Did I substantially damage my bridge?

May 26, 2020, 7:58 PM · 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.

Replies (10)

Edited: May 26, 2020, 8:21 PM · 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's quite possible to bend just one side back and not the other, and then it will look twisted or warped, but that's temporary. As you continue to tighten your strings with your pegs your bridge will typically lean more and more toward the fingerboard. That's the disadvantage of loosening your strings before you adjust your bridge. Ideally the BACK of the bridge should be perpendicular to the belly of the violin, or so I was taught. There might be some YouTubes on this that you could watch too...



Edited: May 26, 2020, 9:02 PM · 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.

However, if it only started looking that way right after you changed strings, it may not be warped but rather bent out of line. If that’s the case, get it back into position immediately so it doesn’t warp.

Edited: May 26, 2020, 9:26 PM · 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.

You need to know that the bridge should be positioned so that the tailpiece side is approximately perpendicular to the line of the joint where the top is attached to the ribs. Then the fingerboard side will give the impression of leaning back towards the tailpiece. Another way to set it up is to remember that the string length from the nut to the top of the bridge should be 328-330mm (just barely shy of 13”). Yours is clearly leaning too much towards the fingerboard. So position it properly and then see how it looks.

May 26, 2020, 9:39 PM · 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.

The third pic shows a slightly twisted bridge which can be adjusted with gentle movement by holding between thumb and forefinger.

Edited: May 26, 2020, 9:41 PM · ... what damage?
It looks like the treble side just needs a nudge towards the fingerboard.

In any case, you can unwarp a bridge with a clothing iron and a clamp (or a lot of heavy books).

May 26, 2020, 9:43 PM · Henry, the bridge isn’t on backwards because we can see the E-string parchment is in the right place in all the photos.
May 26, 2020, 10:15 PM · 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.
May 26, 2020, 10:35 PM · Thank you for the input! I'll check out a few Youtube videos.
Edited: May 27, 2020, 6:40 AM · 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.
May 27, 2020, 7:39 AM · 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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