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Rosin residue?
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May 10, 2015 - 2:20 pm
Member Since: May 10, 2015
Forum Posts: 3
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So... I've fallen in love with the violin, and thanks to the internet, I'm self teaching. I'm really enjoying it, but I have a small problem. I've only had my violin a few days. It is an inexpensive instrument, and I understand that I can only expect so much from it. But here's the issue: My tone is already deteriorating. Badly. It wasn't great before, but it is more difficult every day to make it sounds passable. I read that rosin buildup can affect tone, and so can cheap strings. I'm sure these strings are cheap. Could they wear this fast? Is it rosin residue? Technique? Any thought?

Michigan, USA

May 10, 2015 - 2:39 pm
Member Since: January 21, 2012
Forum Posts: 2647
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Could be a combination of cheap strings, cheap fiddle, but It could also be you. Not saying nothing bad about you, but I know myself that after I play a violin for a few days the sound isn't what I want or what it was before. I think it's a matter of we get used to that first sound and we want something more. I'm sure the strings are cheap steel strings, they are not going to put $30.00 or even $25.00 strings on a $90.00 violin. Try a new set, there are many to choose from here in Fiddlershop.com.

It's a tough road (violin playing). So they say it's the hardest instrument to learn to play.

I myself have a brand new $4000.00 violin and I was noticing today that it doesn't sound the same as when I got it. 

It's just me or "us".

But, congrats on the new violin. Don't let it get you down, stay with it.

Good Luck.  And yes, it could be rosin residue, wipe your strings clean, keep em clean.



May 10, 2015 - 7:19 pm
Member Since: March 15, 2014
Forum Posts: 244
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Hello and Welcome to the Insane world of strings.

    Congratulation on your adventure and being self taught.

    Can you tell us what brand you violin is?

    You may be experenecing multiple problems, all stemming from being inexpensive.

     I would get a decent set of strings (ie Tonica or Prelude) and a good rosin (ie Kaplan Light or Dark) as cheap inexpensive rosin will flake and build up faster then a better quality rosin. Use a soft cloth and wipe down you strings when ever you can. If you know someone else who plays ask them to play it and give an oppinion.

 Well there is my two cents, hope it helps. Happy playing,

With violins there is no fretting over the music.


May 11, 2015 - 8:00 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
Forum Posts: 2379
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There are a few other possibilities I can think of. 

Playing the violin involves hair, wood, and rosin, all of which are affected to some degree by changes in humidity and temperature.  They all have their effect on the sound of the instrument. 

Your "ear" also can change a good bit, even over the first few days.  Especially the first few days, in fact.  You have probably been listening to a lot of recordings or videos of various players that sound great, and so the expectations you have of how it should sound when you play go up.  That is natural, and a good thing in the long run.  But often discouraging in the short run.  It is why a lot of people give up in the first few weeks of trying to learn an instrument.

I have been playing various musical instruments for almost 40 yrs now, and I can tell you that unless something really catastrophic was going on, like the instrument literally falling apart in my hands, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the tone of an instrument was "deteriorating" over just a few days.  I'd want to play it every day for a couple weeks before jumping to a conclusion like that. 

One can certainly hear some real changes over the first few days, though.  They are not imaginary.  They can be due to weather, as already mentioned.  With new instruments, they can be "settling", which is the mechanical process of the parts of the instrument adapting to the stresses of being tuned up and played.  

There is one possibility, though, that comes to mind with a new violin.  Take a thin piece of paper, and see if you can get get it to slide in between the "feet" of the bridge and the top of the violin at any spot.  If you can, then the bridge isn't sitting flat, and that can make any violin sound less good.  With the tuning up and re-tuning that is usually necessary with a new instrument (or after a string change) it is not unusual for the ridge to start leaning a little, and the feet end up lifting off the surface in one or more spots and that can definitely affect the sound adversely. 

You may notice that none of the possibilities I have mentioned have anything to do with whether your violin is expensive or not.  That is because any of these things could happen just as easily with a violin that cost as much as a house as they could with one that cost less than 100$.  Especially for a beginner in their first few days of playing.  I'm not saying there aren't some likely quality differences, but there is no reason to just assume that the instrument being inexpensive is actually the problem.

Now, you didn't mention how you feel the instrument sounds different.  If it sounds thinner, or muddy, or there's a buzzing sound, or it is raspier, these would all indicate different possibilities.  Just starting out, you may not have figured out yet how to record the instrument, but even some pictures (full view and close up) could help.  Some of our members, like Fiddlestix, have an eagle's eye for spotting little problems.  They may be something that can be easily fixed, like the bridge not sitting quite flat or in exactly the right spot, or in some cases they might actually be something serious enough that it would be better to find out now while you can (hopefully) still return the instrument and get another.

How much you can tell/show about the problems you are having with the sound does affect how much help anyone from a place like this forum/community can give you.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

May 12, 2015 - 7:23 am
Member Since: May 10, 2015
Forum Posts: 3
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Wow. Thank you all for being so helpful. I never considered instrument 'settling', but it makes sense. After I posted, I looked more closely at the strings, and there was a thick residue on them that wouldn't wipe off, and I had to scrape it off (probably hard on the strings) Is there a lot of difference in rosin quality? How can I tell a better one from a worse one? And I'm sure it is also my technique. As I attempt (slightly) more difficult things, I find my bow tends to slant, and I have to correct that. It really is a lot of things at once. Anyway, thank you all for your support. Have a great day. 

Edit: As for the specific sound? A buzz, I guess, is what you'd call it. It's very harsh. Cleaning the strings helped some. A new set of strings is definitely in my future. The g and d strings buzz, and the a and e are, well, metallic sounding. The pitch is right, but they sound almost like they're not on the same instrument. So there's that. Thanks everyone.

Fort Lauderdale
May 12, 2015 - 7:58 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 15826

The buzz could be a loose fine tuner, check the bottom nut if you have that kind. The tailpiece could be hitting the chinrest. the lower strings could be hitting the fingerboard when vibrating. The nut could have the wrong groove angles. The end button could be loose or not pressed in all the way. The sound-post could be crooked. There could be a loose bass bar inside the fiddle...... The blocks in the instrument could be loose or split. a seam could be open. Of course, it could be your strings as well. :)

It is also possible that you are becoming more critical of your sound production the better you get. :)

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


May 12, 2015 - 8:27 am
Member Since: August 18, 2014
Forum Posts: 183
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All great advice...

I'd definately check the fine tuners for any buzzing....or if you have a "hump" in the fingerboard as well, especially near where the joint of the neck meets the body. Although most likely it's set up. Maybe the nut is too low or high, bridge needs to be cut and fitted better......and of course all the above mentioned possible issues.

I'd try changing the strings first and see if that doesn't give you a marked improvement, alot of times it will. Also, Violins are really fickle and grumpy instruments and are greatly affected by the weather "moody" hahahaha so take that to heart as well.

Are you playing helicores, nylon or steel strings?

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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