Find the cause of Buzzing?

October 7, 2015 at 06:10 PM · My new violin, Socia, has been giving me a buzz on the A string lately.

It used to be on the open string, my luthier made a quick fix not very long ago, the nut was worn down to the fingerboard, and she carved out small portion of the fingerboard by the nut and the buzz went away.

Today I started noticing buzzing on the A string during pizzacato, starting at the first finger on third position(First D).

I carefully inspected up and down of the fingerboard, the string doesn't seem to touch anything on fingerboard side, also I notice the buzz coming from bridge-tailpiece area.

From what I can tell, it's not from the finetuner for E string, it's not from the fingerboard, it's not the string winding coming apart(I tried putting on another A string briefly), I think it is possibly the bridge groove being too worn. Should that be the prime suspect at this point?

Is it also possible that I'm hearing after-vibration from D and E string because it's most noticeable from D and E?

Summary:

1. Buzzing on only A string,

2. No buzz until D(Most Dominant on D and E).

3. No fingerboard contact from what I can see

4. Not from finetuner on E string

5. Not from string being worn.

6. Only noticeable during pizzicato

Replies

October 7, 2015 at 08:07 PM · Check the fingerboard as sometimes worn spots on the fingerboard could cause buzzing too (but this is a new fiddle right?)

October 7, 2015 at 08:09 PM · I did spot a bump on the 5th position for the E string, before I purchased it, but I doubt it's affecting the A string.

It's down to fingerboard or bridge I think.

October 7, 2015 at 08:59 PM · Is it possible the tailpiece is lightly, or almost, touching the chinrest?

If it is only pizzicato and not bowed, I would suspect inadequate clearance over the fingerboard.

October 7, 2015 at 09:42 PM · The tailpiece is clear from the chinrest.

I spoke to my colleague who plays in quartets, he suggested fingerboard as well. I guess I'll wait until my short break to start to take it to my luthier again.

October 7, 2015 at 10:37 PM · An experiment one can often do on one's own is to shim up the nut with a small slip of cardstock.

October 7, 2015 at 10:39 PM · Take it to a good luthier. They may be very hard to find for someone without experience.

October 7, 2015 at 10:49 PM · Luis is right. Buzzes sometimes are extremely difficult to track down.

October 7, 2015 at 11:08 PM · Time to go shopping for a new violin?

Just kidding! ;^)

October 7, 2015 at 11:47 PM · Take it to its physician...could be an open seam, as simple as a bad string, sympathetic vibration from another string, or as serious as a loose bass bar, plus any of the things mentioned above, or something totally arcane and weird. (The adventures of violining)

October 8, 2015 at 03:52 AM · Yep, if you can't easily identify the buzz, time to see the violin doctor!

Buzzes can be a really simple thing or could be a major problem. I had one once that puzzled me for a while until I noticed that the tip of the A string had gone all the way through the hole in the peg and had a long 'tail' hanging out that was touching the inside of the pegbox. Fixed that, the buzz went away. :)

October 8, 2015 at 11:47 AM · I had an irritating buzz in my cello when I was practising at home one summer's afternoon. It turned out to be an irritated bee that had got in through one of the f-holes and was desperately trying to escape the noise. It did eventually and flew off into the garden.

October 8, 2015 at 12:08 PM ·

October 9, 2015 at 12:30 AM · Thank you David, that ruled out sympathetic vibrations causing the buzz. With re-tuning few times, the buzz now actually happens at first B on A string.

Little experiment I did:

-thin piece of paper wrapped around the neck and fingerboard under the strings. I hold the piece of paper back and slide it up and down while I pluck the string at different notes. If the string is touching, it makes more obvious buzzing sound and leaves mark on the paper. I'm seeing the marks right by the nut, on the A string.

I think it's the nut/fingerboard combination again, I'm quite happy that the bridge is in the clear.

I've read about this tap check for loose seams around the ribs. I haven't identified any seams in the past so I don't know exactly what I'm listening for.

