The bridge on a stringed instrument acts as a resonator for the instrument, capturing the vibrations from the strings and transmitting them to the body of the instrument, allowing it to resonate throughout and to turn into the wonderful big sound that our ears know and love. For this reason, the bridge is a vital part of your instrument that must be paid attention to, and taken care of just as much as any other part of the instrument.
There are numerous factors that are involved in maximising the vibration from string to the top plate of a stringed instrument. Firstly, when a luthier gets a a new bridge, they shape it so that one side of the bridge has a slight angle to it, with the top of the bridge being the thinnest part. It is also shaped from the sides inwards, so that the central part of the bridge is the thickest part. This central section is referred to as the heart and allows for the strings to not only transmit the clearest vibrations to the bridge feet directly below that string but also to the bridge feet diagonally opposite to the string, allowing for an equal and maximum distribution of vibrations to the top plate.
The second part that a luthier goes through in shaping a bridge is carving the feet. The thicker feet that come with a new bridge are carved down to a certain thickness that not only maximises the transmission of vibrations from the strings, but also fits the arch of the top plate of the chosen instrument perfectly.
It is very important to be aware of the position and condition of your bridge and any changes to it. It is set and shaped to a very specific spot on the top plate of the instrument, with it’s positioning above the sound post and the bass bar also very much affecting the level of transmission. Therefore it is very important that one takes their instrument to a luthier if the bridge has moved or the bridge has warped in any way.