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ilovefiddle

Solo instrument - wolf note problem

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I'm wondering if any of you experience the same, and interested in what did you do?

below is the link posted by Darren Molnar in "solo instrument"

6:40

"I've got the wolf note problem...but its worth it...."

I once had a German inexpensive violin by Johann Glass 1908, the workmanship is just "alright", but the sound is amazing. The violin is very hard to play with, but when compared with expensive Italians (I own one, and some are from my friends), the Glass just stand out. Despite the sound is very good, I eventually give up playing it because there's a Bb wolf note both D & G strings - and it's only a German Glass after all. Although I did overcome most of the wolf note problem by playing skills, it just keep on annoying me...I guess you all know what I mean.

I'm very interested in what is your choice. Of course Nicola Benedetti said "it's worth it" as it is a strad... :huh:

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I'm wondering if any of you experience the same, and interested in what did you do?

below is the link posted by Darren Molnar in "solo instrument"

6:40

"I've got the wolf note problem...but its worth it...."

I once had a German inexpensive violin by Johann Glass 1908, the workmanship is just "alright", but the sound is amazing. The violin is very hard to play with, but when compared with expensive Italians (I own one, and some are from my friends), the Glass just stand out. Despite the sound is very good, I eventually give up playing it because there's a Bb wolf note both D & G strings - and it's only a German Glass after all. Although I did overcome most of the wolf note problem by playing skills, it just keep on annoying me...I guess you all know what I mean.

I'm very interested in what is your choice. Of course Nicola Benedetti said "it's worth it" as it is a strad... :huh:

Nicola Benedetti probably meant that the tone of the Strad was good enough to make it worth while dealing with it. If the wolf tone on your Glass is just too annoying I guess the tone, good as it is, just isn't good enough to make it worth dealing with. But there are also wolf tones that you just can't eliminate and if they are right on a note of thw scale then it is a real problem.

I think there are various tricks to get around a wolf tone. The late cellist David Soyer of the Guarneri Quartet had a wolf tone on his cello and he could manage it by slightly squeezing the cello with his legs. Probably you just have to figure out what works for your particular instrument, if anything does. Have you tried a wolf elimator on the after length of the G string?

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I think there are various tricks to get around a wolf tone. The late cellist David Soyer of the Guarneri Quartet had a wolf tone on his cello and he could manage it by slightly squeezing the cello with his legs. Probably you just have to figure out what works for your particular instrument, if anything does. Have you tried a wolf elimator on the after length of the G string?

Yes I did try wolf eliminator, the wolf is weakened, so as the character of the fiddle, I don't like the tone anymore.

By pressing the bow harder towards the bridge and play slightly slower, the wolf in my Glass was under control actually . I can say the tone is better than my other fiddles which is 10 times (or more) in price. Of course if this is a Strad or Guarneri, it's absolutely worth dealing with it. Question in my mind is that if you're holding an inexpensive violin which the tone (with wolf)is far better than expensive famous Italian, what are you going to do?

For me, I gave up the Glass and pick up an Italian. Anybody has the same experience?

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I eventually give up playing it because there's a Bb wolf note both D & G strings - and it's only a German Glass after all. Although I did overcome most of the wolf note problem by playing skills, it just keep on annoying me...I guess you all know what I mean.

You could try experimenting with a different tail-piece (different design, material) and/or adjusting after-string lengths by varying the tail-piece gut length. Worked for me once. I guess no instrument will be completey even and free of some awkward spots - the better the fiddle generally the more these are reduced?

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If you have a stand-out fiddle but aren't playing it because of a wolf note, why not try to fix the wolf? It seems to me that you could afford to take quite radical steps given that it's not valuable or historic.

Omobono's advice about after-string length is worth following, but in my experience most wolfs in the C or B/B flat region are caused by an unhappy distance between the soundpost and the bridge ....

Or to be more precise, I think the real cause is that the natural frequency of front and back plates is too close, and for some reason the soundpost position can make this unpleasantly noticeable. I have had 2 good violins with this problem, both times it was fixed by tweaking the soundpost in its front to back orientation (while maintaining its sideways position).

