Tips for Better Sound
Angle of Bridge
The bridge is an important part to transmit sound to the body. It is not glued, but is just placed on the top plate.
The good condition is that it stands vertically when viewed from the side of the body and the bottom of the legs of the bridge entirely touch the top plate.
If the bridge slants or warps like the photos below show, it needs repairing or replacing.
Right Position of Bridge
Though a position of the bridge should be precisely adjusted according to conditions of an instrument, the standard position is as shown in the photo. If you’d like clearer understanding, please consult us.
Let’s look at the bridge from the front.
- Imagine a line between the horizontal cuts of the two f holes. The center of the legs of the bridge is on the line.
- It stands in the center of the instrument, and shows symmetry between the right and the left.
- The strings are symmetrically placed on the fingerboard.
Height, Curve and more of Bridge
The proper height and intervals of strings are determined by the bridge. If the bridge is too high or too low, it needs adjusting.
Besides, the improper curve of the bridge causes an impediment to smooth bowing.
Moreover, if a string bites a bridge and the concave is deep, it may cut the string easily and may affect the sound.
Lifetime of String
How long does a string last? The lifetime of a string does not necessarily mean the time until it snaps.
Tension of a string gradually extends the string and at last the string loses its elasticity,
when the sound has lost its richness, brilliance and volume.
Then the proper points to place fingers on may change. In such a case, pluck the string, and you will find no lingering sound behind.
If a string gets rusty or its coiled thread gets worn out, it may cause noise or damage to the ditch on the bridge.
Lifetime of a string is several weeks for a professional, and up to six months for others.
A piece of advice from us is to change strings regularly, for example at the timing of bow rehairing or a regular check-up of your instrument.
Before playing the violin, you first need tune the strings up.
Therefore, if the pegs are out of condition, you cannot make a good start on playing.
Pegs are stopped only with friction. If the shapes of a peg and a hole do not match with each other properly, it may be hard to roll the peg or the peg may not stop, and you cannot tune the strings up smoothly.
If the shapes match properly, some lubricant may resolve the problem. If the shapes do not match, the peg needs to be replaced to a thicker one, or needs any further adjustment.
Refilling to make a hole smaller requires a long time, so please consult us before your problem gets more serious.
Proposals from us: Upgrade of your Instrument
Is your instrument in the best condition? We will bring your instrument to the best condition it deserves. We have a stock of knowledge and methods for it.
While the instrument is in a steady condition, the bridge or the sound post do not need replacing. However, changing conditions over years may cause inconveniences.
A shorter sound post, a warped bridge, deep bites by strings on the bridge, and some other impediments may bring about deteriorated volume and sound quality.
We have a variety of stock of old wood to choose proper materials of pegs and a sound post for every instrument for better volume, sound and balance.
We are also ready to offer our original “special adjuster,” “violin grease” supervised by Mr. Saburo Egawa, an audio critic, and some other science-based measures to improve sound volume and tone.
The “special adjuster” uses a special compound metal to avoid noise that may be caused at the contact part of the screw. It increases overtone and dynamics, and produces clear and smooth sound. We are ready to lend the special adjuster to you for one week, so please try it.
On the same base of technique, we have created the “violin grease” kneaded with a powder in it that decreases vibration. When applied to the screw part, the same kind of overtone effect can be expected.
When you start thinking of upgrade of your instrument or if you are in trouble with sound, please consult us.
Adjustment of Sound Post
A sound post is inserted or taken out though an f hole on the top plate.
A sound post is pricked at the top of a special tool (setter), inserted through an f hole and made to stand. The top side and the bottom side of the sound post should entirely touch the tope plate and the back plate respectively. If there is any gap between the plate and the post, it should be taken out and be planed properly. The key points are “proper position,” “proper strength,” and “no gap,” and these conditions are strictly required.
Conditions of the sound post greatly affect sound, so it often happens that the sound changes after trying adjustment.
Many players do not pay attention to the nut condition. However, if the ditches are deep, they may damage strings and sound may be unsteady.
Besides, too high a nut or imbalanced intervals of the ditches make an impediment to smooth fingering and bowing.
Moreover, improper shapes of ditches cause noise.
Proper intervals of strings on the nut are different according to the player’s finger conditions, such as thickness. If you find fingering of a chord difficult, the nut needs checking as well as the bridge.
When adjusting (repairing) the fingerboard, the nut is also adjusted.
The fingerboard is commonly made of ebony, a very hard wood, but it gradually gets worn away over the use of years and ends up with an improper shape.
An improper shape of the fingerboard may cause noise and troubles like unsteady musical intervals.
If the fingerboard has enough thickness, the top side should be planed into a proper shape. If the fingerboard is too thin for such adjustment, it should be better to replace it.
By replacement, good advantage on the sound can be expected.
We can assure you that after repairing an improper shape of a fingerboard you will find your fingering rather smoother.
”Physical Contact” and “Rough Sound Quality”
Noises are largely categorized into two: rattling by “physical contact,” and “rough sound quality.”
A “physical contact” is, for example, small hitting sound caused by peeling off or partial detachment or looseness of a part.
“Rough sound quality” is the result after the sound tone has lost its brilliance and has got dry and rough.
There are many causes of “physical contacts,” so the first step for improvement is to detect what the cause is.
Examples of such causes are a crack, peeling off, damage of a string, improper condition of the fingerboard, looseness of an adjuster, improper contact between the tailpiece and the shoulder rest, attached foreign substance, etc.
“Rough sound quality” may be brought about by improper level of humidity, conditions of the sound post or the bridge, as well as by too much resin on the bow hair. It should be better to apply resin slightly only when you feel you need it.
Troubles of noise often happen in winter time when the humidity is very low, so it needs to watch the humidity for the instrument.