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Sudden buzz on your violin

Instruments: Anyone had experience of buzz suddenly occuring on their violin?

From Allen Liang
Posted December 6, 2009 at 12:37 AM

Hi people just wondering if you can help:

 

I changed my strings from Pirazzi to Passione 2 days ago (BTW loving the Passione, much easier to play and lot richer, warmer and colorful sound, more powerful too on my violin!) and today noticed a slight buzz (metallic sounding,) when I play C # on G string in first postion and second position on D and rarely when I pluck the open G at FF. Has anyone experience similar experience after chaging to a different brand of string & change of weather (getting colder here in Scotland)? What are some of the usual causes/solutions?

 

Thanks

From Bob Annis
Posted on December 6, 2009 at 12:42 AM

Open seam, loose nut, chinrest clamp, and so on. Something shrank in the dry air. If you can't find it, your luthier should be able to.

From Jack Rushing
Posted on December 6, 2009 at 02:28 AM

Your bridge could have shifted a bit when you changed the strings. Also, it takes a while to break

Passiones in. In my case, about three weeks of playing.

 

 

From Allen Liang
Posted on December 6, 2009 at 05:18 PM

Hi guys thanks for the response. I have tapped the top of my violin and found a little ratting noise when I tap the upper left part ( 2-3cm from the fingerborad, not close to the pufling though) which corresponse to the "buzz" I 've been hearing sometimes when playing C#, could this be a loose bass bar?

From Joe F.
Posted on December 6, 2009 at 09:18 PM

It might just be a wolf tone that is more noticeable because of the lower tension of the strings.  It might also be a problem with the sound post or bass bar, so you might want to get it checked by a professional.

From Stuart Rochon
Posted on December 8, 2009 at 01:34 AM

 I had a buzz that was driving me nuts and finally noticed my chinrest had slipped over and was barely touching the tailpiece.  That buzz only showed up on certain notes.  Cheap and easy to look for. :-)

From Jack Rushing
Posted on December 8, 2009 at 05:43 AM

 Rarely is it the bass bar. In the area that you tapped, check where the ribs join the top and bottom plates, to see if there is a slight separation. 

From Connie Sunday
Posted on December 8, 2009 at 01:25 PM

Violin buzz!  I did a survey about this, with most of the responses coming from the Pegbox on Maestronet - which has lots of eminent luthiers.  I got this huge long list of possible causes.  Best thing to do is take it to a competent luthier and have the instrument examined;  the buzz may have nothing to do with the change of strings, and just be coincidental to that.  See:

 

Why is my Viola making a buzzing sound?

A buzzing sound could be caused by any or some of the following:

  1. loose fine tuner (loose metal doughnut)
  2. lowest point of fine tuner pivot, barely touching top plate
  3. string slot on the nut too deep, causing open string(s) to buzz against the fingerboard
  4. seam that has come unglued
  5. crack in the instrument somewhere
  6. chin rest rubbing against the tailpiece or saddle
  7. loose chin rest hardware
  8. a high spot on the fingerboard
  9. unglued fingerboard
  10. loose purfling
  11. loose lining
  12. top and/or bottom block poorly glued
  13. dirt in the f holes
  14. loose sound post
  15. loose collar or pin on decorated pegs
  16. misplaced tailpiece
  17. gap between bassbar and plate (one has opened up due improper or "sprung" fitting)
  18. the bridge protectors are floating on the strings in the afterlength area
  19. problem with endpin cork, ring, tip or screw
  20. a label on the inside of the instrument can come loose, and buzz at a certain frequency
  21. dead string falling apart; loose winding
  22. loose string end in the pegbox
  23. shoulder rest buzzing back of fiddle
  24. loose sliding mute
  25. loose wolf eliminator
  26. buzz caused by an object in the room buzzing in sympathy with a certain note; sometimes can be mistaken for a buzz in the instrument
  27. buzz caused by player's personal effects, jewelry or a button, etc.
  28. check the bow; a screw loose on the threaded post can buzz

Aside from making sure it's not a problem with a fine tuner (#1-2), or some problem extraneous to the instrument, (#21-28), you should take it to a luthier and have them examine the instrument, as only a luthier can do the repairs.

