Printer-friendly version
The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Do you have a wolf tone on your fiddle, and on what note?

February 27, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Do you have a wolf note your violin? And which note is it?

We have talked about this issue before, but I wanted to get more specific about it. A wolf note or wolf tone is a note that sounds fuzzy and unclear, no matter what you do, and it usually occurs on the G string. It's always on the same note, but the note varies from violin. Some lucky folks have no wolf tone on their fiddle (I really don't have one) but even people with very fancy fiddles (like Stradivari) report persistent wolf notes.

Do you have such a note on you violin, and what note is it, what string? Have you tried any remedies, like changing strings or tensions or attaching a gadget to your fiddle?

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 27, 2011 at 10:41 PM

I'd never actually heard a wolf before until I was shopping for the violin I now own.  Playing the sul G section of the first violin part to Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien (which is in 7th position and higher on the G string) really seemed to bring them out, if they were there.  Doing that, I heard wolf tones on several of the violins that I tried, but not on this one.  It was one of the reasons I bought it. 

From Elizabeth Kilpatrick
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 2:37 AM

 My wolf just happens to be the second b on the G string (in like sixth position). A little frustrating for playing Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5! I did try changing strings and that didn't do anything for it. But I've learned different pressures of bow can affect how loud the "wolf" is.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Ha, looks like I own the most common wolf, C natural on the G string.  When it's really bad, it shows up on the D string as well.  This past fall I really struggled with it.  A good sound post adjustment can eliminate it completely, but not without sacrificing the throaty, voice-like quality of my violin.  My last adjustment found a pretty nice balance, and it I can work around it like the crack in your voice when singing.

From Peter Charles
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 8:17 AM

The wolf note only became apparent some time after I purchased the fiddle. It's on open E.

I find putting a tiny bit of blue tack on the bridge helps, but also this slightly dampens the sound. Not good either way.

I may look into the soundpost answer, or just live with it.

Posted on February 28, 2011 at 12:36 PM

As I Karen mentioned, the 7th position on the G string that is used quite a lot in virtuoso pieces is a real problem, even with fine instruments. That's why many top players start test driving a violin in this problematic region, Zukerman for instance.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 1:55 PM

High C# on the G string and high C# on the E string are my usual problem spots.  I got an amazing adjustment last summer, and those problems are much less of an issue.

From John Cadd
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 5:25 PM

I am not so sure every player knows how to test for a Wolf note.Playing a piece of music will only find notes that may or may not be Wolf Notes. You should try (with a tuned up instrument ) at least every semitone from G all the way up to the top notes..If the violin is not accurately tuned you may not pick them all up.Many players don`t even know what one sounds like.I worked out a cure which did not involve any damping or weights but I don`t want to mention it now as I was punished for telling about it .So I shall hold my peace and let you all suffer .So there.Hummm.    I think that`s what the critics`messages meant me to do. So I`m being as good as gold now.

From Hannah Williams
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 6:13 PM

I have a rather annoying wolf tone on my G string. When I was learning Czardas, my teacher recommended I wedge a small piece of cork between the left side of the tail piece and top. It helped a lot to diminish the wolf tone.

From Royce Faina
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 6:16 PM

     With Dominant strings; C#-G string. So I do not use a Dominant G. I love the Peter Infeld Ging!  7th position Ging; it'll wolf if I do not use enough finger presure and the string is getting old.

     C# of the E string.  Eudoxa-E, Passione-E never, Vission-E, Vission solo-E, Gold label-E once in a blue moon. Any other  brand of E more frequently. 

From Daniel Robbins
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 10:05 PM

   Although Super Sensitive's Wolf Eliminator removed the wolf note on the second C natural on the G string, it also removed any tone quality, as well.  So, I don't use the eliminator.  The real annoyance is the other C naturals on my instrument that exhibit slight wolf note sounds, such as on the first C natural on the G string, C natural in 3rd position on the D string, or even C natural on the A string.  While these wolf note sounds are not nearly the obvious fluctuating sound of the one high on the G string, they are in more frequented positions and are just enough to annoy me with a cracking sound or something which bothers me, and makes me dream of that violin I tried from the 1600s at that good building, 250 West 54 Street, New York, NY.  Interestingly enough, the wolf notes happen the most when I'm most relaxed, and one day I even discovered another wolf note, (not C natural), being quite relaxed that practice hour.

From BJ Berman
Posted on February 28, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Hi to everyone who has had this truly frustrating condition, and the additional heartbreak that  the more you love the instrument the more it irritates you.

I have one that was indeterminate in origin, but had that million dollar sound and consequently was "certified" as a "freak". A student of mine who was a language expert said to make a label saying I.M. Friijk, Amsterdam, 1789, a phony name, in response to those to whom the name is everything.

So, it has a very serious wolf tone on the second Ab on the G string. I played around it for about 30 years, during which time I became a repairman as well, so I knew many more people "in the trade". One of them made a suggestion which he said he had read about but never had the chance to try.

Here are the salient points.

1. The wolf tone originates in the G string side lower bout.

2. To fix it, you must place a small mass of material, in the precise location where the wolf originates, and place it inside out of sight.

3. The mass must also be of the exact amount that the individual violin and the individual interfering frequency demand to counteract the faulty note. These things can only be done by trial and error.

From these few facts you have probably figured out for yourselves that the fault is in a super resonant spot, located in a bad place. Fix those two things and you  have no more wolf, and, as a bonus, the resonance and quality of the entire instrument will, of course with a matched adjustment of the sound post  to the new conditions inside, improve.

Well, after all those years with this wolf as my playing partner I was filled to capacity with skepticism and suspicion, but on the other side of the coin I had in my shop several chances to try it out including 3 of my own, so I started.

I had to find a way to set the mass inside the fiddles without opening them and in a way that it could be removed later, so it took a while, but once I had that, I got a 100% fix across the board, including age of fiddles from new to 1761. Each time the wolf disappeared and the quality and resonance improved.

I can at this time highly recommend the method to anyone. Please don't give up on your instrument because of a wolf. It can be fixed!

Best of luck to all of you,

BJ Berman

Harmony House Violin Shop


From Emily Grossman
Posted on March 1, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Daniel, I know the violin of which you speak... (sigh.)

Luis, interesting you bring up Zuckerman on this subject because he tried out my fiddle after it was first made and was impressed with it.  Maybe he was just being nice, or maybe it was perfectly adjusted at the time.  I'm currently impressed with the change a proper sound post adjustment can have on your violin.  The change in personality is as dramatic as my own after I've had my coffee.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine