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Kallie

Bridge quality brands and effects on sound

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Hi there

 

I want to buy a few quality bridges to test the effect it has on the sound of a violin. Can someone perhaps suggest some high quality brands I can try? So far Ive worked mostly with Aubert Made in France bridges. Im interested to try a Josef Teller bridge aswell, like the one in this auction: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Josef-Teller-Adjustable-Violin-Bridge-4-4-High-Quality-/260827688008?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cba8aac48

 

Also http://www.ebay.com/itm/Genuine-Aubert-Violin-Bridge-4-4-Adjustable-Mirecourt-/190527454280?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c5c523c48

 

Any opinions on these "Adjustable" bridges in general?

 

Thank You.

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If you want quality, you should stick with brands like Aubert and Despiau.  Teller adjustable bridges should be labelled “in case of emergency only.”  They are very thick, and the string notches are actually deep slots.

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The Auberts have been pretty terrible the last year or two. If you can pick them in person, there are salveagable ones. The lower grade Tonewoods International bridges have been consistently better than Auberts lately, at a lower price. Milo Stamms unfortunately went up in price.

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Odd that you are concentrating on adjustables. I don't know anyone who uses them. Teller makes some good bridges. I generally prefer them to Auberts, which I think are not as good as they used to be. But I'm not good enough to tell much difference in the final results. Milo Stamm is another good brand. But in the end, what you do to the bridge is more important than what you start with. I would personally advise practicing on lower priced models. Or maybe you have.

 

Note: I have used only a couple of top priced bridges and saw no advantage for me. I will soon be carving an Aubert De Luxe for a customer who bought her own. We'll see how it goes.

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Thank you everyone for the replies so far

 

 

Odd that you are concentrating on adjustables.

 

I'm focusing on these now as Ive never used it before. If they are the same quality, it could make the fitting easier. But I don't at all mind fitting a bridge the usual way.

 

 

I would personally advise practicing on lower priced models. Or maybe you have.

Thank you for the suggestion, but yes, I have practiced on many cheap bridges from the local music shop.

 

 

 

Note: I have used only a couple of top priced bridges and saw no advantage for me. I will soon be carving an Aubert De Luxe for a customer who bought her own. We'll see how it goes.

 

Please let me know if you notice any major sound difference if it wouldnt be too much trouble. :)

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The Auberts have been pretty terrible the last year or two.

I confess... the last Deluxe I got had a tiny sap pocket in it.   <_<

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I do not use adjustables because any added joint is just something to go wrong.  I use Aubert, Desplau, various vintage bridges which come into my hands, and occasionally make my own from local maple and wax myrtle.  I recommend the latter practice as valuable experience, though it's difficult to improve on the good commercial bridges.

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I have had no trouble with Aubert Etudes, #7's, or Deluxes as of late, there was a time when there were some quality problems, but in the last few months it seems like they might have stepped up there game....IMHO....YMMV. Despiau always seemed a little harder. I really prefer Milo Stamm......they are more expensive but they are my favorites.

 

 

 

David Blackmon

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I'm not sure that I could recommend a brand or a grade. If I order in top graded branded blanks I can only use about 20%  of what arrives. Generally if I can I visit the maker or wholesaler and pick out what works for me. I want crisp hard wood with very ( VERY) tight growth and the medullary rays running through the centre of the bridge. Increasingly these days we see a concentration from suppliers on spectacular medullary ray figure....This is just nonsense if you have made a study of great old bridges that work well and stand the test of time..... :)

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I agree about the wild figure, Melvin. I was picking through bridges at the VSA Convention, and the low grade TWI's were of much better quality than their hand-signed super-selects, most of which had wild, wavy pink figure. I'll take tight grain that leans back from the front side over flash (at half the price.)

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I like what the last two posters write. I think the best is to make them yourself from a piece of wood that you know give good bridges and a good result. Probaly a much safer approach than dealing with the variability in what you get from the suppliers.

 

I have not bought enough blanks to have a good overview of qualities of the brands out there, but I did buy some Teller and treated Aubert bridges I measured the wood qualities in with a Lucci meter as well as the weights. (A nice set of close to identical blanks measured up in the same way can give some interesting input as to what parameters of the wood influences the rocking frequency, or whatever frequency or relation you may measure as a "quality"). My impression was that the Teller bridges had harder and better wood in my opinion than the fine treated and expencive ones, but there were maybe somewhat more variation in these.

 

The most successful maker I know of on hardanger fiddle setup makes all his bridges from the same piece of wood. I do have a small set of wood too that works nicely. Makes the making and tuning easier, just make them to the same dimensions and they will work well every time. A softer set I sometimes use, does not give as good results with the bridge design I use. So I think it is important to have experience with the wood used in bridges, and that after the experience is gained, a lot of time is saved by making them yourself. 

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How will you fit feet that swivels around? :wacko: It just seems to me like more work. :rolleyes: You can ruin a good bridge if you don't know how to carve it. Nothing good will come out of bad wood. Use your money wisely and buy a good bridge.

 

Totally agree, it's already hard enough to fit the traditional ones correctly never mind bridges with mobile feet. Clamping the feet into submission just blocks access for the planes and scrapers which in itself makes life a bit more difficult if you're obsessed with perfection like I am as it would require file action or some pretty creative methods to get things smoothed out and absolutely even. I'm very curious about the possible benefits/cons of such bridges, I have a feeling I'm missing the purpose of them (noobiness ftl).

