Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

I’m having a problem and am calling forth upon the wisdom of those Session experts. I’ve really been grateful for all the help I’ve received here over the past year or so of playing and the patience with my many questions, so hopefully that well has not run dry for I am getting to a painful edge of patience.

My E string, specifically when I’m slurring from my C# or D on the A onto the open E.

I’m really at a loss. It’s happen so much. I don’t think it’s my left hand mucking things up, I’ve been very careful to pay attention there, but I can’t seem to get it to happen on open strings so I cannot in good conscience rule that out.

I think it could be when I am not putting enough pressure on the bow or bowing too gently, because I can sometimes replicate it at will, but putting pressure onto it doesn’t seem to resolve it fully either (or is just clearly too much bow pressure).

-When I am playing slower (which as a beginner I play pretty slow generally) it is less likely to happen

-For the first 11 months of my playing, I had almost zero screeches, including the early days

-When it "appeared" it showed up and just stuck around

-I have three fiddles, and it is more pronounced on the better two (local luthier, Duane Lasley, has lent me two nice fiddles for the past six months)

-I have three bows, and that doesn’t make a difference (again, Duane has been generous to lend me an extra one)

-I have done nothing to offend any faeries (that I can think of)

It’s really having an impact on me at this point and I’d love any advice.

Thanks,

John

ps: Since this above post was so whiny, I thought I’d write something positive about my playing. Early on one piece of advice you all had was to listen to loads of tunes and I have done that (probably 2-3 hours a day) over the year. One thing people said was "at some point tunes and tune parts just pop in your memory" and it’s totally true. It wasn’t like it slowly happened, just one day boom, my head was full of tunes, with the added benefit of being able to hear tunes better in general

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

This seems to happen to me more when I’m using an e string that’s just steel. Try one that’s aluminum wound, or if you’re feeling rich, one that’s gold plated.

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

Make sure bridge slot is cut correctly. If the string is sinking into the wood, this can cause such things.

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Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

Errors in Concertina playing are often put down to wrong posture. Like, one is supposed to keep one end on the left thigh, but on a corner, and so on. Don’t know if the same sort of thing applies to Fiddle, but think looking in a mirror while playing might show up any wrong moves, etc.

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

That seems to be an artifact of some E strings and happens to even really good players.

You can try the Kaplan non-whistling E. That’s my, and others, go-to solution when the string set I’m playing has that troublesome E.

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

Pirastro Eudoxa wound with aluminium, i buy half a dozen at a time so theres always a spare whatever other strings i have on. That should do it .

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

The E string is always a problem, because it is steel against the other synthetics and requires slight change in bow pressure every time you cross onto it. Learning how to make it not screech is the real answer, but there are a couple of things you can do to the instrument to reduce the problem: The first is to keep your strings absolutely clean of rosin build up: an E string caked in rosin is far more prone to whistle than a clean one. The second is a Warchal Amber E string: they are initially coiled in the bowing area, so that when tensioned that area is twisted and not completely smooth (if you buy one you’ll be able to see how to coil a cheap string round a nail to achieve the same effect in the future). And finally you can take a little piece of leather about 3mm square and pop it under the E string on the bridge, which softens it up and makes a much better match with the wound strings.

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

"Try… one that’s gold plated."
Don’t you have to sell your soul for that? Or is that for the whole fiddle?

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

I second the Eudoxa (Gold plated ones look a bit too fancy for my playing but they don’t cost that much more IIRC. E-strings come fairly cheap - unlike my tungsten viola C string)
also you say it started at 11 months it could have to do with aging? replace strings regularly… (an added cost factor in fiddling)
if it’s the string cutting into the bridge, a new bridge would be in order or at least a reinforcement? and those little tubes they come with.
I get some whistling sometimes but i think working on bow control recently has helped .

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

If you find a good one, even if expensive, console yourself that it’s a lot cheaper than buying strings for a harp!

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

I used to have a problem with this, and the thing that helped most was the Warchal Amber - until I started doing what the classicists call son filé, slow bowing exercises (literally, bowing as slowly as you possibly can over the whole length of the bow, up and down). Honestly, I would now struggle to persuade my E to screech, and I’m back to using basic unplated, unwrapped E strings.

