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Finding the buzz


mindsquirrel
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There is a buzz, and I want to find out where it is coming from. It is a great mystery. I am creating a list of the things I have checked and it is not. Please don't suggest taking to a luthier.  I want to know what a luthier would do. That is why I am posting. This is an extremely loud and resonate violin.  It is older, likely ca. 1880.

The sound occurs with volume. Doesn't matter so much the note. The sound is coming from the tailpiece area, but it could be something near the tailpiece as well.

It is not the nut or fingerboard. The buzz happens with volume on most double stops. Full stop pizz etc. I have had many violins with buzzes in this area. I can tell from playing. The fingerboard and nut are excellent.

It is not the pegs. They are tight. The sound is not coming from this area.

It is not the strings. I have changed them all. It is not the ends of the strings. I have thoroughly exhausted that. Testing and changing them one by one. I am still using ball end strings though. 

It is not the bridge gaps. I have tried the strings on different points. 

It is not the bridge feet. They look mostly well fit. I have moved the bridge as an experiment. I have even changed the bridge.

It is not the tailpiece or the tailgut. I have changed them both out. Removed fine tuners.

It is not the chinrest. I have removed it. 

So, I feel it is time to check the body. 

It is not the seams, they are airtight all around.  

It is not the saddle. It has fairly deep grooves, but putting my finger on it does not diminish the buzzing.

The saddle itself is well fit and nicely glued in place.

I have adjusted the soundpost. It is a nice fit and after making several adjustments. I am confident that's not what it is. 

The purfing looks all good. 

There is nothing inside the violin. I even shook some rice in it. 

I took off the setup(strings/tailpiece/bridge) to listen to the violin with tapping. No buzzing. Is there a way to tell if it is the bass bar? It sounds different when I tap along it, as I feel it should. But, of course, I haven't taken off the fingerboard. 

It does have a repaired crack on the face that is airtight and taps very well.  The tapping sound is good on and near the crack. It seems like a excellent repair. It is on the treble side, not near the soundpost.

The buzz does sound metallic, maybe all buzzes do though.

 

 

Edited by mindsquirrel
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Does it happen on particular notes or particular strings more than others? Given that it happens with increased volume that would imply increased excursion of the strings they are vibrating more and moving more side to side.  Perhaps they are just a tiny bit too close to the fingerboard but only at high volume. I have a viola that had a vibrational coupling with the fingerboard that made me kind of crazy until a member here gave me a very easy fix.  I haven't heard of that happening on the violin.

DLB

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It sounds like you're gaining some good experience at looking for buzzes!

A luthier would find the source of the buzz and address it.

Some sources of buzzes are astonishingly elusive and it's not uncommon for me to not be certain that I found the source of a given buzz, but only to know that it has gone away.  The apparent source of a buzz isn't always a good indication of where it's coming from and I usually tell customers to not bother looking for the source unless there's no way they can get the instrument to me.

Good Luck!

 

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With the setup down, hold it upside down,, scroll pointed to the floor,,,, between the thumb and the index finger at the widest part of the lower bout. Then tap the back of the scroll, the back of the neck, and the block area,,, firmly.

Hold it by the neck, close to the body, then use something like a piano hammer,, a large one, and tap around on the edges, the corners,, especially in the c-bout regions.

Bass Bar?

Taping with the right type of soft yet firm hammer type of thing could reveal a loose end of the bar. Use at your own risk of course, there is always a learning curve, try not to go over the guard rail.

With a long tube attached to a wire and some experience,, a small amount of thin hide glue can be deposited at the ends of the bar.

A number of small mirrors can be placed into the bottom of the fiddle.

Don't ever pick up a fiddle with something heavy inside of it and turn it around, it can slide around and break your ribs.

 

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Do you play with a shoulder rest? 
If so, try playing without it and see if the buzz still exist. 
 

I have encountered an incident where a worn Kun Bravo gave me this buzz. And it sounded like it’s coming from the violin. With a new rest, the buzz went away. And it took me a while to find it. 

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You didn’t say whether this is a new violin or one you have been playing for some time that has suddenly developed the buzz. 
It could be caused by crud at the points of an f hole. 
And just because the purfling ‘looks’ OK doesn’t mean that it is.

