Violin sounds muffled at higher position

September 3, 2019, 5:44 AM · My violin sounds fine on the lower position to 3 position.
However, when I go up from the 3 position the sound on the strings sounds muffled and not clear.
I’m not sure what is the cause?

Replies (15)

September 3, 2019, 5:59 AM · Can you tell us a bit about the violin? I had a similar problem, but more a lack of tone - my eventual cure was to trade it in.
September 3, 2019, 6:07 AM · Have you tried bowing closer to the bridge?
September 3, 2019, 7:45 AM · My experience always gives me confirmation that a precise tuning of the afterlenght makes wonder in things like OP's issue.......
But some posters here keep writing that afterlenght does not matter, so ........ ;)
September 3, 2019, 8:38 AM · I have a Suzuki NS20 violin. I have trying bowing closer to the bridge, but it still sounds muffled. The sound is really clear when I play in the lower positions. I’m not sure if it’s an issue with my violin?
September 3, 2019, 12:19 PM · What strings do you have on now? Their age?
September 3, 2019, 12:52 PM · Those instruments are budget , student instruments, my first violin ever were one of the Suzuki ones. The problem is most likely a combination of things,but it is mostly the violin with no doubt. You could try put a dominant light gauge G-string on, or some low tension strings,or maybe even adjust the sound post. but I don't know how much that can really will help since the instrument is quite low budget. The only other solution is to probably upgrade to something better.
September 3, 2019, 12:54 PM · Might it have to do with your bow technique? The higher up a string you play, the more engagement you need (through arm weight, NOT pressing downwards) with the string to produce the same type of sound. If I had to guess, the sound you are producing in the lower positions isn't as clear as it could be but passable (you use the word "fine"), and playing in the higher positions is magnifying this issue. One of the reasons playing up the G string is tough is because it requires a super delicate balance of weight and speed that is not necessary in the lower positions, where the "sweet spot" zone of what constitutes good sound is much wider (and therefore more forgiving). I hope this helps.
September 3, 2019, 1:14 PM · Most violins sound muffled high on the wound strings, especially the D. This is why people pay 6 figures for violins that sound clean and clear up there.

Newer violins need to be played extensively up there to open them up, at least to the extent they are capable of being opened up. The better the violin, the more possibility there usually is.

One of the first things I do when when trying violins is to play above 3rd position on the D and G to see how it's responding. Even on decent professional instruments, the clarity of the D rapidly degrades above 3rd position, and I have never thought that a silver D helped.

Try and buy whatever is the most open-sounding if all other parameters are acceptable.

If the violin is new or from a reputable maker, it will PROBABLY open up in the high positions with work on your part. But of course it is a risk.

And regardless of violin, yes, it takes technique to bring out the violin's best clarity. Gordon is correct--you MUST bow proportionately closer to the bridge. Just think about the absolute worst place to bow: the exact middle of the string, right? Now, in the highest positions, look how close the bow really comes to the very middle of the vibrating string. No wonder it won't speak there. You must practice being very close to the bridge, and with more pressure. I don't care what you call it--pressure, arm weight, whatever. The downward force must be greater. And not really straight down and parallel to the bridge. Conceptualize the downward force of the bow angled in towards the feet of the bridge. The high positions always sound the worst on the violin and are the least pleasant to practice. Ear plugs might help.

Edited: September 3, 2019, 3:53 PM · I found Larsen Tzigane string sets sounded clean 2 octaves up the G string on a couple of violins that had been troublesome.

One of those violins was also helped with the "original" G string but changing to a Peter Infeld platinum coated E string. Go figure!!

I have not bothered to explore the published properties of the various strings that behaved poorly and well on those fiddles. Once they were OK I just stopped messing around with them.

September 4, 2019, 3:24 AM · My strings is about one month old.. I think it is probably my violin. Maybe I should go to a violin shop and test out other violins and see if it is supposed to be sounding like that.
September 4, 2019, 3:42 PM · Jo J,

Chances are if you are playing above third position it is time that you start the search for a better instrument. That means time spent playing a large assortment of instruments (in your price range). Eventually, you will find one that will sing with you.

September 4, 2019, 4:38 PM · Im thinking of getting the soloist Fiddlerman violin https://fiddlershop.com/products/fiddlerman-soloist-violin-outfit
September 4, 2019, 5:48 PM · I agree with George, just good instruments will be balanced in all positions and strings.
September 5, 2019, 9:53 AM · Jo J,

Aren't there Luthier Shops nearby? As much as I do the majority of my shopping via the internet, something as technical and personal as a violin really needs hands-on assessment; preferably in a setting where you can play more than one in your price range. Every one of them is a bit different from the others.

September 5, 2019, 10:01 AM · What George said - its the only way to be sure it will play in higher positions!

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