Buy new violin with wolf tone ?

Edited: November 22, 2017, 2:44 AM · Hi, I've got a question concerning a new (2017) instrument by an italian luthier wich I may buy and have been playing for some days now.
It has not been played before. Apart from the really good sound and appearance, unfortunately it has got a wolf tone either on the a, d and g string on the b, worst on the a string. I've been offered by the dealer to see a specialized luthier for that problem and decide some days after the appointment whether I want to buy it or not.

As this is meant to be my "final" violin an I have spent some years to save the money to finally buy a really good instrument, I would really like to know, whether it is possible, to completely eliminate the wolf by easy means (I was told by the dealer, that it was easy to fix and would only take around 30mins). And I would also like to know whether it is a technical defect/deficit that could have been avoided by a nowadays luthier ?

Thanks a lot for your help!

Replies (35)

November 22, 2017, 2:54 AM · It is hard to say that it is going to be your "final" violin. Our taste, technique and kind of music we play may change, forcing us to move to another instrument.

Wolves are more common in the high positions of the G string (7th position). It seems a lot of wolves to cure, and I bet it will take more than 30 minutes to do that.

And if there are so many, it will be quite difficult to get rid of them all. But my humour may be bad today.

November 22, 2017, 4:12 AM · Wolves can be 'managed', but to completely cure one would require taking the instrument apart and modifying things inside it, and still there's no guarantee that it wouldn't cause other problems to come up afterwards or even eliminate the wolves altogether.
Some people have great success with 'wolf eliminators' either of the kind that you attach to the string afterlength or things you stick here and there on the violin.
Unless you are absolutely in love with this violin, I would suggest checking out what others you might find. Sounds like you're talking about a non-casual amount of money it will cost you, and usually on those higher price ranges there are LOTS of options!
November 22, 2017, 4:18 AM · Choose another dream violin.

Welcome here Andrea!!!!

November 22, 2017, 4:29 AM · I would like to add that, if you are an student, when you start studying and playing virtuose pieces, you will use a lot the high positions on the G and D strings, and it is hard to find a violin that sounds good in that region.

Zukerman starts test driving violins playing fortissimo on the 7th position of the G string, the same for the viola C string.

Some students just get aware of that when they start studying these pieces.

November 22, 2017, 5:28 AM · Any good-sounding violin will have some wolfing up high on the G string, usually in the region of B-C#. But if this is also causing problems on the D and A strings, that sounds like a particularly bad one.

If the dealer can fix this in thirty minutes, without significantly impacting the overall sound of the violin, I will be very surprised. If the dealer undertakes this, be sure to not only check that the wolf is improved, but also that you still find the violin to be pleasing in every other regard.

November 22, 2017, 6:14 AM · I made a lot of tests lately, in the past months, in a particular violin that developed a wolf spot (only in the C in the E string, no other wolves everywhere, so not in the 7th position in the G string).

I tried with a wolf eliminator (small screw on strings) with no success.
I had success in minimizing the wolf to almost inaudible in the ways:

1- changing the afterlenght of the E string (in my violins i have tailpieces with movable afterlength for all strings).

2- moving the chinrest (!) until i found a spot that minimizes the wolf tones.


Since some months, i changed strings type in that violin, and the wolf reappeared. So, again, i moved afterlenght in the E and chinrest, and found new spots that minimize the wolf.

Hope it helps.

November 22, 2017, 6:57 AM · Yes Marco, but as mentioned above, the problem here is that there are wolves in 3 strings, that is much more difficult to cure.
November 22, 2017, 7:36 AM · I understand, but maybe starting moving and adjusting things, could help somewhat. It could help to understand what to look at.

For example, i have another violin that has some more resonant B's everywhere (every B in the violin). Moving and adjusting the bridge, sideways, always cures in minimizing this excessive resonance.

