How to Straighten a Bridge
Today's post is about the importance of keeping your bridge straight and how to straighten it.
99.9% of the time, a crooked bridge is a bridge that is leaning towards the fingerboard. Pretty much all bridges will eventually start to lean towards the fingerboard because as you tighten your strings, the pulling of the strings will force your bridge to move towards the fingerboard.
Why is it important for your bridge to be straight?
A crooked bridge changes the height of your strings above the fingerboard and this changes how the instrument will play. If the strings are lower, this could cause the strings to “buzz” against the fingerboard when you depress the strings in upper positions.
If a bridge is crooked for a prolonged amount of time, the bridge will start to warp. Most bridges will bend in the middle of the bridge (the hip). This will not only reduce the height of the bridge, but it will also cause the bridge feet to not fit the top of the violin properly, and this will hurt your sound. The majority of string vibrations are transferred by the bridge through the feet, to the top of the violin. Therefore, the contact of the feet to the top of the violin is of extreme importance.
If your bridge becomes warped, you will probably have to have it replaced, and this can be quite expensive because all bridges are custom fitted to each violin and require the skill of a trained luthier.
Steps for Straightening Your Bridge
Grasp the bridge on both sides with your index and thumb, towards the top of the bridge.
Slide the bridge into the upright position. Make sure that you look at the BACK of the bridge. The back of the bridge needs to be 90 degrees to the top of the violin. The front/belly of the bridge will look like it’s leaning back and that is ok.
Check the feet of the bridge to make sure that they are contacting the top of the violin perfectly.
Note: If you feel that the bridge is very straight up and down, BUT the feet do not fit the top perfectly, there is a good chance that your bridge is warped and needs to be replaced. Also, if a bridge is very warped, you can usually see the bend in the middle of the bridge.
Regular Bridge Check
You’ll want to check your bridge at least once per month, every time you have to tune your strings quite a lot or when replacing strings because as you tighten loose strings, they will pull the bridge forward.
I hope this helps!