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Is my bridge ok?
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Mike the Swede
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December 10, 2016 - 10:44 am
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Hi everyone!

So, I had my 30'th birthday about a month ago. My dear wife went out and got me the new 5-string electric violin from Yamaha, "YEV-105".

I love it, it's a great compliment to my Fiddlerman Concert Violin, especially when I need to practice silently. However, I am having some problems not hitting more than one string, especially when I'm trying to play the D-string.

It's a 5-string violin, so of course it might be a bit harder than if it was a normal 4-string and in the beginning I was thinking that it's probably a matter of me having to get used to the 5-string. But, I keep having problems with the D-string, just the D-string. 

If I place the bow on the D-string without any additional pressure than the weight of the bow itself, the adjacent strings are definitely closer to the bow than if I place the bow in the same way on any other string.

I took some pictures to show you... what's your opinion about this? Is the bridge not carved correctly?

Pic 1: Open D-string.

Pic 2: D-string with an A.

Pic 3: Open A-string.

Pic 4: A-string with an E.

 

IMG_5373.JPGImage EnlargerIMG_5375.JPGImage EnlargerIMG_5376.JPGImage EnlargerIMG_5377.JPGImage Enlarger

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BillyG
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December 10, 2016 - 12:53 pm
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Hmmm - can't properly tell from the pics - but I know what you are getting at.

I  had the opportunity some time back, to get a loan of a 5-string EV for a few weeks - I immediately discovered ( well, I kind of knew it would be the case ) - I needed more accurate left-hand fingering ( well, I mean laterally - to prevent a finger-nail being rattled against by a lower string ) - and also - right-hand - the four (or 7 if your used to playing double-stops) bowing-planes suddenly become 5 for single strings, or 9 if you're commonly playing DS so you do need to be much more precise....

But - sure - that's obvious - I know - just saying....

So - maybe, just maybe, there is a curvature-issue on the bridge or the neck - but - truly - from the pics - nah - I cannot tell...  it would have to be really carefully measured I guess.   Good pics though !   

Others may have better ideas / suggestions etc, or be more helpful - but I'm only commenting because certainly my own transition from a 4 to 5 string was, well, pretty much as I expected - or at least I should say - the "issues" were not a surprise to me... closer strings, different bowing planes etc...

Heyyy - @Mike the Swede - interesting - please keep us advised !

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damfino
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December 10, 2016 - 2:26 pm
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It doesn't look bad to me, comparing to what my G D and A strings are like in relation to each other (I don't have a 5 string, so just comparing what they look like with the bow on them like in your pictures). But like Billy said, it can be hard to tell from pictures alone. It would probably be pretty easy for a luthier to tell you if it is really wrong, or give it a little tweak based off the description of what issues you are having with it.

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Charles
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December 10, 2016 - 6:20 pm
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There is no way to answer the question "Is the bridge not carved correctly," because there is no One True Way to carve one.

From what you've said and the pictures, I'd say it's carved too flat along the G-D-A section for you. There are people that might even consider as flat as yours is still too curved, others might not be able to play the strings you have no problems with because there's not enough curvature for them.

I'd take it to a luthier, tell him your problem, and have him/her make you a new bridge, with a bit more curve to it, especially in the G-D-A section of the bridge. There will be a downside - the strings on either side will be relatively lower than they are now, which will mean you'll have to move the bow to a somewhat more extreme angle. (The C and G are what I would expect will give you trouble, if any of them do).

You could also just practice playing on the D string and GD and DA double stops, until your arm learns to position the bow very precisely.  I had some work done on mine, and it fixed one major problem with the bridge, but was too flat.  I have just lived with it, and I'm slowly getting back to accurately playing just the string(s) I want to.  If I ever get a bridge that has a somewhat smaller radius of curvature (aka more curved), it'll be dirt easy to hit only the strings I want.

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Mike the Swede
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December 11, 2016 - 5:09 am
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Hi again and thanks for your replies, I really appreciate it!cool

@BillyG

I can certainly relate to that experience of yours @BillyG when you tried that 5-string EV. Just like you, I too was very well aware of these differences before even touching a 5-string EV. I had been reading and researching a lot about 5-string violins and particularly this new Yamaha which many people say are pretty well-balanced and pleasant to play (regarding the string-spacing vs. width of neck, and the bowing-planes of the 5-string-bridge).

