Is my bridge crooked, or my neck? (cello content)

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by fdeck, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I'm just putting this up here for everybody's amusement. My student cello. I just put a new bridge on it.
  2. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    In the pic the neck definitely looks tilted off-axis, just drawing a line from the endpin to the head. Is that an optical illusion?
  3. The whole instrument is crooked.
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Okay, that was just a teaser. Now for an explanation. It's my student cello, which I've had since the late 70s. The neck is set crooked, so if you project the centerline of the fingerboard to the bridge, it's about 8 mm off center towards the bass side. We didn't notice this when we bought the cello, and we were all quite happy with it. My next teacher is the one who noticed, a couple years later. It had a conventional bridge, that was simply slid over to get the strings over the board.

    I can't justify repairing this issue right now. It's not a great instrument, and I can play my son's cello, which is much better. Now it needed a new bridge anyway, due to my own mistake messing around with the string height and going too far. So I decided on an experiment. I got a bridge blank, and read up on bridge fitting. I made one leg longer than the other, by about 4.5 mm. That moved the top of the bridge towards the bass side. Then I moved the strings over on the top of the bridge.

    The instructions I read actually talked about making one foot longer to compensate for a slightly crooked neck, but I don't think they were talking about 8 mm! That's huge.

    As it now sits, the bass foot of the bridge sits squarely on the bassbar, and the "action" is nice. The fit of the feet isn't perfect, but pretty good for a beginner. I believe it's now in a condition where I can assess the tone of the instrument and decide if further work is justified, or just use the instrument for noodling around and having a spare cello for my son. Nobody has ever noticed the crookedness unless I tell them about it, so we'll see how folks react to this one.

    I think that I'll leave the neck as-is, but repair a separated seam on the back (yeah, from a Dampit) and a minor crack.

    Having this cello makes me think of the sacrifices that my parents made, supporting 3 kids who were all interested in music. I definitely don't blame them for trying to keep things under control, cost-wise, and I don't think the cello ever set back my progress. I will continue to enjoy playing it. I've got all of the charts that my son has played in the last few years, that will keep me challenged for a while.
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