Extra vibration with new violin and bow

November 16, 2016 at 01:28 AM · Hi! I have recently taken up the violin again, after learning at school over 15 years ago, and hope some of the lovely people here can help me with some advice.

The violin I played on years back is a 3/4 so I upgraded and got myself a 7/8 with 4/4 bow, I'm a short woman so my arms take too much stretching with a 4/4! I've been enjoying playing again, and working my way through some of my old learning books to get to grips with the basics again.

But I've noticed a extra vibration noise when playing. It is not there when I begin each session, but I soon hear it again, after 5 minutes, if that. I've looked up online, mostly on this forum, and checked that nothing is loose, cracked or touching the violin as far as I can see - it's more of a softer extra vibration noise that something untoward coming into contact. I then noticed the strings had some dried rosin on them. I cleaned this off and the sound went away - but came back again just as quick. I never had this problem with rosin drying to the strings so quickly before, and not sure what is causing it.

I tried playing my new violin with my old 3/4 bow and the sounds is not there at all. I got new rosin with my new violin - dominant to match the strings. Is that one known for drying easily? Could it be the climate? I live in Sweden, which is pretty dry/low humidity. I've also cleaned my strings with alcohol wipes, the same happens after 5 minutes of playing. Any ideas or suggested really appreciated!

Replies (20)

November 16, 2016 at 01:37 AM · C. M. Sunday, a teacher, recently posted on Maestronet a list of 28 causes of buzzing; I think you may need a luthier! See post #4 in this thread:


November 16, 2016 at 09:57 AM · Hi Erin - thanks for the response and link. I will have a read, and likely take it into my local violin shop for a luthier to take a look.

November 16, 2016 at 03:24 PM · Hi Alana, does the noise resemble anything like almost hissing-breathing sound?

I spent a small student-budget fortune trying to track down on my previous violins. I think the best conclusion I could make was rosin. Either too much, too little, too dry, or etc. It responds differently to different bows, strings and violins(specifically bridge height).

After about $300 rosin experiments, I keep Andrea Solo in my case as primary(best from 20~50%RH), and currently somewhat regretting Andrea Piacere(Best at 50~70% RH, but even then not as good as Andrea solo. I regret it because I am about 1/2 done through Andrea solo, and Piacere costs as much as solo).

November 16, 2016 at 10:19 PM · Hi Steven. Thanks! I do wonder if it is the rosin. With my old bow I used Hidersine, and decided to research a little with my new violin so went for dominant rosin to match the strings. There was nothing wrong with the Hidersine, just old and though combining string and rosin brands would keep everything in good condition.

I have tried the Hidersine rosin on my new bow, but the same happens however the bow probably has residual dominant rosin on it. Perhaps a clean of my bow hairs before trying the Hidersine again would be a good thing to try. Have you ever done that? I've read about cleaning it with alcohol - like I tried with my strings - might be the way to go.

November 16, 2016 at 11:11 PM · Alana, I think you are correct that some rosins can be related to this problem. However it might also be related to some longitudinal motion of the bow on the string combined with a grippier rosin than you need.

I've cleaned bow hair with alcohol for years - all my bows!

I use the alcohol pads sold by drug stores. It makes the job neater. These pads are also safer for alcohol-cleaning strings - but you should still hold the instrument vertically when cleaning - and wipe immediately with a dry cotton cloth.

First I use a dry cotton cloth (like a diaper material) or microfiber to wipe excess rosin off both sides of the bow's hair ribbon.

Next I fold an alcohol pad over the hair ribbon and while it from one end to the next.

Then I use the dry cotton cloth and immediately wipe off the rosin from both sides of the hair.

Next I fold the alcohol pad the other way and wipe bow hair with the clean side of the pad.

Then same immediate wipe off with the cotton cloth.

I repeat this process with 4 alcohol wipes - thus 8 complete alcohol cleanings and dryings of the bow hair. Then I let the hair dry until it no longer feels cool to the back of my hand.

Although this does not remove absolutely all the old rosin it certainly removes most of it.

Before I started using the alcohol pads I used rubbing alcohol that I carried in my cases in old eye drop bottles - you have to be sure no one is going to mistake the contents for eyedrops! And you have to be careful with the cloth you use to apply alcohol to strings or hair - you don't want it to touch the instrument's surface. (ACTUALLY THERE IS NEVER ANY REASON TO ALCOHOL-CLEAN YOUR BOW HAIR AWAY FROM HOME!)

November 17, 2016 at 12:42 AM · I have also alcohol-cleaned my bow hair with good results. Andrew's method sounds perfectly fine. I use denatured grain alcohol (available at the hardware), an old toothbrush, and an old daiper rag. The main thing is that you don't have alcohol dripping all over the other parts of your bow, that's not good for it. You have to do any such thing in a controlled way. I unscrew the frog and clamp up the tip of the bow gently in a vice so that I can hold the hair away from the stick whilst cleaning it.

