Nicolas Temino

Cello tailpieces and wolves

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I wonder how the tailpiece in a cello can affect the wolf tones. I know a lighter tailpiece can improve brightness and resonance, but also can make a wolf worse. My cello has a composite tailpiece with built in fine tuners, it has a full, resonant bright tone, but also a nasty F# wolf. A lup-x wolf eliminator in the C string does tame the wolf, but does not get rid of it. What if I change the tailpiece for a rosewood one? Thank you for your tips in advance.

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1 hour ago, Nicolas Temino said:

I wonder how the tailpiece in a cello can affect the wolf tones. I know a lighter tailpiece can improve brightness and resonance, but also can make a wolf worse. My cello has a composite tailpiece with built in fine tuners, it has a full, resonant bright tone, but also a nasty F# wolf. A lup-x wolf eliminator in the C string does tame the wolf, but does not get rid of it. What if I change the tailpiece for a rosewood one? Thank you for your tips in advance.

You might check the tuning of the after length of your strings. I had a nasty wolf on my cello and tried a lot of things and nothing would completely get rid of it - it would simply move around to spaces in between notes, etc. I replaced my tail piece and it was pretty much gone, but part of replacing my tailpiece was adjusting the notes on the after length (string between the bridge and tailpiece). It also improved the tone of my C string.

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Afterlenght is already properly set. C string afterlenght was initially set to G, sound was delightful. Following Michael Darnton's advice I tuned the afterlenght to the wolf, that is F#. It improved but never gone.

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The latest VSA journal has two very important articles on cello wolfs.  The wolf arises from a coupling of the bowed string note with the lowest top resonance.  This top resonance is around 175 Hz (F3).  Wolfs are a fact of cello life. 

 

On the 1/6 string issue, this places the afterlength note at 2 octaves plus a fifth above the string frequency--well away from the wolf.  Using a weight on the afterlength string causes the frequency of the afterlength string to drop in the range of the wolf which is more helpful.  Starting with an extra light tailpiece and then putting weights on it can be helpful.  I suggest coins with tape or strong magnets for trials.  The VSA paper suggests tailpiece weighting alters the resonance frequency of the top.  The Krentz modulator or its 35 gram equivalent will also change the top resonance frequency.  The best you can do is move the wolf between half steps. 

 

Mike D

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1 hour ago, Mike_Danielson said:

The latest VSA journal has two very important articles on cello wolfs.  The wolf arises from a coupling of the bowed string note with the lowest top resonance.  This top resonance is around 175 Hz (F3).  Wolfs are a fact of cello life. 

 

On the 1/6 string issue, this places the afterlength note at 2 octaves plus a fifth above the string frequency--well away from the wolf.  Using a weight on the afterlength string causes the frequency of the afterlength string to drop in the range of the wolf which is more helpful.  Starting with an extra light tailpiece and then putting weights on it can be helpful.  I suggest coins with tape or strong magnets for trials.  The VSA paper suggests tailpiece weighting alters the resonance frequency of the top.  The Krentz modulator or its 35 gram equivalent will also change the top resonance frequency.  The best you can do is move the wolf between half steps. 

 

Mike D

I tried most all the recommended options and no joy, from my reading it seemed that they are in fact a fact of life on cello's. Mine comes and goes depending on the humidity and temperature and if it is raining in Chicago (I think). Anything that seemed to really kill the wolf always affected my tone (which seems to agree with the VSA paper suggesting tailpiece weighing alters the top resonance - sigh - mine got a serious case of dull.) The Krentz is a very interesting approach and I played with it for a while (made my own since. it was out of my budget range) and I found I was spending more time "tuning" my top by moving it around than I was practicing. When I thought I finally found that magic sweet spot he describes, some other string would go weird sounding - I expect it affects everything, but I don't know, I gave up on it. There were times when it really improved the sound of my cello and seemed to chase the wolf into the shadows, and then a day or two later it would come back or the cello would sound dull again. I found that most professional cellists that I have read comments from either learn to finger around it, or find a afterlenght weight, or a few totally love the Krentz... 

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Exactly, Frank, it happens to me the same. One weird thing I have found is that the wolf is less prominent when I put the French bridge instead of the Belgian one. 

Strange things come and go around the wolf tones.

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BTW, what I was asking in the first post: changing the carbon tailpiece to a rosewood one would help with the wolf? (I ask about rosewood because I have one in the drawer, but I would not mind to get a boxwood, jujube, or ebony one.

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14 minutes ago, Nicolas Temino said:

BTW, what I was asking in the first post: changing the carbon tailpiece to a rosewood one would help with the wolf? (I ask about rosewood because I have one in the drawer, but I would not mind to get a boxwood, jujube, or ebony one.

