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How high should strings be?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (4 votes) 
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PopFiddle
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December 20, 2015 - 12:59 pm
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I had the pleasure of playing a Fiddlerman Concert violin and was enormously pleased to see the strings so low.  I quickly copied the bridge height for my other violin and as I move to other violins I anticipate using the same bridge height.

But I am watching YouTube videos of soloists very closely for fingering and notice that the string height on their violins is very high.  It is so high sometimes that you can see the strings bending and stretching as they press down on them.  And it doesn't seem to slow them down at all.  Not even for fast double stops or broken chords moving up and down the neck.

I really just assumed that no professional would ever play with strings as high as you find them on most standard violin setups.

What's going on?  Is there some disadvantage to setting your strings low?  Why do these brilliant soloists play with their strings so high?

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damfino
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December 20, 2015 - 2:11 pm
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From what I understand, if your strings are too high it can get difficult to play, especially in the higher positions. I'm still only playing in 1st, but if the strings are too high, it could still cause some finger pain. So I think as long as none of the strings are so low they are vibrating against the fingerboard and making weird sounds from that, you should be fine. 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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cdennyb
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December 20, 2015 - 11:39 pm
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Different types of strings work with different string heights. The steel core (Heli-Core) designs vibrate less than the synthetic core strings (Zyex) and thus can tolerate a low bridge, gut strings are the most flexible and really tolerate a high string height.

Usually I measure from across the fingerboard to the bridge and set the E string at 1.5mm high, the G string 3.5mm high. PC200318.JPGImage EnlargerIMG_20120218_210041comp.jpgImage EnlargerSi853554comp.jpgImage Enlarger

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"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Jacques
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December 20, 2015 - 11:46 pm
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I doubt that there are conclusive facts as to the best set up however there can be conclusions as to typical setups for a given situation (I think).

 

so I have experience playing two setups - I.E. Low and high bridge. My own fiddle has a high bridge that I enjoy playing, up to the the eigth position and then after that I begin to reach/stretch fingers to notes. A perk of having such a high bridge is that the angle of the string allows one to find intonation by feeling when the string touches the finger tip as the instrumentalist hovers his finger over the string moving up the fingerboard. Often when we are playing music it has a lot to do with feel, acustome to the instrument you should know where a specific tone will appear. The nut to bridge angle along a flat fingerboard allows one to feel those tones out.

 

alternatively, the flater angle from a lower bridge feels really smooth and easy to articulate at the cost of less accuracy.

 

another discussion can be made about bridge thickness. I feel thicker means louder or bolder, while thinner is light and well thin... But both can be sweet depending on the vibrato.

 

please excuse punctuation and spelling because I am typing on cellphone.

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Fiddlerman
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December 21, 2015 - 11:43 am
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My favorite specs are 5 mm at the G and 3 mm at the E.
Comfort, and power are all part of the configuration. If you play very powerfully like I do at times on the G, even if you have a great concave fingerboard, you can get the string to vibrate against the fingerboard if it's too low. Bringing them down too low sacrifices a little bit of power. Your concert is surely set up with 5 mm - 3 mm
If the fingerboard is too concave it's not that comfortable to play in the middle of the fingerboard.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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PopFiddle
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December 21, 2015 - 12:29 pm
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cdennyb said
....

Usually I measure from across the fingerboard to the bridge and set the E string at 1.5mm high, the G string 3.5mm high. 

 

Fiddlerman said
....
My favorite specs are 5 mm at the G and 3 mm at the E.
... Your concert is surely set up with 5 mm - 3 mm
...

 cdennyb, that is closer to what I am seeing on the Concert bridge.  Fiddlerman, do you measure string height at the same place as cdennyb?

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ladyeclectic
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December 21, 2015 - 1:19 pm
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FM, is that measurement taken at the nut or at the end of the fingerboard?

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Fiddlerman
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December 21, 2015 - 5:35 pm
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Similar to what Kevin does. Lay a straight edge against the fingerboard and measure from the bottom of that edge to the beginning of the string.
At the bridge ladyeclectic.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Jim Dunleavy
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December 22, 2015 - 4:32 am
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Hang on.... so the height is measured at the bridge itself? Not at the end of the fingerboard??

