Troubleshooting Violin Buzzing

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This result of our extra long, cold, dry, winter is that violin strings have become more out of tune between practices than usual.  The more tuning that occurs on violins, the more likely that buzzing sounds will start to occur.  The buzz usually originates around the fine tuners on the violin tailpiece.

  • To identify where the buzz is coming from, bow the note while pressing gently on various places on the tailpiece to identify where the buzz is coming from.
  • Sometimes the string’s fine tuner has been tightened to its maximum which results in the underside of the fine tuner lightly touching the top of the instrument.  When the fine tuner touches the top of the instrument and the string sounds, a buzzing sound will occur.  If this is the case, loosen the fine tuner about 3-4 turns, then tighten the string using the the large pegs in the scroll a tiny bit at a time.  When using the scroll tuners, turn the peg towards the chin rest first then towards the end of the scroll to tighten the string.   Use the fine tuners to perfect the tuning.
  • Sometimes the nut that touches the top of the tailpiece gets loose.  If it is just a bit loose, this will also cause a buzz.  With tweezers or tiny fingers, tighten the nut.
  • Sometimes the small tube around the string which purpose is to protect the bridge from the tension of the string gets out of place. If the tube is not between the string and the bridge, this will make a buzz.

Another possibility is the shoulder rest. Often the screws and bolts get loose on these. Check to see they are all securely tightened as well.

paperclampAnother culprit is often the chin rest.  Check to see if the chin rest is lightly touching the tail piece or if any of the tension bolts have come loose.  Use an allen wrench to slightly tighten the tension bolt that secures the chin rest to the violin.  If you don’t have the right size allen wrench, take the spring off a paper clamp as these work well for the task.  For Wittner brand chin rests, use a screw driver.  Note, use caution with tightening the chin rest tension bold as denting the wood here is not a good idea!  And a buzz around the chin rest could be another problem, read on…

If the tail piece, chin rest, and shoulder rest are not the buzz culprits, it may be that one of the seams that join the violin top and bottom or the fingerboard to the instrument have degraded.  Open seams often occur near the chin rest brackets. Troubleshooting open seams is a job for your luthier.  Bring the violin to your local violin shop.

For fans of videos, your might enjoy this video I found on YouTube:

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