Violin rattling...????

February 24, 2007 at 08:57 PM · Hey,

This may sound a bit odd, but i've noticed over the past few days that my violin is making an odd 'rattling' noise, and I don't know why. Its not all the time, mosly on the G and D string, particularly evident when I put extra pressure into the string on an up bow.

Its really weird, and as you can imagine, its driving me crazy. I know its tough without actually seeing the violin, but does anyone have any possible suggestions of what the problem might be?

Replies (29)

February 25, 2007 at 01:00 AM · One obvious thing to check: the little nut (if that's what they call it) that screws down to hold your e-string fine-tuner to the tailpiece. If that is just a little loose, it can make a rattling sound (and not just while you're playing the e-string), though without hearing your sound that's a wild guess. Otherwise, I'd take it to a shop and play it for them (i.e., reproduce the problem).

February 25, 2007 at 01:58 AM · Some of the pegs on violins have little metal decorative bands around them that loosen and can easily be super-glued into a stable position...If you've an tailpiece centered chin rest, be certain it's not touching the tailpiece...The Wittmer tailpiece screws also loosen and vibrate.

February 25, 2007 at 02:25 AM · Mine habitually has a similar problem, which seems to be more prominent in higher humidity. making sure the fine tuners (I have a wittner 4 tuner tailpiece) were all adjusted up has improved the rattle, I had the shop look at it and the soundpost was slightly off (its a new violin, first set up last October when I bought it)and that has also made a slight difference. When I can hear the rattle while playing, I can't hear it even a couple of feet away from my teacher playing it.

February 25, 2007 at 02:28 AM · Things that have caused various obnoxious rattling sounds on my fiddle in the past:

Worn-out fingerboard that needed to be planed (little bumps and ridges would buzz against the vibrating strings),

Loose fine tuner,

Chinrest touching the top of the tailpiece (it had slipped a bit),

That little plastic tube thingy that comes with the E string so it won't slice through the bridge,

Body of the violin touching and buzzing against a button, clasp, or other piece of bling on my shirt,

Really, really, really old strings.

February 25, 2007 at 03:56 AM · Maura said:

"That little plastic tube thingy that comes with the E string so it won't slice through the bridge,

Body of the violin touching and buzzing against a button, clasp, or other piece of bling on my shirt,"

incoherent eh? ;).

February 25, 2007 at 04:47 AM · >That little plastic tube thingy that comes with the E string so it won't slice through the bridge.

Oh, wow, I've never thought of this as the source of an occasional buzz I get that I've never been able to diagnose. How exciting to have found a new option! Off I go to check and see if I can duplicate it. (Of course not - just like the way it goes away when the luthier is standing there expectantly, listening, waiting...)

February 25, 2007 at 04:46 AM · If it's only happening when you're fingering the string, pull the string aside and see if you've worn grooves into the board at each finger position. If so, you need to have the board dressed to remove the grooves. No big deal, and it will probably solve the problem. Otherwise, as has been said, it could be any loose thing. To check that out, get help from someone else who can press on the various suspects while you're playing to see if holding any of them quiets the noise.

Other possibities, in addition to what's been named, are a loose fine tuner nut, string balls that aren't snug against the bottom of the tailpiece, junk wedged in the gap at the bottom of the f-hole, and strings buzzing against each other in the pegbox.

February 25, 2007 at 04:54 AM · Other then what everyone here has mentioned already, another source of rattling could potentially be an open seam. Check around your instrument for seams or glue that seems to be deteriorting or cracking. If there is anything open, it could be causing that sound your hearding. dont worry, it can be repaired easily and is a routine form of mantainance. It is caused when the plates of the violin do not expand and contract at the same rate, so the glue pops open. It is normal, because if the violin was sealed up so tight, the plates would crack and then youd be in much bigger trouble.

February 25, 2007 at 03:11 PM · Albert, I speak 2 languages and am working on a third. The downside of that is my English gets really bad sometimes. :)

Clarification about the tube thingy: I don't actually use that, since I have a piece of parchment on the bridge that prevents the aforementioned slicing. So the plastic tube ends up just hanging around in the space between the bridge and the tailpiece, and sometimes it buzzes. Ugh, I'm still incoherent aren't I....

February 25, 2007 at 03:23 PM · The short version- check everything that could have worked loose, then check everything that could be coming unglued.(Except yourself, of course. You're not causing the rattling, just rattled by it.) I don't think anybody mentioned the knobs that hold rests like Kuns together yet. They can make noise, too. Also any repairs, such as face cracks or patches. Check your seams, too. Luck! Sue

February 27, 2007 at 02:15 AM · Actually your buzz might not be in your violin at all. My teacher told me of a buzz she and her luthier tried and tried to find, without any luck, until the bowmaker in the shop asked to look at her bow. He discovered that the pin in the button had worked loose and was causing the buzz!

Of course, without looking at your violin everything is just conjecture. Your best bet is to have a good luthier look at it.