October 10, 2015 at 12:32 AM · I spoke to my violinist colleague about it, how thick should a violin's fingerboard be? Mine seems somewhat thinner than a lot of other ones I've touched.

I think I can afford a nut and fingerboard repair in the near future(It has been on my mind for a while), but I'll have to see how much this bothers me because buzzing isn't there if the strings are bowed. I am now convinced that it's fingerboard and the nut combination.

October 10, 2015 at 08:28 PM · Much more likely to be inadequate string clearance toward the bridge end than a nut problem. The nut is not involved with fingered notes. And don't look at the clearance only at the end of the fingerboard. I've seen boards that droop a little at the end of the neck instead of having the normal scoop.

You need more clearance for pizz because the string is likely to vibrate vertically as well as horizontally, depending on your technique.

October 11, 2015 at 04:25 PM · I'm currently experiencing the open string buzz as well, it seems that I wear down the nut relatively fast.

Basically I am noticing this:

Nut-fingerboard---------------------------------freestring---bridge

---1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th

nut,bump-scoop-groove-scoop-----bump-edge

October 11, 2015 at 05:28 PM · Isn't the nut made of ivory? Or is it a different violin?

October 11, 2015 at 05:34 PM · it is made of "ivory", with many evidence of it being bone, one primarily being how easily it is grinding down and the fact that the saddle and heel has signs of tempering and has varnish on them.

During trial period, there was no buzz, then near the end of trial(over 20 hrs of playing), I had buzz on open A, then Olivia took out a small bit of fingerboard by the nut. No buzzing on open A then after a bit(20hrs ish playing), buzz on fingered notes, then now buzz on open A again.

October 11, 2015 at 08:42 PM · I am currently visiting my parents, so yes, my environment is much less controlled. No humidifier here. It is much dryer at my parents' than my well controlled 70%RH apartment. The buzzing became a lot more prominent since I arrived.

I'm sure this contributes a lot to the buzzing, Bridge change, I doubt it because the violin is missing varnish where the bridge feet stand on, and I've never touched it.

Strings, yes I changed A and E strings, to deal with my slipping A peg, but I'm back to almost-original configuration. Again, dryness may be responsible for this.

October 11, 2015 at 09:49 PM · I have tropical house plants, and also my violin sounds good at that RH

October 11, 2015 at 10:40 PM · I had a similar problem once: buzzing on the A string on certain notes. It seemed to be coming from the tailpiece area, but there was nothing loose and the instrument had just come back from the luthier. The problem ended up being a crack in the tailpiece right where the E fine tuner mounted. It took me a week of frustrating searching, tapping, looking etc to find. I discovered the solution when I attempted to tighten the nut. The string propelled the fine tuner and chunk of tailpiece across the room.

Oddly enough, there was no buzzing on the E string, only on a couple notes on the A string. I guess my point is that it can be extremely difficult to track down. In my case, the buzzing had nothing to do with the A string except for natural resonances and sympathetic vibrations.

October 12, 2015 at 10:28 PM · Currently, my A string slips, peg seems to be worn down so much, someone actually put a second hole closer to the middle to accommodate for how far the peg goes through. It's the Treble side that gets wedged only. I re-wrapped the string such that the string is held against the pegbox at the moment. I currently see the black powder forming around the treble side peg hole, which I assume to be the grounded ebony.

I'm actually going to order a new tail-piece, and pegs to mess with in the future. I still have a taken apart DIY violin to practice on before I try fitting the pegs and tailpiece on the good violin.

For now, I'm contempt with what's there, except the buzz on A string has to come off, I can now confirm that it is touching the fingerboard.

October 15, 2015 at 01:35 AM · Socia is with her physician for now, getting the fingerboard/nut touched up. Olivia seemed to check for seams while I spoke to her, I'm hoping that it's just the fingerboard. The environmental changes should suggest that as well.

It was buzzing on open A at my parents' place, and in Olivia's shop, not quite on the open string, but at C.

