Help with awful sounding G string

June 10, 2007 at 12:09 AM · I'm trying out a new violin right now which sounds absolutely divine on the D,A,& E strings but which has a scratchy and muffled sounding G, especially in the higher positions; is this common, I mean it's a really well made American violin; Robert Glier,so am actually very surprised at this; would trying a different G be a waste of time? I've never had a violin before where one string sounded awful and the tone of the others was to die for....Comments?

Replies (37)

June 10, 2007 at 12:51 AM · What kind of g-string is this?

June 10, 2007 at 01:09 AM · Is he the Cincinnati Glier? I remember D. Burgess saying something about setting up violins with the G string in mind. It wasn't about addressing the G string in particular, but rather using that string as sort of a guide. He suggested de-tuning the other strings, and paying attention to the effect on the G string. When you like it, then find a combination of string gauges that give approximately that same pressure on the top when they're in tune. That experiment would be cheaper than buying G strings. But changing G strings would be something to try too. First of all though, make sure it's really bad and not just unfamiliar.

June 10, 2007 at 02:30 AM · Not sure what sort of ugly noise you mean.

If it's a "vibrating" sort of noise, check both ends of the string for metal-on-wood...this would most likely occur if the fine tuner is screwed all the way in or if the end in the pegbox is not properly twisted so that it doesn't touch anything.

Edit: This will also occur while playing if there is a nail in the fingerboard that touches the string while fingering certain notes, and if you pluck the string while fingering where the fingerboard has dips (I have this problem with my violin when I pluck a G on the E string because the fingerboard is worn from at least a century of being played).

June 10, 2007 at 05:09 PM · I had a similar problem to what you described with the G string on my violin. I changed to another chin rest, and was amazed at the difference.

My old chin rest was one that attached the violin to the left of the tail piece. I changed to one that fitted either side of the tail piece, and this caused a significant improvement to the G string sound. It might be worth a try.

June 10, 2007 at 09:44 PM · I think it's more than that... the position of the chin rest wouldn't be what changed it, but rather, the structure or how it's attached. Wouldn't it?

June 10, 2007 at 09:54 PM · True! I was just surprised on how big an effect it had.

June 10, 2007 at 10:45 PM · I think I would be equally as surprised. Did you trace it to the chin rest before you replaced it or after? (I'm assuming that was probably the REASON you changed it)

June 10, 2007 at 11:18 PM · Sometimes, just moving a chinrest a couple of millimeters will have a definite effect on the sound of an instrument. Tension also makes a difference.

Most good violins usually sound a little better with a side mounted rest, IME, but it still depends on the individual instrument. We put center mount rests on most new violins because they are less likely to damage the ribs, not necessarily because they sound better.

June 11, 2007 at 12:17 AM · That's interesting that you should place new chinrests on the center...most violinists I know use the left side. The only two people I know who play center are (a) my best friend, and (b) Joshua Bell. No, my best friend isn't Joshua Bell. Wishful thinking...

June 11, 2007 at 12:28 AM · I switched to the center-mounted chinrest a few months ago and I love it. I believe ASM uses this Flesch type of chinrest as well.

June 11, 2007 at 01:25 PM · Gary - your question has provoked a fascinating discussion, but none of the people involved can see or hear your violin. You should go to a luthier, who will be able to hear and see your violin and give a diagnosis. You may just need a soundpost adjustment or you may have a lousy string or who knows? We can speculate, but a luthier can really help you.

June 11, 2007 at 04:53 PM · What he said.

June 12, 2007 at 01:33 AM · 1) check string

2) check soundpost

3) check bridge

4) check tailpiece

the violin has so many small intricate parts that even the smallest change becomes a huge problem

October 25, 2007 at 03:36 AM · So I found this post after experiencing a mushy G-string and trying to find a solution. I put Evahs on my instrument about a month ago. I've been loving how these strings sound and perform, but starting a couple of days ago the G string went all muffled and dull on me. It wouldn't resonate clearly unless I really dug into it. It's way too early for it to have gone false on me so I figured it had to be something else.

The solution was to loosen the chin rest hardware and retighten it. I'm guessing the wood adjusted with the recent change in temperature. Once I did this, everything sounded great again. I recommend only tightening the hardware slowly and only enough to secure the rest so it doesn't wiggle around with a couple of pounds of pressure.....just enough...no more.

