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Set up question regarding the bridge


Craig Tucker
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I think the original question was if there could be any acoustical disadvantage produced by the use of graphite? Personally I can't really imagine that. If any, it is probably outwieghted by the advantage produced from the ability to adjust the angle of the bridge. I also imagine the instrument should be easier to tune, if the strings aren't "locked" at the bridge position.

In other words, to worry about sound deteriorating as a result of a little graphite in a notch, is to be too worried about things.

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I am with Magnus, no sound problem.

I also use some solid vaselin under the bridge's feet (so that they will not get "glued" to the varnish) and never noticed a problem with the sound too.

Here in the states, Vaseline is a petroleum jelly - neither a solid nor a liquid exactly - but sort-of in between - more like a very light, greasy, ointment. I am wondering if you are speaking about what us Yanks would call paraffin wax, both of these products are petroleum products, and it is much easier for me to envision a light coat of paraffin wax under the bridge feet...?

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I think the original question was if there could be any acoustical disadvantage produced by the use of graphite? Personally I can't really imagine that. If any, it is probably outwieghted by the advantage produced from the ability to adjust the angle of the bridge. I also imagine the instrument should be easier to tune, if the strings aren't "locked" at the bridge position.

In other words, to worry about sound deteriorating as a result of a little graphite in a notch, is to be too worried about things.

Yes, graphite - in addition to a very rounded-over groove.

I adjust the angle of the bridge as often as needed, on my own violins, and do not find it to be an overly tedious job, and which I do not like to do when the violin is at full tension, simply because, like with moving the sound post/and damaging the inside of the belly, doing so doesn't seem to bode well in particular, for the Dominant strings I habitually use.

In fact, I would guess that most bridges migrate forward regardless, over time, of graphite or no graphite. At least, they seem to me to do so. After some experience doing this, I have learned to start out with the bridge infinitesimally further back than optimum, so that when bringing the strings back up to playing tension, the strings themselves pull the bridge forward to the correct inclination.

Too worried?

While I do understand your point of view on the matter - I find that, for me, it’s not really a matter of "worry" really, as much as it might be a matter of logic, and perhaps, in a small way, of physics.

It is something that may be changed or not - as a matter of a routine set up procedure.

Minutia, as I like to put it.

In any case, thank you for your input, as always, I appreciate hearing every reply, the more pragmatic experience present, the better, as I am still not convinced that I am looking at this from every possible angle yet. Remember, while I may not be actively worried about this, I am an incurable (and unrepentant) type A when it comes to violin minutia...

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Hard as it is to accept, the musicians are the ones who handle the instruments most of the time. Many of them are reluctant to correct the bridge angle, too reluctant for their own good, in fact. But their reasons are highly understandable: they might have encountered a bridge that had become immobilized by rosin, narrow notches, and so on. And then they might have run into a serious trouble and acquired the bridge angle adjustment aversion syndrome!

Generally, if an instrument is so easily disturbed that it loses anything noticeable from a such a minor detail as the degree of stickiness/slipperiness in the notch, it hasn't got enough quality "reserves" in the first place. I prefer that instruments sound so good, that you could for instance put a really crappy bridge on, or old strings, and it would still be like, hey wow! Any good instrument should have a quality reserve of 25% to compensate for any inadequate violin maker work. (This post has about 25% silly joke content, and it should be adjusted for that when read).

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The movement toward the FB seems to be strictly because of the stretch of the strings, as they are tuned...I think so, anyway...I really don't think they are slipping. I have to force the bridge back (there's where slipping occurs) to keep it straight.

As much physical exertion as it requires to adjust a bridge back to the correct angle when it has migrated toward the fingerboard (even with the graphite), I seriously doubt that the soft pencil lead I put in there has been depriving the corpus of any vibrational influence from the strings.

Just my opinion...I have no way to prove it.

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the bridge angle adjustment aversion syndrome!

Oh! you mean BAAAS. (guffaw!)

There is hope for these folks, in order for them to lead a somewhat “normal” life.

New drugs, and “incremental bridge adjustment re-acquaintance therapy“, are moving swiftly toward a cure.

