When I play an A3 on my violin, the A5 string vibrates very loudly, to the point of the A5 string vibrating long after the A3 stops. I can even see the A5 open string vibrate. There is no problem for the E4 and E6 strings, or G3 and D4 strings, or D4 and A4 strings, etc. Should I be worried?

2 Answers 2


You are describing resonance, which is one of the ways that violinists know a note is in tune. It is usually a good thing, in that the instrument is telling you that the note is in tune (!). Some common resonances in first-position:

1st finger on G-string playing A is in tune => A-string rings
1st finger on D-string playing E is in tune => E-string rings
3rd finger on D-string playing G is in tune => G-string rings
3rd finger on A-string playing D is in tune => D-string rings
3rd finger on E-string playing A is in tune => A-string rings
4th finger on G-string playing D is in tune => D-string rings
4th finger on D-string playing A is in tune => A-string rings
4th finger on A-string playing E is in tune => E-string rings

There are many more such resonances as you play higher up the fingerboard and you can use them to ensure that you stay in tune, even in very high positions.

Composers who want to take advantage of these resonances will often compose in the keys of G,D,A,E, while those looking to minimize this effect might chose choose keys which avoid these notes, such as E-flat, A-flat, C-sharp, or F-sharp.

Paganini famously wrote his first concerto in E-flat major, so the orchestra would not play so loudly and drown him out, and then he would tune his violin so the D-string was set to E-flat, enabling him as the soloist to make use of the extra resonance to great effect.

Paganini Concerto #1, Tonality

  • Thank you for your answer. I was unaware about scordatura and its effect on the acoustics of a piece.
    – Odo Frodo
    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:03
  • Have a listen to the Biber's Rosary Sonatas. Each uses a different scordatura. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosary_Sonatas
    – xxfelixxx
    Oct 21, 2017 at 9:10

Five years later, I would like to add a few additional comments.

The phenomenon is known on Wikipedia as sympathetic resonance or vibration. Notably, this can be observed on a piano when a string damper is not depressed. For example, lightly depress a high C without activating the hammer action, so the damper is up but the string is not vibrating. Then, play low notes like F, low C, or or Ab. You can observe that the high C string rings very clearly.

Finally, these resonances generally follow the overtone series.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.