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BarryD

Cutting a Bridge??

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Fiddler59 that was the original question! But what I am hearing from Jeffery & Michael is that there are no basic rules..is that correct Jeffery & Michael?

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violinbridges, I like your website. What is confusing is the large variation in the bridge dimensions that the famous shops have used. When a luthier is loking for guidance, this variation is confusing. I am very glad that you have provided this information to the general reader--it has been helpful to me.

The original question has still not been answered but we have seen some pretty bridges and some self-stroking. No one has mentioned the red books of Edward Brown (Chimneys Shop). Volume 1 has a long section on bridge tuning which details how each portion of the bridge affects the violin sound and what you can do to shape the sound. Volume 2 has condensed the tuning into a two page tutorial. How about focusing on the information in these two books? I really hate to see this question degenerate into the type of thinking of "I am the only one with this secret knowledge."

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Mike_Danielson

The original question has still not been answered but we have seen some pretty bridges and some self-stroking. No one has mentioned the red books of Edward Brown (Chimneys Shop). Volume 1 has a long section on bridge tuning which details how each portion of the bridge affects the violin sound and what you can do to shape the sound. Volume 2 has condensed the tuning into a two page tutorial. How about focusing on the information in these two books? I really hate to see this question degenerate into the type of thinking of "I am the only one with this secret knowledge."


Well, instead of just giving you a glib reply, first pointing toward participants who have historically offered real, useful information on this site (with step by step instructions when appropriate) while trying hard not to continue to support the many myths and "magic bullet" (not) solutions that exist... and then reconsidering who might actually be doing the self-stroking... maybe I should just ask what useful techniques you've managed to develop based on the two volumes you've mentioned?

There are several past threads concernng bridges... I believe a couple links have been supplied. Using the search function should bring up several more.

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Mike, I think Jeff already dealt with that: "The effects these details have on response varies according to wood & profile of the bridge, and the build of the instrument to which the bridge is installed... and just to complicate matters, the effect of the cuts relate to each other. I've had arguments with almost every, if not every, chart that has been produced on the subject."

I guess Jeff and I just have too much experience to believe in "universal" rules anymore, but if you'd like to share some of the secret knowledge of the Chimneys, which you apparently are heir to, rather than to just complain about us, feel free.

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In terms of removing wood from the heart and kidneys etc I'd say

don't do this unless you have to ( apart from tidying to

style)......once the bridge is finished and has been played on with

all the various soundpost/afterlength settings tried etc. There's

not much sense in trying to shape the sound of a bridge untill you

know how it is working on a particular instrument. I very often end

up removing little or no wood from these areas. Often one sees

bridges unnecessarily weakened and innefective from too much wood

having been removed. In accordance with some kind of theory that

obviously has not worked.

Michael & Jeff's bridges pictured in this thread are fine

examples to be guided by. I'd say better than 'house' bridges to

look at as they are obviously cut to work well rather than simply

to the house pattern as often is the case with bridges with names

I'd rather not mention stamped on them.

One thing I like about Michael And Jeff's bridges is that there is

still plenty of meat left in the foot and leg. Often on violin

bridges these areas are thinned out too much resulting in poor

transfer of power into the violin.

Personally I don't go much on the idea of bridge tuning....it just

does not conform to my experience of what works...

However,one thing I do notice in my own work is that when I buy a

batch of bridges in from the manufacturer it quite fast becomes

apparent that certain blanks of the same grade work better than

others.....I find that these good ones all obviously come from the

same tree ( Normally a batch of 50 seem to be cut from about 4 or 5

different trees)

So as a consequence,when I'm fitting a bridge I tend to care a lot

more about the structure and texture of the wood I'm using than

whether I will remove wood from the heart or kidneys etc.......

Regards, Melvin Goldsmith

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If a person worked from good quality bridges with similar wood and also average measurments taken from bridges that were cut well-- on an instrument with correct set-up;.....................what would be a good approach to learning from long term experience, the effects of cutting more or less in different areas?

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Actually, this quotation from my original reply "I am the only one with this secret knowledge" was directed towards those on this group who say the problem is too complicated to discuss; therefore, you must bring it into my shop for my magic to work.

