Hissing Bow/Bow Noise

Edited: November 26, 2019, 10:06 PM · Ever since they replaned my fingerboard/fixed the scoop in the early summer, my bow makes noise on the E string (Vision Solos). I love those strings on my violin, and my teacher tells me I'm just hearing bow noise in the E and that I'm the only one who can really hear it.

It's a hissing sound, the best I can describe it. No problem with notes sounding properly on that string, there is just this quite faint consistent hissing that can be distracting to me.

It is, frankly, irritating. Is this something common to carbon-fiber bows, bows at that price point, or just something that can happen? Are some E strings more subject than others to this? It's a $300 Coda Bow Protege, which is a custom version of their Prodigy (my local violin shop has an arrangement with Coda).

Replies (10)

November 26, 2019, 11:59 PM · Well that's a little weird. If it started after the fingerboard was changed, maybe the change would be the cause. Maybe go back to the shop and tell them what is happening, and see if they notice anything after playing it or looking close at it. If they cannot figure anything out, maybe try out some of the other bows for sale, with different types of rosin. Rosin can make a huge difference. To sum up, just try switching out several factors and see if anything makes a huge difference. Maybe your strings are strung bad, try restringing the e?
good luck.
November 27, 2019, 12:27 AM · Also, I know you said you like the strings you have, but the strings here say explicitly they have no hissing.

https://www.pirastro.com/public_pirastro/pages/en/Wondertone-Solo-00001/

However, I know nothing about them, and was just researching strings for myself.

November 27, 2019, 7:24 AM · A couple of possibilities I've seen. After we get our instruments back, we tend to be more sensitive to the change of our instruments. So now we notice these little things. It's funny how many players come to notice little things that have been there all along now that they have an impending performance coming up. Like I had a customer come to me saying that their bow is playing differently and they think its cause the tip plate is cracked. To which I had photos on record showing them that the tip plate had been cracked for sometime. Which they probably forgot I pointed that out 2 rehairs ago. What changed was that the hair had stretched out. I doubt the fingerboard changed the sound. But, I'm sure who ever worked on your instrument readjusted your instrument since they had to take it apart for the fingerboard planing. The adjustment is probably for the better and makes it more sensitive to input, unfortunately it can also show deficiencies in your equipment or technique. The sound you are hearing is hair noise, if the hair is old or you are using too much rosin (because the hair is old) or their is too much rosin built up on the strings, these can all contribute to excessive hair noise. Or if there are crossed hairs:
https://adbowsllc.com/2018/07/02/checking-for-crossed-hairs/
I've found different bows can enhance or diminish this sound, but there will always be some hair noise. Also experimenting with bow angle, flatten out the hair a little bit. Also this becomes more prevalent in higher positions, maybe you're playing different repertoire now since the fingerboard planning. So many human factors to this, so like I said, I really doubt its the fingerboard. Check with your luthier as they are most likely familiar with these sounds and can help you diminish it.
November 27, 2019, 7:42 AM · I think Anthony above may be zeroing in on the problem - just prior to a recent bow re-hair, I noticed a lot of bow noise as you describe, and it was much resolved with new hair. How long as it been since the bow was re-haired, and have you made any attempts to clean the hair? (cleaning the hair can change things - my experience was that it made things temporarily a little better, then substantially worse, requiring a re-hair service).
November 27, 2019, 8:27 AM · Good thoughts on the bow hair. The luthier did have to do a large amount of work on my fingerboard (twice) to fix the scoop and a few other things - so it makes since that once it was corrected that it's more sensitive.

The bow is one year old as last week, and there hasn't been a need for a re-hair, I've only lost one hair so far. It has not, however, been cleaned...I clean my strings daily so there isn't an buildup there.

I AM playing higher on the E string than I was, and it makes sense to me that I might hear this more in E than the others. I will follow up on your suggestions for both crossed hairs and cleaning. I've seen threads here on safe ways to clean my bow hair that doesn't require taking it apart :-) A rehair is covered in my service agreement with my violin shop, so that isn't a problem should it be needed.

Edited: November 29, 2019, 9:20 AM · I have recently been plagued by a similar hiss. E string for sure, but other strings as well. I also had a really hard time making my violin sound "clean". All the little hisses added up to me sounding like a complete beginner...


I thought it was the bow, but the thing is - I just got my bow rehaired a weak ago... So... I tried my other CF bow (with old hair)... and - the hiss was still there... Like many times before, I practiced like crazy and recorded myself to see what have I screwed up... then - just yesterday evening at a gig, I realized, not only was i hissing... I also had a problem staying in tune...

Apparently I always blame myself first, not even thinking, that tools are the culprit.

Changed the strings, and hiss was magically gone.

You are playing Vision Solos, right? I played PI, which are similar... i suspect these strings very gradually loose their power, acquire an unholy hiss and later go into a non-linear mode, which makes chords and double stops impossible to play.

November 29, 2019, 12:07 PM · In addition to the rosin and hair issues; every musical tone will have a mix, a spectrum, of fundamental, overtones, and noise. The hiss is high frequency "white noise". The player is too close to the instrument to properly judge how it sounds to the audience. Have a colleague play your instrument with your bow. Stand about ten feet away or more. If the hiss is no longer a problem then the fix could be; use a cheap, passive, ear-plug in the left ear.
November 29, 2019, 4:39 PM · The hiss was there before I moved from Dominants to Vision Solo...I will start with cleaning my bow hair (the alcohol pad method discussed elsewhere on this forum) and see if that addresses it. The bow has been played basically every day for a solid year without cleaning so that doesn't seem a bad place to start. I will ask my teacher to play it for me Monday evening and see if I can tell it from a few weeks away.
November 29, 2019, 6:44 PM · Catherine, you haven't provided nearly enough information for me to venture even any sort of wild guess.

As much as we'd all like things to be simple, violin sound is not.

November 29, 2019, 8:05 PM · I hear you David....my teacher says it's noise from the bow, and it existed before I moved from Dominants to Vision Solo - I doubt it's a string issue. If cleaning the bow doesn't make a difference then I will decide if it's irritating enough to do something about. I don't THINK anyone else hears it - they are too far away, but we will see. I can't describe it in any further detail, or at least I don't know how.


Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Meadowmount School of Music

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Violin-Strings.com

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine

Subscribe