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POSSIBLY Fixing A Warped Bridge
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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LyleA
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November 21, 2013 - 9:32 am
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Ok, so here is the quick backstory:

During a recent move to a new city, my violin was left in its case for about two weeks with tension on the strings.  When I eventually took the instrument out, I found that the bridge had warped.  The top of the bridge had rolled forward towards the fingerboard.  I took my violin into the one and only local luthier shop near me and had a new bridge cut.  However, the new bridge altered the sound of my instrument tremendously and for the worse.  I didn't notice it at first.  I was just excited to be able to play again, but it had a hollow/metallic sound that proved difficult to listen too. It was so bad in fact, that I placed the warped bridge back on to improve the sound.  I went been back to the luthier a number of times, but I don't feel like they really cared.  They handle a great many high quality European instruments for the local symphony and my Chinese made violin always seemed to get treated like an unwanted step-chlid.

So, I contacted Fiddlershop about my options and was told by Mike about a possible technique of using hot water to straighten the wood back out.  I did some internet searching and found a couple of forums where people had discussed this very topic.  What I eventually did was this:

1.  I brought a pot of water up to a light boil on the stove.

2.  I dropped the bridge in and let it simmer for about fifteen minutes.  The bridge actually straightened back out after a few minutes but I let it keep "cooking" longer.

3.  I then placed it between two blocks of wood that matched (more or less) the angle of the bridge's taper from feet to top.  I used a C-clamp to tighten the blocks down securely.  It stayed this way for seven hours.

4.  When I removed the blocks the bridge was still damp, so I placed it on a cookie sheet and let it "bake" in the oven at only about 115 degree for less than ten minutes.  Basically until it was warm.

I examined the bridge carefully and it looked to the naked eye to be perfectly straight and stiff.  So, with a deep breath, I very slowly and carefully placed it back on the violin; gently easing the tension back up and being very deliberate in pulling the bridge back and checking its position constantly so there was no forward lean.

Last night I was able to play a little bit on my instrument and the sound was vastly improved.  As of this morning the bridge is still holding up.  If there are any changes in the future I will post an update, but in the mean time this method may work for someone out there in need.  However, take this idea with a grain of salt.

And, I'm sorry.  I know pictures of the process would make this a better read, but I forgot.

Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at them.

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screeeech
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November 21, 2013 - 10:28 am
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I understand you were too worried about your baby! I get it. I would have been too!

 

Glad you got it back and playing better!!thumbs-up

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RosinedUp
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November 21, 2013 - 3:01 pm
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Good work ... very resourceful.

Now if you can do something like that, you can also make your own bridge next time you need one.  It doesn't require expensive tools ... just stuff like a ruler, pencil, paper, sandpaper, tape, and a $10 caliper for measuring.

If you take your time and work carefully, I expect (as in the case of straightening your warped bridge), that you can outdo a professional.

You might also want to consider modifying the bridge that you had made.  Maybe it just needs to be thinned.

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LyleA
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November 21, 2013 - 4:10 pm
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I have been considering doing that very thing.  Maybe not starting with a blank and carving one myself, but modifying the one I had made and determining what changes produce a better sound, etc.  Should be a fun experiment.

Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at them.

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ratvn
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November 21, 2013 - 7:43 pm
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That was great information, @LyleA. Nice job for fixing the warped bridge.

This reminded me of my local luthier, not just reparing but also making violin for many years. He charged $120.00 for a student bridge and $150.00 for a professional bridge, and yet he only made it to specs, no tuning or even trying to make violin sound the best it could. So I took it on my own, and have made about a dozen, plus tuning bridge to what I think my violin sounds the way I like it to be. Won't be too hard at all so go for it. Make your own bridge from blanks that FM stocks quite a few. Easiest way is to copy the bridge that you like the best and do a bit of modification from there.

thumbs-up

 

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Ferret
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November 21, 2013 - 8:54 pm
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@LyleA 

If you try making your own bridge as @ratvn suggested. You may want to buy a 'redressal tool'.

