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Lowering strings on a Cecilio Electric Violin
Not sure whether to adjust string height on my new electric violin.
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Sargent890
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October 12, 2014 - 6:57 am
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I just received my Cecilio Silent Electric Violin a few days ago, and I've been practicing on it for a while.  Today, I decided to play a song on an acoustic violin loaned to me by my violin teacher.  The first thing I noticed was that the strings on the acoustic violin were significantly lower, making it much easier to play.  Whenever I play the same song on my electric violin, the quality is decreased, is I have trouble getting my fingers all the way down to the fingerboard in time, leading to a kind of screeching sound.  

I presume that this extra height (and consequent difficulty) is added due to the extra height of the pickup under the bridge.  I did some research and found that, while it is possible to lower the string height on a violin, it can affect the volume.  This worries me, as I'm unsure as to how well the pickup would work with a lowered volume from a smaller bridge.  

Should I look into lowering my bridge, adjusting my fingerboard, or is there a better way to lower the strings without affecting volume?

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Fiddlerman
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October 12, 2014 - 10:17 am
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Lowering the bridge would be the easiest solution but perhaps the nut needs to be lowered as well. A problem could arrise if you lower it too much causing the strings to vibrate against the fingerboard. For this reason, fingerboards are often scooped as well from the nut to the rear. Concave shaped in that direction.

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

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Sargent890
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October 12, 2014 - 11:18 am
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Ok, could this possibly affect the sound from the pickup?  I want to try to minimize changes to the sound, while moving the strings closer to the fingerboard.

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DanielB
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October 12, 2014 - 11:20 am
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The pickups and preamps on electric violin usually have more than enough output to be able to allow for lowering the bridge a little to get better playability.  If it isn't possible to play the instrument right, then the sound is kind of a moot point anyway. 

But before you dive into it, I'd suggest posting some pics, with closeups of the bridge and the nut.  You'll also want to take measurements of how high the strings are above the fingerboard at the very end, the end near where you bow.  Then folks from here can tell you how much you'll likely want to lower the bridge and maybe give you some advice on how to go about the process.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Sargent890
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October 12, 2014 - 11:24 am
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Ok, thanks for the help.  I should have some pictures and measurements up tomorrow.

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Sargent890
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October 14, 2014 - 2:31 am
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Okay, I have some photos and measurements of my strings.

Strings-at-end-of-Fingerboard-Perspective.JPGImage Enlarger

 Strings-at-end-of-Fingerboard-Side.JPGImage Enlarger

 Strings-at-Nut-Perspective.JPGImage Enlarger

 Strings-at-Nut-Side.JPGImage Enlarger

 Measurements

Strings at nut:

G String - 3mm

E String - 1mm

 

Strings at end of the fingerboard:

G Strings - 8mm

E String - 5.5mm

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OldOgre
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October 14, 2014 - 4:11 am
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hello Sargent890,

Welcome to the insanity that is Stringed Insturments. IMHO your bridge from the measurments you given ( that is to the bottom of the strings at bridge end ) is about 2mm to high. which would make playing above 4th position very hard. My suggestion is that you take the second bridge ( Cecilio usually come with an extra) using a scribe and marking 2mm then sanding it down to that line.

I do not think removing 2mm will effect your bridge, but cutting the 2nd bridge will allow you to switch back.

Remember this is only my oppinion and others may very.

With violins there is no fretting over the music.

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Sargent890
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October 14, 2014 - 4:17 am
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I'm not sure if my violin came with a second bridge, but I may be able to find another.  Anyway, I think I may find a luthier or service shop nearby and see if they can alter or replace the bridge, since it shouldn't affect the sound.  I would do it myself, but I usually don't have much luck with projects like this.

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Fiddlestix
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October 14, 2014 - 6:44 am
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@Sargent890: I certainly hope you are mistaken on your string height at the nut. 3mm for the G string is 1/8", the G should be approx. 0.8mm off the fingerboard and the E should be approx, 0.6mm. Some say to be able to just slide a credit card under the strings at the nut, other's say 1/2 the string thickness.

Pierre / Fiddlerman is correct about the fingerboard scoop. The lower the strings are to the fingerboard the more scoop required, especially on the G side, do to the heavier vibration of that string. You can check the scoop buy laying a 12" straight edge down the length of the finger board, you should see light in the center. In other words the fingerboard is lower in the center and gradually slopes back up toward the nut and the bridge end.

Also, your bridge looks kinda thick where the strings cross. Shortening the bridge will require sanding the fingerboard side of the bridge. Be careful not to get it too thin at the top and bottom. Minimum top = 1.2mm, minimum bottom = 4.2mm. Less than that and you weaken the bridge considerably.

Any doubts about tackling it yourself, it's wise to get a luthier. 

 

Ken.

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DanielB
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October 14, 2014 - 8:36 am
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Well, from the pics and measurements, it's probably playable, but not comfortable.  Action that high at the nut will also make doublestops a bit fussier to get. 

By all means check what a local shop or luthier would want to cut you a new bridge or modify the old one and trim down that nut.  But it is likely to come to at least a significant % of how much you paid for the instrument in the first place.  That's why a lot of folks end up deciding to tackle it themselves.

If you do decide to try and do it yourself, I'd suggest buying a few bridge blanks and at least a couple nut blanks.  They don't cost that much, and that way you can make a few mistakes while figuring out how to do it.  I wouldn't go cutting in to the bridge and nut you have until you have backups at hand.  Other folks may advise different on that though, and your own mileage may vary

But if you can afford to get a luthier or shop to do it, that's probably the surest way. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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