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May 19, 2019 - 6:55:38 AM
7 posts since 5/19/2019

Hi all,

It's my first day on here, but I'm looking forward to getting involved in the forums.

So, my question is about soundpost placement. I know the received wisdom is that it should be around 1-3mm behind the treble foot of the bridge, and that you shouldn't attempt to position it yourself, but I recently took delivery of a very old shed-built fiddle from kentucky which got broken in the post. Long story short, I took it to a luthier in london who said it wasn't worth repairing, so decided to fix it myself. Which was fine, except for the soundpost, which aside from being very thin just wouldn't stand up in the right place, and the bridge, which was too low.

It's a heavily built fiddle - and didn't cost a great deal - so in the end I put a couple of coins under the bridge and stood the sound post around 2" behind the bridge, and the result was a fiddle that was loud, suprisingly well balanced, and didn't show any signs of imminent implosion.

I've since had it set up the 'correct' way, and frankly it sounds rubbish by comparrison.

So, I was just wondering whether anyone has experimented with radical soundpost positions, and what the results were? My sense is that if a certain position sounds good and isn't going to compromise the structural integrity of the instrument then it's probably worth sticking with, right?

Edited by - Cosmic_Cowboy on 05/19/2019 07:59:28

May 19, 2019 - 7:22:44 AM

echord

USA

754 posts since 4/5/2009

I think 3 to 5 mm behind the bridge may be too far back for most fiddles. I always thought the average was 1 to 3 mm (I certainly could be wrong, but that's what I've read).

On my main fiddle the bridge is almost on the soundpost -- certainly not more than a millimeter behind it. That is where it was set when I purchased it and I've never had occasion to move it -- it sounds good to my ear.

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say, but generally I'd say if it sounds and fits good where you have it then that's where it should be.

May 19, 2019 - 7:33:46 AM

207 posts since 1/5/2009

It is normally 1-3 mm behind the bridge foot. That can also change if the graduation is adjusted. Sometimes it takes a while to find the correct location of the sound post, and many different lengths. When you find it the instrument should be well balanced and project well.

There is a danger with having the Sound post to far back. Stress is added and warping can occur. Which will lead to top plate cracks and or failure of the top. The Sound post in question reads like it is to short.

As for the slots in the bridge, I can see no reason why this was done. The slots will cause changes in the way vibrations are transferred. But I do not believe that will help the sound of the instrument.

May 19, 2019 - 8:01:31 AM

7 posts since 5/19/2019

quote:
Originally posted by echord

I think 3 to 5 mm behind the bridge may be too far back for most fiddles. I always thought the average was 1 to 3 mm (I certainly could be wrong, but that's what I've read).

On my main fiddle the bridge is almost on the soundpost -- certainly not more than a millimeter behind it. That is where it was set when I purchased it and I've never had occasion to move it -- it sounds good to my ear.

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say, but generally I'd say if it sounds and fits good where you have it then that's where it should be.


Hi Pete, thanks for that - you're right 1-3mm is the correct range. I've amended my original post now.

May 19, 2019 - 8:08:54 AM

7 posts since 5/19/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Fiddlemaker5224

It is normally 1-3 mm behind the bridge foot. That can also change if the graduation is adjusted. Sometimes it takes a while to find the correct location of the sound post, and many different lengths. When you find it the instrument should be well balanced and project well.

There is a danger with having the Sound post to far back. Stress is added and warping can occur. Which will lead to top plate cracks and or failure of the top. The Sound post in question reads like it is to short.

As for the slots in the bridge, I can see no reason why this was done. The slots will cause changes in the way vibrations are transferred. But I do not believe that will help the sound of the instrument.


Hi Carl - thanks for the info. Yes, if it were a more expensive and lighter instrument I don't think I would've brought it up to tension with the soundpost where I had it. I also feel that the soundpost was too short, and also too thin (it's under 5mm in diameter!), which is one of the reasons I settled for having it in the wrong position. After three hours and a lot of profanity my patience had been exhausted.

Re the bridge, your thoughts chime with the luthier I spoke to, who thought the cuts were interesting but pointless, in effect. The fiddle did sound pretty good (in a very old-time kind of way) with this bridge, but as mentioned I had a couple of coins beneath the feet (a-la Luther Strong), which would've modified the sound further.

Thanks again for the advice.

May 19, 2019 - 8:29:14 AM

3605 posts since 6/24/2007

There's been a good deal of post experimentation. Has to work with the arching, bridge, graduation etc. All fiddles of standard design are roughly similar, so the post position that usually works is pretty standard. Some like the post outside the foot!

Get to oddball fiddles, and the post may work best in an odd place.

From a worker's viewpoint, someone is always going to put a post in where people expect to see it, so might as well make the thing to work with a post in that position!!!!

May 19, 2019 - 8:39 AM

7145 posts since 3/19/2009
Online Now

I have a friend who strung his fiddle backwards so he could play left handed... EADG instead of GDAE... the sound post is now under his G string.. The fiddle probably sounds different... but it if so it is hardly noticable..

May 20, 2019 - 6:17:53 AM

kjb

USA

634 posts since 6/8/2013
Online Now

it seems that the post (near ) under the bass bar would affect it, but I guess not

May 20, 2019 - 8:10:29 AM
likes this

DougD

USA

9043 posts since 12/2/2007

I think Lee means that the soundpost is in the usual place, but that now that's occupied by the G string, not the E (bridge is reversed I guess) - not that its on the actual bass side of the instrument.

May 20, 2019 - 12:39:02 PM
like this

gapbob

USA

587 posts since 4/20/2008

I suppose if the fiddle sucked enough, the position of the sound post would be irrelevant.

May 20, 2019 - 1:43:02 PM

7145 posts since 3/19/2009
Online Now

laughCorrect, Doug.. As usual...

May 21, 2019 - 4:57:02 AM

kjb

USA

634 posts since 6/8/2013
Online Now

I had one in where the sound post was in the middle of the bridge , the bridge was set with a very short string length, when I put it all where it should be it did not sound all that much better.

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