New Bridge - am I being unreasonable?


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Seems there was this gent who had car trouble and took it to his local mechanic. The car was making an ugly sound but the mechanic wasn't fazed, he opened the hood and listened closely, took out his hammer and gave a part of the engine a tap. The sound went away and as he closed the hood said to the owner "That will be two Hundred bucks." The owner exclaimed loudly "Two hundred! For just a tap with a Hammer! I could have done that!!!! The mechanic replied "The two hundred isn't for the tap of the hammer - Its knowing where to tap that's so expensive."

 

Reese

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5.5 mm under the G, and 3.5 under the E is common for classical players.  I work with fiddlers who don't pull tone like a classical player, so I set the G at 4.5, and the E at 3.0 or a little less. I serve a lot of working fiddlers, and most of them like the standard classical radius of @42mm. Go flatter only after you have some bow technique developed.

 

String height at the nut affects playing feel in the lower positions much more than bridge height.  I usually set it at 0.3mm, or the thickness of a common business card.

 

I'm measuring 5.7mm and 3.8mm, and it seems huge to me, I mean I'm used to just have to push the string at most around 4mm with my left hand.

String height at the nut is a little lower than 0.4mm.

As others have said, I just need a "string holder" :) not a bridge, so I'll try lowering it myself by eating 1mm off top and redoing the grooves.

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spoilsport ....

5.7 and 3.8 sounds pretty good, particularly if there's not much relief/curvature in the fingerboard. I work to a standard of around 5.5 and 3.5mm, maybe less if there's more relief.

If you're not planning to travel past 3rd position or so for a while, I would live with it.

>0.4mm at the nut sounds kind of high though I've never tried to take a measurement - I agree with Michael, just enough for a business card. Lowering the strings at the nut to the minimum possible will make more of a difference than taking less than a mm off the bridge.

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I will be in London in 10 days time for the sales - I would be very happy to take a skiff off the top of a bridge in exchange for a beer ....! We can do it in the bar of the Royal Institution. I promise not to even look at the rest of the fiddle. If there's a free pint on offer I'm sure Ben H. would be willing to bring along a block plane and provide further refinement. :)

 

10 days? That is next Friday? Perhaps I can make it, how can I send you my email without posting it here in public?

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spoilsport ....

5.7 and 3.8 sounds pretty good, particularly if there's not much relief/curvature in the fingerboard. I work to a standard of around 5.5 and 3.5mm, maybe less if there's more relief.

If you're not planning to travel past 3rd position or so for a while, I would live with it.

>0.4mm at the nut sounds kind of high though I've never tried to take a measurement - I agree with Michael, just enough for a business card. Lowering the strings at the nut to the minimum possible will make more of a difference than taking less than a mm off the bridge.

We can still get a beer if there's time, don't worry about the bridge. Actually I was measuring the g string, on the e string side it was lower I think, I don't have the violin with me right now. Should there be such a difference? I didn't hear any buzzing though, when performing simple slow bows that is...

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If it's really a case of bridge height and curve as you've stated, find yourself a competent luthier who works on student instruments in your area.  Drop the attitude, be very nice to them, make them feel needed, and maybe ply them with food, beer or both...  and pay the usual hourly rate to modify (lower) the bridge you already have.

While some do deal with inexpensive imports as part of their business, many here do not... and don't want to work on them (and have no desire to make a one hour bridge).  In addition, ebay and direct marketing by some of these manufacturers don't help local small local shops (a kind way to put things) who do supply student instruments.  So, you're asking local luthiers to support a system & source that hurts their own, or one of their mate's, bottom line with their expertise

 

I didn't realize I had an attitude to be honest, I was expressing puzzlement more or less by the situation. It seems extremely weird to me for a technician/luthier to refuse simple (I made it clear that I didn't want any bridge tuning or other adjustments to the violin) quick work because of the instrument, and it hasn't happened to me before. English isn't my first language BTW (although you've probably already guessed that). Also I don't think many professionals would share your point of view, obviously when G.A.S. hits me, and it probably will at some point in time (although it would be V.A.S. in this case?) I'll visit the shop that I have a relationship with in the first place, and conversely avoid unhelpful shops. Professionals obviously like to have strong relationships with their clients.