As a retired scientist, I have observed this excuse in my field of expertise; further, when you examine any scientific field in a historic sense, you see this same attitude; but eventually, breakthroughs are made and a better understanding emerges from the mists of magic. Violin adusting should be no different.

I looked at the recommended, earlier discussion on Maestronet of bridges--it had degenerated into mostly pretty pictures.

I suggested the books by Edwards because no one else had suggested them and their approach was exactly what the original questioner had asked for. However, I do not know if Edwards' detailed knowledge is useful or just more smoke. I think a reading of Edwards' work and systematic discussion would be useful---and that is why I brought it up.

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I think it's a mistake to think of violin making as anything like a scientific field, though I notice that scientists seem driven to pound the perceived nail of violin making with that hammer.

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I don't think anyone has said it's too complicated to discuss. I think they have said the general answers are not useful and the useful answers are dependent upon too many variables to be generalized.

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I believe it was a scientist, Lothar Cremer, who said that there is more difference between players than between violins. Of course, good players have good reasons for their instrument preferences, perhaps even more so in bows than in violins. What they don't have is a set of numbers to specify them. Maybe science should pursue that--if it can.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
HongDa

If a person worked from good quality bridges with similar wood and also average measurments taken from bridges that were cut well-- on an instrument with correct set-up;.....................what would be a good approach to learning from long term experience, the effects of cutting more or less in different areas?

Hi Hongda,

Perhaps one of the best ways to really get an understanding of how the bridge functions in relation to tuning parameters, and be able to record things you try as you seem to be interested in, is to consider doing some spectrum analysis. It's extremely easy to get setup to do this sort of thing these days. When I first started playing around with bridges I used an old scope and some electronic components wired together in a breadboard, but now with some of the software that's available it really couldn't get much easier. A lot of people are using a setup very similar to what is shown in the picture.

spSetup2.jpg

spPic.jpg

In the picture, the bridge is shown in a vise with a simple ceramic piezo element placed against it's side. You can get such a ceramic element at a place like radio shack (it's sold as a piezo transducer) and then just break away the case to reveal the element inside. Place the element against the bridge and tap the bridge on the side that isn't against the element. There's nothing tricky about the wirering - just get a short cord that plugs into your soundcard, and cut the one end off and wire it directly to the wires coming out of the transducer. You will also need to get some software which is bountiful on the internet if you search on "spectrum software". The circle #2 shows the connection to a cord going to the soundcard and laying on top of that is piezo film. The film is a little better but I don't know if you can get it anywhere in small quantities. I get it in large sheets and then cut my own elements and attach the wires, but you can do that sort of thing if you decide to really get into it. The disadvantage of the ceramic element is that it too has a resonant frequency but with some of the spectrum software, you can perform a calibration to prevent that from showing up in the final result.

The graph shows something close to what is considered to be a good starting point for tuning the kind of bridge shown in the vise. You then work to move that spike (by removing wood in various places) to compensate for the flexibility of the plate that it's setting on. You can even get a precut top plate from a place like international violin and glue the bridge on (hide glue - not wood glue!) and see the way that peak moves around under that condition. After you work with the software a while, you may get a feel for how to see the most of what you're interested in. All of this is being done by more than just a handful of people, so don't go off thinking I dreamed up all of what you're seeing here.

I'm currently working on creating some software that I hope will be more closely tailored to what someone working with bridges might be able to relate to, but as with many of my other projects it's still a ways off. Also, in a hope to harness some of the power of the most recent cpu's and operating systems, I may only be making it to work with winxp and newer. I'll be making up a kit with software, experimental bridge blanks, piezo film, etc., to go along with it.

You really don't have to be a rocket scientist to do any of this, so don't allow yourself to be intimidated when seeing the kind of things in the pictures - it's very simple stuff to get a handle on once you get setup and play around with it for a little while.

After I'm ready to release my newest asymmetric bridge design, I'll discuss the difference in the way it's spectra will look compared with the one shown above - and the reason's why.

I wish the best of luck to you and anyone else who is excited about learning more about the violin bridge.

