Squeeking E-String

August 8, 2004 at 06:44 AM · Can someone explain annoying phenomenon this to me? Ex. Playing the Bach Chacconne; first beat of first full measure; D, G, B flat, open E...One "rolls" the bow from B flat to the open E...and sometimes the string squeeks. By sometimes, I of course, mean nearly all the time, as though that horrible squeeking sound is more reliable than the sound of an open E, which ultimately yields insanity if attempted long enough. This had never been a problem for me before; that is to say, I don't think it's anything I'm doing. Yet, I have recently changed out two strings in an attempt to fix the problem and it hasn't worked. Anyone have some insight? Thanks,


Replies (45)

August 8, 2004 at 08:33 AM · Do a few quick checks.

1. are your fingers (mostly first) or any part of your hand in your closeness to the top of the neck to play chords...touching the string even at least barely? I have found in Bach that this sometimes causes that. Especially if you have small hands and a hard time reaching the full chord.

2. Has your e string worn the groove in the nut down any, and is sitting too low in it?

3. Are you trying too hard and pressing with the wrong part of your bow hand/wrist/arm/shoulder at the point of contact on the e?

4. How tilted is your bow?

Just some suggestions from someone who has had that same problem before:)

August 8, 2004 at 04:16 PM · Sometimes this can be caused by your string having gone false too. I have found that some strings seem to whistle a great deal on my violin and others don't. (I loved Obligato Gold E's on my old violin but they whistle like you wouldn't belive on my violin I play now) So you might want to try experimenting with different strings! Pirastro has a string, No.1 bound with chrome steel and it's resistant to whistling. It's extremely bright and powerful, but I haven't had whistling problems.

August 8, 2004 at 06:20 PM · The suqeaking can also occur if you just crossing from lower strings. Another great string is from Kaplan/d'Addario is the new Kaplan Solutions non-whistling E. It was made so that when your E squeaks from crossing from lower strings. I am also working on the Ciaconna, and I had that problem in that exact same spot.

August 9, 2004 at 08:59 AM · yea, this happens *usually* when something is touching the e-string and makes a harmonic. What you are hearing is the harmonic, which obviously over-rides the open string.

I doubt it has something to do with your fingers, as you would hear the open strings and the harmonics about half-half, not more trending towards the harmonic.

The one that is most likely correct is that the nut has worn down and when the string vibrates it is hitting the fingerboard. You should get a luthier to check into this and see what is able to be done.

Other options if this is not the case is the bow (sometimes the amount of pressure can cause a harmonic to occur, though i'm not sure about this), and then perhaps a different string (not just a new one of the same type, but a different one).

Other than that, I have no real ideas

August 10, 2004 at 02:39 PM · Hello,

Something that really helps in fixing this is thinking on the direction of the bow.

The bow should go with the shape of the bridge so that on the G string the down bow goes a little bit out (away from you) and on the E string a little bit in(towards your body).

Doing this will give you the abillity to switch strings with no "edge" and also it will usually eliminates the squeeking in chords and such.

It is hard to explain this over the internet so I suggest you watch Szeryng's video of the G minor Fugue and pay attention the direction of his bow.

That being said my teacher once told me he saw Szeryng play 6 squeeqing Es in one concert so you are in good company :)

August 10, 2004 at 11:29 PM · watch your bow.

August 11, 2004 at 04:36 AM · I agree with all of you about the squeaking e. Any number of those factors brought up can cause this whistle. It is very frustrating for me when this happens. When this happens it means the string is not reacting quick enough. For some reason when I cross from the a string c natural in first position to the open e string quickly in such cases as in a quadruple stop or a scale run this squeak or whistle sometimes happens. So I take note of this and I am more gentle with my string crossings when it comes to that note. This squeaking even happens to people with del gesus so really the key i think is to know your instrument and the note(s) that cause a later reaction of the e-string and play a little more gentle with the bow in those areas.

August 11, 2004 at 11:57 PM · I've had experience with different kinds of E strings....

I have been suing the Jargar E and it is REALLY GOOD! There is so little screeching and squeaking sounds.. It is a very clear sounding string; even in the strat...

I used the Kaplan Solution. It does have the non-whistling effect; but it really screeches in the strat (horribly)..

I am going to give that No. 1 Piastro E string a try or two. It sounds interesting.

August 12, 2004 at 04:22 PM · ditto to what Nate said.