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I didn't realize I had an attitude to be honest, I was expressing puzzlement more or less by the situation. It seems extremely weird to me for a technician/luthier to refuse simple (I made it clear that I didn't want any bridge tuning or other adjustments to the violin) quick work because of the instrument, and it hasn't happened to me before. English isn't my first language BTW (although you've probably already guessed that). Also I don't think many professionals would share your point of view, obviously when G.A.S. hits me, and it probably will at some point in time (although it would be V.A.S. in this case?) I'll visit the shop that I have a relationship with in the first place, and conversely avoid unhelpful shops. Professionals obviously like to have strong relationships with their clients.

The basic idea is that if you bring a broken violin into a shop to have only part of the work done, the luthier that agrees to do that then finds his or herself responsible for all of the problems inherent in the instrument. 

 

Imagine:

"I usually ride a bike, but I came into possession of this car, and I thought it might be fun to try it out. I know it's not a very good car, but could you do the minimum to get it moving?"

"Four new tires on a car with no brakes? No problem! Good luck, and be sure to tell everyone what a deal you got here."

 

I've seen many violins that "just need a new bridge", and for NONE of them was that true. Not one. Ever.

The pegs don't work, the nut chews up strings, the fingerboard if wacky, the strings are shite, the projection is to low, and on and on and on.

 

If you took your violin to a luthier, and they refused to work on it, take a hint! Be grateful that they were honest and didn't just take your money and leave you with a half functioning piece of crap. As someone that seems to have an appreciation of musical instruments, if you want to have a violin to mess around on, get a good one, or RENT a good one.

 

And for god's sake, violins are not guitars! Knowledge of one does not translate to the other. A cheap guitar is a cheap guitar. A cheap violin is firewood.

Thanks, goodnight.

 

Sorry. Almost done.

 

The above only addresses half the issue of playing a functioning violin.

What about the bow?

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and this is where I come in.

 

Ok kid it's like this, it's a crap fiddle, no one wants to work on it apparently, so do it yourself. Order 3 mid grade bridge blanks from a reputable online violin parts supplier, which there are many, use google, figure it out. Ok, now you have your bridge blanks, overlay your existing bridge on the new one, line it up so the feet of the existing bridge feet angle can be traced on the new one, draw lines, this will match closely the angles of your top. Next, trace the existing arch of old bridge on the new one. Go buy some hobby files. they come in kits and are available at art store,hardware stores etc and get some 80/120/220 sandpaper too. Simply carefully file/sand the wood down until it matches the lines you have drawn, you say its too high? fine get a compass with a pencil, and trace a line a little lower than the existing height. Re fit it and check the feel of the height action, perceive if one string needs more angle more height etc. and adjust accordingly AFTER you do a final smoothing of the feet to get as good of contact as possible, for you I simply recommend putting some 220 sand paper over the top in the area of the bridge location and gently sand the feet in a back and forth /side to side as well motion to get it as close as possible. You won't get it perfect, but it will be good enough, Less is more, take too much off you have to try again. Once you have you feet and arch the way you like it, on the front face of the bridge, that which will be facing the finger board thin it with the grades of sand paper starting just above the cut out of the heart. You may then with the fine files ease the edges with a bevel on all the cut outs, edges and such. We will leave out sculpting the cuts and heart, but you may modify the shape of these as well if you like in order to play with "punch"....So understanding the acoustics of what makes a violin tick is harder than rocket science....cutting a bridge for a cheap fiddle is not....good luck, if you destroy the violin don't blame me.

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I didn't realize I had an attitude to be honest, I was expressing puzzlement more or less by the situation. It seems extremely weird to me for a technician/luthier to refuse simple (I made it clear that I didn't want any bridge tuning or other adjustments to the violin) quick work because of the instrument, and it hasn't happened to me before. English isn't my first language BTW (although you've probably already guessed that). Also I don't think many professionals would share your point of view, obviously when G.A.S. hits me, and it probably will at some point in time (although it would be V.A.S. in this case?) I'll visit the shop that I have a relationship with in the first place, and conversely avoid unhelpful shops. Professionals obviously like to have strong relationships with their clients.

Ya but only when there is relevant monetary gain that matches ones skill level. I asked the Rolling Stones if they would play my party for 1500$ bucks, they weren't biting. Jeffery is one of the most respected repair guys in the business and a has a who's who client list. Frankly, your out of your league kid, no ones trying to brow beat you, it's just the facts of life related to skill, compensation and frankly being "too good" to be working on "that" most people that do this for money do this for the money, not many people want bother with or take risks on things that have no value when they can be properly compensated working on something of value with someone who is willing to do what ever it takes to get something in proper working order. Reputation is everything in this business, I do not think you are looking at this from "the other guys" shoes, only as a consumer expecting a service that many do not wish to do as you are finding out.

