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Ken Pollard

Starker Bridge, prices & other aspects of Cremona violins

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Customer came in with an older student fiddle, and had this news story in the case. I find it easier to read if I 'zoom in' after opening it. Your eyes' mileage might vary.

post-24063-1270512026.jpg

Just thought it was interesting and that some might enjoy it. For a comparison number, my parents bought a house in (far) northern California for $9000 in 1965.

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I wonder if anyone uses these bridges today, with the conical holes in the underside.

Where are all our sound wizards? Could this actually make a difference to sound projection?

Tony

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I wonder if anyone uses these bridges today, with the conical holes in the underside.

Where are all our sound wizards? Could this actually make a difference to sound projection?

Tony

Crawling far far out on a limb, I'm going to risk my stellar reputation and say that this improvement can take it's place alongside the "improved" bass bar, and soaking the insides of your violin with a magical solution. (and all the rest)

It simply doesn't work that way.

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And to think the Archbishop of Portland told folks to cancel their subscriptions to the Oregonian. Actually the paper is down to just a couple of pages now. Guess we know why. :)

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donbar   

Despite claims of arcane acoustical advantages I believe the main benefit of the conical holes in the bottom of the bridge feet was to

concentrate the downward string pressure around the outside edges of the bridge feet where contact with the top plate is most important. It also made fitting the bridge feet somewhat easier because there was less to carve away. Many violinmakers slightly hollow the bottom surface of their bridge feet for similar reasons.

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Despite claims of arcane acoustical advantages I believe the main benefit of the conical holes in the bottom of the bridge feet was to

concentrate the downward string pressure around the outside edges of the bridge feet where contact with the top plate is most important. It also made fitting the bridge feet somewhat easier because there was less to carve away. Many violinmakers slightly hollow the bottom surface of their bridge feet for similar reasons.

Is there any reason why the feet of the bridge should not be fitted as carefully as possible over their entire surface? Why is it more important how they fit around the outer edges? Once you have fitted some bridges and get over the obstacle of honing your technique it is not all that difficult to fit bridge feet.

If there was any advantage at all it was in the removal of wood mass from the bridge which could be done in other ways without compromising this point of contact between bridge and table. The Starker bridge never really caught on as CT says and, in the end, I'm in favor of full contact with the table.

Bruce

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That's our baby! It's really the big stylised S that makes the acoustical difference! :)

The wood removed under the feet is in the form of two conical shaped holes that go up into the foot and lower leg (or ankle) of the bridge. Kind of reminds me of two little loudspeaker cones. Whenever anyone requests such a modification I have a little conical drill bit and I make my own holes but without the S. (edit: I try to talk them out of it.)

Bruce

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I agree with Bruce that the biggest effect is to alter the mass to stiffness ratios. There may be some possible benefit to some instruments but it's probably better to accomplish this in a more straight forward way. I doubt that the air column inside the bridge leg will have any noticeable effect.

Bridge design by Magic Accoustics

Oded

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Is this one of his cello bridges?

- violinbridges comes through!

Thanks for posting this.

I couldn't get any results from a google patent search, this is pretty cool.

Even in 1967 dollars, having custom bridges made must have cost a pretty penny.

(Wait a tic - back in '67, were'nt they still trading in puka shells ?)

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That's our baby! It's really the big stylised S that makes the acoustical difference! :)

Bruce

For me, the really interesting thing here, is how easy it is to start the ball rolling - from essentially nothing. For people (apparently even people who should know better) to agree to hear something that just isn't there.

I think that the better salesman you are, the further the ball will roll. If you were to look into this, you would find that the inventor was (or is) a great guy, and 110% sincere about his discovery.

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For me, the really interesting thing here, is how easy it is to start the ball rolling - from essentially nothing. For people (apparently even people who should know better) to agree to hear something that just isn't there.

I think that the better salesman you are, the further the ball will roll. If you were to look into this, you would find that the inventor was (or is) a great guy, and 110% sincere about his discovery.

I met the Maestro at Manchester one year when I was judging and he really is a very charming and sincere person. I don't think he would lend his name to something he didn't believe in.

Bruce

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donbar   

The fit of back edge of the treble foot of the bridge is the most important as it defines the length of the lever arm the bridge exerts through the top plate over the fulcrum of the soundpost. As the strings pull tilts the bridge forward any lifting at that rear treble foot edge will increase the length of that lever arm in a manner similar to moving the bridge up towards the fingerboard or moving the

soundpost down towards the tailpiece.