August 12, 2004 at 05:37 PM · Ditto to point 1 in the first post. Usually when I have this problem, it's because the first finger of my left hand is brushing against the E string, either because I am stopping the A string, or playing a chord where the angle of my hand tends to leave the first finger close to the E. (The rest of the time, I usually have to bow more subtely.)

September 22, 2004 at 08:38 PM · I've been having this issue also. I tested out several different strings, all with the same squeeking result. I've eliminated the fingers of my left hand as the culprit by bowing over the open strings. My E still squeeks.

What do you all think? Worn out groove near the nut?

September 22, 2004 at 10:38 PM · When this happens to me, it's usually because of my bow arm weight and direction. It's usually that I haven't brought my elbow weight to the e-string level and I'm leading more with my wrist...does that even make sense???

September 23, 2004 at 10:04 AM · Personally, I don't have much of an E string squeeking problem. Once when playing string quartets the other violinist complained about his many squeaks and I proceeded to play his violin using my bow. Then I changed to his bow and the squeaks began.

We finally determined that my Hill fine grained rosin made all the difference. He bought a cake and is now sqeeky clean.

Ted Kruzich

October 8, 2004 at 06:22 AM · I find that the main cause is the bow and the additional pressure of a big chord pushing the hair up to the wood. My current string the Oliv is quite susceptible.

October 8, 2004 at 07:18 AM · I've noticed that the older Dominant E string I'm currently using does not "whistle"/squeak at all but the new Vision (same makers) E string does that. It probably has to do with the composition of the string itself (ie weavings). The non-squeaky string is also easier for me to grip and left-hand pizz; the Vision string, although smooth, makes it harder in these respects and squeaks :(

October 8, 2004 at 07:49 AM · I used Dominant strings a long time ago. The non-squeakiness of the E string is about the only point in its favour!

October 8, 2004 at 07:54 PM · which is why only my E string is of that type (though it's wearing out...)

Mix & match til it works for you :)

October 8, 2004 at 08:24 PM · I have on a Dominant E string now and it does NOTHING but squeek! I know its not me because when I used pirastros I never had the problem and when I play other violins without dominants it doesn't squeek.

October 8, 2004 at 11:51 PM · I'm firmly with Ann on this: everyone will give different 'scientific' explanations for this problem, such as first-finger-brushing (which at a certain level of playing is an implausible suggestion), bowhair catching, or the type of string you use. However, I believe it is very much about direction and especially weight; isolate the passage in question and watch yourself in the mirror. Make sure everything is in tune - and I mean this physically. If you consciously drop your upper arm when you change to the open E and ensure that the weight of your arm is correctly transferred, you will probably find the squeal is eliminated. I've been through phases of having this problem (although it's been over a year since the last one), which is why I conclude that it's not down to something physical.

October 9, 2004 at 05:29 PM · I've got news for all you guys. The whistling E-string is a problem of damping of the string, inherent in its construction. You will all go insane trying to solve this problem by changing your technique and practicing endless hours of string changes because...IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! Fortunately, there is new technology in string construction which solves this damping problem. I use Pirastro "Nr. 1" and it doesn't whistle because it is a physical impossibility. What a feeling to play string changes (B flat - E, D sharp - E, 99% whistle probability!!) trying to make it squeak, and it WON'T! Practicing Bach, there were times I thought I would throw the violin out the window, and teachers made it worse telling me it was my technique. It wasn't. New string technology, problem solved. There are other brands than the "Nr. 1", not sure which ones. Ask a knowledgeable string salesman or just try this new string I mentioned.


October 9, 2004 at 06:08 PM · Sometimes when I used to get a squeeking E-string almost all the time, my teacher said it WILL happen sometimes no matter what you do, but the best way to reduce the chance is to play closer to the bridge. Playing closer to the bridge really helped it a lot.

October 10, 2004 at 01:54 AM · So how does it figure that my E squeak has gone through phases, despite my retaining the same strings? Also, I haven't had the problem in over a year, and switched my brand of E partway through this period.

October 11, 2004 at 05:29 PM · Christopher, YES the Pirastro no. 1 solved all my e-string squeaking problems!!! I'm not trying out the Infeld Reds, and the e-string seems ok, though it has squeaked a couple of times.

By the way, when my Pirastro no. 1 was getting a little old (maybe 2 or 3 months old) it started giving a little squeak every now and again...but otherwise I loved it!

November 2, 2004 at 06:47 PM · Finally got around to getting a Pirastro No.1 string and I can tell you the stupid E string squeaking has stopped. I only got a chance to put the string on and play for a few minutes yesterday, so I don't know how the tone/playability compares with my other strings, but it looks promising. The string is visibly thinner than my previous E string.

