Orchestral Instrument Setup
Our professional luthiers are expert in setup of orchestral instruments including violin, viola, cello, and Bass. Correct setup makes all the difference in playability and quality of sound. Our luthiers are also able to do stringed instrument repair.
The fingerboard isn’t just a flat surface. It has an arch as well as a concave scoop along the length. We make sure each 100% ebony fingerboard has the proper curvature on each axis to prevent buzzing. Fingerboards are finished with fine micromesh to feel smooth to the touch.
The bridge is an essential channel for vibrations to travel from the strings to the body of the instrument. We carve our high-quality maple bridges with the appropriate thickness, height, and arch to ensure proper string height (action). Read More about the bridge below.
We pay special attention to the nut. This small piece of ebony is so important! After hand-carving the nut to a standard string height at the top of the fingerboard, we notch evenly spaced grooves that aren’t too deep to prevent buzzes.
Pegs should fit snugly and be perfectly round. We use a peg reamer and peg shaver to perfectly shape the pegs to be the right length and fit securely. Peg holes are drilled at the proper distance from the peg box walls and a special peg compound is applied to prevent creaky or sticky pegs.
We ensure that the peg box is chiseled to the right depth and is finished with a black dye. If the pegbox is too shallow, the strings will get caught between the peg and the back of the peg box as they’re wound.
Professional-grade D’Addario strings (or the strings of your choice) are cut to the right length and correctly wound onto the pegs. Steel-core or synthetic-core strings are installed based on your preferences and performance needs.
Fine tuners allow for precision tuning as you tighten or loosen the strings with a small screw instead of (and after) tuning with the larger pegs. We attentively install each fine tuner, attaching strings securely between the prongs. Composite tailpieces with built-in fine tuners are also available according to your preference.
The tail gut is a cord that holds the tailpiece securely to the end button. We make sure it’s the right length to give the strings maximum room to vibrate while preventing the pointed end of the tailpiece from extending beyond the end of the instrument.
If you spy through the f-holes, you'll see this small, unassuming dowel on the inside of the violin. The sound post must be set in just the right spot to allow the instrument to fully resonate. The post must be cut to fit flush and make full contact with the face and back of the violin.
We tightly secure the chin rest to the violin with cork padding to protect the edge of the violin. We make sure the chin rest does not make contact with the tailpiece to prevent buzzing.
We ensure that all seams around the instrument are properly glued with hide glue, a woodworker’s glue that allows instrument parts to be taken apart if repairs are necessary. Open seams can compromise sound and cause buzzing.
About The Bridge
Hand-Carved to Perfection
Kennedy Violins’ professional luthiers hand carve and install quality, high-grade maple bridges on all our stringed instruments. Each bridge is accurately shaped, notched, and curved so the feet fit the face of the instrument to near perfection. Bridge height is accurately measured for the strings to be held at the correct distance above the fingerboard, which ensures comfortable playability. Because the bridge transmits the vibration of the strings to the body of the instrument, properly cut bridges are essential to produce a clear and resonant sound.
The 90° Angle
Bridges are held in place by the tension of the strings with no adhesive or glue fixing the bridge to the instrument. It is therefore imperative to cut the bridge at the correct angle to prevent the bridge from quickly warping under the pressure of the strings.
An Optical Illusion
The back of the bridge (facing the tailpiece) is set perpendicular to the face of the instrument at a 90° angle, while the front (facing the fingerboard) may appear to slope or lean slightly back when sighted from the side. The back of the bridge remains straight while the front is arched and shaped to complement the acoustics of the instrument.
The Importance of Stability
Establishing the 90° angle on the backside of the bridge is so important as it allows for equal, balanced downward pressure, ensuring a stable and concise pathway for the transfer of energy from the strings to the body of the instrument. The perpendicular back will help prevent warping and allow for the strings to pass over the bridge at equal angles.
On the other hand, a bridge that leans forward shortens the string length of the instrument, leading to persistent inconsistencies with interval location and finger placement. Because a bridge’s geometry is set up to resist and stabilize tension from the pegs, a bridge that leans forward offers far less resistance and stability. A leaning bridge compromises the strength and acoustic integrity of the bridge.
How Does Your Bridge Stand?
You can check your bridge angle by placing a business card up against the back of the bridge. Notice how the bridge lines up with the business card.
The Asymmetric Arch
In addition to the curved face of the bridge, the top of the bridge—where the strings make contact—is carved with an arch that supports the lowest sounding string (G on the violin) slightly higher from the fingerboard than the highest string (E on the violin). The proper arching of the bridge is essential to the playability of the instrument. Should the arch be too flat, the bow will easily graze two strings instead of one. Also, should the string height be too high the instrument will be uncomfortable to play as strings require more pressure to be held down and dig into the pads of the fingers. If the strings are too low the strings will often buzz.