My understanding, and it is limited to a few months of heavy lifting google foo and a lot of testing is that the better your cello is the more likely you are to have a wolf - as in, it is pretty much guaranteed. The wolf can not be eliminated without serious impacts to the tonal quality of the instrument. You can "move" the wolf so that it occurs in between two notes, so that you wont' hit it as often (never?), but you can't get rid of it, it is built into the Cello based on it's resonances. The simplistic and least invasive and least tonal impact I have found for mine - and this going to sound really weird - is to take a small piece of double sided velcro (like the stuff that comes with some power cords to keep them b bundled) and wrap it around the A and D string loosely between the bridge and tailpiece. Leave it loose enough so that it does not bend or tension the string, but tight enough to stay in place  - just sort of "snug". "solved" my problem best of anything so far,  but it has only been a week. My working theory is that it is damping the wolf that was occurring at F# in the first position on the D string by coupling the vibrations between the two strings. If anything my A and D sound much clearer now. Nice thing is it is cheap (free if you have some laying around) and easy to try and remove. And it is black normally so it doesn't look too bad. If you don't have any you can get it at Amazon or at a clothing store. Mine is jut 1/2 inch (about 12mm) wide and I cut it to just long enough to go around the two strings 1 1/2 times - so it will attach to itself. 

Anyway, might or might not work. Most of the people that were professionals that I researched said the only thing that ever worked for them was to change the fingering to avoid the wolf.

One, the first cello in the Philadelphia Orchestra (? not sure) swears by the Krentz as the ONLY thing he has found to work in decades of trying. So, if you don't mind trying it, I think it was around $150 when I looked at it. Of you can make one if you are handy it is just a plastic tube and some plastic coated magnets. I found the magnets alone sort of work - one on the inside and one on the side side - they stick to each other through the top and you can slide them around to "adjust" the resonant modes of the top. They are coated in a soft plastic, so they won't hurt the finish, just get ones small enough to fit through the f-hole. Drop one inside then hold the other outside close to where the one inside is, they are so strong they will snap together, and will not slip. You then slide the one outside around (there are instructions on Krentz site on how to "tune it") until you get the best sound and no wolf. To get them off later, just slide them over to the f-hole and hang on tight, the one inside with come zipping out and you will have the two in your hand. If you drop them both inside you will need to either have to third one to catch them and drag them out, or possibly remove the endpin to get them to drop out there. But, it is very easy to get them out if you have another, so just buy 3. I used black ones that are about 9mm in diameter. They are scary strong. It is NOT easy to get them apart when they attach to each other - to do it, slide them off each other, do not bother trying to pry them apart, you can't.

https://www.apexmagnets.com/1-2-x-1-8-disc-plastic-coated-bl-ue-neodymium-rare-earth-magnet?fee=5&fep=794&gclid=Cj0KEQjwyZjKBRDu--WG9ayT_ZEBEiQApZBFuHKuOiGvsi6er0MK_5Hbd1cpDT8mFoIXik-qJgeQ0KYaAkmY8P8HAQ
 

Oh, and they come in all colors, I prefer black, I found the small black dot on the front of my cello looked like a volume controlled and got me lots of silly questions about what kind of pickup I was using and where was it - lol...

 

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AtlVcl   
10 hours ago, FrankNichols said:

...I replaced my tail piece and it was pretty much gone, but part of replacing my tailpiece was adjusting the notes on the after length (string between the bridge and tailpiece). It also improved the tone of my C string.

So tell us:  how do you know any improvement was related to a changed tailpiece or adjusting the afterlength?
 

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2 minutes ago, AtlVcl said:

So tell us:  how do you know any improvement was related to a changed tailpiece or adjusting the afterlength?
 

I don't know that it was what caused the change. I tried very hard to avoid changing anything else. I was careful to mark and put the bridge back to the exact position. And I put the tailpiece the same distance from the bridge. I then checked and the Wolf had moved up from F# half way to G. I then adjusted the bridge position to exactly at the notches in the f-holes (it had been slightly higher than it should have been) and adjusted the after length by adjusting the tailpiece position. The wolf moved again, I don't recall now where, but it was also in-between two notes. So, when I say gone, I meant moved. It eventually reappeared and I moved on to try the DIY Krentz which was addicting, but I could not get it or just the adjustable magnet to result in dealing with the wolf without causing serious issues - especially with my A string going dull. 

So, it could be that the two didn't cause the change, but I tested before and after and was careful to avoid changing anything else. Of course that involved taking the tension off the strings, the top and bridge, and a bunch of other changes that could also have been the cause. I can't say for sure, just my best guess. The weight of the "cheap Chinese Wittner imitation" and the real one I replaced it with were close to the same, but the tail wire (sp?/name?) loop was stiffer on the real Wittner, so that also could have had an affect.

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Do you have any lead tape (like for changing the balance of golf clubs)? You could stick some of that on your tailpiece, a gram at a time, and see if it makes any difference - and if it works well, you can hide it all on the back of your tailpiece (the side facing the top of the instrument).

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14 minutes ago, devaraja42 said:

Do you have any lead tape (like for changing the balance of golf clubs)? You could stick some of that on your tailpiece, a gram at a time, and see if it makes any difference - and if it works well, you can hide it all on the back of your tailpiece (the side facing the top of the instrument).

Good idea, or just tape a penny on, then another and another...if it works, then figure out how to add mass to the tailpiece behind it.

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35 minutes ago, Nicolas Temino said:

Thank you guys for all the tips. I will definitely try the magnets.

Here is a link to the Krentz instructions - which will help explain what I tried to say:

http://krentzstringworks.com/innovations/modulator/installation/

EDIT: In his case the inside one is a couple magnets in a plastic tube, I tried that and found it no better than just using a second magnet inside.

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