Correct bridge placement

November 20, 2022, 2:13 AM · Hallo!

What is the correct position of the bridge placement if the neck is slanted?

We disagree with certain people. according to someone, it should always be adjusted to the fingerboard, even if it is slanted (crooked?). This is true? In this case, the foot of the bridge moves away from the bass bar...

Replies (14)

November 20, 2022, 4:05 AM · My instinct would always be to centre the bridge on a straight line drawn between the mid-point of the nut and the endpin. OK, so in high positions on the E-string you may find yourself almost fingering the edge of the board, but if that's the case the neck absolutely needs to be reset.
November 20, 2022, 12:14 PM · I drew an imaginary line from the nut to the end-button of my viola. The middle of this line is under the fingerboard. I can't imagine wanting my bridge there.
November 20, 2022, 12:56 PM · Not the centre of the line, the centre of the bridge!
November 20, 2022, 5:05 PM · If you can't reset the neck (it's a vso?) then wouldn't you set it based on the bouts, f-holes and tailpiece?
November 20, 2022, 5:20 PM · Kristof, is this related to the photo icon on your inquiring post?
November 20, 2022, 7:31 PM · This is a problem that comes up a lot, especially with old violins. Ideally, the neck is straight and the fingerboard falls in line with the bridge. The problem is that one doesn’t always have the luxury of working with everything in alignment. The center of the instrument is important to take into consideration, and ideally, the bridge should be centered on that midpoint. Many people use the space between the ffs to determine the center, although some use the center between the inner purfling lines.

If the bassbar is correctly placed (one can never assume this!) and the soundpost is also in a good position, the bridge will function best when it is in the right place in relation to them.

However, if the neck is crooked, centering the bridge will mean that the strings will be closer to one edge of the fingerboard than the other. In extreme cases this can affect playability (think fingers literally falling off the board) and in lesser cases the appearance will bother players. This is where a conversation with the instrument’s owner has to happen. During the conversation it has to be determined which is more important: keeping the neck the way it’s been or changing its set to correct the crookedness. Some players want everything to be perfect, some just want to maintain the instrument the way they’ve had it. Sometimes it’s necessary to make a compromise. There are some tricks one can use to get around the issue, but they’re band-aid approaches. There isn’t a solution that fits every instrument to this question.

November 21, 2022, 5:03 AM · You line the bridge up between the f holes because that usually puts the bass bar in the correct position, if the neck is still crooked the strings can be loaded off centre on the bridge
November 21, 2022, 6:00 AM · Paul, as John Lennon sang, Imagine! (Your imagination would be as realistic as his)
November 21, 2022, 7:48 AM · Thanks for the answers.. Well, here is a photo of my violin:

Unfortunately, the bridge is not in the middle, I measured it. I’m not happy, it’s a big difference… This is an almost new violin (Cremonese, 2018) and the neck has always been like this. But the strings on the fingerboard are correct.

November 21, 2022, 7:51 AM · I wouldn't worry about a difference of 2mm. The f-holes could easily be asymmetric by that much.
November 21, 2022, 8:19 AM · No, the f holes are perfectly symmetrical. :-)
Edited: November 21, 2022, 8:56 AM · A number of alternatives are possible, and I have employed some of them since my first violin lesson in 1939 and since my 1949 start as a cellist:

1. Shift the bridge, as you have mentioned (or some other way).
2. Cut new grooves in the bridge.
3. Th bridge (and soundpost) can be shifted slightly parallel to the instrument's axis.

My mental attitude to this (suggestion 3.) has been to consider the possibility that the ff holes are not in the right place - especially their central grooves and that they can be partly ignored in placing the bridge and soundpost.

One of my cellos (the German one, dated 1877) was severely damaged when I moved across the USA in 1962 and it was only 30 years later that I found a luthier who would do affordable repairs. A few years after getting the repaired cello back, and being so pleased that it sounded and played better than ever, I noticed that the bridge appeared to be on backwards (flat surface facing the the nut instead of the endpin). This reduced the vibrating string length by 1 cm, making it a bit tougher to hit the right notes compared to my other cellos, but it seemed worth it for the improved sound. The bridge feet are still in their original location (however I think it's a new bridge).

November 21, 2022, 8:58 AM · In 3 out of 5 violins hanging over my desk the asymmetry of the bridge with respect to the f-holes is as much as 3mm. One of them would be 4mm or more towards the treble side if I aligned it with the fingerboard. I've added this to a long list of issues that don't seem worth fretting over.
November 21, 2022, 10:32 AM · I agree with everything Rich Maxham said, but will add that some people determine the centerline at the bridge by measuring to determine the midpoint at the widest part of both the upper and lower bouts, and using a straight line between those points.

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