November 22, 2017, 8:07 AM · A Krentz wolf eliminator might be just the thing to cure this wolf without diminishing the fine qualities of this violin. I think it is worth purchasing one to try on it. If you then decide to purchase the violin, you will want to keep the Krentz. If you don't purchase the violin, Krenzt will probably take it back and refund your purchase price - check with him before you buy.

I have used the appropriately sized Krentz devices on cellos, violas, and violins with great success. It is also useful for improving lower-frequency tone on instruments that do not have an audible wolf. I think it has the same effect re-graduation of the top would have, but it lets you move all it over the bass-side of the instrument to find the best spot. Certainly worth a try.

November 22, 2017, 8:49 AM · The Krentz can be a bit of a crap shoot. Sometimes I've had them work well (particularly on cellos), and other times not so well. The last viola I tried one on, it just killed the sound. Turned a nice open-sounding viola with a huge sound into a tight one with a small sound.

In general, people prefer the sound of an instrument without a wolf eliminator, unless the wolf is so bad that certain notes are just unplayable, even with the various playing tricks to deal with a wolf. If one already owns such an instrument, a wolf eliminator might be worth playing around with. If one is shopping, I'd think twice about getting one like that.

November 22, 2017, 10:18 AM · There are thousands of violins. My advice is to keep looking.
November 22, 2017, 11:47 AM · David, I'm interested in why you tried a Krentz on a "nice open-sounding viola with a huge sound."

I tried a Krentz on all 4 of my violins (none have a wolf) but it spoiled the sound on the two better ones but could be adjusted to give a slight boost to the other two.

November 22, 2017, 11:53 AM · Trust me when I say that nothing is ever your "final violin." Every time I have thought that in the past, I ended up upgrading within a couple of years because my tastes/standards changed.

With that said, I'd keep looking.

November 22, 2017, 1:45 PM · Near the end of my life I do have my dream violin and it would be difficult to do better other than maybe a Burgess or Manfio or a Don Noon new violin...
November 22, 2017, 2:14 PM · Do you think makers are great only if they frequently post on Maestronet.com??
November 22, 2017, 3:53 PM · Being open to learning more from other makers and violinists themselves is a good sign they may make good violins. Yes, you will reply “bah, marketing”, and you may be right. But they do make good violins...
Edited: November 22, 2017, 6:32 PM · Andrew, I tried the Krentz on that viola because someone brought it to me with what I considered to be a very minor wolf (at a pretty normal level really), but wanted it lessened. The Krentz wolf eliminator managed to reduce the wolf to nearly undetectable levels, but the sound also took a serious dive.

That major resonance in the body of the instrument which is responsible for the wolf, also seems to be highly involved in the overall impression of sound. Mess with one, you mess with the other, as far as I've been able to tell.

Edited: November 22, 2017, 7:36 PM · "I was told by the dealer, that it was easy to fix and would only take around 30mins"
IF IT IS SO EASY TO FIX IT, WHY IT HAS NOT BEEN FIXED?
Hint: their luthier had a lunch break.
Do not walk, run away from that shop.
November 22, 2017, 7:53 PM · Yeah, they are lying to you. That’s never a good sign.
November 22, 2017, 7:58 PM · A wolf on a single string, especially the B or C high up on the G string, is pretty normal.

A wolf on three strings, especially in lower positions where you're going to be playing on a routine basis, is Definitely Not Okay.

Find some other violin.

November 22, 2017, 8:22 PM · Sorry, but what is a 'wolf tone'?
November 22, 2017, 9:11 PM · A frequency where the violin exhibits unusual resonance qualities, usually detrimental.

Here is a good article on wolf tones:
http://stringsmagazine.com/how-to-tame-annoying-howling-wolf-tones/

November 23, 2017, 12:17 AM · This is an example of a wolf:
Edited: November 23, 2017, 3:40 AM · I wonder why it is called a wolf. Why not "a floopsie"? ;-)
November 23, 2017, 7:40 AM · A lot of great, open sounding violins have a wolf up on the G string, I find. The key is whether or not you can work around it -- some can be eased around or played in a certain way that they are minimized.

