Trouble with high notes on G String

September 27, 2008 at 03:24 AM · I find it exceedingly difficult to play high notes on my G string and make it sound good. Although it could be me, I suspect it could be my instrument as I can play all the way up the fingerboard on the E string and it sounds OK.

On the G String, it seems like I have to use an extraordinary amount of left hand finger pressure to get the notes to come out clean. Do I need a new violin, or maybe get it adjusted? Would it help to change to a different type of string?

Note: I play a pretty decent fiddle. It is a German violin made by Heberlein Jr in 1907. And I use Dominant strings.

Replies (31)

September 27, 2008 at 03:59 AM · Although it's possible there might be something off with your violin, such as needing the bridge height adjusted or having a nasty wolf tone, I would say this is pretty typical. I also use strings like Dominants and Infeld Reds, which I believe -- correct me, anyone, if I am wrong -- are relatively low-tension.

Left side advice:

Be sure you are not letting the violin droop, and keep your fingers in a nice, strong arch.

Right side advice:

Sometimes a right hand problem masquerades as a left hand problem; you may be choking the notes with excessive bow pressure. Use more speed to see if this is the case.

General advice: you probably know this already, but in keys that produce overtones of the open strings, you'll hear the notes ringing brightly when they are really centered.

I hope that helps!

September 27, 2008 at 04:03 AM · Smiley - I have the same issue on my C-string (viola). I'm in the process of being taught how to overcome this through sounding points and "pressure" distribution. For me it becomes an issue in 3rd position or higher. It is not so much of an issue with the instrument, but a technique issue on the lower strings in higher positions.

September 27, 2008 at 07:04 AM · Play closer to the bridge? You can get away with playing not so close to the bridge in high positions on the e string, but your violin may be catching you playing too far away from the bridge on the g string.

BTW what piece, in particular, is giving you problems?

As Nicole suggested, you may also be having trouble with left hand shape. The only thing I feel qualified enough to comment on is that you must keep the angle of your finger with respect to the fingerboard constant as you go up. Also, your hand (and elbow) is quite heavy - you should have no trouble getting enough weight on the string if you have your elbow 'contorted' in the right way.

September 27, 2008 at 02:23 PM · I'd have your string spacing checked. The should be enough space between string and fingerboard to keep the string from buzzing--but much more than that and you can suffer difficulties in needing to force the string down., It could be either a nut or bridge, or both issue (presuming there is a spacing issue).

Also as you note, some violins just do not have the upper-G-String register.

September 27, 2008 at 02:38 PM · Hi.

When I had the same problem, I could solve it in a very simple way: I wiped the strings free from rosin. And suddenly I could play the 2nd movement of the Franck sonata without sound problems. (The only remaining problem was me ;-)

Good luck.

September 27, 2008 at 02:44 PM · I'm willing to bet it's the quality of your instrument. Not that it's bad or anything. But there are a few fiddles out there that "play themselves." These are usually owned by people named Itzhak or have last names that rhyme with Eyefetz. When I was shopping around for my violin I took the opportunity to play really nice violins at these shops and soon found out that it's impossible to make ugly sounds on them if you have a bit of the right technique. So go to a nearby respectable dealer and try out an Amati or a Strad and see if you have trouble on the G string.

September 28, 2008 at 01:38 AM · Charles, I have trouble with any piece that goes above 5th position on the G-String, but recently, I've been working on Lalo. It seems I have to press so hard, that it wears out my fingers. I can play through the high passages once or twice, but any more and my fingers get achy and I have to stop playing.

Good advice Marina. I'm going to try out some other fiddles to see if it makes a difference. I don't know about trying out an Amati or Strad. I'd love to, but never heard of a shop around that had one, and if they did, I didn't think they would let me touch it, much less play it.

September 28, 2008 at 02:09 AM · Why in the world are you in 7th position on the G string? There are easier ways of playing those notes.