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bluesviolin
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December 22, 2015 - 11:42 pm
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Hang on indeed!. I've always seen my Luthier measure string height at the end of the finger board. Otherwise the neck angle would make measuring at the bridge irrelevant. Is not the neck angle fairly critical to correct string height? Fiddles with incorrect neck angles (usually too low) would necessitate a bridge that is too low!? I've seen quite a few fiddles that when taking a first look at the bridge, it is obviously lower than 'average' and invariably the neck angle is low. Having said that, this construction/set-up sometimes seems to work, but ime, more often than not, it doesn't.   

"Striving to attain Mediocrity"

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cdennyb
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December 23, 2015 - 3:02 am
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Keep in mind that the string is on an angle, from the nut to the bridge, and as it gets closer to the bridge it becomes higher off the board.

I find on my fretted instruments it is the same as a non-fretted fingerboard, the measuring stick guide I use is still 1.5mm and 3.0mm respectively and since it's laid on top of the frets, it's basically the same as if there were no frets on it.

I agree with Pierre, about buzzing the center of the board (or frets) as a too-low setting will cause the string to touch more than one spot on the board (or more than one fret in my case)

What happens on a fretted fingerboard is you can try to finger a high note like on the E string and changing positions won't change the note! That indicates you are pressing the string against a fret and it's actually touching almost flush with many more towards the bridge, thus, wrong intonation.

The distances I spoke about on mine were for a stiffer steel core string like the Heli-Core type or the NS Designs type for electric instruments, and if you use a synthetic string or gut type string that number will absolutely need to be larger, as Pierre indicated.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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micra
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December 23, 2015 - 9:14 am
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Seems to me if there are standard dimensions to be taken, there should be a standard position for them to be taken from.  The old MENC standard of 3.5 / 5.5 mm seems to be taken from either the end of the fingerboard or a half a centimeter in from the end...  most commonly I saw referenced from the top of the fingerboard to the middle of the string.  At least that is the info I found from at least 4 different sources on the internet, fwiw.  I am actually having a new bridge / soundpost installed on my violin right now (geared pegs and new strings, also :)), and I will be picking it up tomorrow.  So I'm glad I caught this thread.  I will ask my luthier how he measures string height for some added insight.

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BillyG
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December 23, 2015 - 1:33 pm
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Yes... it is easily understood - or even misunderstood - ( and no, I don't have a specific answer - but I "know" what I'm doing here - LOL ) - what seems to be missed out in these details is "exactly where" this measurement is taken from -  I understand it but I agree - it is not clear (from the stuff in the internet) - but - at the same time of course - it really matters - if you have for example, nice, low tension strings with too-low-a-separation to the fingerboard - sure - they are gonna ring-against-it on ff playing - and it really IS a fine measure - for higher positions - of course you also want the string as close to the FB as possible - and - you want the bridge shape to allow double / open string stops to "still work" without "unavoidably" bowing an adjacent string....   it is all math..... ( and not easy to bring home - ask @cdennyb - LOL Dennis )

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlestix
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December 24, 2015 - 3:14 am
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Fiddlestix
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I've been watching this thread from day one and the previous post is a book I bought from my luthier a couple years ago.

I think bridge height is relative to string height above bridge end of the fingerboard which is relative to fingerboard height above the belly of the instrument. which is 27 mm, if your fingerboard is the correct length of 270mm.

The "Strobel" books can be purchased through, "Amazon" and are (from what I'm told) considered the holy grail of stringed instrument making and adjustment.

 

Ken.

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Jim Dunleavy
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December 24, 2015 - 3:56 am
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Nice post @Fiddlestix. But do you have page 20?

("Please see 'string CLEARANCE' on Page 20")

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Fiddlestix
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Fiddlestix
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December 24, 2015 - 9:03 am
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 Those are page's 20 and 21

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Jim Dunleavy
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Fiddlestix said

 Those are page's 20 and 21

Thanks! 🙂

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cdennyb
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To add complexity to the equation(s), my (as well as the others out there) fretted fingerboards are not played beyond the 24th (and very seldom if ever!) fret and the board is useless beyond that point. I add a few cm to the length after that last fret but for the most part it is just cosmetic. The overall length of my 5 string fretted fingerboards is right at 270-275mm.

If you measure from the end of the fingerboard up to the string for instance, the E string is around 3.56mm but then if you factor in the .88mm tall fret (to establish the plane of fret tops) the net is more like 2.68mm true string height at the 270mm distance from the nut. It's all within spec but playing each instrument is a unique experience and takes a little getting used to, but after you play for a day or two, it's second nature.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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