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Cello bridge carving advice.

keith fox

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This is my first forum post, as you can tell. It has been a wonderful source of information in the 6 months I have been reading it.

So, I need a new cello bridge. I recently lowered my A & D strings about 1mm , after I smoothed out the arch, the tone was too week and thin. I hardly removed any wood, but I guess it was enough to affect the sound. The bridge is a french Aubert deluxe 92 mm and is about 2.5mm thin at the top and 11 at the bottom.

So instead of going to the luthier I am going to attempt to cut one myself!

I plan on using the current bridge as a guide. I wish to keep the current string heights (5 at the A and about 8-8.5 at C), however I wish to regain some of the lost body and weight on the upper strings. My cello is a pretty good contemporary American model.

Would a good starting point be to go a little thicker at the top, or overall? Or open up the kidneys a little less? I will not be use a Aubert deluxe as a first attempt! (i am purchasing some less expensive Despiau model 8 french blanks to practice with)

I realize no can give concrete suggestions as every cello, bridge ,player are different, but any suggestion is appreciated. At the least it will be a learning experience, and I'll have to have a professional cut one in the end, however I wish to give it a shot. I have read most all of the old bridge threads and the info found there was very helpful.

thanks very much.


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Hi! You have mentioned that you have a good American contemporary cello, with a De Luxe Aubert bridge, so you may have paid about 20 on it, at least...

Fitting a new bridge on a cello is a rather complicated operation, and your good cello may suffer, I would dare to say it will certainly suffer... So I strongly advise you to practice your bridge fitting skills on a cheaper instrument

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Hey Keith, if your determined to do this for your own fun that's

cool by me. My advice is that if you've already written off the

current bridge as no good, how about playing with that instead. How

about thinning the bridge a bit around the middle ,or maybe taking

the knife to the kidneys or heart area. You can play with it a lot

without removing it from the instrument and change the sound in

surprising ways.

 Then take it to your repair guy/girl, of coarse, to cut a new


Small print

author assumes no responsibility for damages to said instrument

or any other instrument involved in home repairs involving any one

who has ever or will ever read this awful advice.  

 Welcome aboard

 I'm with Manfio,its best

to practice first with lesser celli than what you have, but don't

let anyone tell you that you can't do it. you may have just started

on a new career path.

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Fitting a bridge depends a lot on the mere workmanship, as in tiny details in the fit of the feet, and if you really can realize the apparently simple "rules" about what angle and position the bridge should be made to fit, so you have to accept that a first attempt is certainly not going to be very very good. The best thing to do is to focus on knife-sharpening and feet-fitting first.

I'd say my first 100 or so bridges were not good enough at all, and I still wonder if they are sometimes, some more than ten years later. And as for cello bridges, you will discover they are the most challenging bridge of them all; there is a lot of end-grain cutting to do, and tricky angles to observe, also there is often a lot of movement in the arcing and neck from no-tension to at-tension state. It is very easy to end up with a bridge resting on only a small section of it's feet, although the fit appears visually to be good.

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Hello Keith,

 Bridges are fun to make from scratch  . I have made some

from ebony for cellos . The biggest pain (without a

string jack) is that the soundpost keeps falling over and rolling

deep back into the void, takes about 20 minutes to get it out and

repositioned. You must go slow removing small amounts of wood and

then re stringing the cello and playing a while to decide if

you need to go lower with your  feet and /or strings.

 The Fitting is tedious and time consuming but i say go for

it. I believe the player should be taught to do this as it is the

most important setup that effect playability and needs to be done

over the coarse of days a little at a time and that would require

many many trips to the luthier. Make a string jack.


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Firstly, I find it hard to understand that shaving off 1mm off the top can change the tone that much. Of course, taking off the bridge and putting it back in a different spot is another matter - or the sound post moving during this procedure...

Fitting and trimming a cello bridge properly is really, really hard. Take what Magnus has said and multiply it by hundred, and you're not even close. I've done many hundreds, but I'm still learning. If it weren't for the fact that the process is reversible (you can just put the old bridge back, or have one done professionally) I would have advised against it very strongly, but since you really can't do any harm, by all means, go for it.

What are you planning to do regarding spreading the feet during fitting? What kind of blank will you get? How will you trim the blank - do you have detailed instructions? When you test the tone, where and how will you adjust the trimming to get to the tone you want? These are questions you should address before you start out, unless you are just hoping to get lucky.

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Just a thought...You lowered the top, but did you adjust the thickness? As you remove material off the top it becomes thicker. Also make sure the string notches are not to deep and angled slightly towards the tailpiece so the fingerboard side is a tad higher. I agree taking it down a mm shouldn't change tone enough to be noticable. I find when I take bridges down and mess with parts and set-up the cello sound a bit shaken and takes a 48 hour re-settle in time. A slight change in bridge and/or soundpost location is more likely to change the tone.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. Yesterday I took it to a very good local maker, he said I got the D string too low. He is going to cut me a new bridge, it unfortunately, is my only cello.

My teacher was recently considering a cello of his , it was a great instrument imo. She however, passed on it (she has many good celli). It was a little too much $ for me at the time.

I'm still very interested in learning about bridge cutting etc.... maybe I'll buy a real cheap cello of the ebay sewer and mess around with it.



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