String height question.

July 20, 2021, 9:21 PM · I have one violin which has a string height of 5.6 mm at the G string and 3.5 mm at the E. The string width from the G to E at the bridge is 34 mm.
My second violin is 4.0 mm at the G and 2.3 mm at the E with string width of 35 mm.

The second violin needed a wedge under the fingerboard and it came back with that set-up which I quite like now. It is much easier for me to play. Other than left hand pizzicato (which I do not need to do) what are the disadvantages of having the string height set lower than ''normal'' ?

Is it true that English violinists tend to have their strings set lower than American violinists (classical music) ?

Replies (17)

July 21, 2021, 1:51 AM · The strings will start buzzing against the fingerboard, the second violin is too low, you shouldn't go below 4.7mm for G and 3mm for e
July 21, 2021, 2:20 AM ·
Mine measures about the same as your second violin, they never buzz and they're easy to press, well not needed need to press right down anyway. My nut is pretty low also, maybe there is a decent fingerboard scoop which avoids the buzzing.
Edited: July 21, 2021, 2:52 AM · Steel strings like Helicores can tolerate a lower string height. You neglected to say what kind of strings you’re using. It’s relevant to this discussion.
July 21, 2021, 3:15 AM ·

Presently I'm using Tonics but I have used Dominants with the low string heights.

July 21, 2021, 3:47 AM · I am using Tonicas. There is no buzzing anywhere on the fingerboard.
July 21, 2021, 5:55 AM · Shaving the top of the bridge can help, but can accentuate harshness in the violin.

We don't always have to press right down to the fingerboard.

Edited: July 21, 2021, 8:23 AM · It would appear that one bridge is a bit high and I can easily shave a bit off that one ; I have done it before. But the other bridge is a bit low and I cannot do much about that...other than have a new bridge cut.

July 21, 2021, 8:40 AM · Brian Your first violin is not a bit high, but rather set pretty much at optimum level for string height, a lot of pros like it a tad higher.
July 21, 2021, 9:22 AM · I have done a quick fix on a low bridge by super-gluing tiny rectangles of bristol card under the feet. A colleague asked why my bridge hand little white socks.

I suspect a good rule-of-thumb about shaving the top, is that a straight line joining the upper corners should be well clear of the "heart" cutout.

July 21, 2021, 5:03 PM · I was thinking of of doing something similar by gluing shavings of timber from a new/spare bridge to the base of my (too low) bridge. Nice to know somebody else has already done this !

I will not be touching the higher bridge on the other violin. It does not bother me.

July 21, 2021, 5:06 PM · Sounds like the first violin is set up for gut strings and the second for steel strings.
Edited: July 21, 2021, 8:25 PM · I use actually Tonica medium with E Gold.
My G is lower than 4mm, almost 3.5 or a bit more.
No buzzing. Pizzicato works.
July 21, 2021, 8:13 PM ·
'Shaving the top of the bridge can help, but can accentuate harshness in the violin.'

I had my luthier fit bridges that he thought were a little too high, then I proceeded to 'shaved' them down ever so 'gradually', I must of done that several times until the string felt comfortable under my fingers. After each time I would allow a considerable period for testing. Of course I kept the top of the bridge at a suitable width to allow the transfer of string vibration by meticulous sanding.
Would not the string height depend on the length and scoop of the fingerboard: Thus, a deeper scoop would make the strings feel higher, and a longer fingerboard would make the measurement higher... So, two violins with the same string height measurement may actually have different heights due to the aforementioned factors.

July 24, 2021, 3:28 PM · String height is not the only factor to consider. If it doesn't buzz and rattle when you play, it isn't too low. If it hurts and tires out your hand, it might be too high, but it might be too high with excessive scoop coupled with high-tension strings.

Also, as a violin maker, my ruler measures in 0.5 mm increments. I can see going in between for a 0.25, but never have I ever seen an accurate 0.1 measurement for string height. Plate graduations, yes, string height, no.

July 24, 2021, 3:41 PM · If your ruler has 1mm increments, its not hard for a woodworker to estimate tenths of a mm by eye with fair level of accuracy, I don't see why that should be a problem??
July 24, 2021, 4:01 PM · And, Lyndon, when a customer comes in and says that their E string is 3.7mm off the board and they prefer 3.6mm and ask you to lower it, what do you do?
July 24, 2021, 4:03 PM · measure it and see what it is, of course

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