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Interesting replies, and I was particularly interested in the bridge photo. I had a hard time visualizing the holes from the newspaper story. As most newspaper stories, they don't have room to go into many details, but it would be nice to know the 'theory' behind the concept. I assume that it was not just random drilling of holes. The 'megaphone' reference brought to my mind some of the hi-fi improvements that were taking place at the time. Don't know, though.

The other thing I liked about the story was its range -- starting with the Starker bridge, going onto a bit about Stradivari and del Gesu, onto varnish (with the opposing views) and then on to care and feeding of soloists. Just don't see that variety in most stories, then or now.

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The fit of back edge of the treble foot of the bridge is the most important as it defines the length of the lever arm the bridge exerts through the top plate over the fulcrum of the soundpost. As the strings pull tilts the bridge forward any lifting at that rear treble foot edge will increase the length of that lever arm in a manner similar to moving the bridge up towards the fingerboard or moving the

soundpost down towards the tailpiece.

I agree totally but I still think you shouldn't hollow the feet to obtain this. Especially if you consider that spruce is a softwood and is highly succeptible to compression if all the pressure is limited to a small area. You're better off teaching your clients how to tell when the bridge is standing up straight and, as in what you said, what might happen if it is leaning too far forward (no hollowing in the world will help that situation).

Rats, I just realised that the rectangular shape of my cello bridge foot isn't a "golden section"!!!! :)

Bruce

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Janos Starker is a fantastic cellist, still in activity as far as I know, everything in his cello playing is fine.

Hi Manfio,

When I was at Manchester that time he masterfully played the "Don Quixote" romance for cello and orchestra by Richard Strauss.

Bruce

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robedney   

Two things struck me about this article: 1) It's well written and appears to be well researched. Very different than most of what we get these days. 2)Despite the over four decades between then and now, we're having the same arguments about fiddles.

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Two things struck me about this article: 1) It's well written and appears to be well researched. Very different than most of what we get these days. 2)Despite the over four decades between then and now, we're having the same arguments about fiddles.

"Old, but new. The same, but different." I think it is from the French newspaper Le Figaro, but my French is probably wrong. "Vieux, mais nouveau. La même, mais changé." :)

Bruce

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Hi All - when I first heard about the Starker bridge mod. (was it really 40+ years ago?) I grabbed an 8mm centre drill and drilled up into the feet of my bridge. Any improvement was imaginary. Possibly because I had already scraped and marked and scraped the feet to a near-prefect fit.

On endpin plugs that are "threaded" in order to improve contact in the endblock. My approach to preventing the endpin from "wearing the hole oval" is to improve the properties of the endblock by inserting a sleeve. I turn up a Tufnol sleeve that matches the plug taper (so that I can use the reamer to open out the hole in the endblock) and epoxy the sleeve into the endblock. This does improve the sound as the endpin is now a perfect fit and one that doesn't change with time.

cheers edi

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asovcl   

In Starker's memoir he tells of how this cam about (sorry I don't remember any details).  Of course he became convinced, and tried to patent the idea, which went nowhere.  I've always thought of him as one of those personalities that, once convinced of his own 'truth', no scientific explanation will sway him from his firmly held belief.

 

Personally, I think the secret (if there is one) is the "S" carved in the bridge.  I suppose 40 years ago that would have had the same effect on the sound as what we refer to today as a "Belgian" bridge cut to extremes, i.e., reducing mass in the right place.  The cello God in Chicago cuts these kinds of  bridges, which do indeed  benefit  the sound projection (I speak from experience).  

 

IOW, the 'secret' is not in any cones in the feet, but rather in reduced mass at the top of the bridge.  A simple case of too many variables from which to draw conclusions.  This is just my own armchair opinion.  Over the years I've worked with many of Stgarker's  acolytes, not one had a particularly large sound (just like their teacher!)

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DGV   

In Starker's memoir he tells of how this cam about (sorry I don't remember any details).  Of course he became convinced, and tried to patent the idea, which went nowhere.  I've always thought of him as one of those personalities that, once convinced of his own 'truth', no scientific explanation will sway him from his firmly held belief.

 

Personally, I think the secret (if there is one) is the "S" carved in the bridge.  I suppose 40 years ago that would have had the same effect on the sound as what we refer to today as a "Belgian" bridge cut to extremes, i.e., reducing mass in the right place.  The cello God in Chicago cuts these kinds of  bridges, which do indeed  benefit  the sound projection (I speak from experience).  

 

IOW, the 'secret' is not in any cones in the feet, but rather in reduced mass at the top of the bridge.  A simple case of too many variables from which to draw conclusions.  This is just my own armchair opinion.  Over the years I've worked with many of Stgarker's  acolytes, not one had a particularly large sound (just like their teacher!)

 

Does this S only affect cellos?  What about violins?

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