September 28, 2008 at 06:03 AM · I agree with everyone's comments. Here's something I learned about this problem: the left elbow shouldnt go around to the point that your violin isn't balanced well. The more the left elbow is under the violin, the arm will support the instrument up, letting it not lose contact with the bow by dropping down. (don't know if that made sense lol)

PS - working too hard with left hand doesn't help, except maybe with vibrato. most violins have a wolf note or 2 on the G string.

September 28, 2008 at 09:56 AM · If your action is correct, and you still have the problem, try the light tension set of Doms (Weich - yellow peg end windings)

September 28, 2008 at 12:10 PM · Lots of good advice.

As Charles mentioned, the bow contact point will need to be closer to the bridge as you play higher on the string to get a good "core" to the sound. The E string is more forgiving in this regard. You may also need to reduce bow speed as you play closer to the bridge.

As Graham mentioned, lighter strings "generally" play more easily in high positions, and often sound better there too. Whether this works for you, or involves tradeoffs when playing in lower positions will vary according to the particular instrument.

Have a good violin geek (I'm getting tired of the word "luthier") :-) look at the violin to see if there are any obvious problems with setup.

And as Marina said, see how you do on other instruments. That's the easiest way to know how much of it is you, and how much is the violin.

signed,

Violin Geek

September 28, 2008 at 12:13 PM · I had trouble playing high notes on the G string, too. In my case the cause was the -- dare I mention the word? -- shoulder rest. It was too high on the right side, making the violin rotate counterclockwise when I moved my elbow under the violin in order to reach for the high positions. A cat chasing its own tail.

Reducing the amount of filling on the right side got rid of the problem.

I have no idea if this helps, but I hope it does.

Shouldn't we make a distinction between violin making geeks and violin playing geeks?

Bart (VPG)

September 28, 2008 at 02:14 PM · The tone difference when playing pitches on G & D strings that are handier to find on higher strings leads me to think of them as special-effects and not a meat-and-potatoes item. It's a pretty big a deal for everyone to play way high on the low strings, and if it is causing you specific pain, tension & tiredness, it can't be that good for you. Get your fiddle checked out for any adjustments that might help, get a coach or teacher to watch you play for any anomalies he/she may see, but also choose or alter your fingerings to be a little more forgiving on your body. Sue

September 28, 2008 at 08:12 PM · Bart Meijer wrote:

"Shouldn't we make a distinction between violin making geeks and violin playing geeks?"

____________________________________________

Naw, we makers will claim the title until you players prove geekal superiority. ;-)

Edit:

Ha ha, just saw your post in another thread. :-)

September 28, 2008 at 08:56 PM · David, I have always been fond of "Cremona Nerd". (Insert smiley face here).

September 28, 2008 at 09:54 PM · wow, i had this same problem at my last lesson. it was frustrating, because it was not nearly as hard as it was in earlier lessons. i found out that i had been practicing all week with a crooked bow arm, that i wasn't leading with the wrist enough at the frog and my bow just wasn't straight. and that was it. it reminded me of how important it is to watch my playing habits

October 3, 2008 at 01:42 AM · FYI,

I took my violin to the shop today and they said the G string was 7 mm above the fingerboard at the point closest to the bridge. The correct distance is 6 mm. They adjusted the bridge and it really helped.

September 5, 2016 at 09:10 PM · I had the same problem on high position on G, I am using "Dominant" on my Germany made violin. Physically speaking, this means the violin cannot respond well Dominant's G in a short length because of its mass, in other words, it is too thick and heavy for the violin, but this property may also produce rich, thick and deep voice on a low position something like a cello.

The solution is to choose a thinner G.

My question is: what is other good brand for a G, and a E string as well, it sounds too sharp for me?

Thanks.

September 6, 2016 at 12:18 AM · For G: Try a light gauge gut core string,while making dure the string is still tense enough so that it doesn't buzz when the pluck or bow it.