February 27, 2007 at 03:52 AM · I had a similar thing happen just recently. The violin I am playing has decorative brass end pieces fitted to the pegs, and the one on the E string had come loose. It was not loose enough to notice, other than when it buzzed. I finally found the source of the buzz when I held my finger on the little brass nub when bowing...and like magic the buzz vanished. I pulled the brass bit out of the end of the peg and glued it back into place. That fixed it for me, which was good as it was beginning to drive me crazy. Here I'd be practicing along and every now and then this annoying buzz would crop up, but not any more! These thigs can be very tricky at times...or as my little 3 year-old daughter Taryn would say...this is really "chicky" (her way of pronouncing "tricky"...I tell you, she's so cute, my little sweet T!).

March 13, 2007 at 03:18 AM · Don't worry about it. Some violins do that and some don't mine does it and it's perfectly fine. But if it's that rattling that everyone can here without having to put there ear right next to it and you can't find what it is with the other's advice then take it to a shop, because that's really, really, bad.

March 13, 2007 at 05:50 AM · i had that once and it was the peg, some pegs have this fancy little ball at the end and mine just came lose so i glued it. another thing might be the bridge, go take it to a shop they can probably tlel you what it is free of charge

March 14, 2007 at 02:07 AM · Oh, that's what you meant by fancy little balls at the end of the peg. I don't have those so I really wouldn't know *heh*

March 14, 2007 at 06:17 PM · Allen,

The exact same thing happened to me. Drove me nuts! The rattle really sounded like it was coming from the violin, but in fact is was the button rattling on the bow. I played my senior recital with tape wrapped around it due to finding the the issue the day before!

March 14, 2007 at 10:08 PM · Sometimes it can be your necklace or earing too.

March 14, 2007 at 10:44 PM · Cheers guys! sorted it now!

March 14, 2007 at 10:54 PM · Good.

September 30, 2009 at 02:52 AM ·

My violin is doing the EXACT SAME THING. i have no clue what it is...

September 30, 2009 at 02:56 AM ·

There is a very long list of possibilities.  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.


September 30, 2009 at 04:17 AM ·

It might be that the specific frequency is irritating some wildlife in your ear canal. If all else fails, a squirt of DDT should clear them out.

I've had to remove my tinfoil hat while playing, for a similar reason; while it was useful in blocking microwave transmissions to my fillings, it would rattle around when my bowing got too exuberant.

June 11, 2010 at 05:19 PM ·

Mines doing this too. I got it "fixed" the other day to find that its doing it again to day...but worse. It moved to all strings and it was only on the d and g last time. It also stops when I hold the g or a peg. off to the luthier I go...

June 12, 2010 at 04:07 AM ·

mine did that ALL the time!!! So I took it to my orchestra director and he took a paper clip and put it in the little hole in the metal piece that clamps the chin rest to the violin itself and tightened it and I haven't had a problem since! I dont recommend a paper clip or "doing it yourself" just in case! but taking it to a luthier or a teacher or a violin shop owner and they should be able to tighten it with the correct tools! Hope it helps!

June 13, 2010 at 08:39 AM ·

 I had a rattling noise on one of my violins when I played the lower strings and had to file the inside hollow of the chin rest that goes over the tail piece as it was touching it. It is difficult to see so have a good look it may touching on an inside edge out of obvious view.


June 14, 2010 at 01:14 AM ·

This will be the strangest answer, but try blowing into the violin to loosen any dust.  I don't know why, but I've tried this on occasion and it worked.

June 14, 2010 at 09:54 PM ·

Great lists!  I am going to refer to this thread when I can't find one of my students' buzzes--I saw a few I'd never thought of!  The label, for one--that may explain several weird ones we've had--also, dirt in the f-holes?  Will somebody please explain this?  I have a hard time seeing how that could happen, maybe I've seen it but never noticed...?

June 15, 2010 at 03:04 AM ·

rattles can come from many different things the oddest one that I heard of is a piece of metal rattling in one of the barrels in the chin rest clamp. here is a mental list that I go through to check for:

fine tuners are tight

loose peg decor

make sure the tail piece is not touching the chin rest or top

make sure the tail gut is not touching the top (this could scratch the top of the instrument)

bridge and nut give the proper string higheth

no bumps in the fingerboard (use a 6 inch ruler to make sure there is a nice even concave shape the length of the fingerboard

check for loose top, back or fingerboard

cracks around the ff holes, saddle, neck

bridge not fit properly

have you luthier check the fit of your sound post

and also don't adjust the sound post yourself (this is one of the resons for sound post patches, from unskilled people adusting there own sound post over and over trying to find the best sound. the whole time they tear the top up from the sound post and make things worst) this can cause bad sounds!!

June 15, 2010 at 11:14 AM ·

I just had the same thing actually. My teacher said it was because the bridge had leaned itself over a bit and the strings were sitting on it a funny and it sounds fine now, so maybe try straightening your bridge out?

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