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Bridge accident...what happened?


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Six weeks ago, I had a new "winter" bridge put on my fiddle by a highly respected local violin shop.

I am a fiddler who tends to play pretty hard. I'd played it for a couple weeks and it sounded just great. The other night (luckily at home rather than at a gig) I noticed the fiddle kept going out of tune, which is unusual for my instrument. Then, suddenly, the damned bridge snapped clean in half lengthwise.

Stupid question, perhaps, but any idea how this could happen? And for those of you who do repairs: Would I be within my rights to ask the repairman, who has a good reputation in town, to replace the bridge for free?

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Re: Bridge accident...what happened?

Then, suddenly, the damned bridge snapped clean in half lengthwise.

Please describe in more detail what you are describing as

"lengthwise" and exactly where.

Also, was bridge 90 degree upright before it failed?

(I would assume it was, however if it was tilting, that would

clearly account for it going out of tune.)

Any visual evidence of an old, partial crack at the

break? If it was a treated bridge, an old crack might show.

What harm could it do to ask him politely to cut a new bridge

realizing he might have a logical explanation and decline?

You are very lucky it happened at home!


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I agree with Jimbow. I never have had a bridge fail under any circumstance ever. Even a leaning one or a warped one, both of which I have had a few of. A shock to the violin at the bridge, might crack the bridge, but would crack the top too. I think you are within your rights to ask for a replacement bridge.


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If the tread on the tailgut started to strip, the pitch will drop, requiring constant re-tuning which can very likely cause the bridge to bend and eventually break. I've seen this happen on more than one occasion, especially in instances where the string angle over the bridge is overly acute.

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This also recently happened to me. I had finished a pegbox repair for a friend, and he had kept all the fittings at home in another case. I set it up with what fittings I had laying around, including an old bridge that matched up pretty well. I strung it up just so he could test the fit of the pegs. He came to pick it up, and while he was tuning, the old bridge snapped in half horizontally. Made us both jump. I had assumed it was because the bridge was just old and dried out.

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I don't see how you could hold the repairman responsible for a bridge that cracked in half *6 weeks* after it was installed. Jacob's explanation is the most likely one, in my opinion. At best, I think you could beg for some pity at the cost of another bridge and ask for a discount, but personally, I don't think he bears any responsibility.


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Saw the luthier today. He says he thinks I wasn't cautious in "pulling back" the bridge before each tuning; he says my current setup is the most sensitive I've had and that I need to be more careful with it. (Imagine...telling a fiddler who plays old-time music to "be careful...")

Denouement: He offered to replace the bridge free of charge, since he was the one who installed it six weeks or so ago. I was not going to ask him to do this. I think this is a very nice gesture and will continue to speak highly of his shop.

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