Squeaky, airy, and scratchy sounds on all the strings in higher positions

December 17, 2016 at 08:31 AM · I hear airy and scratchy sounds from the violin in all the strings when played at a high position. The problem is alleviated when I increase the bowing speed and pressure. However, when I intend to play soft or do a decrescendo, I get this issue. The scratchiness is least predominant in the first, second, third, and fourth positions. Another issue I find is a wolf tone at E in the A string. Is that normal?

My Despiau bridge is 42mm and I have D'Addario Helicore medium gauge strings attached. I use Andrea rosin and always ensure that I clean the remains on the string. How can I put an end to this exasperating issue?

Replies (22)

December 17, 2016 at 11:15 AM · hi Gautam, it is really not easy to get a pure sound in very high positions. it needs a lot of practice! so it is not just a matter of strings, bridge, rosin, etc! you have to experiment with sound point, pressure, bow speed, and all that. and put in the many hours!

December 17, 2016 at 12:15 PM · Thanks jean. The airy sound that comes from my violin is as soft as a person blowing air from the mouth when he wants his coffee to get lukewarm. It isn't loud but can be felt while playing. A person near me is unable to hear those airy and sandy sound.

I have a new Evah Pirazzi Gold E string. Should I put this on the violin and try it?

By the way, can anything be done about the wolf tone?

December 17, 2016 at 03:35 PM · Its possible that what you are hearing is totally normal. There are a 'extra' noises that a violinist can hear from playing which an audiance cannot hear.

December 17, 2016 at 07:02 PM · I tried to put more rosin than usual and it seems better for now.

However, I do not know what to do with the annoying wolf tone at E and F on the A string. Will it help if I change the strings?

December 17, 2016 at 08:18 PM · Look into the Krentz wolf eliminator; now I think they call it a tone modulator. It is pricey but it works or your money back. I use these on my cellos--they work great!


December 18, 2016 at 06:42 PM · If you have a teacher, talk to them. Those higher position take a lot of practicing to sound good and even then you will still hear noises you normally would not hear in lower position but, doesn't mean your audience will. I wouldn't worry too much or jump to a wolf tone modifier especially if it most likely is not a wolf tone. As Jean state, it is all about sound point, bow speed, etc..

December 19, 2016 at 01:04 AM · When you move to higher positions you need to draw your bow closer to the bridge, which usually means slower bow speed and more pressure (sometimes known as "weight"). This is a generalization but a pretty good one. Getting the right combination of sound point, pressure, and speed requires some experimentation. I suggest you consider getting a book called "Basics" by Simon Fischer. He explains all such matters very clearly.

Also remember to rosin your bow before you practice and then play for a few minutes before trying anything challenging to help distribute the rosin a little.

December 19, 2016 at 02:06 AM · It is also important to remember that the bowing variation across the strings becomes more extreme the higher your go. :)

Way up on the E usually requires some more weight but lots of bow rather close to the bridge (and slightly increased finger pressure),

Whereas the Google string, also being the most finicky string up high, will need a rather significant increase in bow bow pressure (with a bit more space between the bridge and the sweet spot vs the E), and an even greater in Reaser in left finger pressure (for vibrato etc).

This is important in regards to the G, as it must be pushed down to the ffingerboard in high position for a clear sound, and a surprising amount to of force needed to vibrate a good sound out of it. The D string shares this to a small degree, more so than the A and E, which do not even need to be pressed very much up high, but I mention it because it is very tricky to figure out by yourself without lots of experimentation and practice. :)

December 19, 2016 at 02:55 AM ·

December 19, 2016 at 03:46 AM · Pardon my ignorance, but I was taught, as I get higher in position, to lighten and speed up the bow, and actually slowly angle the tip toward the bridge on up bow, then frog toward the bridge on down bow, until I reach the "good" sound spot. Kind of "wiggling" until I get to the right position, then backwards, as getting closer to the lower position.

Also, to tilt the bow, stick toward fingerboard if I want to keep the same pressure and speed, instead of using full hair and light and faster.

December 20, 2016 at 05:51 PM · It is hard to find violins that sound good in high positions in the bass strings. Many wolves and rasped notes in that area.

Zukerman starts trying violins playing fortissimo in the G string in the 7th position.

December 21, 2016 at 12:39 AM · You can also try to break in the upper G by playing repeated fff bows on each chromatic note about the second G and above (final quality of sound still depends on instrument in question and G string), though this is why newer fiddles may sound bad up there. :)

December 21, 2016 at 07:29 AM · @LUIS CLAUDIO MANFIO. How weird is it if I have wolf tones only on the A string?

December 21, 2016 at 10:34 AM · Yes, it is rather weird indeed! have you tried different strings?

December 21, 2016 at 12:50 PM · Did it right now. Changed all my Helicore strings to Pirastro Tonica, which is taking time to settle. I still get wolf tones in the A string at notes E, F, G. However, the wolf tone does not pop up when I meticulously change the sounding point while bowing.

G, D, and E strings seem to be perfect.

I have ordered the wolf-be-gone. Let's see what happens.

December 22, 2016 at 10:47 PM · Another Simon Fischer option, especially if you're inclined toward video, is a DVD titled "The Secrets of Tone Production". Every time I watch it my tone gets better.

December 23, 2016 at 04:05 PM · For those particular wolf tones, try a small ball of Blue-Tack along different parts of the inner edge of the right f-hole.

December 27, 2016 at 02:25 PM · @Charlie. The DVD is $129 in Amazon. Is there a digital version that can be purchased online for a lower price?

December 27, 2016 at 04:29 PM · Buy Fischer's DVD set directly from his site in UK; the pound is so low relative to USD, you will get the DVDs for almost half what Amazon wants (if you are in USA; maybe you are not, based on the time of your post).

December 27, 2016 at 06:07 PM · @Gautam.

Some further information re the Fischer DVD. The DVD comprises 2 discs + booklet, with over 4 hours of playing, and is £40 from Fischer's site (+ shipping, presumably). So that isn't too bad for a top-line specialist educational DVD. But - and this is IMPORTANT! - if you purchase from Fischer specify whether you require the PAL or NTSC format, depending on your location.

There are used copies of the DVD available from Amazon.co.uk priced at around the official Fischer figure (+ shipping), but if you choose that source you'll have to be careful to get the correct format for your region. If the seller on Amazon is British the format is likely to be PAL, which you won't be happy about if the NTSC DVD players in your region (USA?) don't recognize the PAL format, although some players may do so.

The cost of the DVD may worry some. I understand. But look at it this way - for £40 you get an excellent repeatable 4+hrs worth of tuition, and how much would that be in terms of teaching time from a quality teacher?

December 28, 2016 at 02:30 AM · That is high frequency white noise. It doesn't carry very far; what the audience hears is clean attacks. If it really bothers you use some kind of ear plug in the left ear. That will also protect your hearing. The decibel reading from the violin to the left ear, about three inches away, is surprisingly high. As we play higher on the E string, it seems to get stiffer, less elastic, needs ever increasing weight to start a note.

Try a wound or thin guage E. It sacrifices a little volume in exchange for better sound and response on the ultra high notes. jq

December 28, 2016 at 03:23 AM · @joel. I think you got it. I don't get the squeaky sounds that beginner violin players get.

This is some kind of contact noise (i.e the kind of noise that comes while you rub a cloth smoothly) that is too low in volume. I seriously doubt that it could be because of the carbon fibre bow or the Andrea solo rosin that I use.

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