Violin Tip of the Day
For Violin Students of All Ages
Practice and Rehearsal Tips.  Technique Pointers.  Violin Care Guidance. Exercises and Motivation for Violinists, Fiddlers or Anyone Interested in Stringed Instruments.
Today's Tip
We've talked about bowing a violin and about rosin. Today let's talk about how to take care of your bridge.

The act of tuning a violin creates tension on the bridge.  Every time you tighten a string it pulls the top of the bridge toward the fingerboard.  For a bridge to function most effectively the mass of the bridge must form a 90 degree angle with the violin's belly.  If your bridge is bent or is warped the violin's power and sonority are affected.

Now uncross your eyes and let's say it in English.  Your bridge needs to remain standing straight up.  What is the right position?

The bridge feet and the inner notches of the violin's f-holes should form a straight line. The side of the bridge facing the tailpiece should be flat.  It should also stand straight up, making a right angle with the belly of the violin.  If a bridge bends it should be replaced.  If the bridge leans, place the violin on your lap with the scroll away from you.  Grasp the bridge on both sides with your thumb and the first and second finger of each hand (thumbs on the tailpiece side of the bridge, fingers on the fingerboard side of the bridge) and gently tilt the bridge until it is in the proper position.  This really is much easier than it sounds.  If you do not feel comfortable doing it, let your teacher do it or take it to your local luthier.  He probably won't even charge you for it . . . it takes about 5 seconds to do.

String notches in the bridge are normal, but they should not be too deep.  Ideally they should be less than 1/3 the diameter of the string.  If the bridge has become notched beyond this, replace it.  Shallow string notches will increase bridge and string life and will improve the response of the violin and the tone and after-ring of the violin.

Finally, don't forget to lubricate the grooves of the bridge every time you replace a string.  Use a soft lead pencil (I use a No. 2) and "write" a line through the string notch as well as the notch in the nut at the top of the fingerboard.
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