trimming bridges - various different theories, various constants.


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Glad you spoke up?

 

Well, that's why we post, isn't it? When we find someone posting what we think of as true, then we can just go foreward, and, when we find that there is a disagreement, we simply disagree.

If we don't post or ask why - well, then that aspect never gets discussed. But when we hear something new, perhaps an aspect we haven't looked at in the past - or even thought of - well, then we can learn something new, and either find that it's true or that it's not true. If it's never brought up, then it cannot be looked at or discussed at all. Better to bring these ideas into the conversation if they're either bugging you or if you think they're basic to what is being done

 

Then again, with regard to bridge cutting and trimming  - there might be a difference, that depends more on other factors, than the bridge itself as the main causitive factor for various frequencies being minipulated - all have certain experiences that we must put into the reasoning for the bridge to act in particular ways.

Still, perhaps such thinking is not correct. Perhaps the response (of the bridge to the corpus) reacts or acts in certain ways, to certain physical alterations, that are independant of such general considerations?.

 

Which, of course I would like to consider and hear more about. Because my working methodology is based on the premiss that siuch things (such concrete trimming methods) are not central to getting the results I seek with any regularity.

 

More please.

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I think it is a misunderstanding that we should strive for one single clean bridge hill resonance and also that the changes in response when filing is only a few dB. If the spectrum of the bridge is measured it looks roughly as complicated as the spectrum of the violin body itself. A very small change in the bridge may fill a deep dip in the violin spectrum. Changes 9 ... 10 dB are common. The biggest change I have been able to produce was 16 dB. We are talking of local response changes of the order of 10 ... 30 times ... this isn't insignificant!

When a seemingly insignificant change causes 10 times more sound output in a narrow frequency band it is easy to start to see the actual wood as relatively unimportant. The important thing is to get the resonances to work because that is where you get the power.

 

 

Great post ! Lots of food for thought here.

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Changes 9 ... 10 dB are common. The biggest change I have been able to produce was 16 dB. We are talking of local response changes of the order of 10 ... 30 times ... this isn't insignificant!

 

What were the center frequencies and bandwidth of these changes? An increase of 10db is considerable, and I didn't think it was possible to implement that much of a change.

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Then again, with regard to bridge cutting and trimming  - there might be a difference, that depends more on other factors, than the bridge itself as the main causitive factor for various frequencies being minipulated - all have certain experiences that we must put into the reasoning for the bridge to act in particular ways.

Still, perhaps such thinking is not correct. Perhaps the response (of the bridge to the corpus) reacts or acts in certain ways, to certain physical alterations, that are independant of such general considerations?.

 

 

 

CT, to me it seems Lars makes a very compelling point. But of course, there might be other issues as you say. We had some fantastic posts - let's hope for more.

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Any adjustment strategy that rests on the adjustment of cheap violins is going to have serious problems. That's why there are so many contradictory statements about post movements: because cheap violins don't really adjust, and many of the changes will inevitably be imaginary, in spite of the claims of the person making the claims.

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Am I the only one here who thinks that any system assigning the same changes to E1, E2, and E3, or G1, G2, and G3 has a gigantic credibility problem?

 

I couldn't say because I lack experience but I find it very encouraging that Lars ( who's a physicist by the way - i.e. knows what's talking about ) has identified certain critical areas of adjustment and gave us certain specific directions to experiment further.

He's method also looks very workable. I've already fitted two bridges to two chinese violins and the results are very encouraging.

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Am I the only one here who thinks that any system assigning the same changes to E1, E2, and E3, or G1, G2, and G3 has a gigantic credibility problem?

You are simply reading too much into an extremely short general description. It is absolutely clear that you get different effects depending on what you do the areas in the picture are combined because I feel they are related ... you simply don't the same effect. Why speculate? Simply make a bridge and start filing in situ. It does make a big difference if you thin the ear thickness wise or if you increase the size of the kidney or if you change the mass of the overhanging ear while not adjusting the stiffness of that resonator (this is obvious ... see the question further down). You are able in some cases to fore see some effects based on physical considerations but more often you still work based on rules of thumb based on experience.

 

If you read my original text you will realize that I simply didn't write about these details. I wrote about the main openings in the bridge simply because changing these is easy and it is possible to give a hopefully understandable description in a very limited space. You simply have to put in some effort and real work to learn to listen and to learn the limits of this method, it is worthless to speculate simply because the bridge is complicated.

 

A very simple question: How many separate but connected (that will influence each other) resonators do you find in or in direct relation to the bridge? In the bridge tuning literature only one is discussed ... the basic resonance around 2.9 kHz. How many fairly obvious resonators do you find in the bridge and what would the obvious ways of tuning these as seen from a purely mechanical point of view?  

