Better sound after a fallen bridge
I am wondering if anyone could explain this phenomenon. I was trying to correct the angle of my violin’s bridge which was leaning forward slightly. As I tilted it towards the tailpiece, it fell. Luckily the sound post remained in position and my thumbs were under the strings and the tailpiece didn’t damage the plate. I applied graphite to the GDA grooves, loosened all the strings, carefully positioned the bridge and gradually brought the strings to tune.
Once I began practicing, I noticed the sound was vastly more resonant than before the bridge came down. I did not expect the sound to be any different, so I don’t think I imagined the change.
When I thought about it, I realized that for the 48 years since I received this instrument new, the structure has been under constant tension.
Could relaxing the tension of the action have a beneficial effect on the sound like this?
No, something else happened, ranging from the bridge is now in a better location, or its really flush to the top after not being so for a while, or some other change although I'll be good and not speculate about what that might've been.
Relaxing tension generally does result in more resonance... for a few days. It then starts to calm down.
Andres, go ahead, speculate. I can take it.
Thanks, Scott. This happened yesterday so I will enjoy while it lasts. Good advice about purchasing.
"or its really flush to the top after not being so for a while"
My experience has been that fractions of a mm in the distance between bridge and soundpost (by moving either) can make really big differences in the sound and playability of a violin.
I am very strongly with Andrew Victor:
It's a bit of a stretch as I don't know whether or not this could happen for certain, but perhaps when there was no pressure on the top plate the sound post moved every so slightly whilst you were putting the strings back on. I doubt this is the case though and it's likely more so that the bridge is merely in a different position than before. Although I remember when I got a Wittner tailpiece put on my old violin by the repair guy on campus that the sound changed to be tinnier than before and thought that my sound post shifted. I took it to the luthier I usually go to while I'm at school and I think in addition to changing the tailpiece back he did adjust the sound post as well. He did end up seeing that the sound post was too short as well a couple of months later since the violin was still new and was opening up and cut me a new sound post.
hi Scott nice to see you back on the forum!
Edgar Russ has a nice video about bridge placement and improving a violin’s sound on Youtube.
Thanks to all for your responses.
Jean, thanks--I've been trying to limit my responses to things I actually know about. Of course this quite limits me...
Jerry, you were on your way to improved sound before the bridge fell - by noticing that the bridge was leaning and doing something about it. It's generally well-known that the angle of the bridge can make a significant difference to the sound, as it affects the transmission of vibration from the strings to the instrument, which of course is the primary means of sound production.
Bridge position is very important. If your bridge was leaning forward, it wasn’t really in the optimal position for structure or sound. As already mentioned, the feet may not have been seated properly on the top anymore. If it moved out of line, too, getting it back to the right alignment would help. Its position relative to the soundpost is extremely influential on the sound, so a small shift can translate to considerable changes.
Gabris, I cannot make sense of your post but am curious about what you were trying to say.
I believe there's a poem about a fallen bridge by Scotland's greatest poet ...
To reiterate that tiny changes can make huge differences in sound. Jerry, as you get a sense of where the bridge is located, use an index card to see where the feet are pointing, relative to the notches on the sound holes. Also, if you can, take the same card and mark distances to each one from the outer edge of each foot. With luck, it will be the same distance!
Stephen, thanks for the suggestion, it’s one I plan to follow.
While I agree that tiny changes in bridge (and soundpost) position can make large changes, I will also note that ff holes and their notches are not always symmetrically or "correctly" placed, including on the golden age Cremonese instruments.
The poem John referred to was by William McGonagall, and was about the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1878 in Scotland. The bridge of the poem was an important railway bridge over the River Tay, and at the time was considered a major feat of Victorian engineering. It was destroyed by a force 10 gale just as a passenger train was passing along it. All 75 persons on board perished.
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