November 18, 2016 at 03:39 PM · Thanks Andrew and a Paul, great tips! I shall try to clean the bow and start again with very little dominant rosin, or go back to my Hidersine rosin to see if there is a difference. I am interested to try solely the Hidersine on the new bow, with regards to the point about the change in motion bowing with the new longer bow, to see if the less grippy rosin sorts this out.

January 6, 2017 at 09:49 AM · Alana, I'm curious; Did you ever solve this problem? I currently have it to and it's really intriguing since I only get this "extra vibration" on the top half of my bow (which leads me to believe that it is because of the rosin. I have both Hidersine and Pirastro Eudoxa rosin on it (the Hidersine was old). I recorded a bit of the sound here https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwekvqJTTqukY0hfYWdnbXljMEU

January 6, 2017 at 11:31 AM · I have a few questions about this cleaning off rosin also.

After each practice, which is often several a day, i clean the strings, the violin body and the bow stick with a cloth to wipe of rosin.

Sometimes i wondered how hard i should be on the strings, can too much force with the cloth, force the rosin into the string somehow and make it worse? Or should i just dust them off lightly?

I also wondered if i should dust of the violin bow hairs off after each practice to avoid the rosin getting sticky or something?

I just tried to dust the hairs off with a cloth and quite a noticeable amount of rosin came on to it. I am using Bernardel rosin if thats of any importance in this question?

will anyone share your experience on these 2 matters?

Thank you

January 6, 2017 at 04:01 PM · S P

I found that with my compulsive cleaning, some strings benefit, some strings get damaged from it.

For example, Pirastro Chromcor is harsh on my bow hair, and eats up a lot of rosin, after a week of wiping, it actually gets smooth-enough for my taste. Infeld Red gets too smooth/slippery after a week of wiping.

So yes, with some strings wiping too strongly is not very good, but I cannot give you a measure of the best way to clean the strings without damaging them. I've been trying out wine cork as some suggested for me somewhere on here. It worked okay. I went back to isopropyl and cloth however.

For bow, you should always wipe the stick at the end of the day, or the rosin gets sticky to the stick,and when you finally wipe them, varnish comes off with the rosin. The bow hair, I know some people actually clean them, I am not one of them. I try to put more rosin in the middle, and avoid near the frog especially because that's where the rosin builds up the most for me. I also get a rehair if I've been using the bow as my primary bow for over 8 months(with average 5hrs practice/week).

January 6, 2017 at 07:06 PM · Excessive rosin deposits can certainly impede the string from vibrating to its full potential. I would suggest you use a light rosin like the Pirastro Gold. Dark rosins like Andrea can be very sticky, dusty, and scratchy. If that doesn't help, try playing on different bows.

January 8, 2017 at 12:32 AM · I think you'd really have to rub the living hell out of your strings with a cleaning cloth to damage them.

January 8, 2017 at 05:39 PM · Ziyue Wang - I haven't solved the problem entirely. But I have moved back to my almost 20 year old Hidersine rosin and that had made some improvement. The vibration is not so pronounced but I still get the worst of the sound on one side of the bow compared to the other.

It is strange that the Dominant rosin did not seem to be compatible with the Dominant strings I have, but then it seems more likely it is the bow that is not liking that rosin.

January 8, 2017 at 06:05 PM ·

January 8, 2017 at 11:00 PM · Alana K - I've posted a recording on other websites to which others have claimed that they can't hear this extra vibration at all. I'm gonna try to find as many violin players in real life as possible and let them test it, see if they can hear an extra vibration. I think this may actually be part of the natural vibration of the strings? maybe? or just our years are overly sensitive and can pick up what others cannot.

January 9, 2017 at 12:19 PM · Is the pitch of the extra vibration lower than the note you are playing, or higher and brighter?

Does it sound like a rattle or buzz sound, or more like an extra string vibrating with a quiet sound?

January 11, 2017 at 11:11 PM · One place to look is that one or more of the string notches in the nut are cut too deeply. Of course then the buzz may only show up on that open string. Another place is to make sure that the chinrest screws are tight enough (but not so tight that you crush the violin!). It may also be that the chinrest cutout is too close to the tailpiece so that it touches in louder passages.

April 25, 2017 at 08:50 AM · Bit of a late update, but I started lessons and my teacher said I had too much rosin on my bow. By reining back how much rosin I apply, and how often, the sound has completely gone. Problem solved!

April 25, 2017 at 09:03 AM · Excellent! Glad to hear that

April 25, 2017 at 02:49 PM · Alana, did you end up cleaning your bow hairs with alcohol too?

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