Other causes of wolfs ... poorly fitting soundpost, badly graduated spots in the back, bridge fit not perfect etc ......

All fixable by a luthier who can play, but often impenetrable to one who doesn't!

The idea that you would play a less good violin because it's Italian is bizarre - or it would be bizarre if 90% of the classical fraternity wasn't doing the same!

Martin Swan Violins

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Most wolf problems tend to be similar, right? If the set up on the Glass is optimized for the instrument, there are quite a few things that you might try including playing with the tailpiece after-length, center of mass of the tailpiece (probably ebony?) and a heavier gauge G-string. On a cello, an associate can run their finger over the top during the sustained duration of a wolftone and mute it. It is possible also to find this location on a violin. On a younger instrument, a violin player might be able to move the location of a wolf through playing, adaptive or otherwise. The Glass is probably young enough. I've tried this on older instruments, that have laid dormant for deacades, and the location of the wolf is more resistant to change. One is less eager to try experiments on an older instrument too.

Personally, i have been having a very difficult time trying to adjust to some newer instruments, but believe that i'm becoming a better player for it.

The last thought is that i believe in experiments, similar to what they did at Oberlin with "gluey." It's just that one has to be patient (and sort of know what's going on). I find that subtle changes in mass or post/bridge location can influence a violin for the better, if the player is able to "feel" that change in their playing.

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If you have a stand-out fiddle but aren't playing it because of a wolf note, why not try to fix the wolf? It seems to me that you could afford to take quite radical steps given that it's not valuable or historic.

Omobono's advice about after-string length is worth following, but in my experience most wolfs in the C or B/B flat region are caused by an unhappy distance between the soundpost and the bridge ....

Or to be more precise, I think the real cause is that the natural frequency of front and back plates is too close, and for some reason the soundpost position can make this unpleasantly noticeable. I have had 2 good violins with this problem, both times it was fixed by tweaking the soundpost in its front to back orientation (while maintaining its sideways position).

Other causes of wolfs ... poorly fitting soundpost, badly graduated spots in the back, bridge fit not perfect etc ......

All fixable by a luthier who can play, but often impenetrable to one who doesn't!

The idea that you would play a less good violin because it's Italian is bizarre - or it would be bizarre if 90% of the classical fraternity wasn't doing the same!

Martin Swan Violins

Well that's great news...you and Ms B are practically neighbors so it would seem her wolf problem is solved...

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I realise that is a very unorthodox method, and at the risk of being laught at, I have fixed thís sort of problem before by fitting a second sound post on the "wrong" side, about an inch south of the bass sound hole. It worked, and does not involve making any irreversable changes. (N.b. Violinmaker neccesary)

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You could try experimenting with a different tail-piece (different design, material) and/or adjusting after-string lengths by varying the tail-piece gut length. Worked for me once. I guess no instrument will be completey even and free of some awkward spots - the better the fiddle generally the more these are reduced?

Or to be more precise, I think the real cause is that the natural frequency of front and back plates is too close, and for some reason the soundpost position can make this unpleasantly noticeable. I have had 2 good violins with this problem, both times it was fixed by tweaking the soundpost in its front to back orientation (while maintaining its sideways position).

Other causes of wolfs ... poorly fitting soundpost, badly graduated spots in the back, bridge fit not perfect etc ......

All fixable by a luthier who can play, but often impenetrable to one who doesn't!

Martin Swan Violins

Thank you for the kind advise Omobono and Martin.

Maybe I should take a second shoot and try again to solve the wolf after all the encouragement. Things I've tried but didn't work out:

1. new tail piece x3

2. new sound post, and adjustment

3. new bridge

4. high tension strings such as evah (at last it work best with olive)

5. fix the minor wing crack and saddle crack

6. replace a new fingerboard (I once thought it would change the "Mass" after watching Ida Haendel Documentary" 7:00 from this forum)

Sadly sometimes the wolf move to open A :blink: after the adjustment...I was exhausted and pick up my old violin again :(

One interesting things - when I first pick up the Glass, 20%top and back lose glue to the rib (sound post was by amateur too), but I can still feel the heavy wolf. The wolf is dramatically reduced by 70% in low humidity

Other causes of wolfs ...badly graduated spots in the back......