@BillyG @damfino @charles

What really bothers me is I'm having a very easy time playing the C, G, A & E-strings (no double-stops for me, I'm not that good yet! smile)... but as soon as that D-string needs to be involved, I get in trouble. Which in other words mean that basically every single song that I want to play gets this D-string problem... *headache and sadness* dazed

After reading your suggestions I've now contacted the Violin-shop here in Sweden where my wife bought the EV, to hear what they have to say about it and to ask their luthier to take a second look at the bridge.

(Pierre and team-Fiddlerman, wish we would've gotten this violin from you too, then we could've been certain there was no problem with the bridge.. - but, at the time my wife had decided on my birthday-gift there wasn't enough time until my birthday to have it shipped from the USA.) 

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BillyG
Far North-west Scotland
December 11, 2016 - 9:27 am
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Yes - @charles makes a good point there as well.  Although there are "basic 'standard' measurements" for bridges - they are often just the "default, assumed-best-case measurements" - and folks can choose individual variations, perhaps for curvature (flatness) or action ( string height - especially higher-up on the neck ).  Not that I have ever gone THAT far, but I have carved 3 bridges so far, to the "standard" pattern, really just for fun and experimentation - and - well - 2 of them are fine (for what I can do on the fiddle), the other is just plain "wrong" LOLOL ( I took too much material off the crown on the bass end, and the G "rattles" when played....  hmmm ! - but I keep it in the box as a reminder of what not to do ... ) 

Here's an interesting discussion - http://www.violinbridges.co.uk.....itting.pdf

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

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Mike the Swede
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December 12, 2016 - 5:10 am
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I just received an answer from the luthier at the violin store here in Sweden. He said that "It's important that the degrees of the bowing plane is the exact same amount on all strings, so I need to make an adjustment" (if that makes sense? I'm doing my best translating what he said :)). Anyhow, that's such a relief to hear!

He asked me to go to his shop and have it fixed. I'll let you know how it turned out!

@BillyG Wow, that pdf! There's so much science behind a bridge! surprisedlaugh

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coolpinkone
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December 12, 2016 - 4:25 pm
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Good luck on the adjustment.  Let us know how  it goes.  That is a mighty fine EV you got.

I have played a little on a five string and I did find it challenging at times...the closeness of the strings, but I think I could have gotten used to it more.  

For now, I stick with four strings.  

Congrats on your new violin.

Cheers

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 14, 2016 - 11:28 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Hey Mike the Swede. Just out of curiosity, who is your luthier in Sweden?
To answer your question, that doesn't look bad at all. It's obviously harder to curve for 5 strings than 4 and the play will most probably be slightly less. I didn't feel that it was bad. When you play your five string, consider playing just a tad closer to the bridge when having that problem. You should still not play too close to the bridge to avoid a ponticello type sound but perhaps you are playing too far from the bridge now. I'm impressed by the Yamaha not having the slots sunk in like they often do. Where did you purchase the YEV?

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

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Mike the Swede
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December 16, 2016 - 5:51 pm
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Hey Coolpinkone and Fiddlerman, thanks for your replies!

@ Coolpinkone

Thank you! I share your experience. It does take some time getting used to those differences. However, 4 strings should probably be enough for most people (including me!), none of the tunes I'm trying to learn now use the C-string, and none of the ones I'm planning to learn in the near future use the C-string. So, for now, it just sits there, waiting and waiting. I have to say though, I actually love the sound of it and my plan and dream in the future is to be able to compose some simple fiddle tunes of my own - at that time, I'm hoping on letting the C-string in on the fun!amuse

@ Fiddlerman

Thanks for your reply! I totally trust your opinion Pierre. But damn, this makes me confused again, now I don't know what to make out of this problem ^^

The name of the luthier is Claes-Göran Klockar and he's working in "Violinateljén i Västerås". Do you perhaps know of him? or that store?

Thank you for your advice on playing a bit closer to the bridge, I have been experimenting a bit with this, but I'll definitely look in to this even more! Right now I'm usually aiming at playing right in the center between the bridge and the edge of the fingerboard.

If you, Pierre, say that this looks ok, then there's probably nothing wrong with my bridge at all. I'm sure the problem would be much less of a problem if I had more experience and my bowing was better than it is.

However, I do wonder... If you look closely at and compare the 2'nd and 4'th picture, you can see that there's alot more space between the bow and the adjacent strings of the A-string than the D-string, right? There's like 2x as much space, roughly, and it makes a ton of difference for me being able to not screw up my bowing and hitting strings I don't want to hit. Is it supposed to be like that? these big differences I mean. I read somewhere that the distance between the bow and the adjacent strings is supposed to be the same, no matter what string the bow is placed upon, is it not so?

