Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder what this buzzing is!!!
Don’t blame Spring, put the blame on Winter. Violins go through hell every time we enter the Winter season, and every time we exit the Winter season. The causes are many, but I’ll name just a two:
Indoor heating comes on in Winter, and off in Spring, drastically altering indoor humidity
Temperatures to which the violin is exposed change drastically from Fall to Winter to Spring
These changes do several things to your violin:
Seams can split open
String height can change slightly
Sound posts can become too tight, too loose, or plain fall down
Old repaired cracks can re-open
Violins can just sound choked and harder to play
If you develop a buzz in your violin, or things just don’t sound right, run through this check list:
1) are you wearing a necklace or earrings that could be buzzing on the violin?
2) does your shirt have buttons that could be buzzing? (you would be surprised what an awful noise this can make)
3) Your chin rest could be touching your tail piece causing a buzz
4) Your strings might have changed levels (due to humidity changes) and could be buzzing on your fingerboard. To check this, pluck your open strings loudly. If they buzz, this is probably the source of your problem, and a luthier will need to fix it.
5) You could have an open seam (this video shows you how to check)
Weather can make violins go crazy, and sometimes they just need a little time to adjust, but often action is needed on your part to stabilize the humidity your violin is exposed to, and to make sure things are in working order. I live in a dry climate, and so I use humidifiers in my violin case. People who live in moist climates put desiccants in their violin cases to attempt to absorb some of that moisture….but I cannot speak for the effectiveness of this.
Many luthiers will tell you your instrument needs to adjust to the climate in which you live, and this is true! But my violin pops a seam every winter unless I humidify, so that’s what I do.
If you are fortunate to live near a luthier, it’s a great idea to have a pre-winter and post-winter check-up. This might involve a simple sound post adjustment, peg goop on the pegs, tailpiece gut adjustment, or it might be more involved. Either way, you will eliminate the violin as the culprit for odd sounds coming out of the violin……and then all you have to worry about is your own technique!