I recently had a friend call me saying that he had bought his daughter a violin, and it had arrived through the post with the bridge not set-up. He had looked on the web, but the information was a bit confused and he was still not sure how to do it. This post deals with a seemingly easy topic, but as you will agree, something that is essential for the novice violinist.
Here are the steps to follow to set up your bridge.
If you already have strings on the violin, loosen them so they don't have any tension, and are slack enough for the bridge to fit under. Pull the strings into the centre of the finger board and check that there is enough space to fit the bridge. The violin has two "F" holes and if you look carefully at them you will see a small notch cut into each one. The bridge should sit between these two notches to give it the perfect distance for optimum sound. Please note that the bridge of your violin does the same as the bridge of most other stringed instruments such as the guitar or cello; It raises the strings from the resonating chamber and also transfers the energy of the strings to give you the sound. If you bow the violin close to the bridge, it will give you a different sound to what you will get if you bow further away.
The bridge has two distinct sides to it. It has a straight side, and a side with a slight curve to it. The straight side must be facing the tailpiece, and the curved side facing the finger board.
Place the bridge flat against the surface of the violin, making sure that the bottom is aligned with the "F" Hole notches, and that the curved side is face down on the wood.
Very gently lift the bridge up until it is vertical. Adjust the position so that it is straight and exactly between the two notches.
You will notice that at the curved top of the bridge there are four notches, and you must now place the loosened strings into each of the four notches.
Very gently begin to tighten the strings. Do not fully tighten one, but put a little tension on each, until your bridge is held in place by the tension with the strings. Tighten again each string until you are close to being in tune, and then if you have fine tuners, use them to complete the task.