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I know many (not all) violinists place a small pad or a short piece of tubing around the E-string at the bridge contact point. Some bridges have a tiny insert there, presumably of a very hard wood, to reduce the rate at which the string cuts into the bridge.

Does use of a pad significantly mute or alter the E-string sound? Alternatively, has any luthier experimented with metal or synthetic inserts over specialized wood as a way to eliminate cutting?

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  • Interesting. Wonder if it ever strays down to the lower pitched viola, cello, etc?
    – Tim
    Dec 7, 2020 at 16:37
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    I had assumed the pad/tube was primarily about making the high E sound less shrill and strident, but it makes sense that it’s to protect the bridge. Just never realized it before. Dec 7, 2020 at 16:44
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    @Tim The violin E string is considerably thinner and at higher tension than the other strings. There isn't considered to be a problem with the next thinnest, tight string, the A string. The highest string on the viola is also an A string and so is also less likely to have the same cutting problems as the violin E string. Hence more of a problem for highly strung violinists (sorry!). Dec 7, 2020 at 16:55
  • Strikes me that this is potentially a bad design fault. No more, no less.
    – Tim
    Dec 7, 2020 at 18:46
  • @Tim I have in fact bought Cello A-strings (highest pitch string) which came with the mini-tube. And my bridges do have that hardwood insert on the A-string groove. Dec 7, 2020 at 20:02

2 Answers 2

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My old student violin doesn't have the "bridge pad" for the E string and normally E strings come with a sliver of a tube which you can adjust to stop the E string cutting the bridge. On the one occasion when this was missing I used a small section of the tubing from an electrical plug.

In either case the advice to violinists is to adjust the tubing so that any excess is on the tailpiece side of the bridge and that none extends on the other side. This is specifically to avoid the tubing causing unwanted sonic effects.

My almost brand new semi-pro violin has the bridge pad which doesn't move. I assume it is glued in place.

In either case I have noticed no difference made by the bridge protection between the E string and the other unprotected strings. Any occasional bad notes on the E string are entirely my fault and go away when I get my technique right.

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My luthier uses a piece of drum skin here. drum skin below E string He's a pretty good one, with his instruments commissioned years in advance. So I suspect that this choice was not arbitrary. He probably does not want to see his bridges hurt...

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