In a clinical setting - I believe that such individuals can be rendered fairly harmless - where they no longer pose a threat to themselves - or to society…

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Well, I'm learning that people have to see something about 10 times before it sinks in, so here we go again, having given the short version in post #5:

Wax up the grooves on your bridge real good, and maybe the undersides of the string, too, and string it up. You will see that

#1: in the normal situation there's a LOT of friction on the groove, graphite or not. There is ALWAYS enough friction to keep the string from sliding back and forth in the groove. Graphite does relatively little to change this. If there were no friction (which cannot be achieved even with wax), the situation which has been posited above as desirable--sufficient lack of friction to allow the string to slide in the groove, well. . . when you do the wax thing, you're going to find out what happens.

#2: the main force tilting the bridge forward is not stretching of the strings; it is that the string angle coming off the back of the bridge is lower than that off the front. This creates a constant situation of the bridge being forced forward.

ONLY FRICTION ON THE TOP OF THE BRIDGE KEEPS IT FROM FALLING FORWARD IMMEDIATELY. FRICTION IS THERE, AND FRICTION IS NECESSARY.

If you do the wax thing, and I know no one has bothered to, you would find out the answers. Why on earth don't you people try some F@##%$# experiments once in a while, instead of yammering on and on with your D@#%^% theories?

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Rinse and repeat:

Wax up the grooves on your bridge real good, and maybe the undersides of the string, too, and string it up. You will see that

#1: in the normal situation there's a LOT of friction on the groove, graphite or not. There is ALWAYS enough friction to keep the string from sliding back and forth in the groove. Graphite does relatively little to change this. If there were no friction (which cannot be achieved even with wax), the situation which has been posited above as desirable--sufficient lack of friction to allow the string to slide in the groove, well. . . when you do the wax thing, you're going to find out what happens.

#2: the main force tilting the bridge forward is not stretching of the strings; it is that the string angle coming off the back of the bridge is lower than that off the front. This creates a constant situation of the bridge being forced forward.

ONLY FRICTION ON THE TOP OF THE BRIDGE KEEPS IT FROM FALLING FORWARD IMMEDIATELY. FRICTION IS THERE, AND FRICTION IS NECESSARY.

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#4

Wax up the grooves on your bridge real good, and maybe the undersides of the string, too, and string it up. You will see that

#1: in the normal situation there's a LOT of friction on the groove, graphite or not. There is ALWAYS enough friction to keep the string from sliding back and forth in the groove. Graphite does relatively little to change this. If there were no friction (which cannot be achieved even with wax), the situation which has been posited above as desirable--sufficient lack of friction to allow the string to slide in the groove, well. . . when you do the wax thing, you're going to find out what happens.

#2: the main force tilting the bridge forward is not stretching of the strings; it is that the string angle coming off the back of the bridge is lower than that off the front. This creates a constant situation of the bridge being forced forward.

ONLY FRICTION ON THE TOP OF THE BRIDGE KEEPS IT FROM FALLING FORWARD IMMEDIATELY. FRICTION IS THERE, AND FRICTION IS NECESSARY.

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I can do this all day. Really, I can:

Wax up the grooves on your bridge real good, and maybe the undersides of the string, too, and string it up. You will see that

#1: in the normal situation there's a LOT of friction on the groove, graphite or not. There is ALWAYS enough friction to keep the string from sliding back and forth in the groove. Graphite does relatively little to change this. If there were no friction (which cannot be achieved even with wax), the situation which has been posited above as desirable--sufficient lack of friction to allow the string to slide in the groove, well. . . when you do the wax thing, you're going to find out what happens.

#2: the main force tilting the bridge forward is not stretching of the strings; it is that the string angle coming off the back of the bridge is lower than that off the front. This creates a constant situation of the bridge being forced forward.

ONLY FRICTION ON THE TOP OF THE BRIDGE KEEPS IT FROM FALLING FORWARD IMMEDIATELY. FRICTION IS THERE, AND FRICTION IS NECESSARY.

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Six:

Wax up the grooves on your bridge real good, and maybe the undersides of the string, too, and string it up. You will see that

#1: in the normal situation there's a LOT of friction on the groove, graphite or not. There is ALWAYS enough friction to keep the string from sliding back and forth in the groove. Graphite does relatively little to change this. If there were no friction (which cannot be achieved even with wax), the situation which has been posited above as desirable--sufficient lack of friction to allow the string to slide in the groove, well. . . when you do the wax thing, you're going to find out what happens.

