Tone Production Troubles

Edited: September 21, 2021, 11:01 PM · Hello!
I've recently been having some difficulty getting certain notes to speak on my instrument, specifically notes in mid-high positions, and the open G and D strings. Instead of a full tone, I often hear a whistling/scratching sound. The only way to cure the bad tone seems to be to press my fingers down all the way to the fingerboard. Normally, my instrument is very responsive, and I can play with a light left hand, so that I can stay a tiny distance away from the fingerboard when I play a note.

I was wondering if the problem might be caused by the sound post needing to be adjusted. It's been 4 years since I last had that done. I've experimented with different ratios of bow speed/pressure and distance from the bridge, so I don't think I'm causing the problem. Also, my strings are new, but broken in, and I had my bow rehaired recently, so those can't be the culprits either (besides, I noticed the issue before I replaced my strings and rehaired my bow).

If anyone has any thoughts about this or has experienced similar issues, I'd love to hear from you!

Replies (7)

Edited: September 21, 2021, 11:09 PM · I always clean my strings with a microfiber cloth after playing - and if they screech too loudly when I do that I also use a nylon "Scubbie" (check them out on ebay or Amazon). If they are still bad I clean them with alcohol - using the alcohol pads sold in drug stores and IMMEDIATELY wipe each string dry with an absorbent cloth (cotton) to prevent wetting the core - my thought on this step is that rosin may be lodged between the string windings and the alcohol dissolves it and the cloth wipe removes the residue and the alcohol solution between the windings.

Also, I always check out the rosin on my bow my rubbing the hair on the black trousers I always wear - just a little touch is enough - should leave a white trail!

Strings that are too tight (i.e., too high tension) for your fiddle maay not speak well.

When all else fails I clean my bow hair with alcohol - any skin (or other) oils or grease on the hair will screw up the sound.

September 22, 2021, 1:43 AM · I'm not suggesting that you should blame your tools, but keep in mind that some violins simply cannot play that high on the G string with a nice tone.
September 22, 2021, 5:46 AM · This is definitely an adjustment issue, especially since it hasn't always been that way!
September 22, 2021, 7:51 AM · Yes, this condition is new so something has changed which means something needs to be adjusted.
September 22, 2021, 5:45 PM · Andrew, I tried cleaning my strings with alcohol, and it did eliminate most of the squeaks! I didn't realize they were that dirty; I typically just wipe them down with a cotton cloth. I do still think the instrument might be due for a sound post adjustment, since I'm still having to press down into the fingerboard harder than I usually do. Plus, my D string has been sounding kind of muffled lately. For now though, the alcohol solution helps.

As far as the strings potentially being too high tension for my violin, I use Obligatos, so a medium tension string. I love the sound I get from them overall, but I'd think abut trying out some other strings just to see if I still get the squeaks. Has anyone else noticed any tone issues with Obligatos?

Thank you guys for your feedback, I appreciate it!

September 22, 2021, 5:55 PM · Greetings,
yes, like Michael says. This doesnt’t sound at all like a cleaning issue to me.
Edited: September 24, 2021, 11:27 AM · "It's making a bad sound. It only works when I play the instrument properly!"

I just tease, relax. But yes, the bass strings have to touch the fingerboard. If that's uncomfortable then your bridge is too high. Try more rosin too, and check that sound post.

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