Music for a lifetime: Educating musicians to create a better world

The Bridge

Proper alignment of the bridge is important to get the best sound out of your instrument. Looking at the top of your instrument, the bridge should be parallel to the end of your fingerboard -- otherwise you won't be able to play in tune! -- and should be placed on or near an imaginary line that runs between the notches in the f-holes of your instrument. The strings should also be centered over the fingerboard and not “skewed” to the left or right.

When you look at your instrument from the side, the face of the bridge that faces the bottom end of your instrument should form a right angle with the body of the instrument, and bridge should not have any curves in it. If the bridge tips in one direction or the other, the feet of the bridge may have a gap on one side, which will prevent it from transmitting sound to the instrument properly. (The bridge will often be tipped after you have changed strings.) A tipped bridge may warp over time (have a curve)and will need to be replaced.

Depending on the season, the distance between the strings and the fingerboard may change, making it more difficult to play the instrument in the summer. Some players have a summer and a winter bridge, but this is not necessary in most cases. Because of the size of the instrument and the large changes that often take place in this distance, basses are often set up with a bridge whose height can be adjusted with built in screws. You should ask your teacher or a luthier who specializes in basses to help you with this adjustment, if necessary.

If your bridge is out of alignment, we can often help you get it back into roughly the position it should be in at rehearsal. Please see your conductor or one of the teachers helping at rehearsal for help. However, you should go to a violin shop for expert adjustments to your bridge or to have a new bridge cut, if necessary.

If your bridge should ever fall over completely, do not attempt to reset it yourself, and do not attempt to glue the bridge to the instrument! The odds are good that the sound post (see below) may also have moved when the bridge collapsed, and you will need to take your instrument to a violin shop to have them position the bridge and check your sound post alignment.