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"Scratching" Sound Problem?
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FinalPatriot
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July 18, 2013 - 8:22 pm
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I apologize if this doesn't make much sense but I've noticed the last two days now that whenever I'm playing, there is this strange scratchy, almost static sound when playing on the G and the D strings.  The strings themselves aren't all that old (about 2 months) and I'm using one of Pierre's bows.  I've gone back and wiped away all the rosin dust and I still get the same "background" noise.  Is this a problem with my strings or something else?  It's strange because the sound on my violin has always been so clear.

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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Fiddlestix
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July 18, 2013 - 10:53 pm
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Do you hear the scratchyness when playing open string's or when you press them down? 

dunno

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StoneDog
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July 18, 2013 - 11:10 pm
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Chin rest too close to the tail piece?>> it will cause unwanted sounds. It will vibrate.

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FinalPatriot
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July 19, 2013 - 5:31 am
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Fiddlestix said
Do you hear the scratchyness when playing open string's or when you press them down? 

dunno

It's actually in both situations where I hear the problem.  I'm thinking the strings must just be going bad or something.

StoneDog said
Chin rest too close to the tail piece?>> it will cause unwanted sounds. It will vibrate.

I checked those as well and they are actually well tied down.  A loose chin rest is just one of my OCD's.  :)

 

 

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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Fiddlestix
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July 19, 2013 - 6:09 am
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@FinalPatriot: Some of us discussed this in the, Fiddle Chat, box last evening. There could be an excess of rosin build-up on your string's which I think you would hear in the sound more on the D and G string's due to their thickness and greater amount of vibration. Rosin build-up, in my opinion, is the main culpret of a scratchy sound. Example: rub a piece of sand paper on a smooth surface, then rub two piece's of sand paper together, choose which of the two sound's the best. Same difference when rosin rub's against rosin, the sound isn't as nice. Rosin free string's sound much nicer, I clean my string's after every practice.

Another possibility is that you have changed your bowing speed, the slower the speed the more scratch you'll get, especially if there is a build-up of rosin. I hardly think it's the fault of the string's which you say are only a couple month's old. Old worn out string's will give off more of a dull / dead sound rather than a scratchy sound.

 

Ken.

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RosinedUp
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July 19, 2013 - 9:54 am
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I agree about the possibility that it is rosin on the strings.  You could try cleaning the strings with alcohol as described elsewhere.  Don't get any alcohol on the wood.

Also try to take notice of where and how you are bowing the strings.   Systematically bowing too close to the bridge or failing to keep the bow square to the strings might explain it.

It could be related to the the weather, too, especially the humidity.  A lighter rosin may be better in Summer, contributing less to rosin buildup on the strings, for one thing.

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Kevin M.
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July 19, 2013 - 10:21 am
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Can you put up a video so it might be easier to find your problem. There are too many what ifs and not really knowing the sound you are talking about it is impossible to tell you the problem.

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FinalPatriot
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July 19, 2013 - 1:24 pm
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Fiddlestix said
@FinalPatriot: Some of us discussed this in the, Fiddle Chat, box last evening. There could be an excess of rosin build-up on your string's which I think you would hear in the sound more on the D and G string's due to their thickness and greater amount of vibration. Rosin build-up, in my opinion, is the main culpret of a scratchy sound. 

Ken.

That's got to be the problem as I do tend to put too much rosin on the bow from time to time and I almost never clean it.  What do you suggest as the safest way to clean all this rosin buildup?

If this doesn't work, I'll go ahead and make a recording and then post it here.  It's pretty easy to hear especially when doing warm-up scales.

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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Fiddlestix
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July 19, 2013 - 5:57 pm
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@ FinalPatriot:,, I use rubbing alcohol on a cloth, just a small amount. Put the cloth over your index finger, place it in the bottle, tip bottle to apply the alcohol on the cloth then wipe the string's.

WARNING:.  Be carefull not to soak the cloth, you may drip it on the violin finish, you won't be happy with that outcome, I guarantee it. It just take's a small amount on the cloth to do the job.

There is one of the member's here who use's pre-soaked gauze pad's that you would use to wipe your skin prior to a hypodermic injection. I believe you can purchase them at drug store's as well, but I found it cheaper just to buy a 3$ bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol. It will last a long time.

Last year, I myself wondered what to clean the string's with, so I called, D'Addario  in NY, they make string's for all stringed instrument's, I talked to a representative and asked what he suggested cleaning the string's with. His reply was rubbing alcohol.

I figure that information came from the horse's mouth, so to speak, so if it's good enough for D'Addario, it's good for me too. 

Clean dem strang's, it will improve the sound.   thumbs-up

 

Ken. 

 

 

 

 

 

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FinalPatriot
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July 19, 2013 - 7:05 pm
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Thanks for this info!  Do I need to do the same thing to clean rosin from the bow too?

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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JoeP
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July 19, 2013 - 8:41 pm
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my 2 cents...

No, you do not want to remove rosin from the bow.  However, you also do not want to over-rosin the bow.

In my (rather limited) experience, almost all odd sounds are the result of bowing mistakes.  A video submission would be extremely helpful for members more knowledgeable than me to help diagnose the source of the problem. 

That said, how does it sound when you play open strings, with the hair of the bow flat on the strings, midway between the fingerboard and the bridge?  If you can work and make it sound good with open strings, then my guess would be that you are tensing when working with your left hand.

 

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FinalPatriot
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July 19, 2013 - 9:14 pm
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@JoeP ,

 

With open strings, it actually sounds the same as when I'm playing.  I'm going to try out my mic tomorrow and see if it will pick up the sound.  It's almost like that rattle in car that you know is there but just can't figure out where it's coming from.

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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Fiddlerman
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July 22, 2013 - 7:29 am
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Check carefully to see where your contact point is when playing. Maybe you started bowing too close to the bridge without compensating with pressure and the proper bow speed.
Playing close to the bridge gives a scratchy sound if you don't have great technique to overcome it. We play close to the bridge to get a sound called ponticello.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Crazymotive
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July 25, 2013 - 9:53 pm
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This may be a long shot but I had a similar problem once. When I would play the D or G  string I would get a peculiar buzzing sound. Turned out that on one part of D string the silver winding on the string was damaged and unraveled slightly. When the string went into vibration, either from direct bowing or from forced vibration from the adjacent G string,  the loose winding rattled against the core of the string to produce the buzzing.  It was hard to notice. I had to examine the string carefully with a magnifying glass to spot the damaged point where the silver winding was loose. Replacing the string solved the problem.

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