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Squealing E & A strings
Out of the blue...rosin problem?
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Regular advisor

September 2, 2017 - 8:40 pm
Member Since: August 13, 2017
Forum Posts: 143
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OK, I am a bit at the end of my rope! I was doing really well there, practicing and the strings sounded pretty good (Good Fiddlerman strings and NEW) suddenly my bow is first start making a scratchy sound on the strings, so I lightened up on the pressure! Suddenly the sound was going from a nice E and A to a Shrill Shriek! It hurt MY ears and my Poor Poodle strarted to howl along and WHINE! Not a pleasant duet! He is a Standard Poodle (Big) and has a very big voice! Only thing saving us is we live in our own home and don't have to worry about disturbing anyone! Well, we do have the windows open so neighbours probably can hear us! So, I am wondering, did I over rosin my bow and is that the problem? The Shrill Shriek is LOUD! It definitely is no open E or open G! I KNOW it is NOT the strings, and I was bowing those strings just fine! Well, my technique needs a lot of work which is why I am doing open string bowing exercises! I will be doing them for a long time most likely! Anyway, I need to know how to eliminate the shrieking that my bow is producing! If it is too much rosin , what is the easiest way to get it off? How do I avoid over rosining? I am using light rosin right now. D'Addario, which is cheap. I intend to get dark for winter. We have horrible long cold winters that are so dry due to heating that it is hard on skin and sinuses (not to mention everything else) plan on getting Bernadel rosin dark for winter then an amber or red rosin for summers...a much better rosin than what I have!

Advice!!! Please anyone if you know what I am doing wrong, help me! Yes, it has been 57 years so I am at the crass beginner stage, but this Shrieking is just NOT right!

"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein 

Brora, North-east Scotland
September 3, 2017 - 2:03 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
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@Cearbhael - I don't know if this is the same thing - on virtually any string-set (with the exception of one, which I'll mention later), on occasion a transition to the E string - open E usually, although I'm sure I've had it occur on the odd occasion when stopped - the E will "whistle" at me.  It's a squeal, a squeak, a high pitched whistle.    This has happened to me from day one (and I'm at 3 years+ into playing).   It didn't happen often, but often enough to be really annoying.   I found that by paying close attention to transitioning onto the E and consciously applying a little more pressure than I would normally do, and being very aware of the hair-to-string angle, the whistling E could be contained, but I have never been able to totally cure it.  UNTIL - I found the D'Addario Kaplan non-whistling E string (really!) part number KS311W   Hand-on-heart as they say - I have NEVER had that string whistle back at me....

The one thing that doesn't really jive with what you wrote is your reference to the shrieking A - I've heard and read plenty about whistling E strings, but never heard of the A giving the same problem - so perhaps your problem is something else?  

Dunno dunno

EDIT: I found this description on a certain supplier's page

The shrill whistle happens when the string vibrates in a trosional (twisting) motion. When behaving normally, the E string vibrates in a Helmoholtz or sideways motion. This torsional vibration of an unwound, plain, steel E string is approximately 4,800 Hz. In contrast, an open E normally vibrates at 660 Hz. The torsional damping (how quickly vibrations tend to die away) is very low with whistling E strings. This is why the whistling sound usually won’t stop quickly once the string begins to vibrate torsionally. Your fingertip provides high damping, and that is the reason why whistling will not occur on stopped notes. It is also true that older E strings that have begun to tarnish tend to whistle more easily as well. However, with all these facts in consideration, bow placement may be the biggest factor when it comes to whistling E strings.

Also - check this 

Too much rosin can be worn-off the bow by playing of course, but that'll take a while.  You can ( it's a bit drastic ) clean the hair in denatured alcohol which will dissolve all the rosin and return the hair to its original condition more or less, but I'd advise against doing that unless you're really keen (and careful).   I've heard of folks using a toothbrush to "comb" down the hair, supposedly removing excess rosin - but never tried it.

The other possibility is check the rosin build-up on the strings themselves - I had one rosin (forget now which it was) which seemed to be very sticky and would build up on the strings quite rapidly to the point where they looked like hawsers. ( OK, I exaggerate somewhat - but it was noticeable ) - but when that happened the sound just went "scratchy" - and was immediately cured by wiping down the strings themselves ( which we should regularly do, as well as dusting off rosin dust from the belly ) at the end of each playing session....

