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CelloMe

Cello String Height

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I just got a new bridge for my Montagnana cello yesterday and I'm finding out that the height between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge is 7.5mm at the A string and 10mm at the C string.

I have Jargar medium gauge strings on the A and D and Spirocore, tungsten wound (also medium gauge) on the G and C. Aside from the string height, the my cello sounds much more beautiful with the new bridge and the only problem is the facility to play it.

Should I bring it back to the guy who worked on my cello or just learn to live with the high strings?

 

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...the height between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge is 7.5mm at the A string and 10mm at the C string...

 

That sounds too high to me.

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These measurements sound pretty high but there may be reasons for setting them there.If your neck pitch is really low for instance the technician may feel that the instrument would be unplayable if he made a lower bridge. Since I assume that someone with a Montagnana cello is playing at a pretty high level I think your preferences in set up should should be discussed with your technician and all options and variables explored to get the best out of your instrument. That might mean doing more involved work than simply making a bridge. 

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I just got a new bridge for my Montagnana cello yesterday and I'm finding out that the height between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge is 7.5mm at the A string and 10mm at the C string.

I have Jargar medium gauge strings on the A and D and Spirocore, tungsten wound (also medium gauge) on the G and C. Aside from the string height, the my cello sounds much more beautiful with the new bridge and the only problem is the facility to play it.

Should I bring it back to the guy who worked on my cello or just learn to live with the high strings?

Did you have bow clearance problems with your old bridge which I am presuming was lower? The Montagnana model can be quite wide in the c-bouts and it is often necessary to do some careful set-up planning to get it right. Not that high strings is necessarily a solution.

 

On a normal cello I would make the A about 5.5 mm and the C about 8 mm with steel strings. In the case of a gut C that could near 10 mm.

 

What's the weather like where you are? 

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Bottom of the string to the board. In other words, the distance between the board and the string.

Thanks. Otherwise, measuring from the center (or upper surface of the strings) would be useless, considering that the diameter of the strings vary quite a lot, especially on the cello. Bruce, by the way, why the strings height is not the same for every string? If the bass side strings are higher, it means that they need to travel a longer distance to reach the FB, sharpening the intonation, especially near the bridge end, where the strings height is much taller than the nut end. Or do you think that intonation is relative to thickness and tension of each string? When I see the templates of baroque bridges, they are symmetrical, meaning that the height is the same for every string. See these Stradivari templates from the Sacconi book, for example.

post-29508-0-95908300-1368192302_thumb.jpg

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Thanks. Otherwise, measuring from the center (or upper surface of the strings) would be useless, considering that the diameter of the strings vary quite a lot, especially on the cello. Bruce, by the way, why the strings height is not the same for every string? If the bass side strings are higher, it means that they need to travel a longer distance to reach the FB, sharpening the intonation, especially near the bridge end, where the strings height is much taller than the nut end. Or do you think that intonation is relative to thickness and tension of each string? When I see the templates of baroque bridges, they are symmetrical, meaning that the height is the same for every string. See these Stradivari templates from the Sacconi book, for example.

The A string is the thinnest string and also has the greatest tension of the four. It has less weight per centimeter (EDIT: per unit of length) and it "kicks-out" the least of the other three strings. Generally, the the "vibrating string footprint" or the area occupied (or better, transited) by a vibrating string, is smallest on the A and increases proportionately with the D, G and C strings. The idea is to have the strings just high enough that they vibrate freely and can be played in every way the musical interpretation may require without the fingerboard disrupting or interfering with the vibrations. This normally requires an increase in string height as you move toward the bass strings and this is also the reason for the increase in longitudinal scoop or dip in the fingerboard on the lower strings.

 

Intonation, if all the conditions are right with the fingerboard and string heights, is developed through diligent practice as no musician has time to think about where to place their finger while playing. This also includes any possible corrections for string deflection that you mention. A well prepared musician is doing this at a subliminal level.

 

The templates you illustrated are exactly that, templates. In reality most bridges I've seen do drop off slightly on the treble side. The uppermost image on your page is of a bridge, not a template, and it does drop off slightly on the treble side.

