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Violin Bridge

    Hello Steve, I am a recent violin student and have a question about the angle of the bridge. I am told the back side (tail piece side) of the bridge should be at a 90 degree angle to the belly of the violin. When I view my violin. From the side I can see that the belly has a very subtle curve at the bridge location. So a straight edge set on the belly doesn't set squarely on the surface (Straight edge set in line with the strings). How do you measure the angle so it is correct and how critical is the angle?

    I enjoy reading the question and answers on your website and appreciate your help in answering questions.
Regards, Marvin

    If it looks right, it is right. If it looks wrong, move it until it looks right. In the 80s and 90s it was very hip to tip the bridge toward the tailpiece. Complex math shows that doing that evens up the weight of string in front of and behind the bridge. It also made the scale length (the length of the strings) slightly longer, which would increase the string tension. You can raise the pitch of a string by shortening it or by tightening it If the string is longer it takes more tension to pull it up to pitch and the added tension can increase power and brilliance. 

    I stopped doing it because I got tired of explaining to people why their new bridge looked funny. I now set bridges so that the flat part of the bridge (the part toward the tailpiece) looks upright. Tipping toward the fingerboard is bad. Bridges tend to warp toward the fingerboard and a forward tip just encourages that.

    The best thing for you to do is look at the feet of the bridge. It is very important for the health and safety of your violin that the feet fit the top perfectly to evenly distribute the weight of the strings. Tip the bridge forward and back until you see no gaps between the feet and the top. If the feet fit and the back of the bridge is 90 degrees or less, it's a good fit. If the bridge looks funny by the time the feet fit, you should have a new bridge.

Steve Mason