Hmmm.... as I say - dunno - but keep us advised ! 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Regular advisor

September 3, 2017 - 6:55 pm
Member Since: August 13, 2017
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@BillyG Ty for the advise and the video. As you know, I have not advanced to fingering yet though I did try to do first finger to see how bad I would be and it actually rang true and clear! So, I have been working on bowing technique. I am all over the place, but I have been all over the place from the beginning! I am trying to train my right hand (being left handed) and my right hand is not cooperating very well! I fell from a ladder 25feet to a cement floor back in 1995 and am legally disabled with nerve and deep tissue scarring all down my left side! Landed on my bum and my back but had a LARGE steel shelf in my left hand which seemed to make me land to the left and caused nerve damage in the forearm and hand of my left side (and sciatic pain in left leg) let's just say I was messed up all down the left side, spine etc. Anyway, figured since I seem to have to do a few things more with my right, it would behoove me to learn to play right handed, rather than fit the violin left handed. So far it is hard! Having trouble just hanging onto the bow (and it seems very heavy), trouble getting to the tip of my bow (seems a real stretch) my pinkie finger wants to lift off the bow (argh) and my thumb doesn't fit in the curve of the frog, so I have to put it in front of the frog which seems to destabilise the rest of the fingers...Seems I have my worst problems when I am bowing upper bow or whole bow!BUT, I had these problems from the beginning which brings us back to the rosin! Now, when I unpacked the violin from storage it had three broken strings and the one remaining string broke while I was examining it! I had to re-situate the bridge when I put on the new D'Addario strings (the strings that had the E that popped after just 3 days) I had a moment where I believe the bridge was backward. Can't remember when that occurred but I believe it was prior to the string breaking! I had the bridge pop out and take off across the room switching it around! Scared me since the bridge is thinner  than most modern bridges and I thought I broke it! Obviously it is both thin and flexible since it survived that boo boo! It is marked Dresden which only confirms the made in Austria Tag inside the body! WELL, seems I had it on right from the first! So I had to detune my strings and turn it around AGAIN! Such a job and you have to be so so careful to turn each peg just a little at a time until you are snug enough to hold the bridge where you want it! It tried to take off on me again when I got too eager turning the g string and had to start all over! At least this time it only went a short ways  Last issue mentioned was the sound post. Last I looked the soundpost had not moved! It has a piece of string attached to it (left by whoever placed it I am sure) I am afraid to dink around with the post or string for that matter! Can the string affect the sound? Should I attempt to cut it off? Curious minds want to know! I know the violin is now over 100 years old, since my grandparents were married in 1922. They were 19 when they wed so I am figuring he got the fiddle no later than 10 years of age. I understand he was a very good fiddler at 16 which is when they met. Possibly he has had it since childhood. Figuring he got the violin at 10, it would have been 1813 which makes the violin definitely older 100 years. Where does the time fly? Well, aside from my rotten bowing technique, the rosin, the bridge or the possibility the sound post moved, what else is there? I can see it from the fret hole on the E string side, it is just south of the bridge almost directly under the E string.If that is a bad location please let me know! (See picture above) Are there any other things that can be at issue and why the A string too since that normally doesn't respond like that?

Post Script: I tuned her up (I am sure it is a her, my grandfather would have attached a female gender to anything he loved dearly) and DIDN'T rosin the bow! Went through each string and tried middle, lower, upper and whole bow and the worst I got was scratchy sounds in the upper bow (that includes the upper bow parts of whole bow). So I am thinking possibly the bridge being backwards and poor technique? Expected with a crass beginner I guess! My holding of the bow today seemed better and firmer. My right hand doesn't flex as I would like in the bow up/bow down exercises I borrowed from Pierre! He is so flexible, and he makes it look so easy...Haa Haa! Maybe, when I get his flexibility I will find the upper bow much easier! Well, Billy, I guess if you're really going at badly, even the A string can react! Even if no one else has done it, I managed to extract excruciatingly Shrill sounds out of that string! Nothing to be bragging about though and goodness knows my dog will be happy if I never manage it again! He also hates the flute! He howls along to that and my son's and sister's accordions. He also howls along to harmonica! So, him sitting silently through today's practice was definitely a treat! Seems violin is a sound he is willing to happily endure as long as I don't hit any shrillness.

