Something is wrong with my violin

December 23, 2017, 3:08 PM · OK I admit it's not an expensive violin. And I am a beginner. However a couple weeks ago i was recording and I finally got the vibrato down and everything and when I listened to my recording I cried because it sounded soo beautiful. I still love this recording a lot. it was the best I have done. Shortly after this however my violin sounded off. I am still a beginner but shouldn't it sound just like before or even better, not worse? There is one particular sound it sounds mute. Especially when doing vibrato but even when I just play the string I can tell it's there. It's kind of a muting sound or it goes in waves but one part of it sounds off and then it comes back to a normal tone. Not the pitch itself. I changes the strings and took the bridge down and put it back to make sure it's positioned right. I don't know if it's the wood not resonating right or what it is. I want it to sound like before when I made this recording and I feel like it's holding me back from making progress because I get so frustrated with the sound. It used to sound stunning but now it's just frustrating. What can I do which I haven't tried yet? The wood isn't damaged or anything. It's just not resonating right. It makes "waves" and sounds muted. If I get a higher priced violin I don't want the same to happen with it. Maybe someone had a similar problem and found a solution. Thanks

Replies (26)

December 23, 2017, 3:55 PM · Are you sure you didn’t knock off the sound post when you took the string and bridge off? If you didn’t it could still have shifted position. That is why you ought to be extremely careful when removing all 4 strings at once. Similarly, minute (hardly visible) changes in bridge position can also have a drastic effect on sound production. You may need a luthier to properly adjust it.
December 23, 2017, 3:58 PM · You should never remove a bridge yourself; that is a serious risk for your soundpost to fall down. For the same reason, never remove all four strings at once. Change strings one at a time.

At this point I think you need to take your violin to a luthier to have it properly adjusted.

December 23, 2017, 4:24 PM · Luther uses a special clamp to keep sound post up when all four strings are removed... But why would you need to do that?
December 23, 2017, 5:55 PM · Thanks for the replies. FYI when I changed the strings I took one off at the time. It sounded weird even before I even changed the strings and readjusted the bridge. Maybe I shouldn't have done it but it already sounded strange before so I didn't cause this. I'm sorry if I offended you. Again I'm a beginner. The soundpost seems to be in the position it always has been. I'm afraid of being laughed at going to a professional because it's a cheap violin from the internet. Thank you for your input. I know now that it is nothing I can fix by myself.
December 23, 2017, 7:16 PM · Could be a seem that has becomes unglued.
December 23, 2017, 7:32 PM · A reputable luthier will not laugh at you, or your violin. S/he will help it sound good, may give you suggestions on its care.
If luthiers only took care of expensive instruments, they would not stay long in business. Of course he/she may hope to eventually sell you better equipment...
December 23, 2017, 11:12 PM · Sounds like you’re describing a “wolf” tone. Does this sound only happen on specific notes?
December 23, 2017, 11:56 PM · I was thinking a wolf tone also, though they are normally far less problematic on violin than cello and bass, and especially for a beginner. Here is a video demonstrating the sound of a wolf tone. Is it like that? (Notice that she is playing up high on the G string, where a beginner wouldn't usually play).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi_6r0kk2nE
Edited: December 24, 2017, 3:16 AM · How long has this been happening? It could be wolves (are you two crying wolf?) and/or due to weather changes and thus causing a seam to become open as Roger had mentioned.

Yes, it is time to see a luthier. I second marjory's comments. And you are not offending anyone. (And what if you were?)

December 24, 2017, 5:59 AM · Paul: Gravity vs. friction - and then there is the occasional bump!

I have found open seams in my own instruments by tapping on the plates, if I think I hear an open seam I then pluck strings while squeezing the plates to better locate the open seam. Then I go to my hide glue and heat it up!

Edited: December 24, 2017, 7:32 AM · The most likely causes are very simple . The best policy is to look for these before doing anything drastic . Most commonly the bridge has worked its way forward not at the feet but where it meets the strings . This can drastically affect tone . Have a good visual inspection for simple things like a string is begining to unwind a seem is coming adrift etc.
A wolf tone would have been present all along . If you don't mind causing some problems and your a curious person don't be afraid to do things to your un valuable violin this is a learning process . A sound post very rarely falls down just because the strings are all off . If it does learn how to put it back . Don't be afraid of your own curiosity .
December 24, 2017, 7:50 PM · Thank you everyone who took their time to read and respond.

I am not sure if it's the wolf tone. I listened to it on youtube but it sounds different.

I was playing well on it in the beginning of October and shortly after that it started happening. I also have a 3/4 violin which my husband found in the closet of the house we just moved into. It's totally scratched and everything. It had no bridge, only one string. No bow. I fixed it up with parts from ebay and it sounds beautiful despite everything. The sticker inside says Anton Becker and it's from Germany. No idea about its worth but it sounds better than my other one which has the mute and weird tone.

Ken thank you for encouraging my curiosity. Since it's a cheap violin I don't mind trying a few things. I used to have a violin 10 years ago and my teacher changed out the pegs and the strings for me and I watched him.

Either way, once I take it to a shop I will report back here and let you know what they said.

December 24, 2017, 8:20 PM · Violins need adjusting to accommodate changes in the weather. "October" suggests a weather shift to me; I almost always need to take my violin to the luthier that month, to get a bridge and post adjustment.

The weather can change the angle of the neck on some older instruments, too, which can affect the sound.

