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Could installing a narrower bridge cure a wolf note on a Violin?


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On 6/11/2022 at 2:02 PM, John_London said:

I struggle with a terrible wolf on high C and to lesser extent on high B on G string (Strad 1713 copy). This thread got me experimenting with a small bulldog clip on the G in the peg box, and below the bridge. It tames the wolf a little in the peg box and a lot below the bridge, but it also "tames" the violin in a bad way.

I wondered about asking the local violin shop, or the man who made it for me, to rectify this fault. But I fear they might do something which diminishes the instrument in other ways. Is that fear misplaced?

 

On 6/11/2022 at 3:37 PM, Davide Sora said:

Just curious, was the wolf already present when you bought the violin? If so, why did you purchase it? If the reason is in the sound that fascinated you, I fear that solving the wolf problem will irreparably change that sound you loved.

Another question comes to my mind: being a copy of a Strad 1713, doesn't the original also have the same wolf problem? It would be something to consider carefully when commissioning copies.

Only a true Master Craftsperson could achieve such attention to detail as to copy the original wolf to the point where an expert pair of ears couldn't tell the difference.

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1 hour ago, sospiri said:

 

Only a true Master Craftsperson could achieve such attention to detail as to copy the original wolf to the point where an expert pair of ears couldn't tell the difference.

Of course I didn't mean that the wolf may have been intentionally copied:)

What I meant, is that if you make an exact copy of a violin you might get the same "negative" side effects as wolves, so I was wondering if the original had similar wolf problems.
It would be good to be aware of these things when deciding to get a copy, knowing the behavior of the original might give you some clues in advance.

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3 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

Of course I didn't mean that the wolf may have been intentionally copied:)

What I meant, is that if you make an exact copy of a violin you might get the same "negative" side effects as wolves, so I was wondering if the original had similar wolf problems.
It would be good to be aware of these things when deciding to get a copy, knowing the behavior of the original might give you some clues in advance.

Oh! I thought you were being witty and wise in a subtly nuanced way.

 

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7 hours ago, sospiri said:

 

Only a true Master Craftsperson could achieve such attention to detail as to copy the original wolf to the point where an expert pair of ears couldn't tell the difference.

Martin Schleske made a tonal copy of a 1729 Domenico Montagnana violin and I think I recall reading an article where an interviewed player said that Schleske accurately duplicated the sound of the original one and even duplicated its wolf note.

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42 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Martin Schleske made a tonal copy of a 1729 Domenico Montagnana violin and I think I recall reading an article where an interviewed player said that Schleske accurately duplicated the sound of the original one and even duplicated its wolf note.

Tonal copy, that's quite a concept. Will it catch on?

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On 6/16/2022 at 7:03 PM, sospiri said:

Tonal copy, that's quite a concept. Will it catch on?

Anyone claiming to sell tonal copies will find willing buyers among violinists. And why not? With this particular Strad copy I was not offered anything so wonderful. The maker even admitted to not following Signor Stradivari's model, or error (if the Holy Father is fallible) in making the belly slightly thicker on the treble side.

 

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Adding a mass to a pegbox string is something new to me, but since there is some movement of the peghead in the B1+ mode, it could work, in theory.  The general theory is that the string/mass in the pegbox needs to be tuned to the wolf frequency to work, similar to a wolf eliminator mass added to an afterlength.  But the afterlength version I think is more common, and definitely should be more effective.

But "effective" might not be so good, as the eliminator takes some time to build up amplitude to do its thing... so there are odd transients.  You could have an instantaneous wolf, and then de-wolfs as the eliminator builds up, and then an after-ring when you stop playing.  I messed around with these, and generally found that the cure was worse than the disease.

The other type of wolf eliminator... a mass stuck somewhere on the plate... works differently by adding mass to a high-amplitude area of the plate.  It can work, but is more likely to have side effects.

The cost some suppliers charge for these is ridiculously steep in some cases.  You can test out the effects either with a small blob of tungsten putty on the appropriate string location, or in the second type, get a couple of small neodymium magnets (one outside, one inside) and see where they work.

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3 hours ago, John_London said:

Anyone claiming to sell tonal copies will find willing buyers among violinists. And why not? With this particular Strad copy I was not offered anything so wonderful. The maker even admitted to not following Signor Stradivari's model, or error (if the Holy Father is fallible) in making the belly slightly thicker on the treble side.

 

Was the "error" intentional because he felt the wood more compliant there or was he not overly fussy about exact thicknessing I wonder?

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I once visited Schleske and he had 7 violins available to show. One had a massive wolf that he thought was no problem. Generally, every single one had an excellent sound (I didn't particularly like his replacement of purfling which he used at that time).

Here is someone putting the weight in the peg box although I think the wolf is not gone. :)    

 

There was a ink to youtube which git suppressed. Look for 'Wolf eliminator for violin# b by Andre Theunis.

 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, uguntde said:

I have seen so many violins with a 'strong tone' that also had a wolf somewhere. The better instruments tend tome with these problems.

This has been my experience too. It seems that when a violin is working exceptionally well as a system, if we could term it that, things can be right on the edge of controllable.
With some it needed all of my skill and more, and had to really concentrate, but the results were in some ways almost an epiphany.

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9 hours ago, sospiri said:

Was the "error" intentional because he felt the wood more compliant there or was he not overly fussy about exact thicknessing I wonder?

I think the maker was aware of the question, but could only guess the answer. I was being facetious about "error". Who knows. And I was being facetious about tonal copy, though snake oil finds plenty buyers. Set up, choice of bow, the weather, and the last player, change the sound of a violin.

