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Bridge shape
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TerryT
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February 19, 2012 - 6:00 pm
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cdennyb said:

Here's an article from years ago about the physics and vibrational relationships of strings and bridges. If you're just kickin back and relaxin on a Sunday afternoon, it makes for some great reading.

 
 
 
Well, its 11pm this side of the pond, but I'll certainly crack open the link for a while and take a peak before I hit the sack, which should have been an hour ago, with it being a school day tomorrow an' all!
 
Thanks for all your help tonight, it's been greatly appreciated.
Same to you Oliver.
 
Final thought provoker for the night:
Did Stradivarius measure in millimetres?

I am amazed at how old people of my age are.....

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cdennyb
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I know you were probably just trying to be funny but in the interest of accurate information for Terry to use, the "theory" is based on factual design over the past 300 years or so and even the change in height between 5 mm for synthetic core strings and 4 mm is easily noticed by the listener. There are few 'tricks' involved, just basic tried & true shapes and densities of wood items, the shape and density of the wood used to make a bow for instance has a pronounced effect on the tone of notes produced.

You can buy a bridge for $5.00 USD or you can spend $50.00 USD and to you and me, they're probably the same for the most part, we just end up with less money for beer.

The hardwood used to make bridges is a specially selected and aged wood which usually only is found in Europe if I understand that correctly. I'm sure there are hundreds if not thousands made every day in China but the "real old world" bridges are made in Europe.

 

Here's a copy of a very good description I found on the net of making your own bridge. I couldn't say it better.

>Fitting a new bridge is complicated by the fact that not every neck and fingerboard is at the identical or correct height. SO....the new bridge must be fitted to match the fingerboard height. There is a simple way to do this. First fit the feet of the new bridge, getting them curved to match the violin top and parallel to the top. Once the feet are done, you are now ready to mark the bridge for the first trim. Get a wooden pencil. Hold the bridge in place between the notches in the F-holes. Hold the wooden pencil flat on the finger board and slide it up to the bridge to make a mark on each end of the bridge. This will give you marks that are approximately 3.5mm above the fingerboard. Use a ruler and put a new mark 2.0mm above the mark on the G-string end; this gives you a height of about 5.5mm (3.5mm + 2.0mm = 5.5mm). Take a pencil compass and set its pivot and the point 42mm apart (giving you a 42mm radius). Draw a 42mm radius on a 3x5 card and cut it out with scissors. Now take your card-stock 42mm radius and line it up with the two pencil marks on the bridge (be sure to use the higher pencil mark on the bass side). Draw a line using the card-stock to connect the two pencil marks. Cut a little bit high of this line to allow for notching and final trimming. With strings in place, measure the height of the E-string above the fingerboard at the bridge end of the fingerboard (should be 3.5mm or so) and the G-string (should be 5.5mm or so. If they are still high (which is probably going to be the case) note how much correction is needed an final trim that amount from the bridge. Use you 42mm card-stock radius if you need to move the line down a bit. That's it<

 

I suppose you could take a piece of old sugar pine from the hills out here and carve one that would work good enough for you and me but trying to duplicate that item later on would be near impossible.cheers

"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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cdennyb
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Terry said  

Final thought provoker for the night:
Did Stradivarius measure in millimetres?
 
 
 
This partial printing of a very expensive book of the life of this great violin maker would seem to indicate that he did in fact use a "local" unit of measurment in the construction of his violins and other instruments.
To say that He DID, or DIDN'T use the metric system would be a difficult question to answer. In some of his patterns and pieces the parts are able to be reproduced using millimeters but other dimensions don't fit the metric method precisley...obviously that would indicate the he DID NOT use the metric system as we know it. The books' article is very interesting reading.

"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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Fiddlerman
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February 20, 2012 - 7:43 am
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Thanks everyone for all the valuable information. This is all fantastic information and I would like to add Kevin's fantastic guide to cutting a bridge as well. A lot of the stuff discussed on this thread is also demonstrated here too.

Install a New Bridge on a Violin by: Kevin Healy

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

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Oliver
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February 20, 2012 - 9:05 am
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@Terry

Context ...... modifying bridge for making double stops easier.

Increasing the string separation at the bridge has almost no effect for playing in first position.  Some people have tinkered with moving grooves apart at the nut (by peg box) with limited success.

REGARDLESS of string separation, any double stop requires sounding two strings in a straight line.  Period.  Bridge curvature doesn't change that.

I know what is published for Curtin and others and try to stick to conventional guidelines to the extent of my carving skills and tools.  I have not really found a bridge much better than the pre-cut Aubert self adjusting. (if the height is right)

I've been told by some veterans that learning to play double stops is very difficult and may take 6 mos. to a year to achieve confidence.

The FM forum reports more cracked, broken, bridges than I've encountered in 6 years on the internet.  I wonder why?

coffee2

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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cdennyb
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Fiddlerman said

Thanks everyone for all the valuable information. This is all fantastic information and I would like to add Kevin's fantastic guide to cutting a bridge as well. A lot of the stuff discussed on this thread is also demonstrated here too.