Edited: December 25, 2017, 3:30 PM · On the rare occasions when I have needed to take all the strings down (typically when changing the tail-piece), before I start I always wrap a cloth round the violin's waist between the bridge and fingerboard and hold it in place tightly with an adjustable strap. This does the job of the mechanical clamp that the luthier would use. I also mark the exact position of the bridge feet with small pieces of sticky paper - the sort that can be easily removed without leaving a mark - because the exact position of the bridge is critical, especially if it has been installed by a luthier. And as a "just in case" backup I then proceed with the tailpiece business with the violin flat in its case so as to minimize any knocks or other unwanted movement.

Andrea, wolves in the top half of the G string are not uncommon, even in the best instruments. An eminent British soloist has one high on the G string of her Strad (she demonstrated it in a TV interview) but no luthier has been able to shift it, so she has to play through it when she meets it in a piece. That may be an exceptional instance, but careful setting up of bridge and soundpost, choice of strings and bow can do a lot to help. The luthier should be your first port of call.

I have two violins. My 18th c violin has a wolf on the second A on the G string. When I use a gut-cored G than it still doesn't quite go away but I can live with it. It's been a lot worse when I've used high tension synthetic strings in the past. My #2 violin, a much less expensive Jay Haide of 2002, has no wolves anywhere on it, no matter what strings I use, but it doesn't have the power and tonal qualities of the other one, although its tone is quite acceptable and it is a very useful general orchestral and practice instrument.

Edited: December 26, 2017, 9:21 AM · In addition to the process Trevor described when there is no string tension, as I gradually loosen the strings I also move my soundpost slightly toward the treble ff-hole with gentle tugs of my soundpost setter to be sure the post will not fall. As I replace the string tension I gradually move the post back to where it was.

I have a "bridge jack" to keep the strings in tension while the regular bridge is removed - again to protect the soundpost.

December 25, 2017, 5:50 PM · Trevor, your practice of wrapping a strap around the violin corpus isn't equivalent to the violin maker's clamp. Because it would pull in on the edges of the plates, it would be a force more akin to that of gripping the violin at the c-bouts between your knees, and could actually cause the plate archings to spring up and the post to drop. JMHO.
December 26, 2017, 4:13 AM · If the strap sits tightly around the violin, it wouldn't have much effect in either direction. If there is a spacer between the center of the top plate and the strap (similiar to the bridge between plate and strings), the net force onto the top plate is downwards, compressing the sound post. It will become apparent if you draw a force diagram.

That said, I'm not sure how to read "wrap a cloth round the violin's waist". I'd put a sock ball next to the bridge, between strap and plate.

December 26, 2017, 5:13 AM · I have seen hanging on a wall in a respected violin shop violins sans bridges but with cloths wrapped round the waist and secured with a strap or similar to stop the sound post from moving. The people in that shop know what they're doing.
December 26, 2017, 7:35 AM · I do not know why all of you are so worried about the soundpost falling. I'm sorry, but of the 7 violins I've had to take bridges off of, none of their soundposts ever fell out. Even the 3 cellos I had done at school didn't fall out except the one where someone stepped on it, and since I'm no luthier, I couldn't do anything about that.
Edited: December 26, 2017, 9:29 AM · Trevor, you can try for yourself with a cardboard box and a strap. Here (rope, I didn't have a strap at hand):

Tightening the strap will neither expand nor flatten the curved faces of the box. I don't see why it would be different for a violin's top and bottom plates.

I doubt that there is a causal relation between "straps around the bridge-less violins" and "the sound posts didn't fall over".

December 26, 2017, 9:43 AM · "I do not know why all of you are so worried about the soundpost falling."

It's because they can and do. You have a sample size of ten. My sample size is closer to thousands.

December 26, 2017, 9:52 AM · @David I suppose that is true though
Edited: December 26, 2017, 12:15 PM · David, interestingly, a few weeks ago when my bridge snapped in two whilst I was playing, the soundpost did not fall over or even shift, which is what you would have expected from such a sudden traumatic event. However, my luthier, when he carved and fitted my new bridge took the opportunity to relocate the soundpost, by no more than a mm or two as far as I can tell, with a marked improvement in the tone, which was already good.

Two weeks before my "event" a violinist in my orchestra had her bridge fall over during the rehearsal, and on this occasion her soundpost also fell over and was rattling around inside the violin immediately after. It took some serious persuading from the CM to stop her from putting the bridge back up and continue playing, but she was so persuaded and took the violin to the luthier the next day (my luthier, as it happened).

Violins are unpredictable creatures!

December 27, 2017, 5:01 PM · I really don't know if I can live with this sound. I'm a beginner and I need to feel rewarded during practice. That is I want to create a beautiful tone. I learn for fun and if I don't have fun I have no reason to play. At this point my violin is more frustrating than anything. Sure I could practice on my 3/4 and it sounds beautiful but it's not a full size. At this point my 40 € violin from 10 years ago sounded better.
December 28, 2017, 10:27 AM · Bring your violin to a luthier and let them address the issue. I had a similar thing happen to my violin after it had been taken out of storage, there were several seams loose amongst other things.
December 28, 2017, 11:24 AM · No reason you should live with a sound that isn’t what you want. No sure what anyone here can do to help you not seeing or hearing your voice instrument. Par of it could be technique, did you have someone else replicating your issue?

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