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zefir68

violin bridge template

54 posts in this topic

I have tried all the old threads but can't seem to find a violin bridge template that I can purchase in order to make bridges for my students. My father who has been making bridges for ages has a system that I just don't get to make the curve right. I have seen videos that show this template and just can't find a specimen to buy. I don't want to encroach on the territory of professionals, but my guy moved away to retirement and I don't trust the guys in my town. I would like to make my own bridges. Any help?

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International Violin Co. in Baltimore sells a set of steel templates...I don't have the catalog at hand, but the set includes violin viola and cello templates for both bridges and fingerboards...and I am told they are considered to be pretty standard shapes, accepted by the lutherie community at large.

Chet Bishop

(later edit)

I went and checked the catalog-- the templates are not cheap, at $40, and they are not steel, as I thought, but anodized aluminum. Funny, I have a set, and had not noticed...

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You can make your own template. Use a compass set at 41-42 mm to make the curve on something that you can cut out. (Cardboard, aluminum, plastic, thin wood). This measurement is for 4/4 violin.

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Make your own out of copper or aluminium, set compas or dividers with radius of 42mm.

The Beare pattern has a little bit of a hump at the crown, which makes string crossing and double stops, a little easier.

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You can make your own bridge templates from the drawings in "Useful Measurements for Violin Makers."

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Make your own out of copper or aluminium, set compas or dividers with radius of 42mm.

The Beare pattern has a little bit of a hump at the crown, which makes string crossing and double stops, a little easier.

Its not just a radius, to put it simplistically the curve flattens out on the edges, but they vary greatly from shop to country to violin school to period.

The hump in the middle seems to be a very modern addition?? and I think came from france.

anyone?

Gerard

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advice from me(not a professional by any meaning of the word) if your talking making them from scratch(starting with a chunk of wood) ive always found it easier to plane it to the desired angle BEFORE cutting it, after the cuts are in it gets a little hard to plane, as for templates originally I tried tracing one with a pencil, very un consistant, whats worked for me is to photo copy a bridge and paste the actual paper onto your wood, it works pretty well for me atleast. (also easier if you start with a very nice bridge)

if you want to know what not to do, im your man haha

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Its not just a radius, to put it simplistically the curve flattens out on the edges, but they vary greatly from shop to country to violin school to period.

The hump in the middle seems to be a very modern addition?? and I think came from france.

anyone?

Gerard

The whole bit about a hump is a bit of a red herring. The shape could be a two-sided roof and do exactly the same thing. The hump (and the straightening towards the ends) changes the look of the top into a more dynamic and stronger line, but doesn't alter it from having the strings themselves resting on a 42mm, or whatever, radius, and doesn't have anything to do with the practical function of the top of the bridge--it's completely visual. What you might see from time to time is a very slight variation in either the height of the A or D string relative to the true radius, to compensate for the particular strings a player uses, and this should be customized to the player's choice of strings. For instance, a silver Dominant D is smaller in diameter than an aluminum one, and must be raised a bit for the top of the string to be in the right place relative to the bowing. This will alter the position of the bottom of the string, but the tops still fall on a circle.

The first photo: The green circle is a radius. The red lines are a roof that does the same thing, obviously. The change beyond the outer strings doesn't do anything, or course,. You can see that the Herdim template is different here from the old Sacconi-style template (blue steel) behind it, and that the Sacconi template is very slightly rounder, holding the center strings very slightly higher (on a smaller circle--they're both the same distance above the Herdim template and the circle).

post-24490-1224789732_thumb.jpg

The second photo: This bridge exaggerates the hump middle-straightened ends curve, but the stings still have to lie on a circle (I haven't checked if these do, but if not, a player will discover it very quickly), or it wouldn't work! (No skin under the E--you can see it cutting in, already!)

post-24490-1224789924_thumb.jpg

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Huh ? Doesn't everyone do it that way now?

post-24063-1224795251_thumb.jpg

Stradofear -- great diagram. Just set me to laughing. Since I had a couple of quick bridge-fits this afternoon, had to give it a try.

Easy to fit a straight line to 2 points. How many times have I had a fiddler come in wanting a flatter bridge because they were having trouble with double-stops? T'weren't the bridge. Now shifting between pairs of strings, that's another story.

Anyway, I'll finish up this one more conventionally. Found it was conceptually easy to think about, but hard to fit the straight line to the 2 points. I imagine it would be quite a challenge on a 5- or 6-string instrument (modified barn roof :) ).