Install a New Bridge on a Violin by: Kevin Healy

THAT was a very nice home brew example that included many of my suggestions. Well written and although brief of greater detail, it was perfect and highlighted all the 'key' points. I don't know if I'd ruin a perfectly good ruler by "gluing dowels" to it for a height measuring device though. LOL

Thanks for the included link FM. Should make this a "sticky" posting for future reference. (assuming that can be done with this software.)

"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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sdsalyer
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I showed my violin to an "old time fiddler" and he is insistent that I sand my bridge down as much as 1/8 of an inch.  He says my strings are too far off the fingerboard.  I'm a little leery of doing this, but would it make it easier/better to play?   Is it something better left to a luthier?

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cdennyb
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sdsalyer said

I showed my violin to an "old time fiddler" and he is insistent that I sand my bridge down as much as 1/8 of an inch.  He says my strings are too far off the fingerboard.  I'm a little leery of doing this, but would it make it easier/better to play?   Is it something better left to a luthier?

If you have the strings any further than 5 mm for the G string and about 3 mm for the E string off the fingerboard as measured back by the bridge, then I agree. I would need to see the measurment to totally agree with him.

He's probably playing on steel core strings so my luthiers build bible shows they need 4 mm and 2.5 mm accordingly. My synthetic cores need more room, hence the 5 mm and 3 mm dimensions from the fingerboard.

 

You need to use your own judgment here. The facts and details have been presented to you. Goo back up thru this thread and you can see the work to justify the numbers.

Good luck.

"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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Fiddlestix
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Kevin,,,,, very nice instrruction w/pictures and a great how to. Can't get much better than that.thumbs-up

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TerryT
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Fiddlerman said

Thanks everyone for all the valuable information. This is all fantastic information and I would like to add Kevin's fantastic guide to cutting a bridge as well. A lot of the stuff discussed on this thread is also demonstrated here too.

Install a New Bridge on a Violin by: Kevin Healy

What a great set of instructions, thanks Kevin. Time to go
practice on a few..........

I am amazed at how old people of my age are.....

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DanielB
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This is a great thread, and should be "stickied" or archived somewhere easy for a beginner to find.

I hope that not too many beginners find themselves in the same boat I did, getting their brand new violin and then figuring out the bridge was uncut and way too high.  But sadly, it is probably all too often the case, especially with the bargain priced instrument "beginner package" deals.

I've played guitar enough that I could tell the action was ridiculous when I first set my bridge and tuned up.  I am talking about it feeling like something to cut hard boiled eggs or cheese with rather than a musical instrument.  LOL 

I've trimmed and adjusted enough guitar bridges over the years to not be afraid of taking a sandpaper block to the situation, and after an hour or so of hunting the internet, I found some explanation of how to trim the bridge.  I think it may have even been the exact bit that cdennyb quoted with the talk about a pencil, in fact.

It is nice to see that it wasn't bad advice.  I can tell that my bridge isn't *too* far off now, since the instrument is playable and all the moves I've tried work.  The action is comfortable.  Maybe in a few months I'll get some other bridges to try working on and see if I can get it more "perfect" after I've played long enough to actually understand what more perfect might be.

But the usual advice one gets is "Take it to a luthier!". 

Reality check, people.. My local yellow pages do not even list a luthier in the area.  Not every town has any luthiers.  Even if they did, the usual reason one buys an inexpensive instrument is because one is low on budget, and this makes running out to a shop less likely as an option.  There is a total of two music stores in my town.  The one I usually go to has some things for violin, but doesn't do much with the violins.  The other one does violins for at least school kids, but also happens to be the same place that a few years back strung my brand new 12 string fender guitar I bought from them with medium strings and told me to just leave it in standard tuning.  Two months later, the bridge pulled up and the top was warped, but by then it was out of warranty period of course.  I fixed it myself and restrung the 12 string with extra light gauge silk and steels and it is a lovely instrument again, but hopefully I don't need to explain why I wouldn't let them work on any instruments of mine, ever?  LOL

Back when I first got my new violin, I hadn't found this site yet.  Wish I had, since it would have saved me some hours of hunting the Internet.  But for basic setup stuff like this, it would be really nice if there was a section here where it was organized so it doesn't get buried.  The "search" function here is no worse than most other forums, but that isn't saying much. 

The article by Kevin Healy also looks excellent and I wouldn't balk a minute at buying a ruler and gluing dowels to it to make a setup tool.  But even though I have been coming to this site for about a month now, I wouldn't have known it was on the site somewhere if I hadn't found this thread.  I still don't know where it is on the site from the front page.  Making this sort of info easier to find could be a good idea.  The site is great, page one has lots of great lessons and interesting articles and the learning tools section.. it is really good.  The best I have seen so far.  But it could be a little better if info like this was a little easier for a new visitor to find.

"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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