What Are the Reasons a Violin Might Screech?

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It can take many years to become proficient on the violin, and in the early stages it can be difficult to get a clean tone from the instrument. There are some simple techniques, however, that can help you to avoid making tuneless screeching noises no matter how long you have been playing.

The Bridge

  • The bridge is the thin slice of wood that holds the strings up from the body of the violin. There is a short piece of each string on the nearest side of the bridge, leading to the fine-tuning pegs. If you play with the bow on these strings, because they are so short, it will make a very high-pitched noise.

Bow Pressure

  • If you press the bow down too hard on the string as you play, it stops the string from vibrating evenly; however, not pressing hard enough produces the same effect. You need to strike a balance between making enough noise, and pressing too hard; too much pressure, and your violin will just make a harsh scraping sound.

Bow Position

  • You need to bow evenly across the string, going horizontally across the string and not up and down. Try to keep the bow moving parallel to the bridge at all times. The bow should only be touching one string, as making contact with others will cause them to sound as well.

Finger Pressure

  • You have to press your fingers down firmly on the strings to play a note. If you don't press strongly enough, then the string can vibrate beyond your finger, making a high-pitched noise. Doing this with your fingers in the right places will play harmonics, but anyplace else and it will just make a tuneless screech.

Rosin

  • Rosin is the waxy substance that you rub on the hairs of the bow before playing, to make it sticky enough to vibrate the string. If you don't have any rosin on the bow, it won't make a sound when drawn across the strings. However, putting too much rosin on the bow will cause it to stick to the strings too much, and it will make a scratchy sound.

Worn Strings

  • If your strings are old or worn, then they will not resonate properly to produce pure-sounding notes. Check your strings regularly to make sure they are in good condition; worn strings are also more liable to snap.

References

  • Photo Credit Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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