Old Joe Squeaks!

Please help! Now I know I dont have a perfect bowin' technique, I do tend to wander around a bit on intermediate songs. Also keep in mind I have a set of 7 dollar strings on my fiddle and my bow has a broken frog, it dont ribbit no more🤣!

My left fingers are covered in graphite after 5 mins of playin. I dont ever remember that from 20 some years ago. No matter what I play I am squeaking like a set of cheap brake pads on a rainy day. If I play slow it is horrendous! No rosin, a touch a rosin, all the rosin, it dont matter.

Is it a possibility of cheap strings, and lack of bow tension control or is my form just that bad? The squackin has gotten much worse the more I have played. I am also playing more intermediate songs; maybe it is form. Now get this, I can absolutely pour it to it on the E string very little if any squeaks. I move over to A or D, you best get the ear plugs out becuase chalk on a nails board has nothin on this! 🤦‍♂️

It has gotten so bad, Im pretty sure Im settin off the neighbors rooster every day and I am very certain Dooley the Donkey is flat out havin a conversation with me about how his day went. I played for 5 minutes tonite, I got so frustrated I just walked away. 😔 I started to post a video but y'all aint ready for that disaster!

Thoughts? Thank y'all,



  • If your strings are staining your fingers… it’s time to get some new strings. Lol. I use Prim mediums currently and haven’t found anything better.Also make sure you are pressing the strings all the way down or it will squeak/whistle every time. Post a video at some point. Old joe Clark is a great fast breakdown

  • fiddlewood
    edited February 8

    Hi Aaron

    Have you tried cleaning the strings with a clean dry cloth? (the whole string) Rosin or dirt build-up can affect your sound in bad ways.

    The next possibility I'd look at is if a certain section of the bow hair isn't retaining rosin (form handling with hands, etc.) or has a build-up of glaze from the rosin getting heated too much in warm atmosphere. running a toothbrush through the hair a few times, then lightly re-rosining can help with this sometimes. Also, John has info somewhere here on the site for how to clean your bow hair.

    Old strings can do all sorts of weird things, and sometimes you can get a "bad" string in a set also...might be worth looking at changing strings if the other two things don't help.

    too high or low humidity can cause problems like this also. Controlling the humidity is important...if you don't have controlled humidity in the house ( or at least the room you play in) you should keep the instrument & bow in a good case with good humidity control device when not playing it. Boveda has the best system I've found so far...I use it with all my instruments.

    I usually only get my fingers colored from dirt on the fingerboard/strings or from pressing too hard.

    in my personal experience: I can get clean notes without the string touching the fingerboard...pushing down harder doesn't make them any clearer or cleaner. I've just had the best week of fiddling of my life and I'm playing with less pressure and more relaxation than I ever have with both hands.

    Hope something here helps...


  • @Brandon F these strings are about 2 weeks old. I think they are just that cheap. I love Old Joe Clark, fun one to play. Hopefully I can get it down and post a vid soon! Thank you for the encouragement.

    @fiddlewood now we are on to something. Fiddle has been stored in high humidity area for an extended period of time. Its been sitting for 20 years. I think I will get a new bow, then maybe some strings. I will definately look into some moisture control for the future!

    Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

  • It's really lousy that decent fiddle strings are kinda pricey. I've played on cheap strings before and they can make you sound pretty rough. Then there are all those things Dave mentioned...rosin tends to build up and you can just wipe the strings on your shirt tail for that most of the time. Also stuff like learning which bow tension works best for you, and figuring out how to pull that bow good and steady and deliberate without pushing down too hard...that's always a tough one for me...I've been playing now for about 13 years and I still have to watch out for pushing down on that bow, yet, in my limited experience on the fiddle, you do have to have a very deliberate pulling on that bow or it gets squeaky from not enough pressure...just gotta find that middle ground...not too easy and not too hard.

    There is also the rosin...dark rosin makes me squeakier than light, amber-colored rosin. But when it's really cold like it's been the dark works better, for whatever crazy reason. Normally the lighter rosins keep me less squawky and squeaky...oh yeah, the little plastic tubes on the E and somtimes A strings to go into the slots on the bridge can make your strings squeaky if you don't pull the tube into the bridge slot just flush with the front of the bridge...in my experience, if it goes past the front of the bridge it can make a string squeaky.

    There's so much...we're all in this anti-squeak journey together here...there's no instant answer, it's just something we fight everyday, and turn around after a few years and realize you have figured out all the ways to deal with it and make it less likely to happen as often...lol...that's the best answer I know...but I'm only 13 years in.

  • Great recommendations above. If you get a chance, upload an unlisted video to YouTube and drop us a link. We may be able to diagnose the problem.

  • Thanks for all the tips y'all. Its definately the bow with some error as well. I ran my wifes toothbrush through it hehehe, just kidding just kidding. I used a new spare toothbrush and my bow was super sticky. Too much rosin I feel. Im going to get a new bow. If I take it apart its not going to go back together due to the broken Kermit. After that, it was much better. Thanks!

  • Maybe your wife could play fiddle with her teeth now and get rich and famous...lol...you know, like Jimmy Hendrix did with his guitar!

  • @cricket now we are talkin'! 🤣🤣🤣

  • ...lol...just one more get-rich-quick scheme, hey?

  • Hope she has good dental insurance...lol.

  • 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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