The humble violin bridge may not get as much attention as your bow, shoulder rest or strings. But if you have one that isn’t the right height or shape, you’ll feel the difference instantly. So how do you choose the best option?
That’s where we come in! We’ve looked at seven of the best violin bridges out there. And we’re going to take you through our honest reviews of their good, and not-so-good, features.
If you’re looking for a bridge to provide extra support on the E-string, check out this one from Aubert Teller.
Here, the groove for the E is inset with a piece of ebony to provide extra strength. If you don’t have an adjuster on your E-string, this is particularly helpful. In such cases, there’ll be more strain on the bridge as you tune from the pegs. The u-shaped ebony insert will help keep everything steady.
The main part of the bridge is made of Bosnian maple. The wood is thoroughly air-dried before being cut and shaped, to avoid shrinkage.
One thing to make sure, though, is that the ebony segment fits neatly, without any gaps. We’ve heard of some cases where the fit hasn’t been precise. That might be because the ebony hadn’t fully dried before fitting. If there are any gaps, they will impair the quality of the sound.
The notches for all the strings are pre-cut here, so you won’t need to do that yourself.
As this is a semi- rather than fully-fitted bridge, however, you’ll need to carve the feet yourself. Take your time doing it, and this will give you a perfect fit, customized to your violin. There are plenty of online videos available to help you with the task.
Note that this is designed for a full-sized violin. If you’re purchasing a bridge for anything smaller, it won’t be the right choice.
U-shaped ebony insert provides extra support for the E-string
Made of air-dried Bosnian maple
Pre-cut notches for the strings
Watch out for any gaps between the ebony and maple components
You’ll need to carve the feet yourself – though this will give you a perfect fit when done.
If you prefer a bridge where all the work has already been done, check out this fitted option from SKY.
It’s made of solid maple, and it’s keenly priced. An individual bridge will set you back about as much as two cups of posh coffee.
The arch is pre-shaped, and the notches for the strings are already in place. It’s super-easy to fit. Just loosen your strings, and slide it into place flat against your violin. Then gradually raise it so that it’s vertical. You’ll need the feet to be level with the center of the f-holes.
With most violins, that will be all you need to do. If, however, you have a violin with a larger curve to the body, check that the feet sit on it solidly. If they don’t, just gently file the feet as needed using a nail file.
The compromise here is the flip side to the convenience of a fitted bridge. Because the arch has already been shaped, you won’t be able to customize it to your instrument.
And the arch isn’t completely consistent between bridges. We’ve seen some examples where the curve between the G and D string positions, for example, is almost non-existent.
For most players, that’s unlikely to be too much of an issue. But if you’re a professional looking for a bridge for a very expensive violin, this won’t be the right choice. You’ll do better to get a blank and spend some money having it customized by a luthier.
If you’d like a good value blank, check out this pack of five bridges from Canomo. These can be customized to the exact characteristics of your violin. And you’ll get five of them for about the same price as one of the fitted bridges from SKY.
They’re made of solid maple with a nice, smooth finish, and they’ll fit a full-sized violin. With these, you’ll need to create your perfect arch, plus sand the feet and cut notches for the strings.
If this all sounds like a lot of hard work, this won’t be the right bridge for you. But if you’re prepared to spend a bit of time on the task, you can get excellent results.
If you’re replacing an old bridge, the easiest thing to do is use that as a template. In that case, you’re probably only looking at about ten minutes’ work.
If you’re starting from scratch, be prepared for it to take a little longer. There are plenty of online videos that take you through the whole process step by step.
One thing to note is that this bridge is quite thick. As well as shaping the curves, legs and notches, you’ll probably find you need to sand down the profile.
A particularly nice feature, however, is that the feet have a gentle curve already. That will save you a lot of time when it comes to getting them to sit perfectly on your violin.
Made of smooth and solid maple
Can be customized to the precise shape of your violin
The feet are curved to reduce the amount of filing you’ll need to do
Rather thick – expect to need to sand down the profile
If you don’t have a template to work from, you’ll need to spend more time customizing this.
Cremona’s four-star bridge is the most expensive they offer. But don’t let that put you off – this is still little more expensive than the cost of two artisan coffees. And for that money, you’ll get some excellent features.
Let’s start with the materials. As is traditional, this bridge is made of solid maple. Here, it’s premium quality, fully dried and aged before being cut. That means you won’t have to worry about the wood shrinking as it loses moisture, so the shape will stay true.