They make it easy to match the feet of the bridge to the shape of the top of your violin. It's rather important. The so called 'pre fitted' bridges are not the go. It would be the only specialist tool that you need to do the job.

FM May have them available, but failing that, they are on eBay at a reasonable price

Have a go. The worst that could happen is that you ruin a bridge.

BTW....... I wouldn't suggest that you do it this way

rofl

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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StoneDog
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November 21, 2013 - 9:46 pm
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I need to get me a sawzall> right quick.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
November 21, 2013 - 11:16 pm
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Yeeeee Haaaaaa!!!!
That was actually my idea which I gave to Michael while you were on the phone. :-)
I'm glad you did it. Why would you need to carve a new bridge if this one is working fine right?
So many people allow their bridges to lean forward and they eventually do warp if not break if this is allowed to happen. Put lead in the string grooves on the bridge and from time to time pull the top part back so that the bridge is leaning ever so slightly back rather than forward and chances are you will be fine.
I'm super happy to hear your story and that we were able to help out. Glad you did the research too since I wasn't sure whether my theory of using hot water was better than a heat gun.
One member here told us that they were able to straighten out their warped bow using a heat gun. :-)

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

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LyleA
Little Rock, AR
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November 21, 2013 - 11:18 pm
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@ratvn 

I think I'm going to try and replicate the bridge I saved and keep it (assuming I do a decent job) as a spare.

@Ferret 

Thanks for the idea of the redressal tool.  I'm not much of a wood worker but I'm eager to learn.  I think I'll wait on the sawsall approach, however.

Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at them.

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RosinedUp
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November 21, 2013 - 11:23 pm
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Ferret said
Have a go. The worst that could happen is that you ruin a bridge.

Well, the soundpost could fall ... that would be worse.  It's not the end of the world of course.  It might be good to be prepared, having a soundpost setting tool.  But then again, Lyle has already changed bridges without the soundpost falling.  It's a good idea to treat the violin very gently whenever it's unstrung.

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LyleA
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November 21, 2013 - 11:25 pm
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Fiddlerman said
Yeeeee Haaaaaa!!!!
That was actually my idea which I gave to Michael while you were on the phone. :-)
I'm glad you did it. Why would you need to carve a new bridge if this one is working fine right?
So many people allow their bridges to lean forward and they eventually do warp if not break if this is allowed to happen. Put lead in the string grooves on the bridge and from time to time pull the top part back so that the bridge is leaning ever so slightly back rather than forward and chances are you will be fine.
I'm super happy to hear your story and that we were able to help out. Glad you did the research too since I wasn't sure whether my theory of using hot water was better than a heat gun.
One member here told us that they were able to straighten out their warped bow using a heat gun. :-)

@Fiddlerman 

Well then thanks for the advice Pierre!  It did work great, but my bridge wasn't horribly warped either, just enough to notice really.  I have no clue how this technique would hold up with say another type of wood or more damage?dunno

I also read online that people will sometimes us wood hardener from a hardware store to strength the bridge once it has been re-straightened.  There was some debate about whether the additional stiffness added by the  hardener would dampen vibrations and change the quality of the bridge, but no one had a clear answer, only speculation.  Luckily I didn't have top go that route. 

 

Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at them.

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LyleA
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November 21, 2013 - 11:29 pm
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RosinedUp said

Ferret said
Have a go. The worst that could happen is that you ruin a bridge.

Well, the soundpost could fall ... that would be worse.  It's not the end of the world of course.  It might be good to be prepared, having a soundpost setting tool.  But then again, Lyle has already changed bridges without the soundpost falling.  It's a good idea to treat the violin very gently whenever it's unstrung.