#2: the main force tilting the bridge forward is not stretching of the strings; it is that the string angle coming off the back of the bridge is lower than that off the front. This creates a constant situation of the bridge being forced forward.

ONLY FRICTION ON THE TOP OF THE BRIDGE KEEPS IT FROM FALLING FORWARD IMMEDIATELY. FRICTION IS THERE, AND FRICTION IS NECESSARY.

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I have always set up the violins I play myself, and without really thinking about it I've developed an approach which works for me and by God it should work for everyone else too .....

Having noticed on other's set-ups that it's a VERY BAD THING tonally for a string to be pinched by the bridge, and not wishing to compromise a carefully established bridge height, I make the tiniest nick in the bridge adequate to the job of locating a string. I don't suppose it makes contact with more than 1/20th of the string (though of course the E is a special case and generally has a plastic sheath, leather pad or bit of parchment to prevent it cutting into the bridge ... which also prevents it getting pinched).

With such a small nick, graphite would be an irrelevance.

I constantly monitor the bridge angle on whatever instrument I play, and I regularly pull it back to upright under full tension, partiuclarly in the first couple of days of string stretching. It's kind of the first thing I look at on someone else's violin, and it's such an instinct that I have to stop myself from "messing". (I suffer from OCPBI or "obsessive compulsive positive bridge intervention"). I've never caused any damage to the table and I have never shortened the life of a string or even caused a glitch in the winding. Nor have I ever encountered any resistance in spite of my absence of significant grooves .....

I believe the tendency of the bridge to tilt forward is not going to be counteracted by making the strings slide better on the bridge. I would say this movement is mainly to do with the down-bearing on the bridge - it's always going to be a bit easier for the bridge to tilt towards the nut than for the differences in string tension in front and behind to equalize. This theory is borne out for me by the fact that E strings (which have their own "aids to slippage") tend to be the biggest culprits, and many unmaintained bridges are more tilted/warped on the E than elsewhere.

Martin Swan Violins

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Please, Mr Darnton, tell us what you REALLY think.

(I suspect that the base of the bridge has a certain width in the direction of pull might contribute somewhat to the stability of the situation, but I'm too busy trying not to step in goat poop to venture an opinion here).

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When this question came up on another forum, one person posted about a bass maker friend of his who got the same idea and made a bass bridge with delrin rollers under the strings. Apparently the failure of that was relatively greater than that with violins on the spectacular scale (wear safety glasses AND body armor).

#7: ONLY FRICTION ON THE TOP OF THE BRIDGE KEEPS IT FROM FALLING FORWARD IMMEDIATELY. FRICTION IS THERE, AND FRICTION IS NECESSARY.

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If you do the wax thing, and I know no one has bothered to, you would find out the answers. Why on earth don't you people try some F@##%$# experiments once in a while, instead of yammering on and on with your D@#%^% theories?

Ha ha ha!

Come on Michael, this is Maestronet, after all.

When I get around to doing this, which I will do, I'll post the results here - and I would like to hear about the results anyone else gets, by doing this or any other first hand experiment.

Luckily I do own (perhaps a larger percentage than I feel comfortable admitting) violins that are perfect for such an experiment.

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It has been a while since I've seen any discussion of even-numbered overtones pulling the bridge in the scroll/tail direction. Something about foot fit along the front and back edges being critical to get the benefit of that. Sorry, that was hearsay and unsupported speculation.

I do remember hearing Ken Meyer say something about number of turns around the peg affecting the sound of a cello, fewer being better. I believe he gets good results, so I'm willing to listen to what he says. The way I took that, it had to do with keeping the nut end of a string a bit less mobile in the "sliding through the nut slot" direction. Offered without further comment for your consideration.

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It has been a while since I've seen any discussion of even-numbered overtones pulling the bridge in the scroll/tail direction. Something about foot fit along the front and back edges being critical to get the benefit of that. Sorry, that was hearsay and unsupported speculation.

There definitely are some interactions going on. Real changes happen when bridge feet are sitting flat on the top, in good contact, instead of slightly off, and players also notice that putting a little weight on the front of the bridge by tilting it very slightly forward makes things a little brighter, and some prefer their violins that way.

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Rub your finger on the top of the bridge and notice which direction makes all the noise.

I just tried this on a viola. Certainly most of the sound comes with rubbing along the arc of the bridge. But there is also a higher almost hissing sound when rubbing in the strings direction. Both seem significant.

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