Viola - wolf on the F, G string


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My violas in general are "wolfless", but I recently finished a 41.5 cms.  (16.3") that has a wolf on the F note, G string.

Since it is a bigger size than my regular 16" (40.7 cms.), perhaps the wolf is due to the bigger resonance of the sound box.  No wolves on the

upper positions of the C string.

Any tips to deal with it?  Thanks!

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(also posted on Violinist.com)

If the wolf is at F on the G string, it is extremely strange that there would NOT be a wolf at that note on the C string. Or maybe violas are different, and the C string is heavy enough to overpower the wolf but the G string isn't. I haven't built any violas that big, buy my guess is that that frequency is the B1- resonance, where the chinrest weight can have an effect. Try heavier/lighter ones.

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I know a cellist who has a great sounding modern cello. On the front there is something that looks like a button, but not to turn it on :), but t turn a wolf off.

I have experimented on various violas with small pieces of roofing lead, which I stuck to different places of the instrument (or the chinrest, tailpiece, or fingerboard) with double-sided tape to find the place where a little weight would remove or reduce a wolf note. On the viola that I play I kept a little piece of lead under the fingerboard and it is almost gone. This also removes a peculiar wolf on the open A string which is only there when I don't have my hand on the neck.

I also found that violas with a big C string sound tend to have a wolf between e and f on the g-string.

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Adding weights to the top plate merely changes the frequency of the wolf.  The idea is  to move its frequency to half way between notes so that it is not objectionable as when it is right on a note.

This helps but it has the disadvantage of reducing the loudness of many other notes so often players will actually prefer the original set up instrument with the wolf note still there.

A much better solution is to add a spring-mass vibration damper which is tuned to the frequency of the wolf note.  The mass is quite light so it vibrates widely to remove energy from the wolf note.  Since the mass is small it doesn't affect the other notes.

You can also tune other parts of the instrument to the wold note frequency.  A small weight properly positioned roughly somewhere near the middle on the after length of lowest string to produce the wolf note frequency  works effectively.  You shouldn't  use a large weight close to the bridge because it acts as a mute for the rest of the notes.

The tail piece can be tuned to the wolf note frequency by moving weights around and Ted White designed and sells a unique tailpiece with an internal weight that can be easily moved.

The finger board can be tuned to the wolf note frequency by adding weights to its underside at the bridge end or by thinning it in various areas to raise or lower its mode frequencies.

Using lighter tension strings helps a little as does using a bridge with wider feet.  If the wolf note isn't sever then these little changes can make the wolf note more tolerable for the player. 

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More inspiration you find here:

http://www.aitchisoncellos.com/publications/cello-and-bow-articles/technical-articles-about-the-cello/taming-wolf-notes/

I assume the spring mass vibration dampler is the Güth Wolftöter.

The 'button' that I saw must be the Krentz Wolf Note Eliminator, a magnet with an oscillating weight that absolbs the eolf frequency. Looks a weird or at least techie.

On my 16 3/8" viola a little piece of lead on the bottom of the finger board does the trick.

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22 minutes ago, uguntde said:

More inspiration you find here:

http://www.aitchisoncellos.com/publications/cello-and-bow-articles/technical-articles-about-the-cello/taming-wolf-notes/

I assume the spring mass vibration dampler is the Güth Wolftöter.

The 'button' that I saw must be the Krentz Wolf Note Eliminator, a magnet with an oscillating weight that absolbs the eolf frequency. Looks a weird or at least techie.

On my 16 3/8" viola a little piece of lead on the bottom of the finger board does the trick.

If you have a fft spectrum analyzer on you smart phone or computer you can see how the frequency of your fingerboard changes when you tap it as you add different weights.

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Thank you all! The player was here today, a very fine viola player who studied with a player of the Berlin Philharmonic. After some adjustments (including the string afterlength) the wolf is gone. There is a wolf on E in the 7th position of the C string, but this note is almost never used by viola players.  

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