That shape is designed to give the perfect balance between strength and resonance. It’s thick enough so that it won’t snap easily when taking the strain of the strings. Yet it’s thin enough to transfer the vibrations from the strings faithfully into the body of the violin. The result is a clear, bright tone.
This is designed for full-sized violins, and it’s another one that you’ll need to fit yourself. That means shaping the arch to your specification, and probably filing the feet too. Finally, you’ll need to cut notches in the top for the strings.
The meticulously carved depth, however, means you won’t have to make any adjustments to the profile.
All in all, this is an excellent quality bridge, as long as you’re prepared to do the fitting. Alternatively, invest some extra money and get a luthier to do it. If you’re looking for a bridge that will do justice to a valuable violin, this is a great option.
Made from premium quality seasoned maple
Perfect depth to balance strength and resonance
Delivers a clear, bright tone
You’ll need to do the fitting yourself, or get a luthier to do it for you
Costs a little more than other options – and will be more expensive again if a luthier does the fitting.
These bridges from YMC come in a pack of two and offer great value. You’ll pay less for these than one Cremona four-star bridge. But like the Cremona, these are templates to create a bespoke bridge for your violin.
They are made of maple with “Stedman” printed across the bottom. The wood is smooth and cleanly cut.
They are designed for full-sized violins. They come a little over-sized in all directions, allowing you to shape them to your instrument.
In this case, that shaping will include taking some sandpaper to the face of the bridge. It will be a little thick to get a good tone unless you do this. Take care as you sand so that the face remains flat. And don’t apply too much pressure or it may snap.
You’ll also need to do the other standard elements of fitting a bridge to a violin. That means filing the feet so that they sit firmly on the body. You will have a slight curve to work with here, so the job isn’t as time-consuming as it might otherwise be.
You’ll also need to shape the arch to your preference, and to cut the notches for the strings. If you’ve got an old bridge to work from, use that as a template. It will make the job much quicker.
All in all, these offer great value if you’re prepared to fit your bridge yourself. And if you do, you’ll get a bespoke fit that’s perfect for your violin.
Made of good quality solid maple
Curved base reduces the amount of work to do in shaping the feet
Two per pack, offering great value for money
You’ll need to sand the face to get the right thickness
Not the right choice for those who don’t want to do their own fitting.
This is a three-star bridge from German manufacturer Teller. It’s semi-fitted, offering a good compromise for those who want a partially bespoke fit but with less work.
As with all traditional violin bridges, this is made of maple. It’s good quality and fully dried before being cut. That means you won’t have to worry about the wood shrinking and affecting the shape of the bridge.
The arch here is already shaped and the notches for the strings are pre-cut. Some may find there’s less curve between the G and D string notches than they’d like.
You will, however, still need to file the feet to get the perfect fit on the body of the violin. It’s easy enough to do and a nail file works well. Just take your time and make sure you don’t file away too much.
Note, however, that this is very thick, including at the top where the strings sit. As a minimum, you’ll need to sand this portion down. And sanding the whole face will give you better sound. That’s because a thinner bridge will better transmit the vibrations from the strings to the body.
Made of solid maple
Semi-fitted, providing a good compromise between a bespoke fit and lots of cutting and sanding
Very thick – you’ll need to sand down the profile
The curve between the G and D strings may be too gradual for some.
Glaesel’s GL 33524M is the priciest bridge on our list by some margin. In fact, it costs almost three times as much as the next most expensive option. So what are you paying for?
Well, the big difference between this bridge and others on our list is that the feet are adjustable. By that, we don’t simply mean that they can be filed down. In this case, they will actually pivot to help you get perfect contact with the surface of your violin.
If your instrument has a steep slope, this is a great option. The adjustable feet make getting the right fit a whole lot easier. You may, however, still need to file the bottom so that the feet sit snugly against the violin.
You won’t have to do any other work with this one. The arch is already shaped, and the notches have been cut. That does mean you won’t be able to customize it precisely. But it’s great for anyone wanting to install and play without fuss.
One thing to be aware of with adjustable bridges is that the pivoting feet do affect resonance. Because the bridge is not one solid piece, the sound isn’t quite as responsive. But if you’ve got a violin with a steeply sloping body, that may be a compromise worth making.
Adjustable feet allow a good fit on violins with steeply sloping bodies
Pre-cut notches for strings
The adjustable legs will have a marginal impact on resonance