November 2, 2004 at 08:48 PM · Phenomenon indeed, isn't it ANNOYING??? I noticed that the flatter my violin is, there's less chance of it squeaking. also, sometimes if you just concentrate really really hard on not doing it, I can play the piece over and over and it won't happen. don't ask me how. maybe subconciously we just know how to avoid it, we just have to pay absolute attention to it. tell it not to squeak :)

November 2, 2004 at 08:56 PM · I always find that whenever I try to demonstrate my squealing E string to someone - teacher, luthier etc. - it flatly refuses to squeal. What's with that??

November 2, 2004 at 09:21 PM · Sue,

Sod's law, I think.


November 2, 2004 at 09:57 PM · One of my old trumpet teachers once sat with me and told me to play a note, any note, and to deliberately crack the note. He worked on this with me for a good hour until I could crack on command any time, any note. Then he said," Now that you have mastered art of cracking a note, don't ever do it again." Perhaps a similar exercise can be adapted for vioin.

November 3, 2004 at 03:19 AM · That's an interesting approach, Sam. I use a similar method of teaching colle attack; once the student has provided sufficient pressure to crunch on demand, we eliminate the crunch using an increasingly fast release and they rarely crunch on a colle again.

November 6, 2004 at 10:39 PM · Just try not moving your bow quite so fast.Also, there is more than the first measure.

November 6, 2004 at 11:02 PM · Pressure? I've never had a squeaking E string, but I did have a terribly unbalanced violin as my first instrument. The E shrieked - even when my teacher played it, if he forgot the properties of my violin the E would let out a piercing roar. Since all other strings were successively muted in sound, it was quite the effect. Anyway, I got into the habit of being very gentle when playing on that string, a habit that I had to counter later on with normal instruments. However I can imagine that if excess pressure has something to do with the squeak, then this could be why I've never experienced it.

November 8, 2004 at 03:27 AM · I decided to try the Kaplan. It's a very good wound e but a bit too powerful against the Cristals on my violin. Any recommendations for a less overwhelming wound e? I think the Superflexible is probably the answer though.

November 8, 2004 at 04:28 PM · I'm now using the Goldbrokat E (great sound, and $1.30), and it seems to be better than the Evah E as far as squeeking. I did usually find that part of my left hand was brushing against the E when it squoke (?), especially on four note chords like the start of the Chaconne...but changing strings seems to help a lot (must make it a bit harder to damp).

I would guess that what happens (at least to me) when making a wolf tone is that something (usually the base of my index finger) brushes the string at a very low point, setting up a harmonic wherein sections of the string of hte length "nut to base of index finger" vibrate up the length of the string.

December 25, 2004 at 08:01 PM · I, too, have watched in complete dumbfounded frustration my bow sail off onto the open E-string and whistle; and in several instances I kept my bowing arm decending, cocked my head up, and, as I said, watched in completed angered amazement the bow cascade its full length whistling merrily on its way to the very end. My fingers were never touching the E-string even slightly to set up a harmonic sound, though I will admit this phenomenon has occured only with my new violin and its E-string (of which, I'm embarassed to say I know not the brand-name, though its not wound, just a very slick, very gold E-string. My luthier suggested switching to a Pirastro "Eudoxa", which is spun with aluminium [!]. I completely tore this string to bits within a month - plus it plays as if it's nothing but chicken-wire!). Two of my family's violin teachers both, separately, said the problem is all in the pressure one puts on the E-string; meaning one puts less pressure on the G-string, than the D, and less on the A, and, therefore, one ends up putting considerably more pressure on the E-string (or, at least, one should). And, here comes the rub [pardon the pun]: when playing fast and one comes flying off of the A-string, on to an open E, one may easily forget to put that little "extra" pressure on the E-string, especially if the music is marked PP. (However, I just took a break and tried an experiment of placing the little plastic tubing of the E-string which usually sits on the bridge and slid it up and placed it on the nut to see if this would alleviate the potential problem [mentioned above] of the E-string being too close to the fingerboard and, then, played Massenet's "Thais Meditation" (in which I usually whistle my E-string the most) and found no difference - it still whistled - however, I did notice that if I took more care regarding that little "extra" pressure, the whistling stopped; ...maybe, just maybe this is it !?! {P.S. - I also noticed [have you?] that I never whistle on my E-string while "up-bowing".}

December 25, 2004 at 07:09 PM · Just for the record, I am trying thomastik's new Vision strings, and am having a h--l of a time with the squeaking E.