For now, I have a new beater violin of this model:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000O56IC0?keywords=cremona&qid=1444766171&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

which I traded an old unwanted netbook for. I shall practice peg fitting and tail piece replacement a few times before I give it a go on Socia. I must admit that I am a little afraid of touching the tail piece, because I REALLY like the sound as it is. I don't think there's a crack on it though, although I hope to find out if there is, in a less dramatic way

October 15, 2015 at 07:59 AM · try tapping the tailpiece with your nail to see if that is giving the buzz sound. Do this on any other part to check if something is causing that sound. Just to make sure if its not finetuner, try tightening the fine tuner.

October 15, 2015 at 12:45 PM · I haven't read every post, but I'm surprised at hollowing the fingerboard near the nut: this will leave a bump futher up

Another point: pizzicato often needs greater pressure from the left fingers than arco.

October 15, 2015 at 02:42 PM · I was perplexed as well.

If the nut groove was worn down or too low, then the nut needed fixing, not the fingerboard, right?

October 15, 2015 at 05:48 PM · I asked Olivia to touch both nut and fingerboard as required.

The fingerboard has grooves/bumps and the nut also is worn down quite a bit.

October 15, 2015 at 06:28 PM · So you bought the violin with all these fingerboard and nut issues?

October 15, 2015 at 06:50 PM · yes. Furthermore, I did not wish to push the deal, because I want to support local luthiers, and there's not enough of them in the world and I liked the trial to get to know the violin. At the same time, I like working on parts which will not directly affect the sound. My previous hobbies included carving wooden chess pieces, and I still have tools for that. I just have to curse my premature arthritis for making me stop.

October 19, 2015 at 09:02 PM · Socia came home!

Without the buzz!

October 19, 2015 at 09:26 PM · Yay!

January 2, 2016 at 04:22 AM · Steven, did you ever find the cause of the buzz?

I got a buzz now and I'm pretty sure it's the new strings I just put in (Pirastro Flexocor), because never before I had any buzzing.

It happens only on the very end of the resonance of the open G string, when the sound is almost about to stop, it tapers up and makes an unpleasant metallic 'mmmmwwaaaah', and only when it's plucked, doesn't do it from bowing.

It does it whether the other strings are stopped or not. I don't use fine tuners so it's not them. And the sound seems to come from the outside center of the violin right above the end of the fingerboard. And only the G does it.

Bad string maybe?

January 2, 2016 at 01:35 PM · @Fox maybe it is just the string being very new. See if it goes away after a month.

January 2, 2016 at 08:12 PM · Again, try a thinlayer of leather at each groove: metal-cored strings are often thinner than synthetics, and will vibrate in the notches.

January 2, 2016 at 10:26 PM · Fox, my luthier replaned the fingerboard on my violin, and my buzz went away. I did ask her to touch up the nut if required, but she said that it was fine.

It kind of beats me about your violin, to be clear, is the sound coming from near the bridge or from near the pegbox?

January 3, 2016 at 12:10 AM · Interesting you mention the planing the fingerboard, my luthier had already suggested a long time ago that mine could use a touch-up, but like I said, before there was never any buzzing and I like the strings at the height they are, so I didn't bother with it.

Now given that so far I have always used synthetics and this is my first steel string, there's a lot of variables that could be at work. I'm still debating if I'll keep the steel strings or not, they're disproportionally loud for playing duets and chamber music.

If I had to pinpoint where the buzz comes from, it's definitely close to the bridge, by the end of the fingerboard. It sounds like it's string noise, not resonating from the violin itself. Like... Ever pulled taut a thin piece of wire and it makes a wobbly twang sound?

January 3, 2016 at 12:43 AM · From what I understand, it sounds like something is loose on the string. Maybe even just the ball/or knot at the tailpiece, or string itself at under or over-tension.

January 3, 2016 at 09:31 AM · How deep and wide are the notches on the bridge and the nut?

January 3, 2016 at 10:58 PM · "How deep and wide are the notches on the bridge and the nut?"

