Violin and Viola Saddle Rider Installation

This 8-minute video demonstrates the installation process of our new Low Profile Saddle Rider Tone Adjuster for Violin or Viola. BEFORE YOU BEGIN THE INSTALLATION, please read the updates in the comments below the video.

Installation Checklist

1. The Saddle Rider Tone Adjuster is easy to install, but we recommend having a professional luthier oversee the process. It is important to have the instrument in good adjustment, with the soundpost installed correctly, prior to installing the Saddle Rider. Certainly, the sound post can be adjusted with the Saddle Rider already in place, but understanding how the Saddle Rider changes the tone and response is easier without that added variable. The Saddle Rider is intended to optimize and fine tune an instrument — it is not a substitute for a good basic adjustment.

2. When sizing the endplug, it should be cut so it does not extend past the endblock into the violin. If it does extend into the violin, when the instrument is tuned up, the tension on the T-nut will cause the endplug to pop out, to some extent, from the endblock. UPDATE: If the endplug needs to be removed for instrument maintenance or adjustment, it can usually be pulled out by gently holding the T-nut screw at an angle and gripping the edge of the plug channel with the screw threads, or by pulling it out with a bent paper clip. In some cases, the endplug can become too firmly embedded in the end block to remove it this way. If that happens, insert a section of thin violin tailgut or other similar string into the violin via the endplug channel, and fish it out of an F-hole. Then, tie a knot in the end of the string and pull it back through the F-hole until it presses against the inside of the endplug and pulls it out of the end block.

3. When installed, the slot in the endplug should face the back of the violin. The slot in the Saddle Rider Mount should face the top (bridge side) of the violin.

4. A short video with instructions for tying the included Kevlar tailgut is available at the following link:

5. After the tailgut is tied to the tailpiece, remember to lubricate the threads of the Saddle Rider screw with the enclosed silicone grease before tightening it into the Saddle Rider.

6. After a Saddle Rider is installed, turning its adjustment screw in a clockwise manner lowers the Saddle Rider towards the top of the instrument, usually increasing the focus and “punch” of its sound by slightly increasing the angle of the strings over the bridge. Adjustments in this direction will make the tuning a little sharper, so large adjustments in this direction should be preceded by a slight downward tuning. Turning the screw in a counter-clockwise manner raises the Saddle Rider away from the top from the instrument, increasing the resonance by decreasing the angle of the strings over the bridge. An explanation of the basic physics involved is available at the following link: Saddle Rider: The Basic Physics

The illustrated steps below show the original Violin and Viola Saddle Rider model that has been replaced by the aircraft aluminum version above. The installation steps remain the same.

STEP 1: Remove strings, bridge, tailpiece, and endbutton.

STEP 2: Insert plug into endbutton hole and mark with a pencil

STEP 3: Unscrew the socket screw from the Saddle Rider assembly, and disassemble

STEP 4: Using T-nut as a measuring tool, measure the depth of endblock

STEP 5: Mark internal edge of plug, and cut at both marks using a fine-toothed saw. IMPORTANT: The plug should be flush with the violin rib on the outer edge of the violin rib, and SHOULD NOT extend past the endblock inside the violin. If the plug is too long inside the violin, the T-nut will not hold the Saddle Rider mount securely in the endblock. Cutting the small side of the plug (inner edge) one millimeter or so short is not a problem — better too short than too long. The opposite is true when cutting the large side of the plug — better too long than too short — because the plug can easily be removed and sanded down if it sticks out of the violin a little. The plug should be flush with the violin rib when sizing is finished (see photos in STEP 9 and STEP 10.)

STEP 6: Set the plug aside, and insert tailgut through the endbutton hole. Fish out other end the through F-hole.

STEP 7: Using the enclosed 3M masking tape, tape the T-nut assembly to the end of the tailgut as shown above. Squeeze and twist the tape so in holds securely and fits through the F-hole easily. IMPORTANT: If the T-nut assembly includes a washer, be sure to tape that next to the screw head when taping to the tailgut. Otherwise, the washer will not feed through the endbutton hole properly in STEP 8 below.

STEP 8: Gently insert T-nut assembly through F-hole, and pull it through the endbutton hole as shown above.

STEP 9: Insert plug as shown. If the plug doesn’t fit properly, resize it using sandpaper and a razor blade to remove any fuzzy residue left by sanding.

STEP 10: Once the plug is sized correctly, and doesn’t extend past the endblock on either side, position the Saddle Rider mount as shown, and insert the screw head (and washer, if one is present) into the Saddle Rider mount.

STEP 11: Slide the head of the screw downward into the mounting hole inside the Saddle Rider mount.

STEP 12: Using the included screwdriver, tighten the T-nut screw until the Saddle Rider mount is snug against the lower rib of violin.

CAUTION: When attaching the Saddle Rider to the tailpiece in STEP 13 below, DO NOT tie the tailgut to the Saddle Rider as shown above. Doing so will prevent the tailgut from settling into the correct steel channel on the Saddle, and may cause damage to the Saddle Rider.

STEP 13: Following the instructions in the kevlar tailgut tutorial video below, use the included kevlar tailgut to tie the Saddle Rider to the tailpiece, or use your own preferred tailgut. Next, assemble the Saddle Rider on the violin by attaching it to the Saddle Rider mount using the socket head screw.

STEP 14: When assembling or adjusting the Saddle Rider, be careful not to over-tighten the socket head screw to the point that the tailgut bends around the saddle as in the red circle above. Doing so prevents tonal changes, and over-tightening may damage the Saddle Rider.

STEP 14, continued: When assembled correctly with the Saddle Rider in a neutral position (tailgut just above or touching the ebony saddle, but not pressed hard against it as in the red circle above), the violin should sound the same as it did before installing the Saddle Rider. If it doesn’t, check the bridge position and Saddle Rider alignment. By using the Saddle Rider to move the tailgut farther from or closer to the ebony saddle, or by making subtle side to side adjustments, find the “sweet spot” for the instrument’s best tone production. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you find that the instrument sounds best with the tailgut pressing against the saddle as in the red circle, it is good idea to have a luthier file down the ebony saddle until there is a tiny space between the tailgut and saddle. Otherwise, there will only be adjustment potential on one side of the sweet spot. The Saddle Rider works best if it can move incrementally both above and below the sweet spot.

STEP 15: All done! We welcome feedback and observations, and look forward to incorporating customer suggestions into future models of the Saddle Rider.