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1 hour ago, Mark Norfleet said:

The apparent source of a buzz isn't always a good indication of where it's coming from

The apparent source of the buzz is where the body wants to radiate the sound.  Tap on the scroll, and the sound comes from elsewhere.

From the list of things tried, I would expect to find a separated glue joint somewhere... either rib/plate, end blocks, bass bar, or fingerboard.  Since it happens at high volume, perhaps your technique of checking rib joints was not good enough to find it.  Could be some  wood crack too, that is not visible from the outside... bass bar, end blocks, or a lateral crack in the fat part of the plate near the end blocks.  If the neck projection has changed after the buzz appeared, I'd look there.

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As you realize there are myriad possibilities and even very experienced people (like Mark) can spend days looking for them and still not be sure they have solved the problem. My own approach is to eliminate every possible external cause about three times over before considering internal causes. The actual sound of the buzz is really important and there is no way a description will help. Experienced luthiers can sometimes get a clue from whether the buzz is metallic, a rattle, a hissing....... There are also procedures of applying water which can sometimes pinpoint loose purfling, loose peg ornaments, loose tailpiece frets etc. If the problem is internal you have a whole other set of issues ranging from a bead of dried glue all the way through loose linings, problems with previous repairs and the ever popular but very, very rare loose bass bar.

It sounds like you may have done all that can be done from the outside and that the instrument will have to be opened. Assuming this is a pretty good violin the only person taking the top off should be an experienced, professional violin maker and if you are going to have that done then you might as well have them go through the external stuff again beforehand because they may find some thing you have not seen. Good luck! There are no easy answers here although invariably when you find it you will think "How could I have missed that! ".

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3 hours ago, rudall said:

You didn’t say whether this is a new violin or one you have been playing for some time that has suddenly developed the buzz. 
It could be caused by crud at the points of an f hole. 
And just because the purfling ‘looks’ OK doesn’t mean that it is.

This is a buzz that can be loudness based, meaning the buzz does not occur until the instrument is played loudly

You must have already swept the the tips of the wings with your bridge knife. examined the gaps along the saddle... The checklist is good. 

At lower frequencies, there can be post issues, but you've already checked that off...

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42 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

There's a possibility that nothing is wrong with the instrument other than its inherent high frequency response.

Apparently a lot of output in certain frequency bands can give a perception of buzzing.  Attached is a paper describing this effect. 

Stepanek, buzzing.pdf 223.61 kB · 0 downloads

I didn't read the paper,, but,,That could be a possible cause Marty for a buzzy sound.

If everything is working right,,, when you thump the box and get that slap inside, it possibly could be confused as a rattle of sorts. If someone unfamiliar with the dynamic of it all, listens to it,, they think that something is broken. It’s only sound being thrown back and forth in between the plates, but it kinda sounds like a can of broken glass, or about 6 hands clapping together, yet slightly staggered. But I never thought that I could hear that component in the sound. So I went and played several, right now, and I never really noticed it before but there is a component that could be classified as a rattle, at maximum volume right at the point when the high frequencies shoot out and your ears hurt. They,re ringing right now,,

That’s pretty stupid,, I’ve only got so much left.:wacko:

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One thing you didn't mention is the age of the violin in question. You say the purfling looks good but if this is an old instrument you might try putting a thin drop of water onto the purfling and then pressing on the plate enough to flex the edge. Sometimes you will see the water being sucked in to the the purfling channel which obviously indicates it is loose. This usually causes the buzz to stop temporarily so be sure to mark the spot so you can apply some thin glue there once it dries out. You may also see air bubbles which also mark a problem area. I go all the way around both plates in this way as often there will be more than one spot buzzing at the same time. The most common area to see the loose purfling is in the c-bout area especially if there are lower wing cracks even if they have been repaired.

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5 minutes ago, rudall said:

Pardon?

With some sound holes, there is only a very small gap at the point of the wings, basically the width of a fine saw or knife blade.

Over time, rosin dust wiped into the sound hole can collect, solidify, and start to bridge the gap at the upper wing. This can cause a surprisingly loud buzz when it reaches the other side.

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