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How to Replace a Violin Bridge #2: Nicks and Tapering

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 04-02-2020 05:40 PM 649 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Feet and the Arch Part 2 of How to Replace a Violin Bridge series no next part

With the curve sanded, I use a small triangular file to nick the top edge where the four strings will sit. I used the previous bridge to determine this. At work I have a fancy ‘bridge marker’ which is handy if you are making the bridge from scratch. Notice also that the bridge looks very thick.

Since I am doing this at home, I needed to make a jig that I use to hold the bridge so that I can taper it and make the top edge of it thinner. I’ve seen violins that come into the shop with these clunky bridges, but generally they play better when they are tapered.

To make the jig I take a hunk of 2×3 pine from my scrap bin and put it in my bench vise standing proud. I have traced the two sides of the bridge onto the wood and have made two side pieces from a scrap of mahogany strip (Never throw anything away!)

I glued the strips to the pine along the lines I drew and let it set up for an hour. Then I added brads because I’m in a hurry.

Putting the bridge in between the strips, I use a file to taper the curved edge. The strips end up getting filed as well, but after this breaking in period they’ll be fine.

THe test fit on the fiddle looks good. Factory specs say that the G string should be 5mm above the end of the fingerboard and the E string should be at 3mm. My E string was at about 2.5mm and now it’s at 4mm. Everything should be good. For students you really want to go a tiny bit lower because the greater height of the strings can make it difficult for young fingers to press down.

Also notice how thin the top of the bridge is compared to before it was tapered.

My finished bridge!

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!



5 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

10263 posts in 2036 days


#1 posted 04-02-2020 06:10 PM

Is there anything other than string tension holding the bridge in place? If that’s it, do you have some sort of positioning aid to know where to place it?

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2022 posts in 3643 days


#2 posted 04-02-2020 06:54 PM



Is there anything other than string tension holding the bridge in place? If that’s it, do you have some sort of positioning aid to know where to place it?

- Dave Polaschek

The F holes have nicks in them. If you position the bridge so that it is between the two inward-facing nicks, you’re pretty much there.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Dave Polaschek's profile (online now)

Dave Polaschek

10263 posts in 2036 days


#3 posted 04-03-2020 02:41 AM

Ahh. So it’s part of the design of the top with the F holes being in the right place. Got it.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

3503 posts in 3645 days


#4 posted 04-03-2020 03:23 PM

Wow, such detail, great work. Guess we’re getting pretty close to your rendition of Froggie Went A Courtin on video.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2022 posts in 3643 days


#5 posted 04-03-2020 03:40 PM



Wow, such detail, great work. Guess we re getting pretty close to your rendition of Froggie Went A Courtin on video.

- Oldtool

or Mary Had a Little Lamb.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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