 

From Allen Liang
Posted on June 7, 2011 at 03:37 PM

Sorry for resurrecting an old thread, but the problem is still there! I have eliminated the possibilities of loose chinrest, E string fine tuner and external sources (other things vibrating in the room or shoulderest etc), and it's definitely a buzz instead of wolf note. The buzz is coming from the upper tail piece area as far as I can tell, Is it possible for a certain note to buzz because of a tail piece that is too light? (Thinking of getting a better tail piece anyway)

From Lothar Krepke
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 12:41 AM

 

Hello Allen,

Perhaps you have already tried this, but if not...

I would suggest that you try to locate the buzz with a helper:

You play until you hear the buzz. Then, while you hear it, have your helper (gently) touch parts of the instrument until the buzz stops. Sometimes it is really tough to locate this sort of problem for those of us who have only two hands...

All the best,

Lothar

From David Burgess
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 01:31 AM

Connie and I have had our differences, but her buzz list is actually pretty good. Have you eliminated everything on that list? (No, Connie, this does not give you permission to use me as an endorsement on your web site) LOL

If your time is money, and the buzz isn't from one of the more common and obvious problems, it might be cheaper to take it to a specialist, rather than trying to find it on your own. Violins are made to conduct vibration, so a buzz can sound like its coming from one place, and actually be coming from another. Tracking the tougher ones down has even driven every pro luthier crazy, at one time or another, so don't feel bad if you can't nail it on your own.

From bill platt
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 02:25 AM

David,

Have you ever used one of those vibration sniffers used by auto mechanics?

From David Burgess
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 10:16 AM

The contact type, like a rod attached to a stethoscope? With those, I found that they could create their own buzz where they contacted the vibrating instrument. Pressing harder so it wouldn't buzz, it could damp the vibrations enough that the buzz I was trying to find went away.

I've used a flexible plastic tube between the instrument and my ear though (not in contact with the instrument) to try to localize the source. The screwy thing is that the noise isn't always loudest at the source. For instance, one time, the source was an ever-so-slightly rounded-over groove in the upper nut. Typically, this would show up only on the open string, but on this one, it occurred even when the string was stopped. This miniscule buzz was conveyed by the string, past the finger to the bridge, and was then amplified by the fiddle in such a way that the noise was loudest in the region of the top near the tailpiece. I think I spent a whole day tracking that sucker down!

Oh, Allen, it so happens that this problem started with a string brand change. I guess the stiffness of the replacement string was different enough that it followed the curve in the upper nut groove differently. I don't mean to suggest this as the cause of your buzz though. It was really quite an obscure and unusual case, and that's why it was so hard to find.

From Andre A
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 08:35 PM

Allen you are a very patient fellow, having stayed with a violin that is buzzing for 18 months. In the mean time you tapped the top and found a buzz. You found a buzz coming from the upper tail piece area. You went down Connie' list and eliminated all extraneous causes. I know you are Scottish but even that has a limit. Take Connie's advice and go to a luthier that might even do the job on a piecemeal payment scheme.  

From elise stanley
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 08:42 PM

what kind of buzz is it?  I have passionne strings too and have noticed a sort of bow hiss that I suspect only I can hear.  Is it like that or really a fly-like buzz?

From bill platt
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 09:20 PM

Can we please refrain from citing the advice of a trolling nutcase who is no longer permitted to post on this forum?  Please, cite David, or somebody else.

From Andre A
Posted on June 8, 2011 at 11:14 PM

Thank you Connie for putting out a very comprehensive list of buzz causes. The list will be hard to beat, and I will print it for future reference. 