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God's sake guys, this is a Yitamusic violin and the OP would like the bridge to be lowered slightly!

In my experience Yita violins are playable and generally pretty astonishing value - I wouldn't expect to look at this violin and discover that the owner's life is going to be put in danger by playing it as it is.

I think much of the tension comes from the fact that 1. the OP bought a Chinese violin online and 2. s/he thinks £150 is too much for a student bridge.

If I expected monetary gain to match my skill level I would sit on my arse all day every day.

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"I think much of the tension comes from the fact that 1. the OP bought a Chinese violin online and 2. s/he thinks £150 is too much for a student bridge."

 

Yup, Martin.  Pretty much what I said... though I believe there are reasons beyond dollars and pounds for what the OP is hearing, and there are solutions, one of which I offered as a suggestion.

 

In terms of labor/worth/quality, I run into forms of this problem occasionally within my own business.  I have a waiting list for labor (I'm lucky), and I don't have a student instrument price list.  I'd like to hope I'm effective when communicating options to most who call or email me requesting work on these imports, but I guess you'd need to speak with those I communicate with to find out.   :)

 

On the other hand, we all like to feel needed, and I find most of us will take an opportunity to "give back" when we can.  Rarely, when time allows, I'll order a workshop instrument or two for a client's charitable startup orchestral program or a foundation.  My criteria is that the instrument is of a quality good enough to respond to a proper and careful setup (not cheap stuff)...  which I'll then do in the same manner and with the same materials as if I were working on a much higher quality instrument.  Believe me, while I'll protect myself from loss, doing this does not have a significant profit motive.  If I'm going to make a bridge, it's going to be one that I don't mind stamping my name on.

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If some one came to me and said I couldn't be bothered buying a quality violin from you, so I bought this piece of crap on ebay, and its not even set up right, and now I want you to fix it, cheap. Doesn't exactly make me want to do business with him........

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I think many of you have never had a Yitamusic violin in their hands. Yitamusic violins are not terrible VSOs. The lower grade are fine for beginners, the higher grade (M20) can really be quite decent. No Jacobyviolins, no shellaquered fingerboards, even on the lower grade work is quite ok. The violins are shipped and the recommendation from Yita is that you get it set up by a professional, as they send it without the bridge on and the sound post is not properly fit. It wouldn't make sense to fit it properly, as it is being sent by mail from china. The standard bridge they send along with their violins usually is usable (on cellos it is usually not. On cellos I find the fingerboard usually needs a redressing to fit to my preferences, Romberg-ridge I don't like, violins seem to be better in that respect) but not excellent, and can be replaced by them by a better quality bridge. This means it is somewhat nicer made and has a higher quality wood, it is worth the money. The pegs work without problems, by the way. I work as a cello teacher and boy, would I love my students all having instruments of the quality Yita offers, that would be such an improvement over the (mostly german, nitro varnished, partly plywood, and then to think they are more expensive...) crap they usually have! (bought or rented from.... 'respectable' local lutiers.... Who don't seem to give a damn about wether they ruin my pupils future as a cellist from the outset by delivering unresponsive instruments on which everything is wrong. Ofcourse, it doesn't count for all of the lutiers in the neighbourhood, but still) All in all, I think they offer instruments that would cost 3 or four times as much in western shops, even after adding the cost of setup. Just charge what you would usually charge for a setup, it is nothing to be ashamed of if you unless you specialise in working only on highly prized antiques.

 

Wether or not the original poster was out of line, well, I think that if you formulated what you wish the way you did it here, I would be put off by it, insulted even, as a maker. You said that you are not a native english speaker (neither am I), but that is not something that can be detected right away in writing.  What you should have done is simply walk  into a shop, take out your violin and ask them what needs to be done. They would have told you what and how much it costs. But to be honest, I think you should get at least one violin lesson from a qualified teacher. They know where you can take your instrument and will also be able to tell you wether the strings are too high or not. And will give you some hint to how to start of right. You would have prevented the mess you are in now.

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The OP is not in a mess! I have offered to help out in a friendly way - I'm very tolerant of people who put their point across in a slightly abrasive fashion. I wouldn't last long on Maestronet if I wasn't :)

It's worth reading the first post again - it's not as inflammatory as people think, but it still caused offense.

I think Jeffrey articulated the issues very well, but there's a lot of nuance in his posts for those who are prepared to read slowly, also a good deal of kindness.