For E: Hill E's are nice and mellow, and tne heavy gauge will allow your violin to ring out if it needs more tension, as the lighter gauges reduce the brightness and volume of an instrument that doean't like lower tension.

September 6, 2016 at 01:06 AM · Few violins will sound good on the 7th position of the G string, in general you will have rasped notes and wolves there (mainly in the C).

Zukerman starts test driving violins playing fff in this region... a tough test for a violin.

September 6, 2016 at 06:04 PM · I dont know if this is a 'conventional' thing to do,but when I have to play high on the g-string I sometimes use 'block ' fingering.That is to say,if you had to put your 4th finger down,you might also put the 3rd finger down at the same time behind it on the g-string.This avoids having to put so much weight on the 4th finger,because the weight is spread between the 3rd and 4th fingers,and the sound shouldnt be as choked.It is still possible to do vibrato....some times it is possible once the string is 'down' you can lift the lower finger and do normal vibrato.....Hope this helps good luck.

September 7, 2016 at 02:17 AM · I've found that I need a higher bow-speed to bow-pressure ("weight") ratio high on the G string. If you're hurting the ends of your fingers stopping the strings then the fix is elsewhere. Maybe a soundpost adjustment? Switching to weich strings just for this seems a bit radical to me.

September 7, 2016 at 04:56 AM · "I've found that I need a higher bow-speed to bow-pressure ("weight") ratio high on the G string"

That's pretty much how it is for me.

September 8, 2016 at 03:40 PM · OP’s last input to this thread on 10-3-2008: “I took my violin to the shop today and they said the G string was 7 mm above the fingerboard at the point closest to the bridge. The correct distance is 6 mm. They adjusted the bridge and it really helped.”

Since the thread lay dormant after that till 9-5-2016, I’m guessing that this solved his problem.

I tried Dominant A-D-G only once about 10½ years ago -- mittel (medium) gauge. I liked the sound and overall response -- except for this same problem in high positions on the G. I’ve since used a split Thomastik combo with better results:

G - Infeld Red; D - Peter Infeld aluminum; A - Vision Solo

Tones are clear well up on the G as on the other strings. The E can make a difference, too. FWIW, I previously used Westminster heavy E on this fiddle; but since then, I’ve had not only better high tones with Goldbrokat medium E but improved response in the lower strings as well. For this player and instrument, the change was a noticeable improvement.

September 8, 2016 at 08:48 PM · "Note: I play a pretty decent fiddle. It is a German violin made by Heberlein Jr in 1907. And I use Dominant strings."

______________________________________________

What happened with the contemporary Cremonese violin you purchased a few years back?

http://www.violinist.com/blog/smileyh1/20095/10115/

September 8, 2016 at 08:57 PM · I have a couple of violins that had this problem.

Two different solutions have worked for me:

1. Use Larsen Tzigane strings

2. Us a Thomastik Peter Infeld platinum E string while keeping your other strings the same.

Voila! Play your 2-octave G major scale up the G string! Higher than that? That's a different problem for your left hand.

September 8, 2016 at 09:12 PM · Someone revived a dead thread from 2008, before Smiley got that violin.

September 8, 2016 at 09:22 PM · Ah, thanks Lydia. I failed to notice that this thread started in 2008.

September 13, 2016 at 10:08 PM · Thank you very much especially to A.O. and Luis Claudio Fioman, I found a German handmade Evah Pirazzi for G, passed the triple forte test on high 7th, and a Kaplan E to avoid the sharp voice on extremely high position, my violin sounds much better by now, only the price is so dear, around $80 for two string.

September 13, 2016 at 11:53 PM · :)

September 14, 2016 at 11:12 AM · Thanks for clarifying Lydia. Yes I am still playing the same contemporary Italian fiddle that I blogged about -- still in love with the gorgeous sound, although I wouldn't mind trying a Burgess again as I have improved somewhat and am working on more difficult repertoire. I might benefit from a fiddle that is a little easier to play.

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