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Mat Roop

effect of string spacing

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Ok... so all those posts and comments re effect of sound post settings in an earlier thread made for great reading and lots of food for thought. Super appreciated!

Sooo... here is another question...... what is the effect of increasing or decreasing the string spacing on the bridge? How accurately should that spacing match (or not match) the spacing of the post and bar?

 Thanks... Mat

 

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That has a lot more to do with playability than sound. I set the outer strings centered at 34 mm on a violin and then even distances between . Some makers set the interior distances equal based on the centers of the strings but I know no one who varies the outer measurement to influence the sound.

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I agree with Nathan.  From a vibration/acoustics point of view, string spacing won't do anything you could hear.

But the practical effects are the important thing.  Closer string spacing would require a smaller bridge radius to get the same string-to-string bow clearance angle.  There might be a reason to do this if the player has skinny fingers and wants to play single-finger doublestops in the higher positions.

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Thanks for your thoughts...I had clients a couple of times in recent years that had tried increasing the standard spacing, by just moving the outer strings beyond the notch and had said it improved the tone. I made a new bridge to their spacing and centered the inner strings. They were pleased with the results. Perhaps the result was more psychological than real seeing that it was their idea.. 

OTOH... would the wider spacing give the string more power as a result of increasing the leverage of the string on the bridge relative to the post and bar? 

Thanks... Mat

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1 hour ago, Mat Roop said:

Thanks for your thoughts...I had clients a couple of times in recent years that had tried increasing the standard spacing, by just moving the outer strings beyond the notch and had said it improved the tone. I made a new bridge to their spacing and centered the inner strings. They were pleased with the results. Perhaps the result was more psychological than real seeing that it was their idea.. 

OTOH... would the wider spacing give the string more power as a result of increasing the leverage of the string on the bridge relative to the post and bar? 

There was a massive fiddle with a slightly wider fingerboard to accommodate a tall owner's fingers ( i think it was an American model like a Wilkanowski with a LOB > 14 1/4" ) and the string spacing on the bridge was a bit wider. The access to the e- and g- string was certainly better, giving the player are more secure feel. The "psycological" aspect of this would be interesting. If the player's bowing was more confident, that could possibly improve the sound.

As for the lever, even though almost every change has an effect on the instrument, i would guess that percentage increase in the mechanism would be relatively small. Additionally, if the bridge were thin and artistically carved, that added "benefit" would be reduced by thinning. This would be easy enough to try. On the next student instrument that needs a new bridge, i'll max out the spacing and will try playing the instrument. If the instrument was pretty good to start with, my guess is that it would have a more compliant feel, even if there is no change in sound.

   

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4 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

 Some makers set the interior distances equal based on the centers of the strings but I know no one who varies the outer measurement to influence the sound.

I haven't run across that either.

3 hours ago, Don Noon said:

Closer string spacing would require a smaller bridge radius to get the same string-to-string bow clearance angle.

Yup.

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I have had bass customers who insisted that increasing the string spacing greatly improved their sound.

Compared to the violin, bass and cello do have a rather high bridge and narrow string spacing.

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There could be player interactions with string spacing that is changed without changing anything else on the instrument.  For example, if you move the G string out, it moves to a place where the fingerboard is more sloped, which could reduce buzzing or allow for more powerful playing... presuming the slope now more closely  matches the vibration/bowing plane of the string.  It could go the other way, too.

But in any case, I don't see how a small change in string position is going to make an appreciable difference in acoustic leverage.

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