February 11, 2021 at 9:46 am #45867jmattjParticipant
Recently discovered some fiddlers use a bridge with a larger diameter curve making the arc flatter. This reduces the change of bow-angle when changing from one string to another, but it also makes the reduces the margin of error for playing single strings.
(At first I thought this would make double stops easier, but geometry proved me wrong. Regardless of the bridge arc, there is always a straight line between two points on two strings.)
Being new to violin/fiddle just curious if most fiddler players use classical curve on their bridge, or prefer the flattened one requiring more accuracy but allows for faster string changes?
Thanks for any suggestions,
February 11, 2021 at 11:08 am #45868Jim GuinnModerator
I would imagine only good/experienced fiddlers might use a flatter bridge. Most beginners/intermediates are probably best to stay with a traditional violin bridge, but I am interested in hearing feedback from others on this subject.
February 11, 2021 at 7:24 pm #45874TomParticipant
I have read the same thing about flatter bridges preferred by some fiddlers. However, since my “double stops” are still mostly accidental, I prefer the standard 42mm bridge radius.
Another factor that can easily be adjusted by lowering the bridge is clearance under the strings at the end of the fingerboard. Some sites suggest 5.5mm for the G and 3.5mm for the E. My fiddle is set up at 3.5mm under the G and just over 2mm under the E. Lower action = easier to play, but too low and strings will buzz against fingerboard and you need a new bridge (fairly low risk, cheap fix). I took the tools to my bridge after a week and it worked out!
February 28, 2021 at 9:06 am #46086Mel NewtonModerator
I use a flatter bridge. I prefer it because I have a lazy right arm and it makes it slightly less work to jump strings, especially doing large steps up and down. I haven’t decided whether it’s a crutch (just learn to use that right arm better!!!) or actually helps me feel the songs better because my equipment doesn’t get in the way of my desired sound. One way I found out what I liked was to take people up on their offer of “hey, do you want to play my fiddle?” Sure! I’d I do a tune or two and then pay attention to how their set up was different than mine. I’d also play fiddles in music stores, swap meets etc.
I do agree that depending on WHAT you are playing your preferences may change over time. when I play old-time and the emphasis is on a driving dance rhythm within the song, I find I press pretty hard and rely on those double stops to emphasize the personality of the song….but I appreciate having more curve (closer to standard) on my other fiddle and when I’m in a more contemplative mood and just want to softly play in the evenings on a good patio chair and experiment with the Klezmer tunes etc.
Bottom line – I’d stick with the “standard” until you have a reason to change – either because that new fiddle you bought at the swap that you love has a different bridge, or you play someone else’s that you absolutely adore and decide to swap your set up more like theirs. This usually goes hand in hand with emphasizing a certain musical style. The standard bridge is best when playing across multiple music genres.
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