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"squeeks" causes

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by hofner, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. hofner


    Dec 7, 2003
    hi... i wonder what is the major cause of the "squeaks" when you play arco..
    i recently re-started from the beginning with arco (my daughter got the brilliant idea to tell that i'll play in front of her classroom to show what is an upright bass ! arg !)
    and last time i took a lesson with arco was...20 years ago.
    btw, i practice sometimes but as i said in another thread, my strings are Garbos (so-so for arco) and the sound is currently often "squeaky". i remember well the hand position with the french bow, but maybe i'm wrong with the pressure or, even, the quantity of rosin i apply..
    (don't laugh please.. :smug: )
  2. Try using a softer reed :p
  3. hofner


    Dec 7, 2003
    what's reed ??? (sorry for the english)
  4. Sorry, bad joke. When a clarinent player squeaks, they usually say its because of a bad reed.

    Sounds like the bow may to too close to the bridge; if you move the bow too fast near the bridge, weird sounds can happen.
  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    It's a saxophone joke. Saxophonists squeak because of reeds.

    Two things come to mind quickly.

    a) I wonder if you're having bow-speed issues. Slow the bow down. Find the place and speed where each note really grabs. Consult your teacher. This is a LONG study.

    b) Are you cleanly executing with the LEFT hand? Squeaks might be from moving the bow before the note is actually fingered.

  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I'd guess the major cause is the bow. :)

    I'm with Sam on the bow speed issue, but I like my bow being nearer the bridge no matter what range I'm playing and must slow the bow down there anyway.

    I remember having some difficulty with a waltz in the second Vance book...the notes would squeal with every string crossing and it would irritate me big time. They don't happen now, and I really don't know why. Maybe it's because I use more rosin than I did before, maybe it's all the string crossing exercises I'm doing with the Zimmerman book, maybe it's karma. Maybe it's all these things. I just think of it as an occupational hazard.
  7. I'm begining to notice squeaks are caused just as much by the left as they are the right hand. Sometimes the string isn't stopped well and this horrible squeak comes out of the bass.

    P.S. I use Velvet Animas, the strings plus poor left hand technique could be factors.
  8. hofner


    Dec 7, 2003
    thanks all !

    i saw a teacher and my main problem was with the speed of the bow, as you noticed..
    now, i practice more slowly and it seem to be fine..
    The teacher told me to change the G string if i want to play more arco (Garbo's G strings is quasi-unbowable) but i plan to use my second urb with a new set of strings (i have a set helicore orchestra) and keep my Swingmaster for swing/jazz.
    btw, i decided to re-started lessons in september with this teacher and learn arco seroiusly.
    thanks guys !!
  9. If you have access to genuine arco strings, put them on. I'll bet the squeaking stops.
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    For me squeaks are most often a sign that I'm not completely relaxed throughout my body and am transferring that tension to the bow. Unnecessary muscle tension makes it difficult to feel the strings accurately with the bow.
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I get some squawking when the bass is too low or high and the stick isn't hitting the strings where it feels like it should by my body position. Changing body position (curling up like a pill bug or standing on my toes) is not the way to go, so I move the endpin a notch and voila.

    Also, a really fresh set of strings will get me some squeaks and squawks for a week or so until they settle down. Not from the string I'm on, but rather a neighboring string, especially during string crossings...
  12. I learned this eventually! Being a jazz player, i'm a dyed in the wool Thomastik Orchestra user, but if I had to do what you have to do, I would use the very best arco strings I could get my hands on and they wouldn't be brand new either.
    Do you have a buddy who would lend you a used set of arco strings? Even if I had to go to my luthier or regular music store that has a string repair dept. and borrow a used set.
    Good luck....But I would do whatever it took to not embarrass my daughter!
  13. I have found that if you don't move the bow gradually closer to the bridge as you play higher (move up the strings to higher notes), you are going to get a weaker sound, with poor tone, and are more likely to get "squeeks".

    In fact, sometimes the note can sound so bad you think it's out of tune, yet all you need to do is move the bow closer to the bridge, and the tone quality, and this "percieved" intonation improves.
  14. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    It helps to rosin the strings, as well as the bow, especially.
  15. Gary Karr thinks, and I agree, that most people use way too much rosin.
    I think rosin on the strings is over-kill.
  16. Too often, it simply masks bad bow technique.
    The sound of the hair beats the sound of rosin.
  17. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Well - you could be right about too much. But I like it that way, and I've got pretty stable bow technique. I like the extra bite. Does Gary Karr do any orchestral work? If all I did was solo work, I probably wouldn't do it. But - not that calibre. And I have to wash the strings off frequently. I'm sure Karr and I are not in the same category!!!
  18. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    I probably have another techniq that wouldn't meet with Karr's approval, either. As I say, we don't play in the same circles, but I get down in the trenches. See if any of you have resorted to this -

    You wind up for a weekend in North Alabama, in one of those big ol Methodist churches, and are the only bass player facing an entire orchestra (from Huntsville, usually), a massive choir, and a hall full of people. For this I used to have a 7/8 german carved bass. But - no amps!

    Solution? Tape two big bows togther, grease everyuthing up with Kolsteins soft, strings and all, and bust hump! A bass can be more robust than most bass players ever knew.

    I am not at all a timid bass player, and what that darn thing to speak! And I got more than a few compliments on it, too. But it's a real days work. Or night, whichever. I have a low tolerance for mousy bass playing. And same when I do the scherzos - the dadblamed bass better speak, or I will have it's neck!

    I'm looking right now (Quinn violin) for a 200 to 250 gram bow, because just as sure as shootin' I'm gonna be faced with the same thing again.

    Like I say - Karr probably doesn't play in those circles. (And do I really care?)
  19. Nothing happens without consequences.
    People and basses come in assorted shapes and sizes.
    Bass height, as with every other aspect of playing, is a compromise. Raising the bass can effect the neck, spine, shoulders and arms, as well as breathing.
    Although torsional vibration increases with string diameter, all strings, not just E and A, roll under the bow.
  20. No, no and no to: "put some rosin on the strings". I've had students come to me with this habit.

    All things mentioned above being factored out (bow speed, bow placement, string type, technique, etc), the #1 cause of squeaking in my experience is actually rosin powder buildup on the bow hair. Yes, that's right.

    Not realizing this over the years, I've simply had my bow rehaired every year to get rid of the squeaks. Then Aaron Robertson (Robertson's Violin's in Albuquerque, NM) taught me about the dust buildup. You can clean it off by gently wiping the loosened bow hair between your ragged fingers.

    Pop's rosin surprisingly produces a lot of dust. I'm currently using Kolstein's All Weather bass rosin and have considerably LESS problem with dust.

    Cheers! - Mark from Golden