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Bridge Recommendation?
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DanielB
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May 25, 2012 - 9:54 am
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I am thinking about replacing my bridge when I replace strings.  What I have at present is a no-name blank bridge that came with my violin when I bought it and that I trimmed myself.  It plays pretty well, and my action ended up reasonable, so I am not afraid to try trimming another, if necessary.

But I am assuming that bridges are not all created equal, and some brands are considered better than others just like with strings and everything else.  I don't know anything about what might be available because hey, I am a violin noob.

My instrument is electric, so the bridge is likely one of the most critical points for sound.  Unlike an acoustic violin, all the sound comes directly from the base of the bridge.  So it is possible that it is an even bigger factor in the sound than on an acoustic instrument.

I use medium strings, a silver wrapped silk&steel set from Rotosound.  I actually like the strings, but wouldn't mind if the E was a little stronger/brighter.  So I have been looking at maybe an Aubert bridge with an ebony inlay under the E.  Would that be a likely choice, or are there better options?  

I probably couldn't afford anything that would be considered "best", but I'm looking for "possibly better than what comes free with an inexpensive instrument".  LOL  Any thoughts?

"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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Kevin M.
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May 25, 2012 - 10:11 am
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The thing to remember is with electric the feet are flat across and most bridges you buy already have an arch to the feet.  Make sure any bridge you buy has enough meat left on the feet to make them flat.

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cdennyb
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May 25, 2012 - 7:52 pm
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you know Daniel, most true 'blanks' are so flat on the feet that I worry there won't be enough foot material left after sanding the arch in to fit the body properly! lol

I think you should be fine with just about any 'blank' you start with. I wonder if you can sand the feet down on an electric like I can on an acoustic fiddle?

 

Any pics of that area you might share, I'm curious what it looks like 'down in there' where the bridge sets.

"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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DanielB
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May 26, 2012 - 4:24 am
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Pics?  No problem, cdennyb.  If the ones attached at the bottom don't show what you need to see, just let me know and I'll take whatever views you need.

Since the top of my little fiddle is flat as a pancake, it was actually even easier to sand the feet to match.  I was able to just glue a bit of sandpaper down to a scrap bit of board and sand until they fit on a flat surface.  I did end up needing to thin the bridge a little, because it was just a hair too thick to fit down into the slot in a good stable manner.  For that I just held the blank against an electric palm sander with 200 sandpaper for a few seconds at a time until I was sure it was fitting in the slot right.

I was very cautious and left maybe a bit more wood on the bridge than it needed, since I had no idea what I was actually doing and it is a lot easier to take a little more off later than to try and add anything back on.  LOL

I think I got it pretty good.  For a noob, anyway.  LOL The action is fairly comfortable, and I can bow each string without hitting others.  Good enough to get started playing, anyway.  I figure it is kind of similar to guitar.  At first, since you are mostly playing in the first 5 frets (equivalent to violin position 1), action and bridge adjustment aren't too critical.  But later when you need to start learning the rest of the neck, it matters more, and then the adjustments being more precise is more necessary.

I'll describe where the bridge fits a bit to help clarify what you are seeing in the pics, and I have left the pic at full size just in case that degree of detail might actually be useful.  The top of the instrument has been identified by a friend with some extensive experience in plastics as "glass filled epoxy" similar in thickness and cross-bracing to what is used for some aircraft parts.  The finish appears to be some sort of epoxy enamel, at a guess.  The bridge fits in a slightly recessed slot, directly on top of the piezo pickup that rests in the slot.  The slot is about 42mm long and around 5 mm wide.  The bridge had to be sanded down to about 4.5 mm thick to fit securely in the slot, since the paint and the shrink-wrap covering the actual pickup kept any attempt at a tighter fit from actually settling into the slot.  The slot, with the pickup in place, forms a recess for the bridge that is about 1 mm deep.  Hard to tell for certain, since the shrink wrap on the pickup could have been done better, and I don't know how much it is compressing under the pressure of the strings when they are tuned up.

