Bridge Stamped With Luthier's Name

June 26, 2021, 1:30 PM · I'm familiar with bridges branded with names like Despiau, Aubert and Stamm and understand that even within those brands there are variations in grades and quality.

What does it mean when a bridge is imprinted with a luthier's name? Did he buy a generic blank from a manufacturer and stamp his name on it or did he carve the bridge from scratch?

Is it simply advertising or rather a sign that he thinks the bridge is above average and good enough to put his name on it?

Replies (16)

June 26, 2021, 2:07 PM · Should be a commercial bridge blank and Luthier's name indicating he fit it to the violin.
June 26, 2021, 3:07 PM · Thank you, Lyndon.
June 26, 2021, 3:16 PM · What Lyndon said. It means it's a bridge blank and the luthier cut it and fit it to the violin. They put their name on there to show who did the work. The bridge on my main violin has "J Waybright" stamped on it because I had Joshua Waybright in the DFW area do the setup on my violin. My backup violin I believe (haven't checked in a while) says "Lisle violin shop" because I bought the violin from Lisle Violin Shop in Houston Texas and one of their luthiers/ setup people did the set up on it at some point before I bought the instrument in 2013 and it was made in 2012. It's probably overdue for a new setup because it doesn't sound like it used to. Granted it's not that expensive either. I bought it for about $1200.
June 26, 2021, 3:34 PM · The two are not mutually exclusive.

Over a period of years starting about 20 years ago I took 5 of my violins to my luthier. He changed bridges on 4 of them and soundposts on 3 (I think). One of the violins came back with a new bridge stamped with the luthier's name, etc: "Ifshin Violins Berkeley." On the other side it had the manufacturer's "Aubert" stamp. The other 3 bridges he fit did not have the shop name, just the "Aubert" stamp - so I asked Jay Ifshin if that meant he thought the violin with the shop-stamped bridge was special or my best. He said "No, it's just a bridge we had in the box," or something like that. The 5th violin (30 years old at the time) still had the original bridge (stamped by the maker) and it's original soundpost - all Ifshin could find to do to that violin was remove nasty rosin crust that had accumulated from a previous player in the 4 years before I bought it in 1975. I was surprised they charged me $75, but the surface did look fully restored. (My feeble attempts to clean it up for 25 years had accomplished nothing.)

June 26, 2021, 4:10 PM · I've got a couple. My Gewa was bought as a factory blank and set up by a luthier who put his name on the bridge. My Breton was restored by a second luthier who did the same. The Breton's action was much lower than the Gewa's, so I took the Gewa to the second luthier expecting him to make a new bridge, but he just lowered the old one (along with reducing the curvature of the fingerboard) leaving the old luthier's name on it.
June 26, 2021, 5:41 PM · Stephen Redrobe, who used to post a lot, said he has a bridge with the stamp of the Vuillaume shop. A small look at history that is kind of cool.
June 26, 2021, 6:13 PM · I've heard of bridges stamped Vuillaume, I think that was a brand, not his shop, not sure, though.
June 26, 2021, 7:10 PM · Could be. This was a del Gesu that had probably passed through his hands on its way to being modernized.
June 26, 2021, 7:11 PM · That would be different.
Edited: June 26, 2021, 8:00 PM · Personalized branding irons can get pricey, so might as well get your money's worth.
June 26, 2021, 10:49 PM · Making a bridge blank is too laborious a task to be practical for most luthiers, so the majority of them use blanks from respected bridge manufacturers. The manufacturer’s stamp is generally on the back, although some luthiers may plane it off or flip the bridge around if they’re not satisfied with the grain orientation. The luthier’s stamp is placed on the front of the bridge and advertises the setup work.

The bridge is a place for a luthier to showcase taste and workmanship, so it’s a matter of pride for a shop or luthier to stamp its work. Many people like to collect bridges based on these stamps. If you get to know a luthier well enough, once you see his stamp, you can know how the rest of the setup will be done before hearing it.

June 27, 2021, 3:13 AM · I once bought a bridge blank on Amazon because it had an ebony insert for the E string and it was half price. Lol. I didn't know it would be useless. Otoh, I could get my luthier to fit it for me, although I'm wondering to what extent the ebony insert can be cut down.
Edited: June 27, 2021, 12:56 PM · Ebony is hard for wood, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not THAT hard. Working it is not like filing down steel or something
June 27, 2021, 12:14 PM · Interesting discussion! My luthier has his name on the new bridge he made for my 18th century instrument and I've wondered about it. It certainly made a difference in the sound of my instrument, certainly.
June 27, 2021, 2:18 PM · The first luthier I worked with, Richard Menzel, used his onw branded bridges. I don't know if he made them from scratch, but all of his bridges were shaped and broad under the G-string and narrow under the E-string with a nice curve from around the mid point of the bridge to the top. I witnessed him fitting bridges and sound-posts many times, he was a perfectionist.

He made me a backup bridge at one point and I still have it available lest anything happen to the primary bridge. That was over 40 years ago and I'm still playing on the primary bridge. Sadly, Richard died and one of his daughters took over the business. Not the same shop that it was now run by a hired person. His other daughter opened her own shop having been trained and she does excellent work.

June 27, 2021, 7:40 PM · Our local maker brands his bridges. He buys a standard blank and fits it to the instrument. He doesn't carve the bridge entirely from scratch.

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