Slurring to open E

July 7, 2020, 10:59 AM · Hello,

Whenever I slur from the A-string to open E, there is a high-pitched squeak. I seem to have no control over this. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it does not. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

Thank you!

Replies (21)

July 7, 2020, 11:24 AM · Try a different E string.
Whatever their other problems, Thomastik DOMINANT E strings (the E strings covered with a helical winding) seem to be free of this problem.
I have not had whistling E string problems with Warchal Amber E strings and some others that are more expensive.
Edited: July 7, 2020, 11:55 AM · I never have a problem with my plain steel Dominant E string.
One possibility is that the finger that was stopping the A string is in very slight contact with the E string, or also the first finger, if the second or third finger was stopping the A string?
July 7, 2020, 12:26 PM · It's not a finger thing.
July 7, 2020, 12:29 PM · It's a common problem that's been much discussed here and on maestronet. Some find they get on better with a particular brand of strings, others recommend a slight change of technique such as holding the bow at a less oblique angle or closer to the bridge. One sure thing is that nobody has a sure answer.
July 7, 2020, 12:48 PM · Two causes of that "whistling": The base of your first finger might be touching the E string. More likely: if you slur on a down-bow from an A string note to an open E, lightly, the string might start spinning at a very high frequency longitudinally, along its axis, instead of the normal laterally. The easy fixes are to use fourth finger E, or move out of first position, or arrange the bowing to slur into the open E on an up-bow, or just hit it with more force, louder. Fiddlers don't seem to have this problem because they don't try to play soft.
The brand and construction of the E string can make a big difference. The fairly new Warchal Amber E has a built in twist that prevents that spinning.
Edited: July 7, 2020, 1:09 PM · I'd advise switching to Warchal Amber E. An excellent string. But first, before changing strings, check your technique carefully. Like Joel said. The pad at the base of your first finger may be lightly touching the e-string, and this will inevitably cause a whistle. Easy to slightly reposition the wrist. Also, clean the rosin off the string(s)!
July 7, 2020, 1:36 PM · Things to try:

1. Make sure you're making firm contact with the bow, at a straight angle (parallel to bridge).

2. Make sure your finger or side of hand isn't touching the E string.

3. Make sure the violin is in proper adjustment. During this time of year, the humidity changes, often requiring a soundpost adjustment. A problematic setup can result in the string whistling.

4. Switch to a non-whistling E string. Warchal's Amber E is the best string I've found for this; I use it on my violin.

July 7, 2020, 3:17 PM · Work on your string crossings, the problem goes away with practice not switching strings every 2 seconds. Make sure the hair is crossing smoothly and just practice going to open e on a scale or that one section in Mozart 5.
July 7, 2020, 10:32 PM · No one has suggested this, and it came up once for me... Make sure your bow is traveling at a 90º angle to the string.
July 8, 2020, 1:55 AM · What part of the bow Paul? The stick is usually tilted a little forwards unless you’re at the tip. Making sure it’s 90degrees is a good way to make harder techniques like up bow staccato a pain in the arse as well as develop worse right hand technique. Watch some violinists, their bow isn’t 90degrees, whoever gave you that information... oof.
July 8, 2020, 1:57 AM · Make sure your bow is not tilting dramatically as you change strings, the hair brushing against the string in a way other than the way you bow can cause whistling.
July 8, 2020, 8:56 AM · The Warchal Amber pointed the way. Now other makers are advertising "non-listing" E-strings - But we all like Bohdan, don't we! Are some of hs newer E-strings also non-whistling?
July 8, 2020, 9:24 PM · The Warchal Timbre E also has the helix spiral that prevents the whistling.

Kaplan has a "Non-Whistling E"; I've never tried it, personally. It's aluminum-wound, and broadly, aluminum-wound E strings are less prone to whistling (due to their larger diameter).

I have never much liked the sound of aluminum-wound E strings, though. The Warchal is spiraled steel.

Edited: July 9, 2020, 6:31 AM · @Lydia "I have never much liked the sound of aluminum-wound E strings"

Interesting. I have yet to hear one, lol! I have one, as a spare, but my original solid steel Es are still all going strong.

Edited: July 10, 2020, 4:58 AM · I prefer wound E-strings. But then I'm a really a violist..

I reckon we arrive on the E which is already vibrating (via the bridge) and the bow has trouble "catching" it. It doesn't whistle if we start from silence.
As it only happens on open E's, I tried a sliver of soft black leather (from an old glove) in the E groove of the nut under the string.

It works! The open E then sounds more like a fingered E, which is definitely a good thing.

Edited: July 9, 2020, 11:35 AM · When you study the maths of oscillating strings, you tend only to study transverse and longitudinal, but there's a third kind - torsional (a first finger inadvertently touching the E string would dampen the torsional vibration but might set up an obscure harmonic) - and this is, I guess, what is heard as this whistle - it will be very high frequency (as is longitudinal), and it would explain why it's only the open string, and perhaps also why it would only be a solid string.
Edited: July 9, 2020, 2:43 PM · If you’re having constant issues with an E-string whistle in the same spot, the sure fire way not to get a whistle is by covering the open E. According to Joseph Silverstein, ‘God gave us the 4th finger to cover open strings.’ He went to the extremes of rarely playing open strings except for the open G. I’m not sure if I agree with doing that, but that’s an easy immediate fix. The greatest violin teacher in the world will not be able to give you a correct diagnosis, over a message board, on what’s causing the whistle, without hearing you live, and seeing what you’re doing with both hands. There are many variables.
July 9, 2020, 3:18 PM · There are many times when you can't use 4th finger though. In Mozart 5, for example, there's a G#-B-E chord (right before the reprise of the main theme) and when I was working on it, I was squeaking it terribly. I switched to a Goldbrokat E and the problem was mostly solved. I also found as I was rolling the chord (a quick roll, mind you), pushing my right hand out -- away from my body -- totally defeated the squeak. Probably I was compensating for a natural tendency to draw inward and keeping my bow perpendicular to the strings.
July 9, 2020, 8:09 PM · I had a violin that, no matter how it was set up, tended to have a strong tendency to whistle. The choice of E string had a lot of impact on the likelihood, but it wasn't until I got a Warchal Amber E that it truly stopped.

When the string whistled, I could see that the bow was traveling on the string, yet the string hadn't been set into motion vibrating. Quite weird.

Edited: July 10, 2020, 2:50 PM · Xuanyuan Liu..."Making sure it’s 90degrees is a good way to make harder techniques like up bow staccato a pain in the arse as well as develop worse right hand technique."

You misunderstood me. I meant the bow stick should generally travel perpendicularly to the string. That is (to be clear)--looking down from above the player, the angle between the bow stick and string should be about 90º. This has nothing to do with bow tilt. Anyway, if you go off at too much of an angle in the situation described by the OP--whistling is a common result. Or at least a diminished quality of tone.

July 10, 2020, 3:09 PM · Ok


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