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  1. Wondering what people listen for to guide tonal adjustments in setup? I know for myself, to a large degree I'm listening to brightness versus darkness in the tone. And I mostly associate that with a generally more tensioned and strong setup giving harder brighter results, and lower tension tending more toward dark. I know I'm trying to maximize power and response in the tone, while balancing other factors. I want to strike a balance making brightness or darker warmth available in the tone, and a balance between openness of tone and a more reedy firmness of tone. Presuming good fit of bridge feet and post, I think of tension as the first thing to adjust in the setup. Following Gerald Botteley's advice from the Courtnall & Johnson book, I move the bridge forward to test lower tension and back to test higher tension, and see which direction gives improvement in the tone and response. I try to work first from a completely standard, but somewhat beefy bridge, and a somewhat beefy and longish post a little bit closer to center line and further back behind the bridge than standard. From this start, I try to get the tension of the instrument setup as close a possible to right, but slightly over tight, as I work the post closer toward a 'standard' position. I prefer to work with bridge and post just barely thickish. Once the tension seems close to good, but definitely not too loose, then I try to refine the post position by listening to how it affects the balance of the response in terms of bass versus treble, and quick brightness versus slower warmth of tone. This things I mostly test by playing in low and high positions on all strings, and by listening to how the response changes near and far from the bridge, and with different pressures and bow speeds. I try to work with the bass to treble balance first. Mostly I adjust this by moving the post closer or further toward the center line. Since the fit and tension/height are affected by this kind of move, I might need to make a new post to get both the tension and the bass/treble balance working well. The nearness or distance behind the bridge foot also alters the effective tension, but less so the fit. So I'm happy if my fiddling around with the post ends with this last dimension. I feel like this distance most strongly effects the balance between hardness/directness versus openness/indirectness of response. It seems very similar to moving a microphone nearer or farther from the voice. After this, even though the general bass to treble balance should be good, the balance between individual strings might want some further adjusting. I try to do this last balancing of strings by trimming away a little in the bridge cutout just below the string that wants to be a little more present and open in tone. Once the strings seem as well balanced as possible, I consider if the tone wants more openness. If so, I consider trimming the other cutouts of the bridge further. But I don't want to lose strength in the bridge, so I'm least inclined to thin the bridge or post. Both these steps can lighten and open the response, but are too easily overdone. It seems that response can get mushy and slowed, and tone thin if either post or bridge aren't solid enough. But, response can be dampened and tone veiled if these have too much mass. I prefer to end up with a very standard post and bridge in very standard positions, but results matter more. *********** I don't think there's much out of the ordinary in what I described above. But I'm interested in hearing more techniques people use, and the things they listen for. In the part where I'm listening with different pressures and speeds and such, I do one kind of test that I haven't particularly heard discussed elsewhere. Maybe others do this to? I pay attention to how easily you can play a sul ponticello effect, and how far from the bridge you can be and still get that sound. As well as how close to the bridge you can draw a clear brilliant tone, and where on the string you can start to get a sul tasto kind of sound. I like it when all these colors are readily available. I like to see the sul ponticello available out mid way to the fingerboard. And a good sul tasto color available starting right around the fingerboard. Post to bridge nearness for example affects this greatly. Also, I want to see similar colors available for similar contact points across all the strings, as much as possible. More and more, I find myself using these tests as my main guide as I work through the setup. ************* I'm hoping people will share both their process, and the special things they listen for to help judge tonal setup.
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