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Cutting a new bridge - string height question
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Jim Dunleavy
United Kingdom

September 23, 2015 - 3:00 pm
Member Since: April 19, 2015
Forum Posts: 734
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So when I first brought my fiddle down from its 25 year-or-so stay in the attic, the bridge was bent over like a dog's hind leg, so I fitted a cheap bridge (from Amazon) and just copied the shape of the old one. I made one or two errors with the string slots (by copying the errors from the originally fitted bridge!) and while I've got the strings off to fit my FM set, I thought I'd cut a new bridge (I have a blank).

My question is, how critical is the string height at the end of the fingerboard and do I need to worry whether it's G string 5.5mm and E string 3.5mm (as I've seen online elsewhere) or G string 3/16" and E string 1/8" (as per Kevin Healy's article on FM here - https://fiddlerman.com/2011/11.....n-m-healy/). I'm not sure if the difference from metric to imperial measurements are worth worrying about or not.

I'm making a gauge to mark the bridge off and it would be nice to get it as close to theoretically correct as I can.

Here's a couple of pics of the new bridge and my gauge - sorry the pics are a bit poor quality, I just took them on my phone.

https://fiddlerman.com/wp-content/forum-image-uploads/jim-dunleavy/2015/09/IMG_20150923_192612.jpgImage Enlarger

https://fiddlerman.com/wp-content/forum-image-uploads/jim-dunleavy/2015/09/IMG_20150923_100529.jpgImage Enlarger


September 23, 2015 - 8:25 pm
Member Since: September 30, 2014
Forum Posts: 1636
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Jim, I used the information on http://www.violinresearch.com to shape the bridge I put on my fiddle he shows not only string heights but how and where to thin the blank for a better sound it worked for me string heights were G .197 or 5mm. D .170 or 4.3mm. A .146 of 3.7 mm. E .118 or 3 mm. I measured from the bottom of the string to finger board.   Thats a 41.5 mm deg. Radius Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

Jim Dunleavy
United Kingdom

September 24, 2015 - 3:20 am
Member Since: April 19, 2015
Forum Posts: 734
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Thanks Mark - that's helpful. The metric heights you used are closer to the imperial ones in Kevin's article. I'll have a proper look at that link - looks complicated though!

King for a Day, Peasant for many

October 16, 2015 - 3:27 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1815
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You will find, if you work on enough violins, that some players like a very close distance on the G and E strings and some like it larger. I have a personal preference because it affects my "speed" of note changes. If the string is a larger distance off the f'board it takes longer to finger that note and move to the next without making an in-inadvertent "slide" out of it. Some people like the strings as close as can be done without any buzzing, and also remember that if you set up the heights for steel strings and then go to synthetic core at a strings change, they might buzz if you're close because they vibrate more.

I have found my personal preference is 5mm on the G string and 3mm on the E string with a 42mm radius for the bridge top.

I achieve that by using a small square stick I have which has an appropriate dimension created by sanding it to a point that's offset. One side is 3mm the other is 5mm so it's a 8mm square wooden stick.

I lay it on the f'board beside the corresponding string position and slide it up against the bridge. This is where I make a pencil mark and then lay the template for the 42mm radius so that it intersects both marks and that's my cut-to line.

All of that is done after the final sanding on the feet of course. And you want to thin the bridge and shape it near the top before the final last sanding to achieve the string heights you want.

I make the top or "shoulder" of the bridge 1 to 1.5mm in width. The E string side is usually sporting a skin patch over it for wood protection so the final width is a little more so that's why the thinner area on that side.

You can see on the chart from the sound analysis that even minor work done to the bridge can enhance or destroy the sound quality produced. It's a trial & error game for sure and I've spent many hours shaping, trimming, testing, and reshaping retrimming, and retesting to achieve decent sounding results that are better than original.

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