If you want exact numbers I can get my calipers out and check it but roughly estimated the strings are 1/3 into the notch both on the bridge and the nut.

January 4, 2016 at 12:07 AM · As Adrian suggested, try a thin layer of leather or newspaper or parchment over the bridge notch to see if the buzz goes away.

January 4, 2016 at 12:29 AM · You already mentioned that it was not the E fine tuner, but met me list a few things that cause buzzing:

1. chin rest adjustor (tightener) is loose

2. the metal rod that inserts into the chin rest is loose (no adjustment for that)

3. an opening in the seam somewhere

4. a crack somewhere

5. the wound outer wrapping (winding) of the string has is loose or has broken somewhere along the length of the winding

6 a loose piece of the string (at the knot or ball) is vibrating against the tailpiece.

7. the tail gut has a loose piece or an extra long piece sticking out of the end under the tailpiece that is vibrating against the tailpiece or body

8. the nut is worn too low (the nut needs to be built up with paper, parchment, or leather, not shaved down)

9. the bridge is too low

10. the grooves in the bridge have worn too low

11. the fingerboard is uneven and needs planing

There are probably more reasons, but this is a start.

January 4, 2016 at 12:53 AM · I think I found it! ...or I found a much bigger, unrelated problem! ;)

I was practicing in an absolute quiet room earlier today, doing some high notes fingering without the bow as I was thinking/memorizing their order and all, when I noticed this absolutely minute little noise; at first I thought it was just the normal noise of friction between the fingers and the string/fingerboard, but then I pushed up and down on the fingerboard and there it was again, this almost inaudible noise almost like a brittle crunching sound coming from where the fingerboard joins the neck... or the neck joins the body of the violin.

So I'm thinking my fingerboard might be partially unglued... or the neck. ...or something worse! Since it happens only when pressure is put up/down on the tip of the fingerboard by the bridge and not when the whole neck is given pressure one way or another, I'm hoping it's just the fingerboard. I'll get the luthier check on it Tuesday!

January 6, 2016 at 02:10 AM · So I went to the violin doctor today! Interestingly, they didn't think the fingerboard 'crunching' noise was a matter for concern and said while they could take it off and re-glue it now, if it's not causing any problems it's a lot cheaper to wait for it to become really loose or just fall off altogether.

As for the buzzing, they played around with the soundpost for a while (he was more concerned with my A string not sounding to his liking) and not only the A got even better but the buzz on G disappeared altogether. These are some strange little wooden boxes that we play, aren't they? ;)

January 6, 2016 at 03:17 AM · they certainly are. Just adding to that, I've put loop end E-string now, my violin sounds like it has a new voice. In a good way.

January 6, 2016 at 08:41 AM · It seems a little weird to hear of a luthier recommending waiting until parts fall off...

January 6, 2016 at 09:43 PM · More than a little weird. I find fingerboards loose at the bridge end now and then, but can usually work some fresh glue in with a palette knife and clamp without even taking the strings off. If it is loose it wouldn't cost any more to remove it now than to wait for it to fall off. I might look for a new doctor. But that's not advice, just my personal opinion.

January 6, 2016 at 10:31 PM · It is odd, but it's not actually loose... or about to fall off! There's no noticeable play on the parts, just the tiny little noise if you push on it just right.

I might get a second opinion on it but I do trust those folks, and if they didn't seem concerned, must not be anything serious or urgent - I mean, why would they turn down the chance to make some easy repair money if it isn't something that is in need of repair?

...that and it didn't seem to be the cause of the buzz, as that went away with the soundpost adjustment like I said.

January 16, 2016 at 05:45 AM · Very interesting information, guys.

I have this violin strung as a viola and it has always been fine until recently, when I noticed buzzing on the G string. It wasn't the bow because I tried it on my violin and it was perfect. I took a look at my instrument and noticed nothing suspicious, so I put on a new G string and the buzzing was gone.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Virtual Sejong Music Competition
Virtual Sejong Music Competition

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Violin-Strings.com

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Warchal

Barenreiter

Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe