The bridge of the violin is the wooden wedge that supports the strings. It is important to the playability, sound and structural nature of the violin. The bridge transfers sound vibrations from the strings to the soundboard down the sound post to the back of the sound box. Improper placement of the bridge will greatly impair tone. If the bridge falls or becomes loose, the sound post beneath it becomes dislodged and the violin’s body may collapse.
Bridge Placement Tips:
- The violin bridge is held in place by pressure and proper placement, not glue.
- The bridge is evenly lined up with the fingerboard, and stands straight up, perpendicular to the violin.
- The feet of the bridge should be aligned with the interior notches of the F-holes. The lower side of the bridge should be placed under the E-string, which is the string with the highest pitch.
- When adjusting or putting a bridge on the violin, it’s very important to slightly loosen the violin strings before the bridge is placed, centered, and kept perfectly straight.
- To adjust a tilting bridge, first slightly loosen the violin strings, then grasp the top of the bridge at its upper corners with the thumb and index fingers of each hand and gently pull or push the top of the bridge until a 90 degree angle is achieved.
- If your bridge has become warped, or if you simply feel uncomfortable adjusting it yourself, take your violin to your local violin shop or instrument dealer for professional assistance.
Here are some other violin accessories that you will come across during your violin career. As with all things, some accessories are more necessary than others.
Mutes: Mutes are devices placed upon the violin bridge to dampen or mute the sound of the violin. Violinists generally use two types of mutes:
- Mutes for passages of music which call for a muted sound. Composers use these muted passages for special effects or a contrast of sound.
- Practice mutes which significantly reduce the sound of the violin, so that violinists can practice and not bother others nearby.
Music stand: A music stand holds sheet music. Most music stands can be adjusted according to the height of the violinist. When the sheet music is placed on the stand, the stand should be at eye-level.
Fingerboard Tape: To assist beginning violinists, some violin teachers use thin strips of colored tape to mark where students should place their fingers on the violin fingerboard.
Violin Polish: To clean your violin, all that is generally needed is a dry, lint-free cloth to wipe rosin from your strings after each playing session. Although polish is rarely necessary, there may be times when you need to clean your violin. It is important to never use commercial furniture polish and/or water to clean your violin (doing so could damage the varnish and acoustics of the violin).
Extra violin strings: As you progress as a violinist, it is thoughtful to keep on hand some extra violin strings, particularly A- and E-strings, the ones that tend to break the most frequently. Having an extra string in your violin case will quickly solve the problem of an unforeseem string breakage. Nothing is worse than having a string pop before a performance or speical event!