BTW, "Squeaking" , not "Squeeking" ;).

December 25, 2004 at 07:24 PM · i'd just use a different E, i really like the dominant e actually, i've found i like it more than all the gold e's. Maybe i'm just weird.

December 25, 2004 at 08:43 PM · Try a Goldbrokat 27 mm.


December 25, 2004 at 09:30 PM · Asher,

I unfortunately do the same thing to Eudoxa E's that you do. In fact they are the only E that I would actually agree with the expression you used. I do literally rip them apart. Which is a pitty because sonically they are perhaps one of my favourite E strings ever.

I'm currently using Pirastro Universal Es on both my instruments, and whist I am happy to say there is no whistling and the strings remain in perfect condition, they are a very bright string and lack a little in complexity compared to nearly all the others (especially Pirastro Gold, Pirastro Obligato Gold and Eudoxa).

December 25, 2004 at 09:37 PM · Hmm..it seems to me that I replied a while ago about this but on a different thread. It is my understanding that the "squeek" is not a harmonic or a conventional violin bow created sound. By that I mean that the usual sound we make is a little kink in the string that moves back and forth; like shaking a length of rope to make a wave.

The squeek is actually a compression wave moving much faster directly through the material of the string.

What is happening is that energy from the bow hair is being transmitted to the string without sufficient grip to pull the string to the side and/or the string is in a state so as to resist "kinking" in favor of "compressing".

All of the factors everyone has mentioned play a part in this.

The best solutions:

1. Change strings if you can put up with the sound of a different, probably wound E.

2. Don't touch the string with the side of your first finger.

3. Change rosins.

4. Experiment with different guages of E strings.

It is my opinion that a bunch of things contribute to the squeek. Any one of them at a particular time can cause it.

Understanding it doesn't cure it. It happens to me from time to time and drives me absoulutely insane!

December 25, 2004 at 10:35 PM · If it happens very regularly at the same spot, try approaching the string change with a slightly (very slightly) crooked bow. I mean, don't bow exactly parallel to the bridge. Either pull your elbow in or push it out a bit and see how much is needed to stop the whistle. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn't. Also, E strings that have gold overlay are more likely to whislte. You might like their tone, but they whistle more than others. Try a G-string with a lower gauge (tension), sometimes that helps with those pesky E-strong wolfs (warbles...not a whistle) so perhaps it will help with a whistle (not too sure about this but it might be worth a try).


December 25, 2004 at 10:51 PM · If it persists, try Lisa's suggestion.

December 26, 2004 at 12:03 AM · Preston,

That's a pity about the gold and whilstling association. I love the sound of those gold Es. The sound is so pure and seems to have a lot more emphasis on even harmonics which are "kinder" to the ear.

I wonder if Pirastro could ever bring out an E string with precisely the same mechanical characteristics as the Universal E but with the sound of their gold coated Es. I think they would be onto a winner there. At least according to my own experience.

December 26, 2004 at 08:20 PM · I agree with you folks. The e's that sound the very best tend to whistle for me and the non whistling ones sort of have a fuzzy sound all the time. I like a nice fat sweet e string sound.

Also...I seem to notice that new strings don't whistle as much as older ones..at least I think...so maybe as the string goes a little false that has something to do with it.

December 26, 2004 at 09:52 PM · I find that using the Russian bow hold and relaxing slightly just before the bow stroke starts fixes my whistles. I was able to not whistle any of the chords in Kreisler P&A by doing this Russian relaxation bow stroke. At least this worked for me. I have not found a difference in E strings now, but before I learned the relaxed Russian hold, I thought that the Pirastro Gold E whistled more than the Kaplan Solo. But after I learned this technique from my teacher, I've used many different e strings, like Goldbrokat, Pirazzi E, infelds, with no whistling so far (cross my fingers).

December 27, 2004 at 02:14 PM · Hi,

Jonathan: IMHO opinion the best compromise between gold E's and steel ones is the Jargar Forte (strong tension). It's a chromesteel E that rings like a gold E but sound round like a steel E. Great string in my opinion, especially if you use Dominants on the lower strings. And good thing, it never whistles (unless like all other strings there is too much rosin on it). Very personal opinion, but a lot of soloists use this string these days so it must be a good sign (Midori, Gil Shaham, Stefan Jackiw). Cheers!

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