The soundpost scares the hell out of me, simply because there is no easy access.  If it was more accessible and my hands less shaky, I would be constantly adjusting it to try and find a better sound.  I'm the sort that won't leave well enough alone sometimes.Maybe I could use a jigsaw and make a trap door on the bottom plate?lumpy-2134

 

Never mind maneuvers, just go straight at them.

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Ferret
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November 22, 2013 - 12:32 am
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LyleA said

RosinedUp said

Ferret said
Have a go. The worst that could happen is that you ruin a bridge.

Well, the soundpost could fall ... that would be worse.  It's not the end of the world of course.  It might be good to be prepared, having a soundpost setting tool.  But then again, Lyle has already changed bridges without the soundpost falling.  It's a good idea to treat the violin very gently whenever it's unstrung.

The soundpost scares the hell out of me, simply because there is no easy access.  If it was more accessible and my hands less shaky, I would be constantly adjusting it to try and find a better sound.  I'm the sort that won't leave well enough alone sometimes.Maybe I could use a jigsaw and make a trap door on the bottom plate?lumpy-2134

 

Now why didn't 'I' think of that??? bunny_pole_dancerrofl

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Ferret
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November 22, 2013 - 12:41 am
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facepalm

RosinedUp said

Ferret said
Have a go. The worst that could happen is that you ruin a bridge.

Well, the soundpost could fall ... that would be worse.  It's not the end of the world of course.  It might be good to be prepared, having a soundpost setting tool.  But then again, Lyle has already changed bridges without the soundpost falling.  It's a good idea to treat the violin very gently whenever it's unstrung.

We'll yeah, and that as well. Forgot about thatfacepalm

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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Fiddlerman
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November 22, 2013 - 7:15 am
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I wouldn't use the wood hardener if the sound was good previously. Some instruments sound better with harder more dense bridges where as others sound better with a slightly softer one. One theory is that if your top is made of real dense wood with tight grains you use a slightly less dense grain bridge and if the top of your violin has wider grains you should use a tighter grained bridge. I am not yet sure as we don't make two separate bridges for violins and compare the sound. :-)
I am fairly certain you can keep your bridge straight if you make sure it is straight or ever so slightly leaning back.

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

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HDuaneaz
Chandler, Arizona
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November 22, 2013 - 3:17 pm
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Thanks for reminding me, Pierre. My bridge is starting to lean forward a little bit. I need to fix that.

On another note, it must be that no two violin bridges are the same. I just received the CVN-200 that my daughter ordered for my grandson. She tasked me with checking it out and breaking in the strings. It is a very nice violin and I totally agree with Pierre's opinion that he expressed on his demonstration video.

This violin is very nice. I wish I had one that nice when I was a child.

I did notice that the bridge must be different than the one on my violin because the bow angle for playing the different strings is not the same, maybe because the bridge is higher. I haven't bothered to measure it.

Just something a little off-topic, but I don't want to start a new topic. I never realized how powerful the vibrations are in the body of a violin when you play it. The other day, I was letting my grand-daughter pluck the strings. I am trying to gradually, in her first years, introduce her to the violin. The violin was upright on my knee with the strings facing out to her. I was coaxing her to pluck the strings. I rested my lips on top of the scroll not realizing what I was doing. It was almost like I was kissing Heidi. Heidi is the name of my violin; and boy, did she tickle my mouth when I plucked her strings.

Oh, no; I know this sounds kind of erotic. Sorry, that is just how it came out of my mind.

Too unique to change.

Duane

 

"Violin is one of the joys of my life."

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RosinedUp
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Lyle, if you want get your feet a little wetter with luthierie, you might think about getting a second violin, maybe a cheapie or a fixer-upper.  That way if you make a mistake it won't stop you from playing.

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HDuaneaz
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Lyle,

 

I have thought about doing that.

Duane

 

"Violin is one of the joys of my life."

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cdennyb
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when it comes to making a new bridge, you can follow this simple guide to making a backup bridge.

Makes good reading... it's a pdf to download

 

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/th.....ridge-pdf/

"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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