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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Trouble with the E string

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kragerin - Posted - 03/31/2021:  22:42:21

In my practice I'm having a little trouble with my E string. I am not very far along in learning to play, but I am getting better. Got a few tunes I can do fairly well. But sometimes when I shift to the E string from the A string in a tune....I get nothing, no sound. My bowing is the most troubling part of learning...I think the intonation will take care of itself over time...but I got a feeling this bowing is probably my problem. Or am I not lifting my fingers up enough and muting the E string? Should we lift our fingers well above the strings between notes? Any suggestions?

Edited by - kragerin on 03/31/2021 22:43:45

carlb - Posted - 04/01/2021:  04:57:00

Get a friend who plays to watch you while you bow to correct possible problems with bow hold and to make sure that you keeping the .perpendicular to the strings as you play; also, for wrist and elbow flexibility. If you don't have a friend, I'd suggest paying for a lesson to correct any bowing problems. For my bowing, when I started fiddling, I used a friend's suggestion and later I took one lesson from another friend.

gapbob - Posted - 04/01/2021:  05:07:10

This is usually a problem with crossing over to the string too slowly. Basically, the bow has four positions when you play a single string, lots of new players (and old players) have the same problem, the bow hits the string gently enough when crossing to the E string that it gets the string to rotate, rather than vibrate in the direction of the bow.

Try making sure that there is a somewhat abrupt (not really the word, perhaps definite better) change in angle of the bow to the string when you cross strings to the E.  Just sliding over gently to the E string will often cause the symptom you describe.


Edited by - gapbob on 04/01/2021 05:07:57

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 04/01/2021:  05:19:33

I agree with taking some lessons or getting a fiddling friend to watch you bow. The angle of the bow as it crosses the string , the amount of rosin on the bow, the amount of rosin build up on the string, the type of string, the amount of pressure you are putting on the string with the bow ..... all these things come together to either frustrate or please the fiddler. Be patient. Practice string crossings by themselves as you warm up. It will come with time.... R/

coryobert - Posted - 04/01/2021:  05:54:24

This sane thing happens to me in one specific part of one specific tune and I never could figure out why.

DougBrock - Posted - 04/01/2021:  05:59:04

I’m new to fiddle too (4 months), so my comments should be weighted accordingly, lol, but this might be what is called “whistling,” when the bow changes to the e string and basically gets nothing. I’ve had it happen, but not too often. You might do some google searches. It’s a common enough problem that some e strings are made specifically to reduce likelihood of whistling.

kragerin - Posted - 04/01/2021:  07:15:11

Thanks for your replies everyone.

kragerin - Posted - 04/01/2021:  08:30:53

I just found an interesting vid on YT from a “Professor V” about a whistling E string.

DougBrock - Posted - 04/01/2021:  10:00:47


Originally posted by kragerin

I just found an interesting vid on YT from a “Professor V” about a whistling E string.

Does that seem to match what you're experiencing?

kragerin - Posted - 04/01/2021:  10:09:06

Maybe. I’ll try some of these suggestions when I get home...

boxbow - Posted - 04/01/2021:  13:39:40

I didn't fully appreciate, as a beginner, how much of the playing of a fiddle lies in the subtleties of bowing. The fiddle gets all the photo ops, but the bow does the grunt work. Literally.

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 04/01/2021:  18:09:35

Have the setup checked by a luthier to be sure the bridge is shaped properly. Assuming it’s alright, check how your arm is moving when you make string crossings. The elbow should be at a different level as you go from string to string, on a plane with the bow and wrist.

The fingers should be as close to the fingerboard as possible. Picking them up too much is a common beginners’ mistake. Economize motion whenever you can.

A whistle is different from not getting a tone. When the string whistles, its sound prevents the normal tone from coming out.

It’s not always the case, but problems with getting the E to speak often come from a bad bow angle in relation to the string or insufficient bow pressure.

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