A wolf that is also present on the D and A string could be very problematic. Ask yourself -- if you're in love with this now, will you still be if you have to nurse every B out of it on a daily basis? I would not want to deal with that! Also, it might be a tough sell if you ever plan to part with it.

There are so many good and some great new instruments out there right now, if that's what you're looking for. I would continue the search.

David -- I think they should be called wookies, not wolves, as they always remind me of Chewbacca.

November 23, 2017, 9:06 AM · Do you think makers are great only if they frequently post on Maestronet.com??

I think you are Great also Lyndon and you post daily so I suppose there is a correlation there. : ) If you were not on the other side of the continent Lyndon I would pick you to keep my instruments finely tuned purring smoothly along and fix my bows up.

A wonderful Thanksgivng to you all.

Edited: November 23, 2017, 1:49 PM · A lot of the greatest modern makers and restorers don't post on the internet at all, just saying..... Frequent posting is probably more indicative of how much time they have available away from work.
November 23, 2017, 4:51 PM · All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and these sites are my playtime and escape from the real world. Most people are here because they love violins and want to learn and discuss problems and issues in various music related areas. Some of our members spend a lot of their time doing research and experiments over sound production and plate thickness etc. and often I cannot comprehend much of all the facts and data presented but I am still fascinated by it and enjoy reading the material presented.
Edited: November 23, 2017, 7:28 PM · Here, wanna hear a wolf on a Strad?
On this interview, Roman Simovic talks about a bunch of things, but halfway through it he gets talking about his Stradivarius. The wolf is at 13:20.
Edited: November 24, 2017, 3:57 AM · I personally would also advice to keep on looking.
Always remember, that it is a tool in your hands and most instruments are interchangeable to a certain degree. I mean it is up to you to draw a wonderful sound out of a mediocre violin. Things like heavy wolf notes, will always get in your way. And I highly doubt, that there is any serious luthier in the world, that will tell you that a wolf can be fixed in 30 minutes. Someone wants to sell you something. Be aware!
Wolf notes are very common, but not necessarily a must! I played some instruments in my life, that had a silky smooth and clear upper register on the g-string, no wolfes in sight! But those instruments are kind of rare. Especially when you look for other qualities like projection as well!
But also keep in mind, that small things can actually change the position and intensity of a wolf note. But they might alter the overall parameters of the instrument as well. Hard to tell for a violin maker too... it has to be tested thoroughly and not in 30 minutes.
Even different temperatures and humidity can change the intensity of a wolf note.
My advice: Keep on looking! I wouldn't trust a dealer, who promises such things.
November 24, 2017, 6:50 AM · Thank you all for the multiple and helpful responses!
All in all, I think that looking for another violin wil be the most sensitive thing to do.
But nevertheless I will update you on how the appointment with the luthier turned out.


November 24, 2017, 9:05 AM · ...but still don’t know whether a wolf tone can be avoided nowadays in newly built violins? Any luthiers who may comment? I read that it is a problem of thickness of the wood. Is it that easy?
November 24, 2017, 11:07 AM · I agree with whoever said that if it can be fixed in 30 minutes, why has it not been done yet?
November 24, 2017, 2:11 PM · "fixed in 30 minutes", a-huh, yeah... salesmen...
Edited: November 24, 2017, 5:16 PM · Andrea Schmidinger
November 24, 2017, 9:05 AM · ...but still don’t know whether a wolf tone can be avoided nowadays in newly built violins? Any luthiers who may comment? I read that it is a problem of thickness of the wood. Is it that easy?

Basically the wolf is a phenomenon related to instrument body resonance, if you kill the wolf you will kill resonance and this is not a good idea ;-)
Working on archings structure and on thicknesses the maker can allow the violinist to tame the wolf, but it remains a congenital feature of the structure of the bowed instruments and if you go looking for some trace you always find it.
Anyway three hungry wolves are to much to hold on, I think there might be somethings wrong in the structure.


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