Violin sounds awful if I touch the strings (as I've seen in how-to videos)

July 2, 2020, 9:32 PM · Hi,

So I am learning to play the violin. I got the Apprentice Violin outfit from Fiddlershop.com.

I am running into an issue as I watch lessons and guides to play the violin. Everything works out fine until the moment I need to put a finger down on one of the strings/notes. No matter what I seem to do, it sounds awful.

I tried different levels of pressure on the string from my fingers. I tried all the different notes. I tried marking the areas where my finger should be so I am not out of alignment. ("Should be" meaning where I see all of the guides and lesson tutors putting their fingers).

And the awful sounds is similar to what happens if the bow isn't rosin-ed enough. But without my finger touching the string, the bow sounds great on the violin. I seem to have thoroughly put rosin on. I tried adding more, but the problem seems to be a big understanding on my part, rather than a lack of rosin.

Basically, it sounds awful - but ONLY if I touch the strings. I've searched youtube for videos about this. I searched the internet with various wordings on the problem I've described. And there just doesn't seem to be anyone I can find out there that has this problem.

What am I doing wrong? Is there something wrong with the violin? I assume there's a 99.9% chance that I am just doing it wrong...

Thanks for any advice!

Replies (12)

July 2, 2020, 10:00 PM · It’s hard to say without seeing you or the violin. What kind of noise is it (buzz, squeak, wolf, etc.)? If it’s a buzz it might be a setup issue. Is your bow staying in the right place in relation to the bridge as you play? If you’re looking at your left fingers, perhaps the bow is moving too close to the bridge without your knowledge.
July 2, 2020, 10:54 PM · I agree. Without seeing/hearing you there's no way to know for sure what exactly is happening and how to fix it. It'd be easier to help with a video or at least an audio sample. Although the video would be much clearer.
July 3, 2020, 12:03 AM · You might be not pressing down fully... or are out of tune. The violin is not like the piano, you have to tune to p5s and where you place your finger is slightly different for every violin, depending on set up and size probs.
July 3, 2020, 12:05 AM · You described sounding like there isn't enough rosin, you're not pressing down fully.
July 3, 2020, 12:10 AM · The OP has already said that he tried varying levels of pressure, hopefully meaning that he indeed tried pressing down harder on the strings. Perhaps since he's new he does not have to callouses necessary to comfortably press the string down? Honestly, it's hard to tell what exactly is wrong without hearing/seeing him play.
July 3, 2020, 12:16 AM · A video on youtube would be helpful
July 3, 2020, 2:16 AM · Maybe you should have a lesson. It would be pretty hard to figure out how to play a trumpet or an oboe just by blowing the end
Edited: July 3, 2020, 4:12 AM · Tim, if you are not yet a member of the Fiddlerman forum, I'd recommend you join up.

(and I'd endorse the suggestion that you get lessons. Part of your problem is perhaps that when the brain is forced to think about your left hand, it loses control of your right hand. That's one of many possibilities. Stick with it and it will become second nature. I didn't stick with it - there was a 2-year gap between my first attempt to bow my violin and my second!)

July 3, 2020, 7:45 AM · One possibility is that you're unwittingly applying a lot more downward pressure to your bow when you're applying your fingers to the strings with your left hand. Sometimes the right hand and the left hand can have such unfavorable sympathetic reactions to one another.
July 3, 2020, 9:14 AM · @Tim Sibisk, do this little experiment:

1.) Put your bow aside for now, and pretend you're playing the guitar. Put your first finger (your point finger) on the A string, and pluck it. Does it sound awful? Try adjusting your finger pressure until you get a good sound just by plucking your string.
2.) Once you get the feel of that "finger pressure", get your bow, and do a nice smooth stroke on your violin with your first finger on the A string.

I believe Fiddlershop includes a carbon fiber bow with their Apprentice outfit? Those are usually nice beginner bows. Don't try to put too much pressure on the bow when you do your bow stroke. Just do a smooth, relax bow stroke. Hopefully this helps.

Good luck to you, and have fun learning the violin!

July 5, 2020, 8:45 PM · Awesome. Thanks for all the advice. I will make a youtube video of the problem ASAP and post the URL here.

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