Straighten a Leaning Bridge

PSA for string players: How to straighten your bridge if it’s starting to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa - especially due to the pegs pulling the top towards them:

Anchor both hands underneath the black parts (fingerboard and tailpiece) and use one thumb to gently push in the general direction you want to go and the other thumb is to act like a safeguard so you don’t push the bridge over.

In general, aim for a 90° angle from bridge to the top of the instrument on the tailpiece side.

Look for gaps at the bridge feet in case it’s telling you something different. When I fit a bridge to a top, it will fit seamlessly. There will be no gaps if it is standing up straight where it is supposed to.

***I have seen some rental violins that have the bridge carved at a lean and in order to get it straight - the feet don’t fit. I pull it as straight as I feel comfortable, which usually means not all the way. Get a new bridge if yours does this. The bridge will fall over more easily and pitch recognition might be off compared to a well fit bridge.***

If the bridge isn’t moving, make sure there is pencil lead in the grooves to help lubricate the crossing of the strings.

When I was in college as a player, I am aware that I probably broke a bridge because of letting it lean when I was trying to tune my violin after a peg popped due to humidity. 

I thought it was a fault of the bridge, but now I’m pretty sure it’s just because I let it lean for too long and it eventually folded under the pressure of the strings - equaling a broken bridge.

It was startling and I’m lucky I didn’t cause more damage from the tailpiece hitting the top after the bridge snapped in half.

Bridges don’t generally wear out. They might warp and eventually snap due to leaning, but if taken care of, I’ve seen well maintained bridges in action over 30 years old.