 

Try it out please and write down your experiences for future reference! It is perfectly possible that what you hear and what you interpret is slightly different from what another individuals hear and interpret. If you don't find any effect PLEASE report what you experienced!

 

Again: I think the MAJOR problem in setting up and adjusting top instruments is to find a common terminology that enables the builder/luthier to understand what the musician is trying to say and the builder to be able to say which parameters he is able to change in a way that the musician is able to understand.   

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Any adjustment strategy that rests on the adjustment of cheap violins is going to have serious problems. That's why there are so many contradictory statements about post movements: because cheap violins don't really adjust, and many of the changes will inevitably be imaginary, in spite of the claims of the person making the claims.

Ummmm, love your pdf's and all posted elsewhere, which I use daily in the adjustment of less than expensive violins.  First, please define "cheap violin".  Secondly, please explain why such a challenging group of instruments wouldn't be a better field to explore for process development than favored Italians and the like which have already enjoyed the services of the best luthiers in the business for hundreds of years?  Thank you :) .

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Am I the only one here who thinks that any system assigning the same changes to E1, E2, and E3, or G1, G2, and G3 has a gigantic credibility problem?

 

No, you are not the only one.   I naturally have a large amount of skepticizm when any recipe for tone improvement shows up.

The first question I always have trouble with:  How come this hasn't been common knowledge, after 300+ years?

 

I have no extensive experience to say it's wrong or right in this particular case, and it does seem to make some sense... but there have been an awful lot of bogus recipes for success, so skepticizm would seem to be warranted until more people verify that it actually works as advertised.

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First, please define "cheap violin".  Secondly, please explain why such a challenging group of instruments wouldn't be a better field to explore for process development than favored Italians and the like which have already enjoyed the services of the best luthiers in the business for hundreds of years?  Thank you :) .

The problem with instruments is that what you pay for is flexibility and the potential to modify what's coming out of the player/instrument combo to meet the demands of the music. People who buy Strads aren't buying some particular "tone" (why I stay out of those threads about FFT measurements of instruments)--they're buying the ability to make the tone be whatever they want it to be, depending on how they approach the instrument. Really good instruments are flighty for both the player and the adjuster: everything you do has an obvious effect, and it's often very twitchy, but for the player it's like having a full palette of every single color in all varieties, all right there for the taking. I have actually never heard a really first class player say "I like the sound of that violin", but I've heard plenty of them say some form of "I could work with that one." The line "I like the sound of that violin" is for someone with no control who's looking for the instrument which makes them sound like they wish they sounded. This is a huge market, yes, but it's a completely different one.

 

We rent cellos which cost $3500 (to give you a price point) and it really doesn't matter much where you put the post or what kind of bridge you put on: the instrument is what it is, and the range of adjustment is ridiculously tiny because the potential that players pay for is not there. Of course, people who deal in those manage to convince themselves that things are happening, and that those things are important, and that this is what adjusters do, but ehhhh, not really. About the only thing that matters in any real way on these instruments is the strings. So when you do something, and the instrument changes .05%, it becomes difficult to sort out cause and effect, or even tell if there is any, and that's how you end up with threads like this one. Is someone who's scraping on bridges on $200 instruments qualified to tell any of us a thing about adjusting? I'll be very blunt: no.

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Any adjustment strategy that rests on the adjustment of cheap violins is going to have serious problems. That's why there are so many contradictory statements about post movements: because cheap violins don't really adjust, and many of the changes will inevitably be imaginary, in spite of the claims of the person making the claims.

 

 Perhaps...

But there are many many cheap violins out there, that still require adjustment.

Then there are many many intermediate violins that also require bridge making and bridge adjustment.

Then too, there are many, many, modern, hand made violins out there, made by the makers today, in the recent past, and that will be made in the immediate future, that will also require tonal and playing adjustment to their bridges.

regarding bridge tuning methods;

I agree with your "imaginary" claim... but I don't limit it to the people you seem to limit such thinking to, their methods as a are imaginary and limited to their own experience, as anyone's appears to be. Personal experience rules over anything - including proof to the contrary or to ideas in agreement.

So, the idea that there must be a technology somewhere, where there are common elements guiding bridge fitting and trimming that will supply "universal" guidelines that can be followed to result in certain universal tonal results... well, that one can claim to have such data or methodology is obvious. But that such a universal working method isn't so obvious, when it comes to producing such repeatable results.

The point(s) I'm making here, have to do with,

first; choosing a decent bridge blank.

second: fitting it to the body of the violin properly,

third, setting it to accommodate the strings and fingerboard, which have a great deal to do with proper function (NOT TONE),

fourth, making sure that the nut is also at the proper height for the strings used, and the fingerboard,

fifth, there must be an adequate scoop in the fingerboard and all the rest - which, by the way are of primary importance - and without all such construction details accounted for, the idea that a bridge can ever be made to operate properly is somewhat mute. (ha ha - mute!)

