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Odd sounding D string


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I finished violin #10 about 6 weeks ago. It seems to have good tonal qualities, with the exception of the D string. Open D is not bad but as you go up close to G on the D, it develops a sort of muffled raspy tone. A violin teacher friend of mine got the same impression about the tone. I have changed the string to another of the same brand (Dominants) with the same result. I have moved the sound post back a mm or so, but have not done exhaustive sound post placement tests. I would like to get an idea of the approach that a more experienced maker would take to resolve the problem.

Any thoughts will be appreciated.


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From what you describe perhaps you should look for something which is loose - the fingerboard, or the neck root in the mortise of the top block (pulling the fingerboard upwards will reveal this); an open seam perhaps, on the lower bout somehwere; something on the tailpiece or chinrest.

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I have come across that on some instruments recently.I'd first lay a short straight edge along the fingerboard in that area to see if it's not too flat.

You could also try adjusting the tailpiece length and maybe the bridge position a little.

Of course first check for anything open as has already been suggested.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I have looked for sympathetic vibrations. I played the offending notes and had my wife press on various places to look for a difference but nothing shows up. I have also changed the after length and moved the bridge slightly, to no effect.

I was wondering if sound post adjustments might help. I

may try that. COB3 I am not sure I even know what a wolf note should be like. I guess it is probably unlikely but I was wondering if the bow might have a tendency to introduce extraneous effects at some frequencies. Well I will continue to play with it for a while and let you know if I come across anyting definitive.

Thanks again

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I have a cheap STAINER copy that is as good as one would expect except for F# on the D string. Every time I have free time I try to fix it! Muffled horrible sound that has defied all my efforts to remedy it.

After length, string change, new bridge, wolf eliminator and I have had the sound post in every conceivable position including the rediculous, nothing loose and still the problem persists.

Someone says I should donate it to the local school! I am not that mean.

After some three months of trying I will take the fittings off and donate it to the waste bin!

Hope you have better luck or is it that I lack skill?


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A wolf sounds pretty much like a goat imitating a small boy imitating a machine gun. In other words, a wolf tone is true pitch but it has a rapid on-again off-again quality to it. Hence the "bleat" or "a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a" quality to the sound. It is a sonic interference pattern caused when one part of the instrument wants to vibrate independently of the rest of the instrument at a certain pitch. The interference causes periodic strengthening and weakening of the pitch. If this sounds like what you have, try the following:

If the independently vibrating wolf area is located in the top plate (as is the case with most cellos that wolf), I have found that moving the bridge can often weaken the wolf and/or change its pitch. Try putting the bridge so that the body stop length trisects the bridge feet with at least 2/3 of the feet on the fingerboard side of the stop. Make sure that the bridge is exactly square to the central axis of the instrument.

Sometimes a rubber and brass tube wolf eliminator can help. Sometimes not. If you want to use a wolf eliminator, start out by putting it on the G string afterlength right next to the bridge. Play the wolf note up high on the G string and move the wolf eliminator gradually away from the bridge until the wolf either stops or drops in pitch to an out-of-tune note (i.e. in the "cracks").

Alternately, experiment with a string setup that exerts a bit more down force. This may mean a heavier gauge on one or more strings or a different brand. Experimenting with strings can get expensive, so it might be helpful to know what you're using so I can make a suggestion.

Other cures I have encountered and tried have included internal wolf eliminators (works quite well but unfortunately only made for cello--not made for violin), weighting the end of the fingerboard (on the underside) with a chunk of lead or something else small and heavy (how to keep it from falling off and injuring the varnish??), and jamming a wine cork between the tailpiece and the top (Casals apparently did this). The internal cello elimiator works quite well but has to be located very carefully. The weighted fingerboard sometimes works (sometimes not) but is difficult to make permanent. The trouble with the wine cork thing is, by the time I have made a cork available, I am feeling so mellow that I have forgotten all about the wolf. Maybe that's the best cure of all.

Hope this helps.


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