replacement bridge. Once the current bridge is modified you can never go back to what it was, so keeping it exactly as it is now will allow you to put it back if you're decide the new bridge didn't do all you had hoped for.

Edited: January 4, 2020, 11:22 AM · The more expensive bridges (i.e. more trees for Despiau) are graded for visual factors... grain spacing, evenness, and the prominence of rays. There is no acoustic quality that I know of that goes along with any of this.

I agree with the others, that how the bridge is cut and adjusted, along with other peripheral adjustments, is infinitely more important than the number of trees stamped on the bridge. And the violin itself matters a whole lot, too.

January 4, 2020, 12:13 PM · I thought the higher grade bridges were denser wood, that's been my experience.
January 4, 2020, 12:36 PM · Higher density bridges aren't always better.
January 4, 2020, 1:28 PM · Agreed.
January 4, 2020, 1:31 PM · soft wood warps a lot easier
Edited: January 4, 2020, 3:57 PM · There can be major differences between density, and hardness.

Sure, I am not an advocate of using one-dollar bridge blanks. I would refer back to Don's and Michael's posts.

Edited: January 4, 2020, 2:45 PM · A poundcake is dense, but it's not hard or strong. And warping has more to do with cut than strength, anyway, after minimum standards are met.

Good bridge blanks come in a wide range of characteristics these days, all strong enough but very different in behavior. I pay a lot more attention to how a bridge acts under my knife than whose brand is on it or how it looks in some purely cosmetic respects, and I'm very easy about trashing a blank that doesn't behave the way I expect it to.

January 5, 2020, 7:35 AM · The Despiau website (in English) is instructive:
https://www.despiau-chevalets.com/
January 5, 2020, 9:52 AM · I prefer to have a luthier cut me a new bridge and return the old one to me. I have done this a number of times (different instruments). Sometimes I have eventually returned an old bridge back into service - which I plan to try AGAIN soon with a bridge the maker originally put on that violin 69 years ago. (Maybe the original soundpost too!)
January 6, 2020, 8:22 AM · Andrew, I can see some advantages to that strategy. Once one has modified an exiting bridge, it is pretty hard to reverse the changes.
January 6, 2020, 5:18 PM · I have to thank you all your comments! It turns out that it was my golden Evah Pirazzi strings that reached the end of their life time. I just did not expect that they will go completely dead after only 3-4 months of use (about only 5-7 hrs of combined usage, orchestra/lesson/practice). Now the violin sounds more ringing and focus after I put the PI on. As I said before, the bridge was cut from a reputable luthier, so I have little doubt that the bridge being bad. Now i just did not understand why is the decision of using 1-tree rather than 2 or 3-tree. But I guess the luthier did not necessarily agree with the manufacturer's grading scheme, so the 1-tree bridge on my Pedrazzini being selected was considered more compatible and better look.

My violin requires a strong bowing to produce different kind of tone colors, (perhaps a thicker table?) That maybe the reason why the Gold Evah Pirazzi worn out so quickly. If that's true, then majority of the thicker plate violins that are supposed to require a more skillful bow arms to articulate and to draw bigger sound will require more frequent change of new strings. I assume elasticity and tensile strength are some of the factors to determine string life time. (Just from my imaginative thinking). I never had Dominant on the Pedrazzini, this got me thinking if I should.

Just a side comment, it took me over a year to learn how to play on my Pedrazzini (I am still exploring), one thing I observe is that when I play on my CNY5,000 Chinese-made violin from over 30 years ago, I can play double stop scales easier and louder, and fast passage faster! It really makes me feel I am a better violinist/hero! But my dog will run away from me and my wife will come to check with me if I am mad.

I guess it is like most things in life, when you think something is good until someone tells you it is horrible. When I thought I made a terrible decision until I have a new perspective to discover better things unfold.

Regards, Alex

January 6, 2020, 5:30 PM · If it takes three whole trees to make a violin bridge, that's either very inefficient or it's one hell of a dense material, like the core of a neutron star.
January 7, 2020, 3:23 AM · I use Aubert Luxe bridges, I find that the flames in the grain consistently show up well on the stamped side of the bridge, indicating the grain is going perpendicular?? (or parallel??) to the stamped surface, which I leave untouched when if finish the bridge, doing all the thinning on the other side.
January 7, 2020, 8:00 AM · Paul Deck: FYI, if a bridge was made to normal dimensions out of the core of a neutron star, it would weigh approximately 320,000,000,000 kg.

Presumably bridges are not made of that stuff because it would give a nasty soundpost crack.

January 7, 2020, 9:10 AM · Don, okay ... just a wee bit of hyperbole for a Monday morning. How workable is metallic hydrogen anyway? LOL
January 7, 2020, 9:50 AM · How workable is metallic hydrogen? I don't know... I tried ordering some to try carving it, but the box arrived empty.
January 7, 2020, 12:01 PM · Paul, fyi they use bonsais for the bridges. Botanic gardens and Japanese Cultural Societies across the country have been stepping-up their security over the last ten years.
Edited: January 7, 2020, 2:59 PM · Don, the box wasn't empty. There were virtual particles in there. Don't laugh too hard. There was just a paper published that showed virtual particles to be responsible for experimentally verified non-radiative heat transfer through a vacuum. I don't understand that stuff, but it's good that there are those who do.


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