I had thought of this too, but sadly can't find someone appropriate to check this out.

1. this seems to be costly (pls correct me if I'm wrong)

2. luthiers (nearby me) don't really like to spend much time on German fiddle, especially when the wolf have a chance not to be solved after all the work

any idea?

Edited by ilovefiddle

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On a younger instrument, a violin player might be able to move the location of a wolf through playing, adaptive or otherwise. The Glass is probably young enough. I've tried this on older instruments, that have laid dormant for deacades, and the location of the wolf is more resistant to change. One is less eager to try experiments on an older instrument too.

The wolf is actually under control under special attention and bowing pressure/bow speed, but it is rather frustrating if a player cannot perform with full concentration to the piece...

I realise that is a very unorthodox method, and at the risk of being laught at, I have fixed thís sort of problem before by fitting a second sound post on the "wrong" side, about an inch south of the bass sound hole. It worked, and does not involve making any irreversable changes. (N.b. Violinmaker neccesary)

Are you serious? :blink:

Does the fiddle sound good?

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I have a girlfriend who is an educator and does science education in the schools. I have stolen a line that she once used:

There is a reason they call it the Law of Physics as opposed to merely the suggestion.

Of course, there is not single Law of Physics, but every instrument has a wolf. Some express it better than others, sometimes it(thankfully) ends up on a quarter-tone, so unless you are playing Indian ragas, it's not a problem.

Wolfs can be minimized, moved, supressed at the expense of the rest of the notes, or tolerated and worked around and with.

I've tried the second soundpost, and although it seems weird, it works. When I've done it, or anything like it, I've respectfully asked the musician to not attribute it to me if anyone happens to see it.

In my experience, the best instruments have the worst wolfs, especially when talking about celli.

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Well that's great news...you and Ms B are practically neighbors so it would seem her wolf problem is solved...

Melvin, what piquant sarcasm!

The Nicola Bennedetti/Aly Bain clip was originally posted on Maestronet by me, and I'm pleased it has been seen by so many people.

I posted the video of Ms Bennedetti because I thought it gave some insight into why soloists choose to play instruments they often don't like ...

I would love think I could help Ms Bennedetti with any problem she chose to lay before me, but I don't think I would go poking about in her Stradivarius - she wouldn't even let Aly Bain touch it!

As for wolf notes, I am merely recounting my own very limited experience, and I'm fascinated to hear the observations of more seasoned professionals. Jacob's fix is a great tip, and I will certainly try it next time I encounter the problem.

My link

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The idea that you would play a less good violin because it's Italian is bizarre - or it would be bizarre if 90% of the classical fraternity wasn't doing the same!

My fault to over emphasis the word "Italian", this is only part of many reasons.

perhaps a live recording of David Oistrakh would explain

Schubert Violin Sonata D574

2:28-2:30, 2:56-2:58

I believe he wouldn't make the same fault twice in this repeat part (if not caused by wolf), especially in slow tempo. I hear c wolf quite a few times in this recording. I believe he can suppress that wolf in someway, but once forgotten, it could be disaster.

Of course, there is not single Law of Physics, but every instrument has a wolf. Some express it better than others, sometimes it(thankfully) ends up on a quarter-tone, so unless you are playing Indian ragas, it's not a problem.

Wolfs can be minimized, moved, supressed at the expense of the rest of the notes, or tolerated and worked around and with.

......

In my experience, the best instruments have the worst wolfs, especially when talking about celli.

Some very experienced players also told me the same thing about the wolf. They said "buy a strad, then you will work with the wolf instead of complaining"

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As Jacob doesn't quite say, if you run your fingers around the top while someone else is playing the wolf, you'll find that there's a spot about 35mm under the bass f-hole that's going wild. There's a similar, less-wild, spot above the hole, in the upper bout. Calming this spot down improves the wolf. Just pressing on it with a finger does the job, if you have three hands. Almost all mechanical wolf eliminators work on this spot. On old English cellos, it's not uncommon to find a big old English penny glued in the equivalent spot. A large stud/cleat as a weight can do the job in a violin, but in killing the wolf, you often kill the entire range of notes around it. Putting the weight not quite on the spot can be used to adjust how much effect you're getting, adjusting the wolf to a reasonable level without killing the tone.