 

The subject of bridge trimming and adjustment does in fact rely on many many other things also being in proper relation. But even with these things accounted for, I'm not going to make any claims about tonal adjustment, because these things simply fit a bridge properly and are mechanical in nature, and rely on many prior things having been done in order to arrive at proper tonal output.

The bridges minute adjustments are almost incidental at this point.

That it can and will be adjusted is... well another subject. And not one very obviously subject to formulaic answers, or to any 'generic' answers.

 

So, in the end - the actual cutting and fitting of a bridge, properly, is fairly mechanical in nature...

Then, it is also artistic in nature - because many of the trimming is designed to be replicative and is done to give every bridge a certain accepted look or style.

Any and all arguments for or against my ideas, are welcome.

Bring it on,

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The problem with instruments is that what you pay for is flexibility and the potential to modify what's coming out of the player/instrument combo to meet the demands of the music. People who buy Strads aren't buying some particular "tone" (why I stay out of those threads about FFT measurements of instruments)--they're buying the ability to make the tone be whatever they want it to be, depending on how they approach the instrument. Really good instruments are flighty for both the player and the adjuster: everything you do has an obvious effect, and it's often very twitchy, but for the player it's like having a full palette of every single color in all varieties, all right there for the taking. I have actually never heard a really first class player say "I like the sound of that violin", but I've heard plenty of them say some form of "I could work with that one." The line "I like the sound of that violin" is for someone with no control who's looking for the instrument which makes them sound like they wish they sounded. This is a huge market, yes, but it's a completely different one.

 

We rent cellos which cost $3500 (to give you a price point) and it really doesn't matter much where you put the post or what kind of bridge you put on: the instrument is what it is, and the range of adjustment is ridiculously tiny because the potential that players pay for is not there. Of course, people who deal in those manage to convince themselves that things are happening, and that those things are important, and that this is what adjusters do, but ehhhh, not really. About the only thing that matters in any real way on these instruments is the strings. So when you do something, and the instrument changes .05%, it becomes difficult to sort out cause and effect, or even tell if there is any, and that's how you end up with threads like this one. Is someone who's scraping on bridges on $200 instruments qualified to tell any of us a thing about adjusting? I'll be very blunt: no.

 

Thank you.very much.  What you say in the first paragraph i can confirm from out here in Nascar Land.  it doesn't just happen in Strads, but in a good many older instruments and pro level players of whatever tradition tend to look for it.  Your second paragraph, IMHO, applies to student instruments in general.  Without regraduation you're stuck in a groove somehow. :)

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Your second paragraph, IMHO, applies to student instruments in general.  Without regraduation you're stuck in a groove somehow. :)

I refrained from saying it, but this is a gigantic portion of the classical market among young players, especially high school and college students, who believe that it's the violin's responsibility to make them sound good, not the other way around. That's what the search "looking for my sound" is all about. Bob Bein liked to say that if you have looked at 20 violins and not found one, there's something wrong with your search parameters, not the violins.

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I refrained from saying it, but this is a gigantic portion of the classical market among young players, especially high school and college students, who believe that it's the violin's responsibility to make them sound good, not the other way around. That's what the search "looking for my sound" is all about. Bob Bein liked to say that if you have looked at 20 violins and not found one, there's something wrong with your search parameters, not the violins.

An anecdote which i like to tell is the one that Previn gives in No Minor Chords about Heifetz taking a violin from a masterclass student who blamed it for having muffed a passage and proceeding to sound like Heifetz on it.

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 So when you do something, and the instrument changes .05%, it becomes difficult to sort out cause and effect, or even tell if there is any, and that's how you end up with threads like this one. Is someone who's scraping on bridges on $200 instruments qualified to tell any of us a thing about adjusting? I'll be very blunt: no.

 

IMHO, the cause/effect relationship is often given exaggerated importance at the cost of a certain creative intuition which characterizes a lot of craftsmen. 

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Any adjustment strategy that rests on the adjustment of cheap violins is going to have serious problems. That's why there are so many contradictory statements about post movements: because cheap violins don't really adjust, and many of the changes will inevitably be imaginary, in spite of the claims of the person making the claims.

 

Hi Michael,

 

Hope you could stay on MN for a while again, the forum might have taken a leap forward lately, with new interesting people.

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Interesting...

I believe that I'll go and do something else for a while, and let all of this digest a bit ...

Well inspired by these posts, I went down into my shop and made a new bridge for my work about fiddle. Followed the mechanicals very, very, very carefully, put it on, and voila ... Best that fiddle has ever sounded. Works for me.

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