Tim

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"A lot of people are using a setup very similar to what is shown in the picture. "

Don't mistake this for crankiness, because it's not--but I don't know a single person, which includes a lot of top-level people--who does anything like this. I'm not saying anything about the usefulness of this. . . only that most shops who are working on the best stuff do things totally traditionally, and that seems to be working just fine for them and their customers. I know this type of thing is popular in a certain circle, but it doesn't seem to be the circle that people take their Strads to for adjustments.

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Quote from Mike Danielson.....

'Actually, this quotation from my original reply "I am the only one with this secret knowledge" was directed towards those on this group who say the problem is too complicated to discuss; therefore, you must bring it into my shop for my magic to work.

As a retired scientist, I have observed this excuse in my field of expertise; further, when you examine any scientific field in a historic sense, you see this same attitude; but eventually, breakthroughs are made and a better understanding emerges from the mists of magic. Violin adusting should be no different. .....

I understand your fustration here Mike but one of the reasons that there is no straight answer is that the bridge cannot be looked at in isolation from the rest of the instrument or from the rest of the set up. Put simply ..what works on one instrument might not be applicable on another and this is where experience comes in.....I'll make an analogy with talking to a doctor..'doctor I've had a sore throat for three weeks can you tell me now on email how to fix it?..if not why not ..surely this is possible Doctor if you are an expert?'.....Well, to responsibly diagnose the throat the doctor will need to see the patient..the condition could be due to a number of causes,stress,infection, malignancy etc...Impossible to assess without seeing the patient....a simple prescription is not appropriate or responsible and so it is with a violin bridge.....The reason the pro's are not giving simple advice here is that the question does not have a simple answer...unfortunately. Regards, Melvin

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Thanks for the reply and suggestion on the electronic approach Tim.

I doubt I'd ever figure out how to use such a thing though, and if I did I'd definately be able to raise my bridge prices!!

I was more onto something that Michael mentioned before in a post about soundposts. He said something about preferring to do things in "sets" many times before coming to solid conclusion as to the effect something has.

After setting hundreds of posts I now have a certain feel of what different things do, but this has far less variables than a bridge does,........a soundposts' variables would have more to do with thickness, grain and tightness when beginning from a standard posistion.

I was wondering if he or anyone else would have any suggestions to such a longterm approach to developing a feel for trimming bridges. For example, from reading another bridge post I began putting less chest on my bridges and found it gives favorable results in my case.

Should I simply move onto another section of the bridge, trim that differently for 50 or so times until I find favorable results? And if so, which section of the bridge would be best to experiment with next?

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I would recommend you mess with thicknesses, thinking in zones of the top, bottom, and middle of the bridge. This is something that's very easy to mess with, in measurable ways, and you can change these things in isolation, so you can, for instance, tell what thinning just the top third or so does on a particular violin.

After a while you can start to make generalizations that certain thicknesses are better on certain types of violins, to take care of certain tonal problems. My experience with this type of adjusting is that changes can happen quickly, and tend to be more of a flip-flop type, than over a range, but that's only a general comment, and you shouldn't take it too seriously.

Hopefully, this will NOT lead to the same types of conclusions that people make about posts--erroneous stuff like pulling the post East favors the balance towards the E string (or the G, depending on who you listen to)--things which aren't really true, but sound good in lists for people who like simple rules. The reason I don't participate much in post effects discussions is the same as my stance here: moving the post around is, for me, finding the spot that works, not adjusting things on a linear scale. After I find that spot, I may warily move from it to make changes, but in an experimental way, not prescriptively.

I can tell you the exact moment I stopped believing the type of rules Mike wants a discussion of--it was about 10 or 12 years ago. I had a viola which was dull-sounding, and I wanted to brighten it up. I'd heard that the Francais/Morel type of bridge cutting (I see violinbridges.co.uk has neither shop's bridge), with the kidneys cut way out and up to lighten the non-supporting outer areas of the top of the bridge, was done to brighten up instruments, so I started chopping in that direction, with absolutely no change following in the viola's sound, which is, admittedly, very unusual (that nothing at all should happen with an adjustment of any type).

