Trade Secrets: Designing a bridge for a violin with distorted arching

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A solution to a common problem in antique instruments

Antique violins, like people, are all unique. Their archetypal features and flaws are expressed with a dizzying degree of variation and so the care of them requires creative solutions to their universal yet idiosyncratic problems.

One of the most common faults is deformation of the arching. Restoring this is difficult and expensive, and thus not undertaken casually.

Unfortunately, deformed archings make it difficult to fit a bridge, from a standard blank, that is structurally balanced, aligns with the fingerboard, and is visually pleasing. Before I tried the method described here, I was never fully satisfied when I set up a fine violin. Following these steps allows the restorer to design a bridge that accommodates these imperfections without disturbing the bridge’s aesthetic and acoustic functions.

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