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Violin bridge setup questions


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When setting up a violin with a newly fitted bridge, what direction should the bridge label face, toward the pegbox, or toward the tailpiece? Any elaboration on why a preference (if any) exists or related historical fact about label orientation would also be appreciated. Also, if I am not mistaken, violin bridges are typically thinned and beveled on one side only. If so, what is the correct direction of the bevel? I am inclined to think the bevel should face toward the pegbox. Thank you in advance of any replies.

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There are probably more experienced answers but, I think the stamp/name is irrelevent. My understanding is that the bridge should be cut as to have the grain as parallel as possible to the tail side of the bridge which should be perpendicular to the violin axis.



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Another thing that's going on is that you'll often find that the holes and cuttings are cut square to one face, and I use that face as the tailpiece side of the bridge so that I'm not forced to enlarge any holes more than I want to.

Some people prefer the long-spot side towards the tailpiece, but a friend of mine suggested to me that if any side needed support in that direction, it was the side that normally folds up--the face towards the board, so I usually put the brand on that side, which also puts the hole cutting in the right direction (the place to look for this is on the ends of the feet, by the way--this alone convinces me that Aubert, who usually cuts their bridges square to the unstamped side, intended them to be put with the stamp facing the board). This same friend of mine also suggested that Americans put the brand on the back because they're brand conscious and want the expensive "deluxe" visible, rather than cutting it off for their own brand, and then came up with an excuse as to why they do this to justify it and he may be right. :-) Functionally, I doubt it really matters much which side faces where, though, except for that issue of which way the cuttings are designed to go.

There are two schools of thought on bridge faces. I make mine both arched, but the side near the board moreso. Take a bridge that was planed totally flat on the back after a few years and put a straightedge on the back: you'll see why I do this. I've got a couple of other reasons, too.

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If there is a manufacturer's stamp on the bridge, that faces the tailpiece. Aubert and other manufacturers of bridge blanks put the stamp on the side where the horizontal grain or rays are more prominent, which should face the tailpiece. The side where the flecks are usually more prominent is normally designated as the front side. If the manufacturer put the stamp on that side, it would get planed or sanded off because the bridge is thinned from that side. The side facing the fingerboard is where some luthiers put their name.

Designating a rear and forward side of the bridge based on the flecks and rays is done to minimize the likelihood of warpage in the bridge under the pressure of the strings, but it really is not critical.

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  • 13 years later...

Old thread, I know...but I consulted this when I had a question regarding bridge placement, and was surprised by the result. 

I recently acquired a nice viola, twenty years in storage, with two bridges--the better of which was not in use. This bridge lacks both a manufacturer's and a luthier's stamp, but has vivid grain and is unwarped. The bridge is also very symmetrical and finely cut, making it (to me) impossible to determine the bass side from the treble. I made a guess based on perceived widths, but later doubted my judgment and consulted my daughter (a professional, and much shrewder than I) when she visited, who suggested that mute marks  and other details suggested the bridge should be reversed--which I duly did. (I based the placement of the bridge on the old footprints.)

I was very surprised (and pleased) by the result--a much greater evenness on all strings.

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