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May 1, 2020 - 1:05:37 PM
54 posts since 2/10/2020

I recently picked up an older, inexpensive fiddle that actually sounds really nice. The action is a little high for my tastes (although it falls within the usually accepted standards, I just like low action). Anyway, in this time of covid I do not have access to a luthier and I'm wondering if I could lower the action by simply deepening the notches in the bridge. I have the appropriate files from my banjo work and I've done exactly that with my banjo bridges on occasion to no ill effect, but banjo bridges are cheap and easy to replace. I figure that if it goes poorly, I still have my other fiddle and I can get a new bridge at some point in the future. But perhaps some of you already know that it would go poorly? Thoughts?

May 1, 2020 - 2:18:49 PM
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853 posts since 1/25/2008

Violins don't do well with deep notches in the bridge. You could file the notches deeper until you got to the height that you want, but then you would have to trim down the top of the bridge. When you trim down the top of the bridge, you are getting into a thicker part of the bridge, and you would have to thin the bridge appropriately.

May 1, 2020 - 5:09:46 PM

WyoBob

USA

128 posts since 5/16/2019

I recently lowered the action on an Antonio Giuliani fiddle (which didn't have a very good setup) at the nut and the bridge.   I, too, have an "extra" fiddle so wasn't too concerned if I fouled things up as I could send my mistake to someone who knew what they were doing to if things went wrong. 

I lowered the action at the nut by a considerable amount, took out the severe scoop and, using the curvature of the fingerboard and a pencil to draw on my bridge, dropped the height of the bridge.   Of course, I had to remove excess material on the bridge so the strings set higher in the slot where they belonged.  IOW, the strings are 1/3 of the thickness of the string in the notch on all four strings.  It turned out great and the modification suited me fine and the fiddle is now much more playable than it was from the vendor.

I had my new fiddle, bought from the Bluegrass Shack, which was set up just like I like it, as a pattern. 

May 1, 2020 - 5:54:48 PM

195 posts since 3/1/2020

Don’t just make the string grooves deeper! That causes the strings to bind in the grooves. At best it inhibits tone; deep grooves are the cause of a lot of broken strings.

As mentioned above, lowering a bridge properly involves removing material from the top, recurring the grooves, and rethicknessing the bridge.

May 2, 2020 - 10:15:13 AM

doryman

USA

54 posts since 2/10/2020

Thank you.

May 4, 2020 - 4:29:21 AM
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853 posts since 1/25/2008

Another thing that needs to be checked is the string height at the nut. If that's too high, it will be harder to play. At the same time, you should check the fingerboard, to make sure that it has the proper scoop. Any bumps or waves in the fingerboard may cause buzzing with a lowered action.

May 4, 2020 - 6:09:12 AM
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Earworm

USA

130 posts since 1/30/2018

Have you tried just playing with a lighter touch? You don't really have to press fiddle strings down much at all.

May 4, 2020 - 12:40:30 PM

2044 posts since 10/22/2007
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There's a standard for nut height. Don't know it, off hand.
Blank bridges aren't that expensive. But here's the rub. Like what's been said, a bridge needs to be prophiled. Foot thickness and how it engages the top is also important. If i lowered a string height at the bridge, i would not exceed a groove depth equal to 1.5 times the diameter of the string, (That ain't much) without re-doing the prophile.
Short answer, somehow learn to shape bridges. Not only can you lower action, but you can experiment with various prophiles & flatnesses. It's a handy thing.

May 4, 2020 - 4:12:58 PM
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195 posts since 3/1/2020

1/3 the diameter of the string is a rule of thumb for groove depth.

May 27, 2020 - 12:29:26 AM

3 posts since 5/27/2020

good post i like it.

May 27, 2020 - 12:29:49 AM

3 posts since 5/27/2020

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May 27, 2020 - 12:30:12 AM

3 posts since 5/27/2020

1/3 the diameter of the string is a rule of thumb for groove depth.

May 27, 2020 - 7:44:20 AM

1794 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by FiddleDoug

Another thing that needs to be checked is the string height at the nut. If that's too high, it will be harder to play.


Do that first.

May 27, 2020 - 7:45:26 AM

1794 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

There's a standard for nut height. Don't know it, off hand.
Blank bridges aren't that expensive. But here's the rub. Like what's been said, a bridge needs to be prophiled. Foot thickness and how it engages the top is also important. If i lowered a string height at the bridge, i would not exceed a groove depth equal to 1.5 times the diameter of the string, (That ain't much) without re-doing the prophile.
Short answer, somehow learn to shape bridges. Not only can you lower action, but you can experiment with various prophiles & flatnesses. It's a handy thing.


Pretty low. Can be about half the diameter of the string.

May 27, 2020 - 8:01:22 AM

853 posts since 1/25/2008

The string groove should not be more than about 1/3 the diameter of the string. The string height at the nut should be "about the thickness of a good quality business card" (as I was taught).

Edited by - FiddleDoug on 05/27/2020 08:02:01

May 27, 2020 - 11:13:33 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2252 posts since 2/2/2008

What I use for standard string height measured at the end of the fingerboard
G string - 5 mm
E string - 3 mm
The shape of the top of the bridge is up to you. I use a bit less curvature than a classical setup.

I would not recommend action lower that this.

May 27, 2020 - 12:02:37 PM

1794 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

What I use for standard string height measured at the end of the fingerboard
G string - 5 mm
E string - 3 mm
The shape of the top of the bridge is up to you. I use a bit less curvature than a classical setup.

I would not recommend action lower that this.


That's very close to what I use. I go as low as 4.5mm on the G string. I make a slightly flatter bridge too.

May 27, 2020 - 1:43:37 PM

2044 posts since 10/22/2007
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

What I use for standard string height measured at the end of the fingerboard
G string - 5 mm
E string - 3 mm
The shape of the top of the bridge is up to you. I use a bit less curvature than a classical setup.

I would not recommend action lower that this.


Made me google the diameter of a Ticonderoga pencil: 13/32"  by half = 13/64" = mark of a sharpened pencil. Laying the pencil on the fingerboard, tracing the profile onto the blank bridge with the feet already fit to the top. I use this as a starting point. 

May 27, 2020 - 2:49:43 PM
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1794 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones
quote:
Originally posted by carlb

What I use for standard string height measured at the end of the fingerboard
G string - 5 mm
E string - 3 mm
The shape of the top of the bridge is up to you. I use a bit less curvature than a classical setup.

I would not recommend action lower that this.


Made me google the diameter of a Ticonderoga pencil: 13/32"  by half = 13/64" = mark of a sharpened pencil. Laying the pencil on the fingerboard, tracing the profile onto the blank bridge with the feet already fit to the top. I use this as a starting point. 


Which is just over 5mm, to keep the unit of measure the same. Dealing with fiddles I am always having to convert between measuring systems. (You'd think I'd be comfortable with metric by now but you'd be wrong).

Fairly unrelated to this is that the best pencils in my opinion are the Ticonderogas with black erasers. The black erasers don't get hard and smear and tear your crossword puzzle, or the line on your bridge. I use erasers a lot.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/27/2020 14:57:09

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