Cheers,

Bart

October 29, 2007 at 09:14 PM · wow - thanks Sanford for that posting b/c i had the same exact problem - i put evahs on my violin and they sounded wonderfully exquisite. then i opened up my violin several months later and for some reason anything played on the G string sounded abominable. i tried your solution and it worked. Northeast weather (i'm told by a luthier at C. Landon) wreaks havoc on violins. again, thanks for that obvious solution and saving me $ (i was about to buy a new G string)...

October 30, 2007 at 03:13 PM · Try a silver G string. If it doesn't work, go to a luthier.

October 30, 2007 at 04:53 PM · I wrote this on another post but I too had the same problem with the G string.I loosened the bass side of the chinrest clamp and there was an immediate improvement.I also moved the bridge a very slight bit more over the bass bar and this also added more depth.Good topic....

October 30, 2007 at 05:04 PM · Regarding the chinrest issue:

I would love to know if any of you, who hear differences in rest position & tightness, hear this difference when someone else plays the violin. Better yet, did you record various rests & positions, then listen to the results in a double-blind test?

I ask because when I did the above, I found very few instances where there was any perceptible change at all, and in the few cases where a difference was noted, it was so small as to be insignificant.

There was, however, a noticeable change to my ears when I actually played the violins. I attribute this to a change in the spectrum & amplitude of the frequencies that were physically coupling with my jawbone.

My tests were far from comprehensive, and not replicated, so I am very curious to know if there is some hard data out there on this, supporting the "change" theory.

October 30, 2007 at 10:07 PM · How the violin feels under your jaw is very important for control of dynamics.You feel connected with the instrument.I just got back from rehearsal and was VERY satisfied with the adjustments.

Of course the violin must sound good to the audience but the player needs to be satisfied also.I remember my teacher having sold the "Muntz"Strad because he said it was just too damn hard to play!(I wonder if he tried a chinrest adjustment???)

October 13, 2013 at 12:31 AM · The sound is probably caused by vibration "leakage" going behind the bridge and bouncing back. Get a wolf note suppressor, and place it somewhere near the bridge. I did this, and the sound improved by about 10 times.

October 13, 2013 at 03:48 PM · this post is 6 years old--hopefully the adjustment has settled...

April 27, 2017 at 03:05 PM · Searching the archives for help with the violin tone on the lower strings, I came across this interesting forum about the effects that tightening/loosening the chin rest has on the sound.

I have a hard time producing a clean, resonant, full tone on the lower strings when playing fingered notes. Open strings are not a problem though, which makes me think the chin rest might not be the solution.

Why is it so much harder to produce a good tone on the lower strings, than it is on the higher ones? What are the secrets to producing a beautiful, warm, rich sound, specifically on the G string?

April 27, 2017 at 03:24 PM · One part is the higher mass of the bottom strings that demand good bow control.

The position of the g string is a bit harder to reach for both left hand and right arm.

Just sponanious idea though.

April 27, 2017 at 03:26 PM · I have had 2 violins with problems similar to those posed by the original OP a decade ago. At that time I would not have had a useful response. But since my problems occurred since then I have accidentally found 3 possible solutions.

1. Larsen Tzigane strings eliminated the G string (upper octaves) problems on both violins.

2. PI-platinum plated E string, with whatever other lower strings were on the violins also eliminated the problem.

3. The Krentz wolf eliminator seems to be able to help this kind of problem even on instruments that do not have a wolf. It probably serves a purpose similar to re-graduation of the upper plate.

None of my instruments are "factory fiddles" each was made by an individual luthier.

April 27, 2017 at 04:08 PM · G. A.

What kind of strings are on it now?

Have you tried having it adjusted by a luthier?

Some violins just have a bad string that no amount of adjustment or string mixing will fix.

April 27, 2017 at 10:04 PM · I'll admit I have a factory student quality instrument in the $500-$1000 range (and a bow worth $150). However, that does not mean it cannot create a good tone, as I've heard my violin being played by my teacher, luthier, as well as the seller, and of course they all sounded good.

Being that I could produce a good sound on open strings, I'm assuming my difficulty must be related mostly to the left hand, but also possibly the right hand as well, since it is affected when both hands are in use. What techniques come into play in this area? Bow control... and?

It has Dominant strings; I'm planning on replacing them in a couple months when they finish their life span. I've never yet tried any other strings though.

April 28, 2017 at 12:45 AM · G. A., again I ask what quality you want more of. What makes it horrible? Is it dull? Is it flabby sounding? Is it too bright or harsh or shrill? If you describe to me the problem, I can recommend some string choices.

