Strings to hard to press

June 5, 2020, 11:36 PM · Hello! I've been playing the violin for 4 years now. I've had an issue where it's too much strain on my fingers to press down on the string. Even when using the Alexander technique, it still feels like I'm applying too much pressure which causes me to tense up. When I look at videos of people playing it looks like they use very little effort to push the string down. My question is am I doing something wrong?

Do you think the violin needs a different bridge?

Replies (8)

June 6, 2020, 12:00 AM · I don't think you are so I think your suggestion about a new bridge/bridge shaving is good. I had this issue on my previous violin and my teacher at the time shaved my bridge down (which I'd not recommend. Ok short term fix, but need something more permanent). So I'd suggest getting to a luthier or something as soon as possible. It won't be good for your fingers in the long run
June 6, 2020, 12:30 AM · Thank you for the response! This issue has already messed up my left hand, I'm currently healing from the injury. I distinctly remember with my first violin, I took it to a luthier and he said he had to alter the bridge because each violin needed its own custom bridge. I never experienced any issues with that bridge but the violin was very cheap, so of course I had to upgrade. I was thinking it may be the same case here?
June 6, 2020, 5:05 AM · Definitely go to a luthier, explain the problem, possibly demonstrate for him/her. You'll get a bridge properly cut and the best height for easiest fingering but no string buzz from being too low. Don't try to do it yourself!
June 6, 2020, 1:04 PM · Your luthier was right, each bridge must be made to fit the particular instrument. The one on your violin may not be fitting, and it’s possible the neck has dropped, something that happens quite often on cheaper new instruments that are made with green wood. Take this instrument to a luthier as soon as you can to get it sorted out.

It shouldn’t take much pressure to play, as you only need enough to stop the string. Pressing harder than necessary doesn’t do anything to help the sound.

June 6, 2020, 1:21 PM · Branden, You did not say where on which strings you found it difficult to press down.

Strings can be too high in first position if the grooves in the nut are not positioned low enough. The height of the nut grooves should just allow a typical business card to pass between the strings and the fingerboard. I think this is where to start the determination of string height before messing with the bridge.

Typically a good bridge should raise the strings so that the center of the E string is about 1/8"(3.1 mm) above top end of the finger board and the G string is about 3/16" (4.7 mm) above (with the A & D string heights proportionally between).

June 6, 2020, 9:09 PM · We generally press hard than we need to anyway. The thing is we are first taught pizzicato and that the string must touch the fingerboard. That may be somewhat true of a ringing pizzicato but when you add the bow you don't need as much pressure. One day, my fingerboard came unglued. Before I loosened the strings I was interested to see how well you can play without a fingerboard. Guess what? You can. Here is something you all can try. Bow the string with minimum pressure and gradually press down until you hear the full tone. Unless you have a very low action then you will find the string sounds just before you touch the fingerboard. Certainly, if you play up really high on the E string you will need hardly any pressure. As a general rule it seems thinner strings higher up need less pressure but you will find that you don't need full contact with the fingerboard for the lower strings also. Fast playing can be even lighter it seems.
June 6, 2020, 9:09 PM · We generally press hard than we need to anyway. The thing is we are first taught pizzicato and that the string must touch the fingerboard. That may be somewhat true of a ringing pizzicato but when you add the bow you don't need as much pressure. One day, my fingerboard came unglued. Before I loosened the strings I was interested to see how well you can play without a fingerboard. Guess what? You can. Here is something you all can try. Bow the string with minimum pressure and gradually press down until you hear the full tone. Unless you have a very low action then you will find the string sounds just before you touch the fingerboard. Certainly, if you play up really high on the E string you will need hardly any pressure. As a general rule it seems thinner strings higher up need less pressure but you will find that you don't need full contact with the fingerboard for the lower strings also. Fast playing can be even lighter it seems.
June 8, 2020, 8:26 AM · A GOOD luthier should be able to diagnose the issue in a heartbeat, whether the issue is something you are doing, or a problem with the instrument.

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