 

8 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

This has been my experience too. It seems that when a violin is working exceptionally well as a system, if we could term it that, things can be right on the edge of controllable.
With some it needed all of my skill and more, and had to really concentrate, but the results were in some ways almost an epiphany.

An interesting thought, which I spent some time thinking about. Much as I enjoy reading the conversation here, I hesitate to comment I've never really worked out what violin makers are trying to achieve, apart from happy customers. There is no doubt that some instruments made with conventional materials and dimensions resonate more freely than others. largely but not wholly due to setup.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

It seems that when a violin is working exceptionally well as a system [...] things can be right on the edge of controllable.

That characterizes my current favorite violin.  It badly wants to scratch, wolf, howl, squeak, but when you get on top of it (which isn't hard) very rewarding. 

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The expensive Olive stiff G string tames the wolf, though it is still there, compared with my aging Eva Pirazzis. Just fitted covered gut G and thick bare gut D and A (custom thicknesses which can be ordered from Pirastro as "Individuelle"), and the violin sound sweeter (if a little quiet under the ear) and "works" to the top of the fingerboard on all the strings. Which I suppose is not entirely surprising in a violin modelled after and antique instrument designed with gut strings in mind.

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It may be worth trying a different chinrest. The Guarneri models attached over the tailpiece affect the B1+ mode to some extent, adding mass and thus reducing the amplitude of the B1+. The frequency may also move a bit. Then the wolf may move too

I prefer light side mounted chinrests. 

Lighter strings also reduces the driving force, and thus wolf. Maybe mainly the G string or both G and D. 

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3 hours ago, Anders Buen said:

!+It may be worth trying a different chinrest. The Guarneri models attached over the tailpiece affect the B1+ mode to some extent, adding mass and thus reducing the amplitude of the B1+. The frequency may also move a bit. Then the wolf may move too

I prefer light side mounted chinrests. 

Lighter strings also reduces the driving force, and thus wolf. Maybe mainly the G string or both G and D. 

 

Is it better to reduce the height of the B1+ peak or should we try to move its frequency so that it falls between notes rather than on top of a note.  Or try to do both?

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4 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

 

Is it better to reduce the height of the B1+ peak or should we try to move its frequency so that it falls between notes rather than on top of a note.  Or try to do both?

I have no idea. It will move naturally with the varying climate. That is the varying RH indoors, and in the flight cabin if that is the transport used.

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4 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

 

Is it better to reduce the height of the B1+ peak or should we try to move its frequency so that it falls between notes rather than on top of a note.  Or try to do both?

In my humble opinion, trying to move it to fall between notes is an exercise in futility.

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1 hour ago, Anders Buen said:

I have no idea. It will move naturally with the varying climate. That is the varying RH indoors, and in the flight cabin if that is the transport used.

They do move around a lot.  Apparently their territory is between about 130 to 2600 square kilometers.

 

 

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Ida Haendel complains about the wolf on her 1696 Strad at 25:20 and 44:30 in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fARPbGGbtE. She says that it appeared from nowhere. It is on the 3rd finger D on A string, not somewhere high on the G string. No wonder it drove her mad. If it appeared out of nowhere, it is perhaps not so much a feature of a fine instrument, as of a violin past its best?

The luthier tries to fix it at at 47:20. He diagnoses by blowing into the bass F hole which gives a note around D, then holds the bottom and taps the scrolls and hears a B flat, and says these frequencies should be close and are too far apart.

 

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15 minutes ago, John_London said:

 

The luthier tries to fix it at at 47:20. He diagnoses by blowing into the bass F hole which gives a note around D, then holds the bottom and taps the scrolls and hears a B flat, and says these frequencies should be close and are too far apart.

 

I'll have to add that one to my repertoire of "things to tell players when I don't know what the hell is going on, but have to seem like I know what I'm doing..." :D

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1 hour ago, John_London said:

Ida Haendel complains about the wolf on her 1696 Strad at 25:20 and 44:30 in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fARPbGGbtE. She says that it appeared from nowhere. It is on the 3rd finger D on A string, not somewhere high on the G string. No wonder it drove her mad. If it appeared out of nowhere, it is perhaps not so much a feature of a fine instrument, as of a violin past its best?

The luthier tries to fix it at at 47:20. He diagnoses by blowing into the bass F hole which gives a note around D, then holds the bottom and taps the scrolls and hears a B flat, and says these frequencies should be close and are too far apart.

 

He's trying to match the violin's B0  body bending resonance frequency (his tapping of the scroll) with the A0 air resonance frequency (from blowing air across the f hole) by adding weight to the fingerboard.

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20 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

He's trying to match the violin's B0  body bending resonance frequency (his tapping of the scroll) with the A0 air resonance frequency (from blowing air across the f hole) by adding weight to the fingerboard.

Sure, but why?

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3 hours ago, Bodacious Cowboy said:

Sure, but why?

The Catgut Acoustical Society's  May 2001 issue of the CAS Journal "A Retrospective on Air and Wood Modes' has several articles describing why A0-B0 might be desirable for improving the playing qualities of a violin.  

Professor Jim Woodhouse wrote a peer reviewed paper on this which I have not read.  Its abstract is attached.

Screen Shot 2022-06-18 at 9.26.31 PM.png

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2 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

I have a friend who was into that stuff for a while. He reported that sometimes the board tuning appears to work, sometimes not. The results were not consistent and not dramatic. About 50/50. In short: random.

You cant really tune wood unless like a player you have pegs and strings to enable perfect tuning at every turn of the weather and humidity etc for every occasion every few minutes...A luthier cant tune a violin accurately to account for wood's inclination to vary with the climate it is in...Something just out of tune often sounds worse than something completely out of tune in general terms so in real terms tilting at windmills comes to mind...etc

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