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Wolf Tones

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I suspect this topic will wind up as heated and controversial as plate tuning... but here goes.

My latest build has wolf tones centered between B natural and C as follows:

Strong C natural wolf on the G string, in the normal place.

Very mild C natural dampening on the D string. 

A nasal, less responsive B and C natural on the A string, more of a color difference than anything. This is the one I really want to eliminate.

I have read that lightening the neck in the first position area can help with the A string.  (Maybe a moot point on an already varnished instrument.)  Is this true?

Moving the sound post a little north and the bridge a little south seems to really moderate the A string without choking the E string.  If I go even further, I can virtually eliminate the A string wolf, but lose significant responsiveness across the instrument, especially the E string. Are there other adjustments I should try? 

Changing the string afterlength seems to affect brightness and responsiveness, but not too much impact on wolf.  Does that seem right?

My fingerboard is a few mm longer than my "professional" instrument.  Could this be a contributing factor?

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3 hours ago, Shunyata said:

I have read that lightening the neck in the first position area can help with the A string.  (Maybe a moot point on an already varnished instrument.)  Is this true?

You should not believe everything you read on the internet.

First, the fingerboard needs to be made as well as possible - thickness, scoop, width and probably length.  Now you are probably tired of messing with fingerboards so what I can do is offer suggestions of what I do when thinning a neck to rid c/b wolf notes.  I just happen to take a chance on this and it worked.  I had bad c wolf back then.

First, the button.  My widths at the widest are 21 mm.  Most are 20 mm wide and I have one at 19.5 mm.  

From the outer black purfling line to the front of back plate button are 18 -19 mm with the majority being at 18 mm looking past the chamfer.  I checked five of my own builds for measurements.

Button thickness 5 mm. 

From the rib/neck join outwards onto the neck I leave 7 mm of flatness then the shape is refined using a knife.  About 25 -26 mm up from the bottom plate, if that makes sense.

For the neck shaping I traced the template from Heron Allens manual and made the template depths 15 -15.5 mm deep and 25 mm wide close to the chin area, not on the chin, just close.  And then 16 mm deep and 30 mm wide at the other end of the neck before the root.  This is a U shaped template from the book, not the guitar? shaped neck that some may be using.  I made the template 6mm longer than the depth of the neck without fingerboard though I have fingerboard thickness marks on the template.  I try to match the template as close as possible.

This is all I can offer because I don't know how you make a fingerboard, which needs to be as right as possible, if possible.

So back then, like you read elsewhere, I simply took an exacto knife and started removing small slithers of neck wood.  Tickled to death when the c wolf moved down to what was now the b wolf.  Kept going and moved the b wolf to a b flat wolf.  Try to stay above the a and just below the b flat on the a string. 

Pay attention to the thickness around the lower f holes with future builds- don't go too thin and try to keep the contour of the arching even.  


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A note that falls off in clarity and tone, on multiple strings.  In the worst cases it will actually warble and chatter, not articulate well.  My problems are mostly leas severe.


Since writing the original post, I have found a post position that largely eliminates the problem.  Still don't like the sound clarity under ear, but it sounds perfectly normal at a distance


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Two of the strongest modes in a violin are the A0 (air mode) and the B1+ (a corpus mode that is also strongly linked to fingerboard vibration). When you play a node close to the frequencies of these modes, the vibration of the string and bridge may not be strong enough to consistently drive these natural modes at the string frequency. The result is the chatter or howling associated with a "wolf tone", or in more mild cases an ugly, raspy sound.

It just so happens these frequencies are around C4 on the G string and C5 on the A string or higher up the G string.

Adjusting the sound post also shifts the location of the plate node points. This can strengthen or weaken the ability of the string and bridge to drive strong modes to the played note frequency. But a more successful strategy seems to be to add a dampener tuned to the natural frequency of the strong violin mode.

Your other issues are most likely due to other causes. Frequently, especially in the case of the violin, it is wrong to assume there is one cause to all the tonal problems. This seems to lead to the notion that one need only find that single, magical sound post location to solve all the instrument's ills.


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