Violin sound muffled 7th position or higher

October 9, 2019, 3:04 AM · I got a new violin for about 2k. For some reason when I play in the higher positions especially G string it sounds unclear and muffled. I’ve asked the shop and they said cause it is new so it needs to be played more for the sound to open up. Now I don’t know if this is the case or it really is my violin that can’t handle higher positions..

Replies (14)

Edited: October 9, 2019, 3:25 AM · I think it's rare for a 2k violin to be clear and not choked at high position on G string. You need to get better violin for that.

Do you play a lot of pieces require high position on G string?

Edited: October 9, 2019, 4:40 AM · While there is some truth to the idea that the 'sound opens up' its really that a good violin gets better, not that flaws will somehow disappear. As Jess said, many violins have problems high on the G string; its one of the key ways you test violins when you buy them. You may improve the sound a bit using different strings - when I had that problem (with a $12K violin, when I knew no better) I found it was helped using an Obligato on the G string.

With a 2K violin you are actually ahead of the game if the muffling/odd sounds (often called wolf notes) are ONLY on the G string. Will it go away with playing? Nope. They are just humouring you...

You could go back to the shop and ask to try other violins in the same price range and see if you can find one that you like with less of a wolf. I once went through 20 Chinese mid-range violins and found two really nice ones...

October 9, 2019, 8:06 AM · I don’t really play that high up on the G string, but I would still like a fully playable violin. It’s like with the piano why would someone buy a piano if you can’t play some of the keys..
October 9, 2019, 8:10 AM · I would get a different violin. You don't want to bet that the problem will go away. There's a strong probability that it won't.

Also, I would not trust this shop. It sounds like they're trying to foist a violin that they'd otherwise have trouble selling off on a sucker.

October 9, 2019, 8:40 AM · Some years ago I was given a 1920s Prague-made nice-sounding violin by a dear friend that had a similar problem in the 2nd octave up the G string. I found it was cured by switching to a set of Larsen Tzigane strings. Another string trick that I found helpful for that G-string problem was using a Peter-Infeld Platinum-coated E string (with whatever other strings were on the instrument).
October 9, 2019, 9:29 AM · Playing above 7th position is high enough that the physics are fighting you a bit, so it is definitely the kind of thing you must test on a specific instrument before buying, if you care a lot about.

Nothing said above is wrong, exactly. I am also distrustful of the idea that an instrument will open up in that range after playing in. I have bought two 21st-century instruments new, and neither one's high position response changed significantly after I bought it (and I have had one for 18 years).

That said, there are a couple of free things you can try. (Reading this forum can cause you to conclude that violin playing is an insane expensive hobby sometimes.) For one, play a lot closer to the bridge when in high positions. Like, almost on top of it. When you go high on the fingerboard, the bow's proper position, which is really proportional to the amount of string between your finger and the bridge, moves closer to the bridge. Also try less bow pressure and more speed. Some violins care a lot more about this kind of thing than others. That said, this is also an area where differences between violins come out a lot.

Also, if you really like the rest of the violin, I might not write it off due to that liability as long as you can live with it up there, and love the rest of the instrument. A 2k violin should IMHO be generally good all around, but may have some relative quirks. Also, to what are you comparing it? Do you know what other violins sound like in high positions?

Also, from your description, I am assuming the problem is just low resonance, not wolf tones (funny hard to control harmonic-style ringing at specific notes, especially C above middle C on the G string). That is also something you should test instruments for, but there are interesting workarounds for high wolfs if that's the actual issue.

On the not free but cheaper than a new violin area to try, I might try a lowish tension E string (yes, to fix the G string), and might also try changing rosin.

October 9, 2019, 9:44 AM · I agree with Elise and Lydia on this one.

My rule of thumb is; a bad violin will "always" be a bad violin, and a good violin will "always" be a good violin. It doesn't matter how old or new, what price, or whatever "prestige" they try to sell about that violin. You can try to "improve" it by changing strings, maybe adjusting the soundpost, or getting a new bridge, but why not start with a "good" violin in the first place? A good violin will even sound good with just your regular Dominant strings.

When I try a violin out, I always do scales up to the 7th position in all the strings, specially the "G" string. The violin seller will give me 3-4 violins at a time to test, and by just doing scales, I can eliminate those I don't like, and continue with the process until I get what "I believe" is a good one for me, and within my price range. Then, when I am home with it, I play whatever piece I want to play on it, and make the final determination on whether the violin is a keeper, or a "loser". I always return the losers :-).

Edited: October 9, 2019, 11:43 AM · I agree with the posts above - if you can return the violin, that might be best. This is provided, of course, that at some point you've played on a different instrument that has given you better sound up in that register, so you know for sure that your technique isn't contributing to the issue. A different type of G string might help you out as well. I would strongly caution against using Obbligato's, which someone above had mentioned. In my experience, they dampen resonance/projection and are really meant for a violin that otherwise sounds too bright or lacks depth/complexity. You want a more focused sound and more resonance, so I would advice a string on the more brilliant side. If you gain clarity and find that the warmth is now missing, you can always find a middle ground.
Edited: October 9, 2019, 12:10 PM · Jo, 7th position on the G-string starts already at G (first finger, 7th position). Next is A. These two for sure should be well resonating loud notes. Or do you in particular mean the next two notes, the B and the C, and higher? It would be normal to have one or perhaps more of these notes to be a bit iffy (so-called wolf notes).
October 10, 2019, 12:09 PM · Any lighter tension G string should help. Eudoxa or Oliv are great, imo the best, g strings that have good clarity in my experience. They are also beefy in the lower positions.

Edited: October 10, 2019, 6:52 PM · In general, what you have in that region are just wolves and rasped notes. Only good violins will sound good in the 7th position of the G string, the same for the viola C string. All the times I met Pinchas Zukerman to show him my instruments he started playing fff in the 7th position of the G or viola C strings.
October 10, 2019, 9:50 PM · I will note that Obligatos can be excellent on violins that do better with less tension. They were very good on my previous violin (fine 19th century Italian in the $50k range).
October 12, 2019, 11:36 PM · Thanks for the reply everyone I got a refund for the violin and now searching for a better quality..
October 12, 2019, 11:36 PM · Thanks for the reply everyone I got a refund for the violin and now searching for a better quality..


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