I know that the E string will eventually wear down the groove on the bridge, but some luthiers and even string manufacturers say if you don't want to use the sleeve, just take it off. Some say the sleeve will slightly mute the sound, but won't a leather parchment also mute the sound?
I know the sleeve isn't needed if you have the parchment, but do I really need either one, or is it best to use parchments for the E string on all bridges?
I'm not sure what Rich is saying.
Drum skins vibrate, because they are elastic - it's not about transmitting vibration. Elasticity will always absorb vibration. But they are stretched very tight, so they have to be very strong (tough), and the animal protein in the vellum is strong (I have no idea about plastic drum skins, but if you saw any old broken drumskin, maybe you could salvage it for bridge protectors). But perhaps also vellum is not hugely elastic and doesn't absorb much vibration. Its toughness made it ideal for protecting the bridge before plastic was invented, although I don't know how much a gut E string would have cut into a bridge.
I read a nice quote somewhere about leather being the plastic of the middle ages.(?)
Plastic tubes dampen the desirable overtones, even in the ideal position where the effect is limited as much as it can be. Every time I’ve had a customer’s violin come in with a tube, removing it and using just the parchment or installing a parchment has been a considerable improvement.
I prefer using those to the cylindrical sleeves. The bare E strings definitely cut into the maple bridge over time.
If a luthier is too lazy or work-averse to remove and replace one when altering the bridge curvature or height, I wonder what else they might be too lazy to do.
But Tom, I get your point!
And Lyndon, I've had no trouble removing and replacing parchment "inserts." However, in my opinion, your point as to how the string height is affected by these additions is well taken relative to playing in higher positions - and it also affects "instinctive" bowing angles.
I am a "bridge watcher," living within 7 miles of two big ones and having 8 of them on my instruments at home. I learned to tend my own bridges early in life. I can only recall one of my bridges ever having a bend and that may have been in it when I first got that cello at age 14.
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The plastic or rubberized tubes that are found on E strings are really just there in case your bridge doesn’t already have a parchment on it, and they should be discarded if the bridge is set up properly. Yes, they are tone-killers. The muting effect can be somewhat limited if you position the tube so it protrudes by 1mm or less toward the fingerboard, but you’ll always get a clearer and fuller tone with a parchment, something that is standard on good bridges.
There have been all kinds of experiments with alternatives to parchments, like ebony or ivory inserts, epoxy, or even titanium, but parchment remains the most effective and practical option.