Guess I'll stick with a rounded template with the ability to float it around easier.

Fun stuff, though. -- thanks,

Ken

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I think that bridge templates should be 'female'-ie concave rather than convex. That way after the grooves are cut and the strings are in place, all the strings should touch the template. This way it doesn't matter if the strings are thick or thin.

Oded

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Since I had a couple of quick bridge-fits this afternoon, had to give it a try.

Nice work. I have heard that while you work you also wear a hat shaped like a pyramid. True, or lies from your competition? :-)

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Conical. Pyramidal is so last year.

Spoken like a math guy. But stand in the right place, and they are the same.

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Ah, but stand in the wrong place, and you're squaring the circle. Hard to do.

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Zefir68,

Didn't mean to hijack the thread -- depending on how many bridges you anticipate, you can just cut a template in card stock, like from a 3x5 card. If your careful, such as marking the bridge with a pencil, it will last a fair time.

I made mine by tracing the Strobel template onto paper, then gluing it onto thin aluminum, cutting and filing to shape. I cut more than a few bridges in a year, and I've been using the same template for over 10 years (and it's not the roof-line template!) You can get the whole family -- fractional violins, violas, and cellos -- that way.

Ken

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I think that bridge templates should be 'female'-ie concave rather than convex. That way after the grooves are cut and the strings are in place, all the strings should touch the template. This way it doesn't matter if the strings are thick or thin.

Oded

Exactly.

It's the playing surface of the strings that matters.

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I like to cut my bridges with the 'cam shape' top. It's not a true 42 whatever radius but more of a diminishing radius.

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Thank you, all. I will try the compass thing tomorrow. My father has a way that is hard to explain, but works great. He starts out measuring the highest string and lowest strings, depending on the instrument, (Violin, viola, cello or bass) then he lines up the next string by looking from the bass side and placing it in a line of sight between from the third string and first string so that there is app. a 1mm clearing on a violin, other measurements for the larger instruments. Then the next string, same process. It works great and I think somewhere along the way attains the same sophisticated shape that allows for accurate single string playing and multiple-stop playing like the Bach solo sonatas and partitas. His way, I am terrible at. Making a better bridge for my students using their old bridge curve, I can do. I have a few instruments from an old collector (insert joke here) that I am having fun with and am experimenting with everything. Finding that bridge shape has a HUGE impact on sound. Appreciate my retired and displaced luthier more and more. Why do so many of you guys pick up and leave for the warm weather and sights of NM and AZ?

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I only need to cut a few fractional bridges a year so I photocopied the Strobel templates, glued them onto card stock, cut them out and then soaked the edges with krazy glue. They've held up very well and I have a full set of templates for when I need them.

~OK

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I was taught to get the correct FB clearance for the G and E strings, then trace the bridge template to connect them. The radius of the FB should also be checked. If the radius of the FB is correct, and the string clearance fro the G and E are correct, then the radius connecting the G and E on the bridge will give the correct configuration. Some fiddle players may prefer a slightly flatter bridge, but for most, the 42 mm radius on the bridge is correct. Also check the string clearance at the nut, and the FB straightness/scoop to get the best playability.

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The radius of the FB should also be checked. If the radius of the FB is correct, and the string clearance fro the G and E are correct, then the radius connecting the G and E on the bridge will give the correct configuration.

In what way do you mean that? Perhaps a bit more explanation is required:

Most people don't realize that if both are the correct, commonly accepted shapes, there's an apparent inconsistency in that the middle strings are proportionally farther from the board then it seems they should be. This is because the bridge curve is designed for bowing, and the board curve for fingering. What gets lost in the mix is that playing on the upper positions is harder on the middle strings because they need to be pressed down further, and consequently can even disappear to the bow, if the player presses the string all the way to the board in the higher positions (which is not necessary, and not what players universally do). Nevertheless, players accept this.

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The bridge curve radius and the fingerboard radius are the same (42 mm). If the string clearance at the E is 3.5 mm, and the clearance at the G is 5.5 mm, then the curve on the bridge tilts down towards the E, also bringing the curve down at the A and D locations on the bridge.

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On the standard blue steel Sacconi set the board is flatter than the bridge radius. On the Herdim set they are the same. Either way, the middle strings are high, relatively. In order for them to have a "normal" progression, the bridge radius would need to be about 4mm larger than the board radius.

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