From John Cadd
Posted on June 9, 2011 at 12:32 AM

I say Bill.  Steady on old thing.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on June 9, 2011 at 12:54 AM

 Sure you weren't just wearing a big blingy necklace! ;)

From David Burgess
Posted on June 9, 2011 at 09:29 AM

I had a buzz that lasted for a year. Turns out it was cause by a shirt button lightly touching the instrument. It went away when I finally changed my shirt. ;-)

Bill, how about if we just re-name the list, since the ideas were compiled from other people, and weren't Connie's anyway?

Uh oh, now she'll re-register here under a different name again and give me a serious verbal bruising! LOL

From Hendrik Hak
Posted on June 9, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Sometimes it is hard to find an open seam. I have never tried this but has anyone tried to have a light source inside the instrument ( without chipping the varnish on the f holes) in a dark room to see if light escapes through an open  seam?

On the other hand, an open seam that is hardly noticable probably doesn't buzz.

From John Cadd
Posted on June 9, 2011 at 04:27 PM

If you look for an open seam switch off the radio and hold the violin close to your ear. Then rub the fingerprint of your thumb up and down across the edges. Work round till the sound suddenly gets louder.   That`s where the seam is loose.  Light works too. Dark room with an internal light or use a mirror near a bright external light

A     Sudden Buzz     is not one that happened Years ago.   Is it?  The clue is in the first word. lol.

Have you arranged the distress beacons on your desert island ? ".Help Need another Human to sort out my Buzzy Violin."

All that in smoke signals would be difficult , I must admit.

From David Burgess
Posted on June 10, 2011 at 09:38 AM

Hendrik, a light source inside the instrument will work if there happens to be a gap where the seam is unglued. Often there is not. Also, sometimes you get a seam which is not completely open, but not completely glued either. For instance, it might be secure on the outside, but loose on the inside.

From John Cadd
Posted on June 11, 2011 at 09:41 PM

How about a dribble of glue hanging near the ribs but not stuck to it. Some violins were made that way . The list does not mention a good old clean out in case a furball has decided to play up. What`s the latest recipe for shaking out the dust?    Should have said fluffballs. Cats have furballs. There`s no connection between cats and violins.

From Erica Thaler
Posted on October 24, 2012 at 11:52 PM
My daughter's e string protector slipped off the bridge and there was a buzz that was driving her nuts. Popped it back on the bridge and the buzz was gone. Did not see this one on the list (or maybe I missed it.)
From Nimesh Chudasama
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Either the e fine tuner isn't in all the way (tightened) or the protector came off.
From Nairobi Young
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I've experienced this on my violin, and underneath the tailpiece, there are two spring like objects. One if them may b lowered and could be hitting the wood. You can check by just lookin underneath the tail piece by holding the violin at a slight angle towards the floor. If its not that, there may be something stuck in the violin itself or the e protector is off or anything else suggested here :P
From Rocky Milankov
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 05:00 PM
First of all, Passione are great strings and have been my personal choice for many years. However, those strings (for violin) can develop a sort of buzz (metallic or plastic) , especially if you switch them from one instrument to another or put an used string. On Pirastro's web site they say the same; once relaxed and reused, the string may not sound to its best.
The core of this type of string is pure gut, wrapped with a thin twin synthetic string (a pair of threads) and finally covered with aluminum or silver. One of those layers can easily go wrong even if you only over-strech the string.

Simply roll back to Evah Pirazzi.
If the buzz is not there, keep the strings.
If it is, go back to the extensive list posted above and check out each and every possible cause.
Change only one thing at a time to avoid adding more complexity in problem solving.

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I had buzzing in my cello once; it turned out to be a bee that had wandered into the instrument from the garden. A minute or so of hard playing and it soon wandered out again and back into the garden. Probably very unlikely for a violin, but it is a real possibility for instruments with large f-holes.
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on October 25, 2012 at 05:21 PM
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