April 28, 2017 at 02:09 AM · It is NOT always the string, though! :)

More often, a violin that sounds weak on a string is simply because the instrument is weak on that string/register (which can be mitigated by strings, and even more so by an exceptional bow, but not erased completely).

That being said, I think a common problem (which I used to have) is that the G (esp!) and D must be pushed all the way down to the fingerboard above the first octave to get a clear sound.

This is especially tricky on the G because it usually requires quite a bit more pressure than high on the A and E (or any lower part of all the strings) where we do not even have to touch the fingerboard for maximum tone.

I recommend 2-3 octave scale up the G and D, experimenting with finger pressure while bowing each note above the first octave to memorize the exact minimum weight needed up there (usually feels like too much at first, but it is not- otherwise, the bow presses in to try to add tone, which just adds more scratch). :)

April 28, 2017 at 02:55 AM · I am surprised that nobody has mentioned a faulty / weak bass bar in 10 years!

Most of the problems with poor G are due to bad (b)ass bar. Once eliminated as a potential source, second is in the actual plate graduation. Strings, bridge, sound post placement.... yes, but only after fundamentals are in good shape.

my 2 Canadian cents

April 28, 2017 at 05:47 AM · I simply second that

April 28, 2017 at 07:40 PM · Darian and A.O.: I'll try to describe the sound more in detail. It's as though only half the bow hairs are catching onto the string, and the other half are fluttering against it, causing wispy, ruff noises. When I add speed to the bow and/or put my left fingers down more fully, it helps a bit, but not quite enough. This raises the level of tension in my left fingers as well, which I'm working hard to get rid of. (Well, not hard quite literally, but just... you know.)

Mr. Milankov: If you would've put your post up to 3 cents worth, it would round off to 5, and that's getting somewhere. Canadian cents are actually priceless now. I have one framed in my archives to show off in 30 years from now :)

Anyway. I never actually thought about the bass bar. What does it mean that it gets faulty? Would that happen on a new violin? I only have been playing mine for ~5 months.

April 28, 2017 at 07:51 PM · It is hard to find a violin that sounds good on high positions on the G string... .... try the 7th position on the G string, in general you will have many wolves and rasped notes in that position. That's why many players (Zukerman included) will start a violin test drive playing fortissimo on the upper positions on the G string. The same is true for the high positions on the viola C string.

Many students are not aware of this problem till the time they start studying advanced pieces.

April 28, 2017 at 07:54 PM · Its normal that the wood of the bassbar ages different than the top.

Also old tops sometimes need a new bassbar that supports heavier (even Strads and del Gesus get new ones). But we talk of 200y+ here, esp instruments build with the baroque neck.

Faulty bassbars at new instruments can mean they dont fit the shape (should not happen at good violins) or wrong length. Changing it by 2mm can change the sound immensly.

I am quite sure there is more to add to this list, I am not a luthier.

April 29, 2017 at 04:21 AM · Since others can make the violin sound good without undue strain, this must be a technique issue.

If finger weight only partially solves the problem, the bow is probably being used incorrectly.

Unlike the other 3 strings (even extremely high up!) , where the bow arm weitht follo2s the pressure of the fingers, this is reversed on the G.

This means that the arm, hanging off the bow that is propped up by resting on the strings, must sink in more slowly and drag the sound out, and the fingers follow it- also usually means the lower half of the bow is used more often on the G quite naturally.

As an analogy, bowing for the G for the first octave and below is akin to the motion of the flowing push needed to chop something tough with a large knife, whereas.the other strings use the more fluid light motion used in launching a fishing rod.

For the notes above the first octave of the G, the fingers lead the bow with pressure to get a clean sound, while the other strings also reverse by having the bow lead the fingers.

Basically, low = fingers to bow, high = bow to fingers. Reverse for the G string, and all set. :) PM me if wanting assistance on skype etc.

May 8, 2017 at 12:39 AM · I brought my issue of a good tone on the G string with my teacher today, and interestingly, she pointed out that perhaps it's the bow itself. I have quite a heavy bow (at least compared to hers) and it may be crushing the tone instead of bringing it out fully. (It was much easier to produce a full, resonant sound with her light bow.)

Technique comes into play to a big extent, but it was helpful to know that I could produce a beautiful tone and that it's not all my fault. :)

May 8, 2017 at 04:44 AM · Yes, esp on the g string and high parts of the e string a bow can turn to a show stopper.

May 8, 2017 at 11:50 AM · Checking the neck angle is very important.My G string was rather lifeless and limpid until I found out the neck had come down 4mm.What a difference now though,along with a new bridge.

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