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Whistling E string?


Andrew Song

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You might try giving the slightest bit more pressure, like an unheard accent as you roll. I think it is perhaps more in how the bow is hitting the e string than the string version. I have heard this problem before and I have seen it vanish and there was not a change in strings. You might also check rosin build up on the string and rosin levels on the bow.

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The E string whistle has been discussed a lot. It can be a set up issue but some violins are more prone to the problem than others. The simple solution is a non whistling E and the Kaplan solutions E is a good one. Gold plated E strings are notorious for whistling.

You can avoid the whistle by giving the E a dig as you cross but I'd look into set up or an E string change if it's a constant annoyance. If it's only broken chords the problem may be that you just aren't hitting the open E hard enough.

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Thanks for all the suggestions -- the problem isn't exclusively limited to when I do broken chords, but it's less common when I just hit a note on the string.

I'm known to play with a "heavy arm", so to speak, so I dont think it's lack of pressure on the string. I'll give all your suggestions a try though. If the problem continues, I'll try a string switch.

Again, thanks a lot.

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Only briefly. The reason I say the problem is in setup is that decent violins that are well set up just do not have the problem of whistling plain E strings, at least none of the violins I own or have worked on. Bridge tuning and soundpost adjustment would be the first places start.

A Whistling E string can also be meliorated by keeping it very clean of rosin (and this aspect arguably falls under the heading of hardware or setup issues). There is a simple physical explanation why clean strings sound clean. When you have excessive rosin buildup, the string is literally of a different mass along its length. Enharmonic vibration can result. Using good rosin on clean hair can also help. If the bow hair is contaminated, the normal slip/stick cycle is broken and whistling can result.

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Bridges that are very thin at the top just under the E have a propensity to whistle more easily. You also might have more success with a plain E. I was once under the spell of Gold E strings, but the truth is the actual gold contributes nothing to the tensile strength of the string and only adds dead mass (and perhaps a different friction coefficient). They look neat, but I like the sound of a good plain E better.

You would also do well to experiment with bow pressure, position relative to the bridge, and stroke velocity, as these things contribute to a good bow/string coupling.

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I'm pretty sure it's not any of those problems. My bridge got re-done about two months ago (and the luthier did a good job), but the problem still poked around then (albeit a bit less frequently). My e is impeccably clean of rosin as well. My bow hair's about a year old though, and I when I got the bridge re-done, I asked the luthier to look at the soundpost to see if it needed tweaking, and he said it was fine.

I'll investigate more though...

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Then try another bow. If it ceases with something else, you have a new lead. Maybe your E is too clean

Have you mentioned it to the luthier? I would think a good one could solve the problem.

Have you had someone else play the violin to see if it is your technique?

-----------------------------------------------------------------

"I'm pretty sure it's not any of those problems. My bridge got re-done about two months ago"

Did it whistle prior to the new bridge?

Did you switch string brands at this time?

Had the luthier ever worked on this violin before?

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Here is another suggestion that was used here at one point... make it whistle, try to whistle, roll the chord and let it blow. Try for a consistent whistle. Can you catch the whistle every time? Then work backwards.

Here it ended up being a slight change in the roll style, pressure/ speed. As I recall the spot where the whistle occurred most regularly was marked with the initials of the one credited with a solution as a reminder to I believe slow the bow and just give a tad more pressure there.

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I've heard the whistle being attributed to 'abnormal' rotational vibration of the E string, so another place to check is the nut.

If the channel is a little too large for the string, it may allow it to twist abnormally when played as an open string.

Do you have the string going through a fat tube to protect the bridge? This may also be a contributor, for the same reason as above. Get a parchment patch instead.

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quote:


Do you have the string going through a fat tube to protect the bridge? This may also be a contributor, for the same reason as above. Get a parchment patch instead

I have the 'fat tube' on, but only because I cant (read: dont know how) to get it off the string (I have a parchment patch on my bridge as well).

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As a fiddler who's been dogged by e-whistles for years, I've found

the biggest single source of my whistles is a light, accidental

touch of my fingers on the (usually open) e.  When I take care

to keep my non-stopping fingers clear of the e, my ears are hardly

ever assaulted by a whistle.  I suspect that light touch damps

the e-string near the nut just enough to encourage the torsional

vibration that's behind most whistles.

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My experience is that string failure is most likely to occur on a full-power slur from a note on the A to the open E. There is no perfect cure, but I'll say "ditto" to the squeak-and-toss idea. It's been saving my ears lately. A Goldbrokat steel E is currently listed at $1.51. With a little research, you can get them in different gauges and experiment to your heart's delight.

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The consensus here seems to be that wound E strings may be the lazy player's solution to curing this issue but they work well for getting rid of the whistle. I don't think anybody has mentioned the Pirastro No. 1 E, which is my current favorite. Quick break-in, works with a wide range of string sets. I've used the Kaplan Solutions successfully however find that it seems to have a longer break-in period; the last one I put on seemed harsh-sounding for at least a couple weeks (with Infeld Reds), and I would have swapped it out if I'd had the time between performances to break in a new string. When I was finally ready to get rid of it, I realized it was blending well with the set, so I've left it on!

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