Then, when I'd run out of room to cut, I took a drill and started drilling holes all over in the upper half of the bridge, they way they used to do on racing bicycles. Still not much change. Finally, I started thinning the bridge, until it was about 2mm thin at the bottom, and thinner at the top. Still, not much happened. It was the first time I'd REALLY tested some of the things I'd heard--usually I did what most people will do, follow a handed-down rule, and hope for the best, maybe imagining a change, but not really run it out to the end and see what was going on.

From that point, I started looking at the bridge differently, as part of a system, rather than as a big meter with a dial under it on the front of the violin. I'm not saying there's not a difference, no matter what you do, but that the bridge is not an equalizer where you can just go and twiddle a few knobs and set a violin right.

Please read me correctly, though: I'm not saying the bridge doesn't do anything, and I'm not saying you can just do anything you want and it won't matter. I'm saying it's part of a complex system, where it's job is to interact, not to dictate.

The first thing you can do is, as Melvin said, be conservative in your cutting--radical cuttings outside the norm usually hurt rather than help, which is why I'll again say that the bridges from major shops don't differ too much. If this isn't apparent, it's good to look through the bridges on the violinbridges.co.uk site randomly, to see some of the strange things people have done, and notice that for the most part those are people you haven't heard about. . . and that's for a reason. The way to flip through bridges is to change the number in the address bar of your browser to the next or previous bridgeID number (I wish that site had a simple forward/back through the archive method).

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Michael,

this is OT, but you have my curiosity up....what was the final

outcome with that poor viola--were you finally able to brighten it

up?

cassi  

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ah, a decent, if not storybook, ending!  

cassi  

PS: your posts,along with Melvin's and Jeffery's, have taught

me yet again that the more i learn the less i know!  

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I thought I'd ask for people's thoughts on those 'ready-to-use' bridges! You know those ones with the moveable joints in the ankles? hmm....... I've never wanted to use one, but I'd be interested to hear what people think of them. Are there any serious violinists who have them on their violins?? I imagine they are really only for 'emergency' use if a bridge breaks before of concert or on a trip or something...?

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quote:


I wish that site had a simple forward/back through the archive method).

Micheal it does have links but it may not be obvious, I will work on that in the next overhaul. Maybee add a gif to make it more obvious.

by clicking the link below you will get every bridges main photo, starting from the latest one uploaded. 799 so far.

http://violinbridges.co.uk/sea...&sortBy=IDDesc&bg=yes

there will be a next and previous link at the bottom of the photos, clicking them will take you backwards and forwards.

the link below should bring them in lists of 15.

http://violinbridges.co.uk/sea...&sortBy=IDDesc&bg=yes

after the first page you will get next and previous links.??

quote:


I'd heard that the Francais/Morel type of bridge cutting (I see violinbridges.co.uk has neither shop's bridge),

If anybody here has, I would love to add them, all bridges are returned? There are also many bridges I would like to add.

I am always looking for more to add and I am open to suggestions to improve the site. Restorations , the hillbows site and my lovely family I will get round to them.

Regards

www.violinbridges.co.uk

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We are also still working on the code, which returns the bridges in groups, by relations??

e.g by shop, workshop of, pupil, school, country etc.

the results are very slow at the moment, broadband access only, as it is image intensive and not for public use yet, but we are working on a major change in the way images are stored, which will speed it up.

the results are inspiring, you can in many cases trace a bridge by the style it is cut without the stamp, we all inherit bits from the people we studied under, admired and have worked for.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Michael Darnton

"A lot of people are using a setup very similar to what is shown in the picture. "

Don't mistake this for crankiness, because it's not--but I don't know a single person, which includes a lot of top-level people--who does anything like this. I'm not saying anything about the usefulness of this. . . only that most shops who are working on the best stuff do things totally traditionally, and that seems to be working just fine for them and their customers. I know this type of thing is popular in a certain circle, but it doesn't seem to be the circle that people take their Strads to for adjustments.

Hi Michael,

I agree - traditional is fine and probably always will be, but where's the fun in that? :-)

Tim

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Well... that's good to know - I think :-)

But wait until you see my newest design. I think most will agree that it violates all the rules.

Tim

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