Right now, my "success-rate" (= not hitting adjacent strings while playing a tune) on the A-string is approximately 95-100% (some times I screw up), but my "success-rate" on the D-string is only... about 10-15% or so. It's a real killjoy. dunno

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coolpinkone
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December 20, 2016 - 12:39 pm
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I so agree that the five string is tempting. I love the sound of that C string.  I just have to stay on my course of trying to learn four.  If I had known in the beginning that there was a five string as an option... I think I might have loved it for the range.

Good luck... awesome!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlerman
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December 21, 2016 - 9:37 am
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Mike the Swede said
@ Fiddlerman

The name of the luthier is Claes-Göran Klockar and he's working in "Violinateljén i Västerås". Do you perhaps know of him? or that store?

I am very familiar with Violinateljén i Gävle but not Västerås. 🙂
I have heard of Claes-Göran Klockar but never met, worked with or had any work done by him. My absolute favorite luthier in Sweden is Jan Larsson in Lima.

http://www.violinjanlarsson.se

Thank you for your advice on playing a bit closer to the bridge, I have been experimenting a bit with this, but I'll definitely look in to this even more! Right now I'm usually aiming at playing right in the center between the bridge and the edge of the fingerboard.

If you, Pierre, say that this looks ok, then there's probably nothing wrong with my bridge at all. I'm sure the problem would be much less of a problem if I had more experience and my bowing was better than it is.

I'm not saying it's perfect. Also, your luthier will surely make it better and shouldn't charge you much for the adjustment unless he needs to make a completely new bridge. 🙂

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

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Mike the Swede
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January 4, 2017 - 5:33 pm
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Hey Everyone!

I hope you've all had a wonderful holiday and a happy new year so far! 🙂

I just wanted to let you all know how it went with my bridge-problem. During the holidays I stopped by "Violinateljén in Västerås" to have their luthier Claes-Göran take a look at the bridge. He took the violin backstage into his workshop and came back a while later with the bridge d r a a a s t i c a l l y improved. Really, it's a huge difference from what it was like before! Now my YEV is pure joy playing, no more headache, I'm so happyamuse

I can really recommend all of you who're maybe wondering if your bridge is or isn't optimally set-up let Fiddlershop or some other highly renowned luthier have a look at it - you might be surprised how big a difference it can make, it surely made a ton of difference here smile

 

@ Fiddlerman , Pierre

I'll definitely keep Jan Larsson in mind for the future, thank you! And if I perhaps go skiing in Sälen some day, I'll definitely stop by Jan's shop! amuse

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Fiddlerman
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January 5, 2017 - 8:17 am
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What exactly did Claes-Göran do? In what way did he change the bridge?
Can you post the two pictures, before and after, next to each other.

Glad to hear that it's better for you now. 🙂

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

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Mike the Swede
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January 10, 2017 - 8:32 am
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Hey Pierre!

Sorry, I just noticed your answer. Thank you! I'll post pictures soon. Meanwhile, I can give a brief description of what he did 🙂

He used a very thin "nålfil" (<-- Swedish: Pierre, you understand, but for everyone else, if translated freely, you get something like "needle-file"? Something very similar to the top one on the pic below) to make the holes where the C- and the G-string sit on the bridge a bit deeper. It also sounded like he sanded the bridge a bit (I could only hear him working in his shop backstage).

Hoppas allt är väl med dig och din familj på det nya året 🙂

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Fiddlerman
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January 10, 2017 - 9:39 pm
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Your picture didn't show up for some reason.

Needle file is right by the way. 🙂

We're doing great over here by the way. Thanks for your well wishes.

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

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cdennyb
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January 11, 2017 - 3:13 pm
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Your issue has already been resolved but just FYI... I play (and make) a 5 string fretted electric and going from a 4 to a 5 string violin is quite a change in muscle memory position for your mind and body to make... especially in the beginning.

The D string is the top string on the bridge and since there's only so much real estate on the top of the bridge for all the strings, they need to be closer together as you already know. The 'standard' radius of a bridge is 42mm, but I make my bridges slightly tighter at 40-41mm R so the separation is better. I have no issue on the string to bow geometry and thought I'd share this bit of info with you for reference.

The string height is also a factor as the C string is higher than the E string off the fretboard (or fret in my situation) so the standard shape of the bridge is slightly different. Overall it's a very similar shape with very slight and subtle differences.PC200321.JPGImage Enlarger

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