 

On a separate point, people who turn up with a Yitamusic violin will no doubt upgrade at some point - I don't see a good reason for barking at them. They will never come back.

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I've never seen a Yita violin in real life, but enough people have said they're OK to lead me to believe that they can't be that bad. But I think anyone buying one of these at a very low price off ebay should budget for set up costs of around £100 to get it playing how it should (general tidy up/replacement of bridge, post, nut, fb etc + possibly new student quality strings...etc). To buy one of these for peanuts direct from China then expect your forelock-tugging local luthier to sort it out for next to nothing is unreasonable. That might not be what the OP had in mind, but that's the impression I got.

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[T]hat would be such an improvement over the (mostly german, nitro varnished, partly plywood, and then to think they are more expensive...) crap they usually have! (bought or rented from.... 'respectable' local lutiers.... Who don't seem to give a damn about wether they ruin my pupils future as a cellist from the outset by delivering unresponsive instruments on which everything is wrong. Ofcourse, it doesn't count for all of the lutiers in the neighbourhood, but still) All in all, I think they offer instruments that would cost 3 or four times as much in western shops, even after adding the cost of setup. Just charge what you would usually charge for a setup, it is nothing to be ashamed of if you unless you specialise in working only on highly prized antiques.

I don't object to setting up a modest little Chinese fiddle made of real tonewood nearly as much as I've been known to cringe at doing edge repairs on a regrettable German plywood boat that had a respectable signed, numbered, and dated label inside and a four-figure price tag originally.  Now that, I'll charge you through the nose for :lol: .

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The OP is not in a mess! I have offered to help out in a friendly way - I'm very tolerant of people who put their point across in a slightly abrasive fashion. I wouldn't last long on Maestronet if I wasn't

 

True I was a little exaggerating here ;) I was just getting a little wound up thinking of some of the instruments some of my students have to play. I'm happy someone offered to help him!

 

By the way, Yitamusic instruments are NOT labeled Yitamusic! The label is that of one of the two workshops they have: Ma Zhibin or Liu Xi, you will find either one of these names on a printed label with handwritten date of making and a signature. Just so that you know where these instruments come from, should you find one on your paths.

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After conferring with other members by PM, I consider it only fair to warn the OP that "a Scotsman's bar bill in London can easily exceed £150, even before the breakage is considered" :lol: .

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In retrospect you should have payed the extra few bucks to have Yita cut an upgraded bridge and told them you wanted a lowish action. They cut a french bridge in their shop to replace the one from the factory. I recently had a bit of a smashy smashy and broke the feet off the Yita cut Aubert bridge. BTW - this is another reason that casual musicians need inexpensive knock about instruments, if you bring instruments to pubs and parties stuff happens. Anyway... I still had the original factory bridge and put it on till I can take it to a shop.  It's really not that bad. Fit is OK.  A bit soft. Not as good the one they cut before sending it to me, but good enough that taking it the shop is not something that needs to be done immediately.

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Actually I don't recomend players to cut there own bridges or fit soundposts. I'm not worried about the competition, but when anyone starts this kind of work they always end up cutting their fingers and thumbs. Many years ago a cellist wanted to make her own bridge. A collegue that fancied her offered to show her how to do it. She sliced her finger and was off work for several weeks. Just a thought.

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Actually I don't recomend players to cut there own bridges or fit soundposts. I'm not worried about the competition, but when anyone starts this kind of work they always end up cutting their fingers and thumbs. Many years ago a cellist wanted to make her own bridge. A collegue that fancied her offered to show her how to do it. She sliced her finger and was off work for several weeks. Just a thought.

Yes, which is exactly why I suggested files and sandpaper, much slower, not as crisp, but it works. Safety is always number 1

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agarwaen - you've encountered a similar situation to one I experienced a few years ago.

 

I'm a violinist who decided to learn the viola (mainly to help my conducting, so I could read alto clef at speed).  I bought a yitamusic viola on ebay as like others have said, they are good value and better than any beginners Stentor rubbish.

 

When it arrived it needed the bridge adjusting slightly, as I expected.  I took it to a local shop who were very rude and wouldn't even look at it.  It wasn't so much their refusal to do the work that annoyed me, it was the rudeness.

 

I enjoyed mentioning as I left that I have a "proper" violin which I had been considering asking them to do some work on... and a bow which needed rehairing... and would have bought a set of strings for my violin and viola...  They looked quite unhappy as I left :-)

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