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Resurrect a Fallen Bridge on your Violin or Viola
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Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 (3 votes) 
Fort Lauderdale
September 12, 2012 - 3:12 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 14457

Upon receiving a brand new violin from the internet or local retail store, chances are you need to set or move the bridge in the right location and position and tune your violin up from almost or complete loose.

Learning to easily set up a violin with loose or new strings will make all kind of jobs much easier. Don't be afraid to work on your instrument. The more you do it the easier it becomes. When changing a whole set of strings, simply loosen, remove, change and re-tune one string at a time.

  • Arrange a stable working surface with a soft cover such as a large towel.
  • Make sure the center of the bridges feet line up with the inside f-hole notches.
  • While looking over the violin, insure that the strings are centered over the fingerboard by lifting and sliding the bridge to the right or left accordingly.
  • Constantly check that the bridge is not leaning too far forward or backwards.
  • Keeping the bridge at a slight back angle will insure that the strings do not pull the bridge over and even risk snapping.
  • Tune each string one by one while controlling the angle of the bridge.
  • Tightening one string will change the pitch of another requiring you to tune over and over between the different strings.
  • Remember to frequently check the bridges angle.

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

northwest minnesota
Regular advisor

September 12, 2012 - 8:13 pm
Member Since: August 3, 2012
Forum Posts: 117
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It does happen, that you need to move it a touch occasionally,  might want to check and make sure the soundpost is upright before you put full tension on your bridge...When they tip over while tuning or wherever it sounds like the whole world fell  Good video, we need a like button... Paul

Fort Lauderdale
September 12, 2012 - 10:42 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 14457

I thought about mentioning the sound-post but then I quickly thought to myself, it might be too much for the absolute beginner to soak in plus what could they do about it besides bringing it to a luthier. I actaully have to resurrect a sound-post every once in a while with all the fiddles that come through here.

Probably should have mentioned it anyway.
Thanks fishnrodds

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

King for a Day, Peasant for many

September 13, 2012 - 2:01 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1814
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very good info Pierre. Nice work.thumbs-up (2- 16th's? really?) loldancing


one thing to keep in mind when getting it (the bridge) in the final position... insure the feet are completely in contact with the surface of the wood. If the bridge was made properly to begin with, it was sanded to fit the contour of the body and it was in the vertical orientation making the best 90 degree angle with the body... and regardless if it is straight or leaned back slightly, the optimum position is the feet making maximum contact with the body, so as not to see any daylight under them indicating a lack of max contact area. [when I make a bridge I insure it will stand on the violin all by itself without falling over, that little check shows me the feet are making perfect contact]. I have tested bridges in a Partial Contact and Max Contact orientation and found the best and smoothest sound analysis to come from Max Contact shaping of the feet and final position.

Many bridges will have the mfg ink or burned stamp on one side... this is the side to place next to the tail piece since the opposite side will be the one the luthier has sanded and worked on and shaped to position the strings properly. Ideally the "stamped side" and the feet will form a near perfect 90 degree angle. The 42mm radius found on 4/4 violins will have the G string on the side that positions the string the highest from the fingerboard since it vibrates a longer distance than the E string.

Different strings will also have a different distance from the fingerboard thus making it even more complicated. Too much distance between the string and board and creating the vibrato sound is almost impossible, playing in higher positions. Too close and the strings risk touching as they are played creating a buzz.blurry_drunk-2127

My steel core strings (Preludes) only require 4mm on the G and 3mm on the E (and the violinist will be able to achieve vibrato easier with less fingertip movement) but the (Zyex) synthetic core strings require 5.5mm on the G and 3.5mm on the E and the vibrato is more difficult due to the flexibility and lack of stiffness of the strings compared to the steel core ones.

Aren't violins fun?cheerleader

"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

Stockholm, Sweden
Honorary advisor

September 13, 2012 - 9:06 am
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 302
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Cool! Thank you!

When I got my violin, I tuned it up from scratch, but I didn't know about tilting the bridge back to prevent it from leaning forward. As a result, mine now has a tiny gap on G-string side. Can I tilt it back without first loosening the strings, or is there a risk of snapping anything?

And another thing: my bridge isn't perfectly lined up with the top as Denny was talking about. The left-side edges of both feet are slightly lifted off the body. I suspect this is because it's factory made... Can I do something about it, or should I get a new bridge, or just leave it as it is?

~ Once you've ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. ~

Fort Lauderdale
September 13, 2012 - 9:45 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 14457

Ah,,,, I was not giving specs for cutting the bridge, just measuring to demonstrate that the tallest side will be the G string side for those who have no idea.

This video is intended for beginners who receive instruments and the bridge has fallen down for example. It's not in any way a video for someone who wants to cut or adjust a bridge. This particular bridge is not that well made at all, it was just from an instrument that I received at FiddlerShop where the bridge had collapsed and I figured I could make a video.

Also Dennis, not all bridges have a stamp (these do not) and unfortunately there are many cases where the stamp is on the front side. Special cases such as when the maker puts his own stamp and stamps the bridge after it is cut. That is why I used the measure to see which side is tallest example instead.

See my bridge on my personal violin which I consider to be close to a perfectly cut bridge. Unfortunately, I didn't clean it before taking the pictures. b-slap

Larsson-Bridge-Fingerboard-side.jpgImage EnlargerLarsson-Bridge-Front-Side.jpgImage EnlargerLarsson-Bridge-Side.jpgImage EnlargerLarsson-Bridge-Tailpiece-Side.jpgImage Enlarger

This bridge has been on my violin at least 10 years.

In hindsight, I should have given instructions on which pitches to tune to and where to find those pitches. It didn't occur to me since those notes are engraved in my head.

Thanks for all your insight.

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

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