I have a cheap violin I got a decade back and so far it has been holding on and playing well enough but for some reason now it won’t let me play a C on the E string. I can play a B and a D but the in between it plays something close to a C sharp and I can slide my finger in between this 1” wide space with no change in tone it’s the strangest thing. Should I get a new E string or is it something to do with the violin itself. All suggestions welcome

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    Can you post a video or audio recording of the problem? Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 3:10
  • Are there any other notes on that string that sound unusual? What happens when you play a glissando? Try both up and down glisses. Do you hear any differences of pitch between very soft notes and very loud notes? What happens if you play the same line, but shifted down by one string? Is your soundpost still standing? (Look in the f holes, maybe with a flashlight.) Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


Without seeing or hearing your instrument I would say the three most likely culprits to this issue are:

  1. There may be a small foreign object stuck on the fingerboard which is acting like a fret right at your “close to a C#” note. It could be a small piece of rosin or anything that might stick to the fingerboard and get between it and the string.

  2. There may be some uneven wear on your fingerboard causing a high spot close to your C# note which is also acting like a fret.

  3. Another possible issue @Tim pointed out is the string itself might be damaged or deformed. See if there is a bulge or uneven winding in that area.

Examine your fingerboard and string in the problem are very carefully under good lighting. High and low spots on a fingerboard are usually easier to see if you sight down from the nut. If it’s a foreign object knocking it off should do the trick. Try another string if yours looks off. If it’s the fingerboard you might have to get a luthier to dress the fingerboard, which is planing and/or sanding it down so it’s smooth again. Good luck!

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    Or something on the underside of the string itself.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 8:01
  • @Tim Good point, I added a possible faulty string to my answer, thanks. Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 8:07
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    I was going to say E is a plain string (it is on mine!) but wound and gut are also used. Could be a kink in a plain, damagaged windings in a wound, or who-knows-what in a gut.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 8:17
  • @Tim I can’t speak for violin but from personal experience I’ve never had a deformity or kink in a string cause that drastic an effect in pitch on either fretless electric or upright bass. Violin tolerances are much smaller though. Who knows what in a gut indeed! :) Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 13:59
  • I've had it once, when a guitar fell against a chair or suchlike. It hit the strings on the fretboard, and produced a lovely kink in a string at that spot. Violins don't usually fall over like that though...
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 15:57

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