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"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein 

my own little world

September 4, 2017 - 11:59 am
Member Since: July 23, 2015
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My first thought was rosin build up on the strings. You can wipe the strings off with a soft microfiber rag.

Another thing is if you are bowing too close to the bridge will bring an unpleasant squeal. 

Bowing crooked will bring out a certain squeak into the mix.

Do you practice your bowing in front of a mirror? If you don't have on in an easy spot to bow in front of, try recording a video of yourself if you are able and examine your bowing. That's what I did, because I didn't ever feel like practicing in my bathroom, haha. Even still when I make videos for fun I constantly examine my playing. Video recording yourself is a great tool.

The sound post looks like it is where it belongs, and I may be wrong, but I wouldn't think the string attached would hurt the sound, after all some fiddlers from way back used to put a rattle snake rattle inside.... side note I have a rattle snake rattle, and am tempted to throw it in my fiddle to see what it sounds like, lol. The rattle is just so old and been in the family forever and I worry about damaging it, haha.... But I would think the string was probably put on there to make it easier to pull out if it happened to fall down?

World's Okayest Fiddler
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Regular advisor

September 4, 2017 - 5:01 pm
Member Since: August 13, 2017
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@damfino So, you don't think the soundpost, the backwards bridge, or the string attached to the soundpost, is the problem which simply leaves my technique! I thought that since the bridge was backwards that there was probably slightly more tension on the A and E strings since the bridge was higher under them. I thought maybe that extra tension could have contributed to the strings reaction! I have certain things I eventually plan to take care of on my violin. I probably need new ebony pegs down the road. I want to match the ones I have when I do! It also needs a couple of repairs! Yesterday the chin rest popped off and revealed that there is an open spot between the top and the side of the violin! I suspect, from the way it goes together when the chin rest is put on, that the chin rest was tightened too much and may have popped the glue there! I will not attempt to fix it! I can diy easy things but that is out of my range! Until I can afford Fiddlershop's Luthiers to do it, it is sealed by the chin rest. Still useable, so will continue using it as is. I also have a long but tight crack running up from the ebony piece that the tail piece loop goes over to the end pin. Hope you know what I mean. Anyway, it doesn't seem to be affecting the playability either so until it gets repaired (same time as the separation under the chin rest) I again will continue to use it! I am naming her Rose after my gran since she was the love of my grandfather's life! He fell for her at first sight! She rode into his yard bareback and without a bridle on her young stallion Danny at a full gallop, then reared! She was only 4'9", and my grandfather was amazed that she could control a spirited stallion with nothing but her knees and hands. The saying he often repeated was "She was a Tiger disguised in Wildcat skin". Her petite size hid a HUGE personality and courage! He was lost at that moment and he courted her with that violin so yeah, Rose is fitting!

as for a mirror, I have an unmounted full length mirror upstairs I intend to bring down. I know practicing in front of a mirror helps you correct errors as they happen! I am getting lens replacement surgery tomorrow on my right eye and 2 or 3 weeks later on my left! I hope that will help as well! I am wearing strong bifocals now and get double vision when I look down my violin! I play with my right eye closed so I can see what I am doing! I am hoping I will get 20/20 vision or close afterwards! Not to mention my cataracts have made everything blurry! I am delighted we can get new lenses now! I would hate to go blind!!!

PS: @BillyG I posted the pictures of my violin's booboos! The hand whittled E string, the crack, and the popped seam with the chin rest on and with it off! I had to put a paper clip to hold the seam open because the top clamps down fairly tight due to having the chin rest on tight for so long. You can hardly tell the popped seam is there but you can see that the side has been pushed out and away from the centre seam (where the tail pin is) that also has shifted to the left, so has to be reseated. Sigh, so many things to fix! I can only be content that, for now, it plays! I guess I may have actually passed you up on the list of repairs needed on our Stradivarius copies! As you know though, they DO have really nice sound! Maybe it will even sound better after she's all fixed up!

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"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein 

Fort Lauderdale
September 6, 2017 - 12:43 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 16063

You obviously need some work done on that instrument :(
We are around whenever you're ready.
Sorry to read about your accident. As long as you can use the instrument and are content, I can't see much harm in it. The crack will probably grow over time but it can be repaired. If you want to mend it get a hold of some hide glue and try to work it in the crack temporarily.
Look forward to hearing more about your progress.

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

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