 

Bruce

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The A string is the thinnest string and also has the greatest tension of the four. It has less weight per centimeter (EDIT: per unit of length) and it "kicks-out" the least of the other three strings. Generally, the the "vibrating string footprint" or the area occupied (or better, transited) by a vibrating string, is smallest on the A and increases proportionately with the D, G and C strings. The idea is to have the strings just high enough that they vibrate freely and can be played in every way the musical interpretation may require without the fingerboard disrupting or interfering with the vibrations. This normally requires an increase in string height as you move toward the bass strings and this is also the reason for the increase in longitudinal scoop or dip in the fingerboard on the lower strings.

 

Intonation, if all the conditions are right with the fingerboard and string heights, is developed through diligent practice as no musician has time to think about where to place their finger while playing. This also includes any possible corrections for string deflection that you mention. A well prepared musician is doing this at a subliminal level.

 

The templates you illustrated are exactly that, templates. In reality most bridges I've seen do drop off slightly on the treble side. The uppermost image on your page is of a bridge, not a template, and it does drop off slightly on the treble side.

 

Bruce

Thanks, so interesting. I didn't even notice the slight drop off on that pic. But how can we be sure that it was the Fingerboard side, and not the tailpiece side of the bridge? I have so many doubts about intonation, radius, fingering and string height. I am going to start a new thread, hope you to hear all your views.

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Thanks, so interesting. I didn't even notice the slight drop off on that pic. But how can we be sure that it was the Fingerboard side, and not the tailpiece side of the bridge? I have so many doubts about intonation, radius, fingering and string height. I am going to start a new thread, hope you to hear all your views.

The largest groove is on the right hand side of the bridge image, the bass string is usually the thickest string, therefore......

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As a player you should know exactly what string heights you want...Heifetz liked them high, Ricci liked them low.
Daniil Shafran was another kettle of fish but he knew what he wanted. 
 
Tell the maker / shop to fit the bridge accordingly. 
Asking makers who don't play about string heights is not a great idea.

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As a player you should know exactly what string heights you want...Heifetz liked them high, Ricci liked them low.

Daniil Shafran was another kettle of fish but he knew what he wanted. 

 

Tell the maker / shop to fit the bridge accordingly. 

Asking makers who don't play about string heights is not a great idea.

Thanks

 

I am a would be maker that does not play ... lol

So I just figure that the people who post these numbers would know if it is to the bottom of the string, the gap, or if it is to the middle of the string.

 

If I ever make for someone, then I will ask them what they prefer.

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On 5/16/2013 at 11:53 AM, Eyal Vodnizky said:

5-5.5mm for the A string, 8mm for the C at the end of the fingerboard are the common heights for modern string.

What about the G and D string?

 

Thanks, Robert

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We don't normally have to measure the G and D string heights because they are derived from the outer string heights and the bridge curvature.  The usual practice is to start with the grooves for the two outer strings (cello A & C) too high then then file them lower until they are the correct height.  Next a bridge curvature pattern is traced onto the bridge connecting these grooves and establishing the heights of the two middle strings.

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On 5/15/2016 at 6:26 AM, ~ Ben Conover said:

As a player you should know exactly what string heights you want...Heifetz liked them high, Ricci liked them low.
Daniil Shafran was another kettle of fish but he knew what he wanted. 
 
Tell the maker / shop to fit the bridge accordingly. 
Asking makers who don't play about string heights is not a great idea.

And did those players also provide fingerboard scoop specifications to the people working on their instruments?

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23 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

And did those players also provide fingerboard scoop specifications to the people working on their instruments?

No, but by feel they could advise the maker / restorer as to the scoop required of course. 
On the other hand, nothing worse than a player telling a maker his or her latest pet theory on scoop !  
Sorry if my original comment seemed 'know it all'  :-) 

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On 5/7/2013 at 10:21 AM, CelloMe said:

Should I bring it back to the guy who worked on my cello or just learn to live with the high strings?

If you’re having difficulty playing, it’s very important to solve that problem. Playability is crucial—it’s easy to stop living an instrument that’s hard to play, even if it sounds great. At some point, difficulty in playing is going to hold you back and frustrate you.

There are some standards for string height and spacing, although there can be exceptions. And if an individual has clear preferences for particular heights, a luthier can adjust. A major advantage to standardization is facility of transition from one instrument to another. If the setup stays the same, it’s easier to isolate other factors that might be worth changing.

Show it to your luthier. If the heights have changed since you had the setup done, there could be a projection issue. 

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