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Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

I, too, use a Kaplan non-whistling E string, but I have to say that for me, at least, it’s a "less-whistling" E, as the whistle still sometimes happens, though much less often. One of my luthiers is down on this string because, he says, it achieves its lower whistling status by reducing overtone richness. Not sure I notice this much, but others might. One trick I learned from a YouTube on the problem (there are several available) is to yank the frog slightly toward you on the E string, with a slight forward twist, when slurring from D or D#, so that the bow is at an angle instead of perpendicular to the string. (Just on the E string, not on the A string.) I’ve found this trick actually works well, almost magically—but it’s not always easy to remember to do it in the heat of playing a fast reel!

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

Thanks everyone - I’ve ordered a few different E strings a recommended.

The luthier restringed the fiddle a month of playing ago. He also put in some fancy geared pegs so I imagine he took good care to check any other issues like on the bridge.

A few people have brought up learning how to not make the whistle. I’d love any suggestions on how to learn not to do this from a bowing perspective. I’ll try around Mark’s suggestion.

One thing I did that has had a positive effect was tuned my fiddle down a bit, putting my E string around A 440 (with my A being a bit lower than 440). Previously my A was a skosh higher, and thus my E was higher than that. It’s helped, but it’s not whistle free.

The other thing I’ll add is that the whistle isn’t quick, it’s basically the length of whatever note I was bowing. It also seems more likely to happen when I go from G (on D string) to D (on A string) to E (on E string).

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

This is a good intro to the idea:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnH6EvvzCk8


A lot of son filé videos out there don’t really make the point of how slow you can make it, but it’s that slowness, I think, that really makes it work.

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Re: Screechy E string challenge

Make sure the finger on the A string doesn’t encroach the E string’s area of vibration. Even a slight touch by the nail or flesh can cause whistles and unwanted harmonics by slightly stopping the E string.

It tends to happen as you play faster. And, the further up the fingerboard your A string fingers are, the wider the cones of vibration on the E string and the more likely an accidental encounter is to occur - especially at faster tempos. You finger may appear to be well out of the way at rest but it may not be when the E string is in vibration. Try lifting your finger off the A string before you play the next note on the E string. If that seems to subdue the screech, an imperfectly placed finger on the A string is more likely to be the culprit. You may have to work up from a dead slow tempo to satisfy yourself that you’ve found the cause of the screech or at least one of the causes. If you believe you’ve found the issue, try keeping your fingers more vertical or even cheat a little in the direction of the D string when placing your fingers on the A string.

If it doesn’t happen when going from open A up to open E - even at a fast tempo - it’s not likely it’s your bowing that’s causing the problem. If bowing is the cause (or part of the cause), the advice above about clean strings (Mark) and bow angle (Robert) is very cogent. I’ve taken to using those foil-wrapped alcohol pads that the medics use to sterilize your skin before they give you an injection. They really dissolve rosin but you need to exercise care that they don’t touch the finish of the violin or they’ll dissolve that too. I keep a couple in my fiddle case.

https://www.amazon.com/Dynarex-Alcohol-Prep-Sterile-Medium/dp/B005BFL0RQ?dchild=1

I suspect that wound E strings do not vibrate at the same amplitude as unwound ones even though they vibrate at the same frequency. With less amplitude, a wandering finger on the A string is less likely to inadvertently encounter the vibrating E string and an offensive sound is less probable.

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

I have to agree that apart from string choice , technique is the key, there are serious levels of subtlty and finess requiring great sensitivity and constant feedback loops which become instinctive eventually .
Have courage and persistence and learn from every source. Id recomend you buy every book on violin playing you can find , it might only provide one insight per book and obviously their focus is mostly another form of music, but its the same instrument . So a lot within wont be relevant but all the best fiddlers ive met or studied with would have great respect for the old masters ….

Learn from every source , dont feel constrained by any perceived genres or barriers . Good luck

Re: Screechy E string challenge (fiddle, obviously I guess)

So I spent ordered Warchal Amber and D’Addario Kaplans, but was determined to figure out the bowing without changing strings. I did some of the exercises posted (but didn’t have that thing), but ultimately got frustrated with the whistle. I tried the Amber but snapped the string putting it on (oops) and then got the Kaplan just fine.

The whistling is now gone and I actually like the slightly warmer sound, but can’t shake the feeling that I need to figure out a bowing solution and not a string solution (as multiple of you have pointed out).

That said, being able to play without stress of the E string whistle is a lot more fun than the constant fear of the whistle, and I’m able to play, explore and enjoy the tunes more, so I’m not going to be in a hurry until I can get some in person help.