 

Tip from one new maker to another (I'm under the impression you are possibly a new maker, please do not be offended if you are not!), Despiau's treated bridges (N11 or N12?) are shockingly hard and as seriously resistente as the inquisition. Be very aware that they will put up a serious SERIOUS fight, prepare yourself for a religious experience LOL

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I was on a similar hunt and came across New Sound Bridges -  they are similar to MIlo Stamm and Despiau. I asked for a sample which was really good. Maybe check them out. 

In truth they are not the cheapest and are new as I gathered. http://newsound.rs/. Best Luck

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 I will soon be carving an Aubert De Luxe for a customer who bought her own. We'll see how it goes.

 

 

Please let me know if you notice any major sound difference if it wouldnt be too much trouble. :)

Sorry, I forgot about this. I used it about a month ago. I couldn't compare it to anything else easily, because the fiddle was in pieces when I got it and the old bridge was too low. At any rate, I could hear nothing special about it and it didn't carve any better than the Tellers I normally use. I guess I should have fitted one of my usual, too, but I didn't think to do that.

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I'm not sure that I could recommend a brand or a grade. If I order in top graded branded blanks I can only use about 20%  of what arrives. Generally if I can I visit the maker or wholesaler and pick out what works for me. I want crisp hard wood with very ( VERY) tight growth and the medullary rays running through the centre of the bridge. Increasingly these days we see a concentration from suppliers on spectacular medullary ray figure....This is just nonsense if you have made a study of great old bridges that work well and stand the test of time..... :)

 

 

I agree about the wild figure, Melvin. I was picking through bridges at the VSA Convention, and the low grade TWI's were of much better quality than their hand-signed super-selects, most of which had wild, wavy pink figure. I'll take tight grain that leans back from the front side over flash (at half the price.)

 

I would love, if you have the time and inclination, to see pictures of bridge blanks that you find great, or even good, or even sufficient or adequate. Also crappy ones. 

And everyone else as well.  :)

I've always found written descriptions of the key features of bridge figure lacking.

THANKS!

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David Morris told me that at Beares they used Aubert adjustable bridges to do rough experiments with elevation. 

Since height is the greatest single factor in how a bridge affects the sound of a particular instrument, it's quite logical to try to establish an ideal height before making radical adjustments to neck angle.

The same process was used for fact-finding on violins that weren't performing well tonally - sometimes quite small differences in downbearing can make very positive improvements to the sound, and if you're trying to sell a Strad for 7 figures, lowering or raising the neck angle or the just the string angle by a small amount can make a lot of sense.

 

I use them the same way - I have a stock of about 10, all at different heights, and can rapidly switch from one to another with a string lifter. So if a violin comes in with elevation that's far too low (or a bridge and an action that's way too high), I can easily get a sense of where I'd like to end up.

Cutting a load of gash bridges for a particular violin is very time-consuming and wouldn't give better answers to these particular questions.

However, I'd never use an adjustable bridge for any other purpose.

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One thing nobody has mentioned here is that the age of the blank is extremely important. I use Aubert #7's ( #16 for cellos) for everyday instruments and Deluxe on professional stuff. I date all the blanks and hang them with air circulating on all sides for at least 5 years before use and as long as possible for the good instruments. I just cut a Deluxe bridge on my latest cello from a blank bought in 1993 and the wood felt totally different than the 5 year old ones,dryer yet easier to cut at the same time.  

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Nathan,

What, exactly, is the importance of age?  Looks, stability, workability, or is there also some tonal difference that you think comes with age?

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The Auberts have been pretty terrible the last year or two. If you can pick them in person, there are salveagable ones. The lower grade Tonewoods International bridges have been consistently better than Auberts lately, at a lower price. Milo Stamms unfortunately went up in price.

Is "Tonewoods International" some producer or seller of bridges? It is the first time I see something about it, I do apologize for my ignorance.

 

Beside that, I played this game from OP, but I made it cheap. Some two years ago, I've bought 50 blanks from some Chinese seller and done with them everything that came to my mind. At first, I sorted it into few categories, according to appearance. Then, I threw them on a hard surface, listening to the sound it produced. I have them scratching, cutting, bending, breaking, and I do not know what. What I've discovered is rather interesting: one cannot find twins there. All these bridge were different, but I've found at least 10 that could stand shoulder to shoulder with, say, Teller 3 stars and outperform, say, Despiau Ecolier (I really don't like it). Doing that, I was slowly learning the art of bridge cutting. Great fun, I would say, for a few bucks. I think that I will repeat it soon.

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Nathan,

What, exactly, is the importance of age?  Looks, stability, workability, or is there also some tonal difference that you think comes with age?

Don 

 

I think all of the above. The primary goal is a better sounding bridge that doesn't warp,over time. Also as I mentioned the old bridges seem to cut much easier they are drier in texture but somehow more compact so that when I cut the really delicate parts like thinning the doojit in the heart or the wings of the kidneys they cut without bending away from the knife. It's possible that the wood quality was simply better in the past but back then I was using bridges from the same batch that were only a few years old and I don't remember them feeling so nice. Lastly the older bridges  have a color all the way through that looks nice even when you remove the surface.

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...old bridges seem to cut much easier they are drier in texture but somehow more compact...   older bridges  have a color all the way through that looks nice even when you remove the surface.

 

Sounds like a possible job for...

Thermal Processing Man!!

post-25192-0-64238900-1390494892_thumb.jpg

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