Did I substantially damage my bridge?
I got this violin three months ago so I decided to finally remove the strings it came with. Like with any violin, the bridge started to lean a little bit so I decided to adjust it. However, looking back at my bridge, I think I might have caused some damage because it looks warped to me. How bad is the damage? With this coronavirus pandemic, I really would not like to send my violin to luthier because the nearest luthiers that I know are quite a drive.
The bridge of a violin is fairly flexible. In the top picture yours seems to be a little leaning toward the fingerboard. You can grab it with your thumb and forefinger of each hand and bend it back. If you're not comfortable doing that with your strings at full tension, back them off by a whole step or two. Considering the anxiety level that I'm reading from your post, maybe that's a good idea to relax the string a bit. But you need enough remaining tension that it'll stay where you bend it to.
It does look to be warped. The bridge is not irreparable, it just needs to be straightened by a luthier. The downside is that the bridge becomes slightly weaker as it gets straightened. Most of the time it’s not a serious issue, but if it warps again, it should probably be replaced.
I very much doubt that the distortion in your bridge happened in the short three months that you’ve had it. Problems like that develop over long periods of time while the bridge is not properly positioned, unless there was some inherent defect in the bridge.
In the first pic the bridge seems to be on backwards because the tapper of the bridge is facing the tail piece which it should be facing the finger board, thus the back of the bridge should be perpendicular to the belly. There is also a slight gap between the foot and the belly.
... what damage?
Henry, the bridge isn’t on backwards because we can see the E-string parchment is in the right place in all the photos.
If you've had the violin for three months and it had new strings when you bought it, you could easily have tuned up enough to pull your bridge over like that. The distortion you're showing in these pictures is a very mild case compared to what many of us have seen on student violins. Watch the YouTubes and fix your bridge. It's not that hard.
Thank you for the input! I'll check out a few Youtube videos.
To minimize the pull of the strings on the bridge when tuning, I suggest applying soft pencil lead (3B) to the notches in the bridge, and also to the notches in the nut at the scroll end to stop the string from sticking in the notch when tuning from the peg. Do this one string at a time. Take the tension off the string just enough so that you can lift the string out of the two notches with your fingers, apply the pencil lead, bring the string up to tension and proceed to the next. You only need to do this for the A, D, and G. The E doesn't need it unless you use a plain gut E.
Trevor makes a good suggestion. We all put pencil lead into our bridge notches. However, I'm not aware of any kind of controlled study indicating that it actually helps.
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