I did not try for a closer fit or lower action when intially fitting the bridge, since I thought it probably best to tune up the instrument and play it for a month or two to let everything settle and stabilize before trying to get it more "perfect".  I don't know much about violin bridges, but looking at this one, I am guessing that the "two tone" appearance may be an indicator that the wood it is made of would probably be graded as something like "less than spiffy".  LOL

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"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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Kevin M.
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May 26, 2012 - 9:21 am
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Denny,

You don't understand what I was trying to say to Daniel.  His electric violin has no arch at all and the feet of the bridge have to sit flat on the pick-up.  Electric bridge blanks are made different.  If you take a straight edge and put it across the two inner points of the feet you will see that most if not all of the outer points of the feet will be gone.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
May 26, 2012 - 10:55 am
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Good point Kevin.

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

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DanielB
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May 26, 2012 - 11:13 am
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Correct, Kevin, the top deck on this thing is flat as a board. 

The bridge blank that came with it had feet made to fit a cur4ve, but it was mild enough that there is a fair amount of foot left after flattening as you can maybe make out from the pictures.

I have noted that bridges seem to come with varying degrees of curve on the feet, and yes, with some of them there wouldn't be enough of the feet left after flattening it to fit the top. 

However, if the bridges available for curved tops are usually better grade or if not having to remove as much from the feet could be desirable, I can think of some approaches to remedy the flat top at that spot.  I could carve in a millimeter or so with a dremel router bit to deepen the slot just a little, then make a small arched piece to fit in the slot that the pickup and bridge could sit on.  I haven't "taken the clothes off" of this particular piezo, but it looks fairly similar to some of the less expensive ones used for guitars and other instruments.  Usually a small piezo element mounted on a little strip of circuit board material is what is under the shrink wrap.  Circuit board material can bend the small amount we're talking about here without much chance of breaking. 

The reason I didn't do that in the first place, though, is that it would most likely change the output of the pickup.  Piezo crystal generates voltage (and as such makes a signal) in reactions to changes in three things.  Call them pressure, bend, and twist.  A piezo crystal can react to all three of those at once, even.  The way it is right now, lying flat with the bridge pressing down on it, the signal only comes from pressure.  Bending it a bit, however, would bring "bend" into play and most likely increase the output.  What it might do to the frequency response is anybody's guess, though.  Without making a test jig and playing around with it, I wouldn't have much of an idea what to expect so far as change to the basic sound.  So I am kinda inclined to avoid that right now.

But if I were to find out that there are a lot more bridge options for curve or that it is better not to sand the feet flat, like I said, there are some possible options for making that spot curved, and it wouldn't necessarily be an automatically bad thing.  I have been looking around a bit, and the one I am sort of considering is an "Aubert Teller Germany U Insert Semi Fitted Violin Bridge 4/4, 9145-44".  At least from the pictures I have seen, it looks like I could flatten the feet easy enough and still have a bit of wood left on them.  I was thinking the ebony insert might brighten the E a little, and they aren't particularly expensive. 

Not knowing squat about violin bridges, I thought I'd ask to see if there are brands or types that are particularly well known for being bad, good or ok.  I've played on the current set of stings enough to have worn them down to the copper, so their replacement is in sight. LOL  It seems to me that it would also be a good time to try a bridge other than what came with the violin from the factory.  Getting rid of the factory strings and bow were certainly improvements, so trying bridge that might be a little better seems like a good experiment. 

"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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Kevin M.
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May 26, 2012 - 12:26 pm
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The bridge you are talking about is a very good one.  I use them often.  The ebony insert will allow you to not use the plastic tube over the E string.  The ebony keeps the string from cutting through the bridge.  Not using the tube will brighten the E string.

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DanielB
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May 27, 2012 - 12:47 pm
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That is just about exactly what I wanted to know, Kevin.  Thanks!

The E is just a little soft sounding, which may just be a characteristic of the set.  But I figured it was worth considering the bridges with the insert if I want to try a bit of an upgrade anyway. 

"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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