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DGardner

Setup question

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A friend recently gave me a yard sale fiddle that looks pretty promising. It's light, no cracks, pretty well made and someone has already reset the neck. The difficulties are that the ffs are small—only a 5mm post will go through at the nicks; and the bass bar is too close to the center line, such that with the bridge foot to be 1mm beyond the bar, the bridge at the feet can only be 38mm.

So, 1.) Is there a way to put a larger diameter post in, or is it necessary?

2.)Can I use a ¾ bridge (internet prices I could find for a 4/4 38 mm bridge were 3 times what I usually pay). If I take off very little wood, it looks like it will work, but there will be a lot of wood above the heart.

3,) Should the sound post mirror the bass bar position? It seems that shortens the effective lever of the bridge.

Dave Gardner

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The usual way to deal with the post problem is to slip the post in through the lower eye of the f-hole. Skewer it before you drop it, if you can. Get it out by skewering it and pushing it back out the same way it came it. If you're careful, don't let it get off the setter while it's inside the violin, so that you don't have to pick it up off the back. You can cheat by making an oval post, planing the sides off a larger one and sanding it smoothly oval. That's sometimes not a bad thing to do and is easier than working through the lower eye.

I would take a full size bridge and sand the sides down 1mm on each side, equally from top to bottom--making a 39mm 4/4 bridge. With a little clever carving, more from the outside in the ankles, and less towards the outside in the kidneys, and you will end up with a normal looking bridge.

You can't know about post position until you try, but I'd start with a symmetrical relationship with the bar.

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The "ideal" way to handle that would be to replace the bass bar in a more correct location. I have an instrument a bit like that, but the upper eyes of the f holes were too close together, and I couldn't move the bar further out. It was a carved in bar, so I replaced it anyway, and (This is quite unconventional, and is likely to raise some disagreement.) I placed a small "buttress" like cleat on the outside of the bass bar, under the location of the bridge foot. This allowed me to use a conventional bridge. The instrument sounds great! Please note that this was an experiment that I did 3 years ago, that worked out well. It was also totally reversible if necessary.

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The "ideal" way to handle that would be to replace the bass bar in a more correct location. I have an instrument a bit like that, but the upper eyes of the f holes were too close together, and I couldn't move the bar further out. It was a carved in bar, so I replaced it anyway, and (This is quite unconventional, and is likely to raise some disagreement.) I placed a small "buttress" like cleat on the outside of the bass bar, under the location of the bridge foot. This allowed me to use a conventional bridge. The instrument sounds great! Please note that this was an experiment that I did 3 years ago, that worked out well. It was also totally reversible if necessary.

Mr. O'Fear,

Thanks so much for your suggestions—I've already hauled out some bridge blanks to start planning the cuts. Also, the oval soundpost is a forehead slapper, of course! If I were a professional maker, I might announce that the oval soundpost is the lost secret of Cremona (how many original Cremona soundposts are there around?). I suppose the grain lines should be on the long axis of the oval, right?

Doug,

I have luck to own three fiddles with the narrow bass bar problem. The one I did re-bar really improved (I put the bar in the usual position with a shallow hollow under the ff eye, and painted the area black. It's invisible from just a foot or so away, at least to us 65-year-olds).

Maestronet is such a great resource!

Dave

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Dave,

I considered the "bass bar under the hole" option, but in my case, the holes were about 37 mm apart, and the whole bass bar would have been under the hole. Some consider the geometry of this center top area to be critical to the sound of the instrument, so I thought I'd keep things kind of normal. The buttress on the bass bar supports the bridge foot, and in this case worked fine. As I said, it was a totally unconventional experiment.

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