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Bridge leg or ankle width.


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Looking at my collection of vintage bridges I notice that on cello bridges cut from Aubert blanks  thinning the legs on the inside only can spread the legs by 2-3 mm. On others it looks as if they were thinned more on the outside doing the opposite. In some cases the feet were trimmed on the inside shortening the bearing surface of the foot. My intuition is that this would change the loading on the top although it is also possible that the force is transmitted equally through the foot and that the position of the foot bearing on the top is the only thing that matters. Thoughts please?

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I take all the extra off the inside of the ankle and then a bit of length off the tips of the outer toes, to balance the inside and outside better. It doesn't seem right to have all that extra hanging outside possibly flapping around, with just a short support on the inside. I have seen buzzes from long toes that aren't really under pressure and can flutter.

For that same reason I taper the thickness of the toes towards the ends of the toes rather than cutting deeply near the ankle and having a high loosely supported pendulum of a tip to bend up eventually. I do the same on violins, careful not to cut too deeply just inside the ankle.

I noticed in the violinbridges.co.uk bridge contest that a lot of people are leaving the ankles and lower legs of cello bridges thicker than what's above them. I don't like the way that looks and don't think it adds anything to anything, visual or functional. Dead weight.

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30 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

I take all the extra off the inside of the ankle and then a bit of length off the tips of the outer toes, to balance the inside and outside better. It doesn't seem right to have all that extra hanging outside possibly flapping around, with just a short support on the inside. I have seen buzzes from long toes that aren't really under pressure and can flutter.

For that same reason I taper the thickness of the toes towards the ends of the toes rather than cutting deeply near the ankle and having a high loosely supported pendulum of a tip to bend up eventually. I do the same on violins, careful not to cut too deeply just inside the ankle.

I noticed in the violinbridges.co.uk bridge contest that a lot of people are leaving the ankles and lower legs of cello bridges thicker than what's above them. I don't like the way that looks and don't think it adds anything to anything, visual or functional. Dead weight.

So you feel that there is more pressure directly under the leg than in the thinner areas of the foot? This is my assumption as well and that thinner feet will flex slightly with the sideways motion of the bridge. This would seem to mean that taking the wood off the leg on the inside would make the bridge act like it was actually wider. However if the feet are cut so that they don't flex I am not so sure that this would be true. Perhaps another trick in the box to influence the bridge's function.

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Nathan, I find my bridges have changed because of the shit quality of bridges available. Especially on cellos. Unless I'm using a vintage blank I can't get away with as thin of a leg side to side as I was taught; I also take as little wood off the outside as possible, bringing the width in from the inside only, to increase the bowed nature of the arc...

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4 hours ago, Christopher Jacoby said:

Nathan, I find my bridges have changed because of the shit quality of bridges available. Especially on cellos. Unless I'm using a vintage blank I can't get away with as thin of a leg side to side as I was taught; I also take as little wood off the outside as possible, bringing the width in from the inside only, to increase the bowed nature of the arc...

Would there also be instances where the players are requesting higher tensions strings? I have not measured out most cello string tensions in over ten years but they feel like they are higher in tension and also the set ups are getting the strings closer to the fingerboard....

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The 2nd point is that I almost want to agree with you on the quality of wood and how cello bridges are, or have become,  but are there other options? I am down to about 6 vintage French bridges and zero old Belgian style bridges.

The goal is not to locate and hoard vintage Belgian bridges, but we just continue to adapt...   

Not all old bridges are great, either. 

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18 minutes ago, GoPractice said:

The 2nd point is that I almost want to agree with you on the quality of wood and how cello bridges are, or have become,  but are there other options? I am down to about 6 vintage French bridges and zero old Belgian style bridges.

The goal is not to locate and hoard vintage Belgian bridges, but we just continue to adapt...   

Not all old bridges are great, either. 

I mostly use Despiau bridges these days. One can still find Aubert bridges which are pretty good, by sorting through enough of them, but in my opinion, they are no longer the ultimate reference standard.

The Despiau bridges do tend to be really hard, so one may need to carve more away than on other bridges to achieve what a player has previously liked about softer bridges.

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17 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I mostly use Despiau bridges these days. One can still find Aubert bridges which are pretty good, by sorting through enough of them, but in my opinion, they are no longer the ultimate reference standard.

The Despiau bridges do tend to be really hard, so one may need to carve more away than on other bridges to achieve what a player has previously liked about softer bridges.

David, I haven't used Despiau's much partly because of the lecture on bridge function which M. Despiau gave at the 1988 VSA convention where you and Norm Pickering teamed up to point out that he was absolutely talking through his hat. 

