Why does my E string squeak?

January 1, 2007 at 01:43 AM · My violin may just be doing this to me out of spite, but much of the time when I try to play an open E string, it squeaks. This happens mostly when I am doing the string crossings in Bach's Prelude in E (from notes on the A string onto the open E string). Every time I play this section, the open E squeaks at least five times. Does anybody know why this is happening to me?

Replies (17)

January 1, 2007 at 02:34 AM · The most likely answer is an improperly cut or adjusted post, or, less often, a faulty groove in the nut. Using a wound E string often cures the symptom without solving the underlying problem--something I don't encourage, because a poorly-fit post can damage the instrument.

January 1, 2007 at 02:50 AM · it happened to me too.my teacher said that sometimes it's because my bow is not straight. and when i checked my bow WAS not straight... so there's another possibility.

January 1, 2007 at 12:46 PM · Also make sure you are not touching the e string with the side of your fingers while you are reaching for notes on the a and d. That happens to me if my left wrist gets lazy. If I push my wrist out towards the scroll and try to approach the fingerboard more vertically with my fingers, there is less chance that I will accidently touch the e and cause a false harmonic type squeek.


January 1, 2007 at 12:57 PM · Continuing with Eric's theme, try fingering the A normally without playing, and notice if any of your fingers are also touching the E.

If any of the fingers used to stop the A string are in light contact with the E when you make the string crossing, it will be much more likely to squeak, almost as if you were playing a harmonic.

You could try rolling the finger away from the E before the string crossing, as if you were going to use the open E in a double stop.

Experimenting with bow speed, pressure and contact point can help. A fast light bow will exacerbate the problem.

You could also try the "Kaplan solutions" non-whistling E, which was designed to help with this problem.

David Burgess

January 1, 2007 at 07:24 PM · Make sure your frog is pulled in, ie closer to the bridge, for the string crossing

January 1, 2007 at 08:16 PM · It might depend on the kind of string, although this isn't usually my experience. When this happens, it's usually because the E string is much thinner or lower than the other strings. The string is not able to take the same kind of angle that the other strings can take. Sometimes the E string needs more or less pressure/weight. To avoid the squeaks, I either have to sink in more weight or move the bow closer to the bridge.

January 2, 2007 at 04:03 AM · Here is what I've found makes a difference:

My soundpost was recently adjusted and it squeaks less.

Use a lot of rosin.

Angle the bow a little in and closer to the bridge.

January 2, 2007 at 05:38 AM · I recently found that cleaning the rosin residue off the string made a big difference.

January 8, 2007 at 12:38 PM · Apart from the above suggestions, you may want to revisit your bow technique. I have found that a squeaking string (usually E) is down to a lack of pressure and thereby contact on the bow after you make the transition. an oblique (nonstraight) bow doesn't help here, but the problem is primarily one of contact.

If the transition is a quick one (which it is in this case) the tendency can be not to fully contact the string and so you skim the string rather than actually play it. The way round I found was to use a slower bow stroke with more pressure.

The problem is easy to reproduce - just do really fast A-E transitions with a light bow stroke. If you play with an angled bow stroke you further reduce the contact between hair and string, and skimming becomes even more likely. Slow the bow and add more pressure, possibly by playing closer to the frog, and you'll be able to work out how to eliminate the squeak.

Hope this helps.

January 8, 2007 at 06:50 PM · Yup... I was going to say that...

Because the E string is always tightly wound, it tends to play a harmonic note when "activated" so next time, just add a little pressure -- if it doesn't respond to that, then get a new E.

It's a right hand technique thing.

January 9, 2007 at 01:10 AM · I got a Kaplan E-string in the mail today, and to my horror it had a ball end, and my violin has a tuner that takes a loop end. The Kaplan string came with a converter--a little ball-end holder that hooks onto the loop end holder. I tried it, and I didn't notice any squeaking, but I did notice a rattle. I tried to remove the ball (I usually can do that with most strings), and the loop came undone. Oh well. I'd rather squeak than rattle. I wonder if the ball end thing has something to do with eliminating the E-squeak?

January 10, 2007 at 05:45 PM · I doubt it has something to do with the ball. I use those e-strings and they still squeak sometimes. It's probably a better string that you got although I agree with the others - I think it's a right hand problem not so much a string problem.

January 12, 2007 at 05:09 PM · I think I have figured out something about the squeaking E string. I think that it has to do with the wild resonance of the open E itself when it is in combination with other strings playing perfect intervals, both horizontally and vertically. Playing a double stop with a B on the A string and an open E always has the possibility of a squeak for me. I have to really use my right hand to stabilize the string in order for it not to squeak. A chord made of F#, B, and open E is a doozy: three stacked fourths carry a lot of overtone "baggage." Also an A major chord, played horizontally, as a slurred arpeggio, tends to squeak unless I am very careful with my right hand. Those are just thirds, but they are thirds that involve two resonant open strings.

I also noticed that my open E will squeak more when the instrument is slightly out of tune or when the intervals I am trying to play are slightly out of tune. It is as if there is a fight between what the E should sound like in relation to the other notes and what it does sound like. The pitch gets thrust up somewhere in the harmonic series, ending at the most stable possible squeak.


January 12, 2007 at 05:23 PM · I like the comment about "skimming' the string. I think the squeaking occurs on the open E more than the fingered E string. If you are "skimming" without enough weight a harmonic will sound on any string really. I have found that the E can take a bit more pressure than we think.

I also like the comment about "pull in the frog." I think that "point of contact" is really crucial during the change of bow.

January 12, 2007 at 05:33 PM · my own experience suggests that using a gold e-string (e.g. oliv, infeld red)increases your chances of this distrurbing noise. so notwithstanding the fact that I love the tone of the golden olive E, I tend not to use it as it reminds me of playing russian rulette.

January 12, 2007 at 06:40 PM · The physics of the whitling E string has to do with torsional rotation of the string. The Kaplan solutions string is designed not to twist (torsionally rotate) and the ball is essential to it's function. I've never seen anyone able to make the Kaplan Solutions non whitleing E string wistle. (I believe it's guaranteed not to whitle).

The odds are that it was something else that was causing the ratteling on your instrument.


January 12, 2007 at 08:01 PM · Does the gold plating somehow exacerbate the torsional rotation then? Curious since I just put one on not 20 minutes ago! The reports of gold E's squeeking more just made me go "uh oh".(But it sure is purdy and sounds really warm)

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