Trade Secrets: Fitting a bridge to a violin belly

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A detailed account of a process that revisits a fundamental skill for luthiers

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By Michael Daddona

Luthier based in Hudson, NY, US

Fitting a bridge to a violin is an everyday shop activity that has an enormous effect on the overall success of the set-up and sound of the instrument. We know from experiments that the bridge is responsible for a broad peak in the violin’s upper frequency response – roughly around 2.5kHz, known as the ‘bridge hill’. Although what happens in the higher frequency range of a violin is extremely complex, the importance of a properly fit bridge is self-evident, for the energy of the bowed string to pass from the bridge to the corpus with maximum efficiency.

When it comes to many operations in my workshop, I tend to follow the principle of Occam’s Razor. In this article I look at the fundamental concepts of the task from a traditional perspective, disregarding the number of complicated alignment and sanding jigs that there are on the market.

My fundamental belief is that the traditional methods are still a reliable way to perform our daily work, and I hope that this article might spark some conversation about why our craft is often resistant to innovation…

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