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Tune A Violin - Avoiding the Bridge Snap

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Avoiding the Violin Bridge Snap! (Important)

(The Complete Guide to Violin Tuning - Continued from page 1)

Before you tune a violin, the most important thing to check and correct is the position and orientation of the violin bridge. Without this correction, the violin bridge could snap hard on the violin's top surface, causing damage to the varnish. Most of the time the violin bridge snaps forward, because tightening the strings tends to move the top of the bridge forward.

Occasionally, the bridge snapping off causes the soundpost inside the violin to fall down. This is rather unfortunate and it happens because all the string tension pressing on the belly is suddenly gone. With the bridge snapping down, it gives the violin top a sudden knock, a force that can be just enough to shake the soundpost off.

The only way to correct this is to bring the violin to a local violin shop or violin maker to have the soundpost reinstalled. Do not try to reinstall the soundpost yourself, potentially damaging your instrument. It takes special skill to know how and where to place the soundpost. A soundpost installed correctly will not fall off, even if all the strings are off.

Another reason for correcting bridge position and orientation is that it optimizes the sound of your violin. Please follow the steps below in order below to ensure correct bridge position and orientation. These steps should be performed with all the strings under low tension (not tuned), so as to allow the bridge to be held up, but not difficult to move.



Referring to the photo on the right, observe that the back of the bridge facing you while playing fully in tune is perpendicular to the violin top (i.e. 90 degree angle). Most of the time, bridges have stamps on them that indicate where the bridge was made from and is also facing you. The bridge facing the other side towards the should not be perpendicular to the violin top, but have a slope leaning towards you.

In this position the feet of the bridge should be in complete contact with the violin top. Since the top of the violin belly is curved, the bottom soles of the bridge's feet should likewise be curved to ensure maximum contact between the two surface areas, allowing optimum transfer of vibration energy.

Whenever you tune a violin, you have to monitor the back face of the bridge to ensure that it remains perpendicular to the top of the violin to prevent the bridge from going forward to far, and increasing the risk of the bridge snapping on the belly.




Referring now to the first photo on the right, you'll notice that there are a pair of notches on each F-hole of each side of the bridge. For each pair of notches, it is the inner notch closest to the bridge's feet that is used for reference, when positioning the bridge. Examining closer, you'll also notice that the inner notch on th left hand F-Hole is shaped like a ">", and the inner notch on the right F-Hole looks like a "<".

If a straight horizontal line were to join the two inner notches, the violin bridge would be placed on the belly in such a way that the line meets the middle of the outside edge of each foot of the bridge.




Next, check that the violin bridge be placed not too far to the right or left, but right in the center as shown in the photo on the right. The outer edge of the bridge foot on either side should meet the vertical lines travelling down from the inside of the upper F-holes.



What's Next?

If you've understood and followed the steps above, then CONGRATULATIONS! You have taken steps to adjust your bridge - minimizing the risk of damage to the violin top and optimizing the sound of your violin at the same time.

The next page contains important instructions on checking and adjusting your violin pegs for optimal tuning. Many tuning problems arise here because the pegs and strings are not setup properly.

This is page 2

<===== Page 1: Introduction to Violin Tuning

Page 4: Online Violin Tuner - Understanding Reference Tones
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