I do recall hearing and perhaps had  my own experience that his bridges were sort of case hardened by a laser or plasma cutting process and were difficult to cut. If you find the wood itself is harder my guess is that would be a good thing. Have you actually checked strength and weight as well? Hard doesn't necessarily mean less likely to bend but I will definitely try some.

As to my question about whether having wider spaced legs or ankles leans the bridge function in the same direction as using a wider blank what do you think?

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On 5/5/2022 at 10:02 AM, Christopher Jacoby said:

1) Nathan, I find my bridges have changed because of the shit quality of bridges available. Especially on cellos.

2) Unless I'm using a vintage blank I can't get away with as thin of a leg side to side as I was taught; I also take as little wood off the outside as possible, bringing the width in from the inside only, to increase the bowed nature of the arc...

1) Yup. Quality of the old standby blanks is pretty hit or miss. Sorting and selecting is a must. I teamed up with a colleague about 6 years ago, bought really nice seasoned wood from two trees and had custom violin and cello blanks made from them. Very pleased with them.  Almost like the old days. Think I may do a second round and design viola bridge blanks too. A little more expensive in the end, but less waste and happy clients (and happy me).

2) With Belgian style bridges, I began to be to be cautious a while ago not to take too much from the inside of the ankle (I take mostly from there, just a little less than I was initially taught to) to limit the bowed nature of the leg (this is dependent on where I want the ankle in the end, of course).  I've not experienced any tonal or response issues doing this, like the looks, and the Belgian bridges seem to be a bit more stable. 

 

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34 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

1) Yup. Quality of the old standby blanks is pretty hit or miss. Sorting and selecting is a must. I teamed up with a colleague about 6 years ago, bought really nice seasoned wood from two trees and had custom violin and cello blanks made from them. Very pleased with them.  Almost like the old days. Think I may do a second round and design viola bridge blanks too. A little more expensive in the end, but less waste and happy clients (and happy me).

 

Jeff! I am so tired of these thigh-less blanks! I will trade you watercolors of you as various characters from the Iliad for some viola bridges. It is decided.

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On 5/6/2022 at 8:26 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

David, I haven't used Despiau's much partly because of the lecture on bridge function which M. Despiau gave at the 1988 VSA convention where you and Norm Pickering teamed up to point out that he was absolutely talking through his hat.

While Norman and I may have thought that there was a bit too much fluff or BS in the presentation, I nevertheless think that they can be very viable bridges. When I heard a later presentation at a Federation Convention, they seemed to have put most of that aside.

On 5/6/2022 at 8:26 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

I do recall hearing and perhaps had  my own experience that his bridges were sort of case hardened by a laser or plasma cutting process and were difficult to cut. If you find the wood itself is harder my guess is that would be a good thing. Have you actually checked strength and weight as well?

The wood in those I've used has been more difficult to cut, suggesting that it is harder. The only strength and weight information I have is based on measured "rocking frequency", which has been higher than most other bridges with similar shaping. This could be attributable to either higher stiffness or lower mass. The mass ended up about the same as most other bridges I make, so I'm leaning in the direction of higher stiffness.

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:mellow:

Quality of bridge wood certainly went down.

I use almost exclusively Despiau bridges but this came mostly for speed of delivery and customer care, which wasn’t so good with Aubert 16 years ago.

when cutting cello bridges I started long ago to make solid feet, about 2.0-2.5mm thick. And for taking material at the legs I try to get them as ‘vertical’ as possible, even for Belgian bridges. For this reason I like very much the DESPIAU Belgian bridge model with vertical legs. (I think it is the C10 model)
 

And to counteract material weakness I started systematically to insert carbon fiber rod reinforcements which makes the bridge absolutely unbendable, no matter how careless the owner is about keeping it straight. it also allows to go pretty thin (if necessary) with absolutely no worries. 
 
Otherwise I put some chalk under cello bridge feet to prevent them from sliding in any direction. (I believe this happens with slight shocks)

Concerning old bridges, I think there was a sort of fashion maybe in the70s to make feet extremely thin, for all types of instruments violin, viola and cello. This was apparently the reason that bridges were sinking into the top at the center of the foot and Belgian cello bridges might have spread more easily. 

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11 hours ago, Christopher Jacoby said:

Jeff! I am so tired of these thigh-less blanks! I will trade you watercolors of you as various characters from the Iliad for some viola bridges. It is decided.

I've got some ollllllld bridge wood, maybe you can do some super beefcakey nudes of yours truly in exchange? =D

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