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Scratchy Violin Attack!
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Violanoob
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March 8, 2013 - 9:23 pm
Member Since: March 8, 2013
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Hi- I recently came into possession of a Skylark MV-005 student violin outfit, and it appears to be in pretty good shape (by that I mean it's all there and no one has sat on it). I cleaned it up and tuned it- and adjusted the bridge like I'm supposed to- and rosined (is that how you spell it?) the bow and generally treated it like a baby because it just looks so small and fragile in my hands.

In any case- and armed with a disclaimer that I have absolutely no training whatsoever in playing this thing (or any stringed instrument other than a guitar) so far- I tried my hand at making some sound, any sound, that sounded reasonable. As I noted in my introduction post, 'scratching out a tune' doesn't even begin to describe the horror of what came out that thing.

 

Eventually after a few minutes of threatening my fingers with amputation I was able to pick out a few notes and a grim version of 'twinkle twinkle'- yay. The problem now is that no matter how smoothly I draw the bow on any string, it's very, very thin and well, scratchy. I took a look at the strings and I noticed a pretty good accumulation of rosin on the 'bowing area' (if that's what you call it) on the strings themselves- is there such a thing as having TOO much rosin on a bow? If so, how do I clean the thing and get it back to a point where it sounds better? Or is it pretty much a matter of just using the bow until all that wears off and starting over again?

 

Any tips or advice on this would be very much appreciated!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 8, 2013 - 10:39 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

Doesn't sound scratchy because of too much rosin. Only messy for that reason.
You probably need more pressure as you draw the bow, make sure you are drawing the bow a an even speed, not too fast and at least a half inch away from the bridge be preferably more. Close to the fingerboard is OK but over is not so good. Start with practicing nice even sounding open strings with emphasis on how you draw your bow. Be your own teacher by evaluating which changes make it better and which make it worse.
Good luck :-)

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

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Mad_Wed
Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city
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March 10, 2013 - 4:04 pm
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Violanoob said
....
Eventually after a few minutes of threatening my fingers with amputation I was able to  ....

LOOOL!!! roflol 

I can use that trick on my next practice! Seems to be helpful! Thanks!

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Iaen
Magnolia, Tx
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March 10, 2013 - 9:30 pm
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Hey, another noob here.  The way I start my practice every time is with bowing practice.  At least 5 minutes if not more.  I try to do a couple of things during this.  1. Even bow strokes.  I try to make sure my speed is consistent throughout and keep even pressure at the same time.  Both up and down strokes.

2. Work on string interchanges.  I try to make it sound smooth going from one string to the next.  Doesn't happen alot right now but I get it right once in awhile.

3. Arm position.  I try to make sure my arm is in the right position depending on what string I am on.  I have a tendency to roll my wrist instead of lifting my arm for the G string.  Working on it.  

Learned everyone of these tips here.  Watch videos and read the forum.  Lots of great advice if you ask me.  Working my way down the videos listed on the left.  Follow 1-12 and it seems like I should have a pretty good base.  

 

Oh how I wish threatening my fingers would work.  They seem to have a mind of their own sometimes.  wink

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StoneDog
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March 10, 2013 - 10:00 pm
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I used to put a ton of rosin on my bow > thinking this magic powder would make it better. > I just rosin up about 6 times or so across the bow now. I keep my strings clean after I play and before > Sort of get them ready for more magic dust. What I have found very helpful to alleviate me with the Cat Scratch thing has been using the metronome and drawing the bow very slowly over the strings full stroke and back. Still have a bit of Cat Scratch Fever in there but it is getting better. 

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cdennyb
King for a Day, Peasant for many
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March 11, 2013 - 1:52 am
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Violanoob said 
- is there such a thing as having TOO much rosin on a bow? If so, how do I clean the thing and get it back to a point where it sounds better? Or is it pretty much a matter of just using the bow until all that wears off and starting over again?

 

Any tips or advice on this would be very much appreciated!

In answer to your questions as I have included here...dazed

1- Yes, you can put on too much, usually it just builds up on its own and makes a general white frosty mess of the fingerboard and violin top. exactly

2- Wipe gently with a soft cloth to clean the violin of any rosin dust. Doing it when it's cooler rather than warmer will make it easier but don't go putting your violin in the frig. facepalm

2b- Cleaning the violin strings requires a bit more effort, and the use of alcohol. DO NOT GET ANY ALCOHOL ON THE WOOD VARNISH OR ANY WOOD FINISH. I apply a little to a paper towel and wrap the towel around a string a little and rub it firm but gently. You do this to each string and then give them a minute or two to dry before playing.party

2c- Cleaning the hair of the bow is another chore you can do but not too often, and it also requires a very firm but gentle cleaning with alcohol and a paper towel. Loosen the hair about as much as you do when done with practice and then wrap the paper towel soaked with alky around the hair and pinching it flat between your fingers, slide the towel up and down the hair and look for the hair to become almost transparent. Let it dry a little and feel it with your finger, if it's still sticky to the touch then keep cleaning and use a new spot of the paper towel. Continue until clean. You know it's really clean when you can draw it across the clean strings and not get any sound resembling a violin. Almost silent!banana

3- Now that it's all clean, apply the rosin to the bow hairs from one end to the other in long strokes with a firm pressure. Usually after a good cleaning like I described, it takes me about a dozen strokes to get the right amount on my bowhair, yours might take more or less depending on your brand of rosin, the pressure of your application, etc. so just apply until it sounds good on the strings. After that, every couple of practice sessions, give the bow a stroke or two and you're good to go.hats_offdancingviolin-studentdevil-violinviolin_girlviolin-1260cheerscheerscheerleader

 

Hope that answered your questions with enough detail. Enjoy the sound of your newly cleaning instrument!thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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Violanoob
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March 11, 2013 - 6:51 pm
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Thank you all for your replies and suggestions! One more for now: the rosin that I have is rather dark (almost a heavy beer color), but it's what came with the violin. From what I've been reading here and there on the web the stock stuff is pretty bad; but, being new to this I don't know any better!

Is there a decent 'beginner grade' rosin that might improve things a bit? Does rosin 'dry out' after a time? I actually have two bricks of the same stuff; one is still shiny all over and the other appears to have been roughed up a bit for use (that's the one I've used so far). What rosin would you guys suggest I take a look at using?

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Steve
Oregon
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March 11, 2013 - 10:00 pm
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Hi John,

The rosin that comes with inexpensive violins is almost always not as good as other rosins you can buy. It will be adequate but will almost always produce quite a bit of rosin dust. Treat yourself to some better rosin, then you'll be amazed at the lack of rosin dust, plus you'll be assured of knowing you have better rosin. And the rosin will last for years usually, so the somewhat higher price you pay for it is more than offset for how long it lasts and the convenience of not having to wipe the rosin dust off the violin after every practice..

One good rosin would be the D'Addario Kaplan Artcraft sold in Fiddlershop.com. I don't find any difference between dark or light versions, but the dark is what Fiddlerman usually recommends. I really like it!

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