Violins with wolves often have a bit of excess flatness through this area--Vuillaume Strad models are often particularly nasty in this regard.

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As Jacob doesn't quite say, if you run your fingers around the top while someone else is playing the wolf, you'll find that there's a spot about 35mm under the bass f-hole that's going wild. There's a similar, less-wild, spot above the hole, in the upper bout. Calming this spot down improves the wolf. Just pressing on it with a finger does the job, if you have three hands.

Michael, many thanks for explaining what I meant. Since I don't have three hands and nor do any of my customers, I came up with the idea of a second sound post to act as a surogate finger. The advantage over other suggested remidies is, should you dislike any percieved change in sound elsewhere, you can just remove the second sound post and are back to square one, since you have made no irriversable changes.

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As Jacob doesn't quite say, if you run your fingers around the top while someone else is playing the wolf, you'll find that there's a spot about 35mm under the bass f-hole that's going wild. Calming this spot down improves the wolf. Just pressing on it with a finger does the job, if you have three hands. Almost all mechanical wolf eliminators work on this spot. On old English cellos, it's not uncommon to find a big old English penny glued in the equivalent spot. A large stud/cleat as a weight can do the job in a violin, but in killing the wolf, you often kill the entire range of notes around it. Putting the weight not quite on the spot can be used to adjust how much effect you're getting, adjusting the wolf to a reasonable level without killing the tone.

Violins with wolves often have a bit of excess flatness through this area--Vuillaume Strad models are often particularly nasty in this regard.

Thank you for the wonderful post!! (maybe I'm the last one know this in this forum <_< )

I understand the "35mm under the bass f-hole", for the "spot above the hole, in the upper bout", is it also about 35mm above the bass f-hole? I found the spot you mentioned, but cannot locate it precisely.

btw, just curious about the Vuillaume-Strad wolf, what did the owners do? Was there anyone regraduate the top? :blink:

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Several of the Vuillaumes have the effect on "C" note which poses major problems. Playing in Montreal or SF (slightly more hip orchetras) in the 1st violin section, it would less likely be an issue if the rest of the notes sounded great. There's a particular type of activation that tends to excite a wolf. Some players will calibrate their playing to avoid the wolf, though it is difficult to avoid sometimes. A mezzopiano section of long sustained notes in a String Quartet could be brutal, especially for a 2nd. Whistling on the E-string is a similar issue, though not as complex, but a well-practiced and engaged stroke can overcome the skating. Older cellists have famously lived with these effects, but younger players often reach for an "eliminator" first. Though it can certainly be difficult at first, it can be worth while for any professional player to spend time to develop an understanding of what is going on. Also the effect of the "eliminator" can degrade an exceptional tone.

Most here are too intelligent to pooh-poohs Vuillaumes here. But to those critics: they've not carefully listened to Hilary Hahn. The Vuillaumes are younger, often more robust and more lively than many of the older Italians. Her playing of the Beethoven Concerto is so carefully crafted, regardless of the tempi chosen, that it's not about the inability to play a Strad or del Gesu.

This is also the precise argument that is used for playing a better modern instruments.

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Violins with wolves often have a bit of excess flatness through this area--Vuillaume Strad models are often particularly nasty in this regard.

Yup. I agree.

In my experience, it's often difficult to get quite enough weight into an internal cleat to make a significant difference... but your the chances of wolf modification are increased if the cleat is designed and placed to help support (stiffen) the flat area of the arch you mentioned. Not foolproof by any means, however.

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If it sounds better than an expensive italian I wouldn't go after the price tag like a little kid. Sometimes the violin is absolutely fine but the bridge is too thick. I made the bridge thinner in one of my violin with sand paper and it sound much better.

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