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cmicci

really annoying viola buzz

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one day when I was practicing a noticed a slight buzz on my violas G string, open and fingered notes. I went ahead and checked the most usual suspects of buzzing ie the nut, bridge, strings, chinrest, tailpiece, fine tuners, shoulder rest, basically everything on the exterior of the instrument and could not find the source. I decided to let it sit for a night or two to see if it would go away.

well, it did not. the next day I tried again and at first it sounded like the buzz had disappeared but soon after I finished warming up had it returned. this time, it buzzed not only on G but on C as well. I checked for open seams or cracks and could not find the problem.

a few days later the buzz can sometimes jump to open D. I tried knocking my knuckles on the back of the viola and found that the knock sort of changes and I hear a slight vibration when I tap the back right side next to the right center bout. also when I knocked on the front next to the left corner of the fingerboard above the left f hole I got the same sound but nowhere else.

after all that investigation I have no clue what this buzz is coming from. can anyone give me suggestions as to what it could be? I had been traveling the day before by plane, could that have caused something to unglue?

sorry for the super long post but thank you!

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one day when I was practicing a noticed a slight buzz on my violas G string, open and fingered notes. I went ahead and checked the most usual suspects of buzzing ie the nut, bridge, strings, chinrest, tailpiece, fine tuners, shoulder rest, basically everything on the exterior of the instrument and could not find the source. I decided to let it sit for a night or two to see if it would go away.

well, it did not. the next day I tried again and at first it sounded like the buzz had disappeared but soon after I finished warming up had it returned. this time, it buzzed not only on G but on C as well. I checked for open seams or cracks and could not find the problem.

a few days later the buzz can sometimes jump to open D. I tried knocking my knuckles on the back of the viola and found that the knock sort of changes and I hear a slight vibration when I tap the back right side next to the right center bout. also when I knocked on the front next to the left corner of the fingerboard above the left f hole I got the same sound but nowhere else.

after all that investigation I have no clue what this buzz is coming from. can anyone give me suggestions as to what it could be? I had been traveling the day before by plane, could that have caused something to unglue?

sorry for the super long post but thank you!

Hi Cimmici,

 

Before you decide to open the instrument you might want to check a little more carefully.

 

Purfling comes unglued at times and can create the most spectacular buzzes. This is due to purfling that for one reason or another has come unglued in its channel. To detect a purfling buzz you tap lightly with a knuckle on the belly or back going all around the instrument. If there is a buzz it will usually show itself in correspondence to the point where you are tapping with you knuckle. When you find an area you suspect is buzzing, rub into the purfling area some relatively watery hide glue. At the same time you can lightly press the arching to see if any glue is taken into the purfling channel through capillary action. I prefer dilute glue because the water helps to swell the wood more easily. Immediately wipe away any excess glue and continue until you get the buzz.

 

This is only one type of buzz but it is one of the most common and is consistently overlooked.

 

Bruce

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More usual suspects: ebony insert in the bridge, inlays in the tailpiece and pegs, decorative rings and pins on the pegs. But, I'm afraid that Fiddler45's answer is the right one. Maybe you could check the windings on the strings again?

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More usual suspects: ebony insert in the bridge, inlays in the tailpiece and pegs, decorative rings and pins on the pegs. But, I'm afraid that Fiddler45's answer is the right one. Maybe you could check the windings on the strings again?

In over forty years of working on violin family instruments I can think of perhaps two occasions where the bassbar came unglued.

 

In the great majority of cases the buzz can be found on the outside of the instrument. Sometime they are really strange. I had one where a piece of metal was rattling inside one of the cylinders for fixing the chinrest. The holes in these cylinders for the chinrest key are punched out, not drilled, and one of the little pieces remained within the cylinder. Later, it came loose and started rattling! Any piece or accessory that touches any other piece of the viola can cause a buzz.

 

An unglued bassbar often shows when your bow leaves the string as the vibration of the string dies very quickly. In other words, free string vibration (sustain) is diminished.

 

Bruce

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Thanks Bruce for the insight and fix concerning purfling and bassbar buzzes. Very useful. I recently had a new G string that buzzed really bad. At first I thought all the usuals but then changed the string and voila...Who would have thunk it. A bad new string. It was a Helicore BTW.

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Thanks Bruce for the insight and fix concerning purfling and bassbar buzzes. Very useful. I recently had a new G string that buzzed really bad. At first I thought all the usuals but then changed the string and voila...Who would have thunk it. A bad new string. It was a Helicore BTW.

Well a buzz can be caused by just about anything on an instrument. It's important to be systematic in your search for the cause.

 

Talking of strings, I once ordered a dozen violin A strings (aluminum winding over gut); same manufacturer as usual and same supplier as usual. After tuning up to pitch for a day, they were all defective with loose winding. The company is very well known and I prefer not to mention their name. I sent them all back and they replaced them. This kind of defect can happen to anybody who is producing thousands of strings for a world market. In this sense gut is even touchier than steel or synthetics. To me it's important that they stand by their product.

 

Bruce

 

Edit: P.S. Thought you might enjoy this excerpt from a book of testimonials to Sacconi from eminent musicians and experts who knew him. It was published in 1985. I had the privilege to deliver to Teresita Sacconi her personal copy at Point Lookout, L.I. . This paragraph was from Leonard Rose.

 

post-29446-0-39816000-1404653794_thumb.jpg

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I would suggest taking off the shoulder rest and chinrest, and see if the buzz is still there. I found a few times that this may be the problem. If not, a string bridge protector might also cause the problem. :)

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I find it encouraging to find so much "buzz" about a sick viola for a change  :lol:

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one day when I was practicing a noticed a slight buzz on my violas G string, open and fingered notes. I went ahead and checked the most usual suspects of buzzing ie the nut, bridge, strings, chinrest, tailpiece, fine tuners, shoulder rest, basically everything on the exterior of the instrument and could not find the source. I decided to let it sit for a night or two to see if it would go away.

well, it did not. the next day I tried again and at first it sounded like the buzz had disappeared but soon after I finished warming up had it returned. this time, it buzzed not only on G but on C as well. I checked for open seams or cracks and could not find the problem.

a few days later the buzz can sometimes jump to open D. I tried knocking my knuckles on the back of the viola and found that the knock sort of changes and I hear a slight vibration when I tap the back right side next to the right center bout. also when I knocked on the front next to the left corner of the fingerboard above the left f hole I got the same sound but nowhere else.

after all that investigation I have no clue what this buzz is coming from. can anyone give me suggestions as to what it could be? I had been traveling the day before by plane, could that have caused something to unglue?

sorry for the super long post but thank you!

Is the scoop on the fingerboard adequate?

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A bit more on purfling buzzes. If the instrument has repaired wing cracks near the FF's then the purfling in the C is often subject to buzzing and  can be very hard to find, With really mysterious buzzing I would try to work glue into any suspected area as Bruce described even if I couldn't see it moving. also I have sometimes found areas where a plate has separated from the lining inside but doesn't show on the outside. You can usually hear a false sound when tapping the plate and again I would open and reglue the seam just to be sure it's solid. You want to try every possible remedy before deciding the problem is internal.

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You also mentioned "fine tuner(s)". Sometimes the nut holding the tuner to the tail piece can buzz, even if it appears to be tight. The silver aluminum kind are the most common offenders. Since I quit using that kind, I have never had a buzz from a fine tuner.

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I want to repeat the suggestion that you try removing the shoulder rest and chinrest, because I had memorable, elusive and intermittent viola buzz that was caused by a chinrest.  Also, you should maker sure there is no crud bridging the gaps at the points of the F-hole wings.

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