G string tips

April 22, 2018, 9:35 AM · Hello everyone,

I think G string sound issues are quite common and can be related both to technique and setup. Buzz, choking breath, old car engine, fingers on blackboard sounds are often heard by non-advanced players.

I hope this thread becomes a reference of things specific to G string one can try to get a better sound (obviously i will not include looking for a better violin or luthier) .

Here is a beginner list :

rosin : does G require more rosin on the bow than E for example ? any particular rosin type recommended?

tension : any recommended setup of G tension along with other strings?

String protector(sleeve) : most are seen on E string, is it useful to have it on G to reduce buzz/vibration?

Is it normal for G to vibrate more ?

pressure : do you apply more pressure when playing on G?

Bowing position ,Bowing curve/plane , bowing speed : U curve, more speed, closer to the bridge for G or the opposite?

Chinrest : is using foam under the chinrest recommended ? any optimal position?

Pegbox/tail piece : any angle or distance optimal for G?

Playing in higher position : does it really improve its sound?

...any other tip

Thank you

Replies (5)

April 22, 2018, 10:33 AM · Using different rosin for E and G sounds a bit impractical ;)
Edited: April 22, 2018, 4:59 PM · If you are having G string issues:
1: what region of the string gives you the issues (just include the lower 2 octaves)?

2. Try loosening the G string a little (quarter-tone to half-tone); if this improves the problem you probably need a lower tension G string. Try a "thin" or "weich" gauge string. If that doesn't help try tightening the G string a quarter-tone or so; if that help[s then you might profit from a heavier gauge string.
3. You might also be helped by using a different E string. All 4 strings are pressing down on the bridge (and the resonant and flexible top of the violin) when you play, causing the bridge to rock side-to-side. The tension in any string(s) can affect the response and sound of all the others.
4. Rosin can make a difference. Grippier rosins can fail to release the string in time for the next note in fast passages and a "smoother' rosin might help. I have found some of the French rosins (colophane is their word for it are quite good in this respect and so is Bakers. I found Baker's quite unique in the breadth of color it made more accessible to my sound when first applied.

April 22, 2018, 6:27 PM · If you rosin for just one string, the other 3 will suffer.

Those little tubes are often blamed for worsening sound and in most cases are really to protect the bridge opposed to do anything for the string. The E string can cut into softer bridges and over time cause damage.

Technique wise, you require more pressure and less bow speed on the lowest string compared to more speed and less pressure on the highest string. (I think that's right...)

Foam under the chinrest shouldn't change the playability of your G string, but then the long list of anecdotes on this forum shows that strange things change random parts of a violin. The cork (is this what you mean?) under the chinrest is to protect the instrument more than anything else. It also adds grip and can be increased or decreased to add a little more or less height.

Most lower end instruments tend to not sound great in higher positions on the G string.

Edited: April 22, 2018, 10:33 PM · Simon Fisher analyzes the factors in tone production by speed/weight (pressure) and point of contact of the bow in the string, the famous five points, from fingerboard to bridge. He encourages to experimentate but in general it can be said that in G string the tone comes from more bow pressure and closer to bridge than in the E string. There is a string by string transition of weight-bridge to speed-fingerboard when going from G to E.
High positions in the G string is the Achilles heel of most violins. The G string tone and playability is, in my experience, the most sensitive to setup changes and as such, it is also the first to suffer from imperfect setups. From bridges non-alligned with the fingerboard, to bad tailpiece setup (too long string afterlength, too heavy or too light tailpiece) and of course, soundpost position.
Better setup may improve the G string but there will always be limits by the violin itself. The juice you can get from the G string is often what marks a soloist violin.
April 23, 2018, 4:44 AM · You forgot:

Violin: Priceless Italian antique, decent bench-made instrument, or Chinese firewood?

Carlos wrote, "... in G string the tone comes from more bow pressure and closer to bridge than in the E string. There is a string by string transition of weight-bridge to speed-fingerboard when going from G to E."

That may be true but it's a lot *easier* to plant your bow next to the bridge with your E string and draw a great sound because the thinness of the E string makes it intrinsically more responsive. Because of this I bet a lot of students find themselves puzzled by Mr. Fischer's advice to draw closer on the lower strings.

A few days ago a friend showed me his viola. It had a nice full sound on the A string but the G and C strings were muffled. It was crying out for a sound post adjustment and I told him so.

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