Re: Something is wrong with my violin

February 2, 2018, 12:17 PM · I told you I will report back here and let you know what they said.

I went to a luthier today and he confirmed that it is a wolf. He said it could be because the spruce top is too thin and he could try to move it to a different note.

At least I know it's not me. Might it be time for a different violin?

Replies (12)

February 2, 2018, 2:16 PM · I don't remember your other thread, but wolf notes are very common, and more so in the higher quality instruments. I have a wolf on the B above middle C, on my G string. It is what it is. I certainly wouldn't let a luthier mess around with the top of my violin in an effort to eradicate it.
February 2, 2018, 2:23 PM · I've heard of wolf eliminators. How about you search this site for info on wolf tones? They're plentiful.
February 2, 2018, 3:02 PM · Shar sells these

Never tried them, but for five bucks I would give it a try.

Edited: February 2, 2018, 3:30 PM · The British violinist Nicola Benedetti during a television interview talked about the wolf living in her Strad; it's apparently in about the same position as on Mary Ellen's violin (and my 18th century violin, too). Nicola Benedetti's wolf has eluded attempts by luthiers to tame it, so she lives with it and plays through it when she has to. Mary Ellen makes an important point - the cure, if there is one, could be worse than the disease, and possibly irreversible.

There is a way of partially reducing the wolf (sometimes!) without doing anything to the structure of the instrument and thereby possibly wrecking the tone beyond retrieval. The way I've tried to tame my wolf is to use a lower tension G, which is why I use the Pirastro Chorda or Eudoxa D and G (both gut). This still hasn't entirely removed the wolf, although it is a little reduced, so now we come to the business of "playing through it". The advice I have been given by an eminent violinist in my area is to press really hard with the finger on the note, hold the violin really tight, and play strongly close to the bridge. I think I see how this works - it is damping some of those resonances causing the wolf for the duration of the note. I'm starting to get there but I need to do more work on the bowing part of the solution.

In practical terms do I really need to do all this? I am not a soloist, just an ordinary orchestral foot soldier, so if a high G-string passage comes up in a symphony which is going to awaken the wolf it is simpler to play it on the D instead of the G - no-one will notice. Or I could use my Jay Haide which has no wolves, irrespective of the strings on it. The answer to my question is "yes", I want to get the best out of a fine old violin and explore its possibilities to the full.

Talking of wolf eliminators, in my cello days my cello had a wolf in the F/F# area of the G string (not at all uncommon on the cello). The answer most sufferers adopt is to attach a specially designed brass weight to a carefully chosen location on the after-length of the G. It works, but the drawback is that the G string now sounds a bit as if it has its own built-in mute - which of course it now has. Most cellists choose the option of the slight muting effect.

Edited: February 2, 2018, 5:09 PM · My 65 year search for successful wolf elimination on cellos was not satisfied until a few years ago when I found the KRENTZ Wolf Eliminator. They work and NOTHING else did - and I tried everything. No 'Muting" of tone anywhere - improvement, if anything. And if it doesn't work for you you can send it back.

KRENTZ also makes and sells a wolf eliminator for violins and one for violas. They are tailored to the instrument by either the owner or the luthier who just moves it around on the instrument until the wolf is eliminated or minimized.

Look it up!

Edited: February 3, 2018, 12:05 PM · I agree with Mary Ellen --don't mess with surgery on your violin. It's not uncommon on good violins. I once went to an excellent luthier complaining about a wolf on the high B on the G string of one of my violins, 19th century German with a lovely voice, exactly where Mary-Ellen's is located. His reassuring response, after a brief examination, was "congratulations -- you have a very resonant violin. Don't make any changes." I also have a wolf on my best violin (a Guarneri copy) that is hard to predict, because sometimes it's not in residence. High C# on the G string. Weather and the state of my strings has something to do with it. Bowing more firmly helps, if you can remember in the heat of the moment. Myself, I don't play often in those exalted regions of the fingerboard. Rumour has it that Pinchas Zukerman's magnificent Guarneri Del Gesu also has a wolf on the high C# of the G string.
Edited: February 3, 2018, 12:20 PM · This is the original thread: LINK

Since there wasn't a wolf to start with, and one appeared later, it seems like the correct solution is a soundpost or bridge adjustment (or something else minor like checking if the tailgut has gotten moved), or maybe even just new strings.

Drastic surgery is not the solution here. Talk to another luthier.

Edited: February 3, 2018, 2:24 PM · After checking the original post, I wonder if perhaps the o.p., Andrea L., is right to think about getting a better violin. Where exactly is this wolf located? If it's on a note in first position this is indeed a serious problem, difficult to remedy, and very hard to live with. I can understand her distress. Furthermore, the process of re-graduating a inexpensive violin could prove to be a total waste of money. Maybe he just wants to move the sound post. Not a big job and perhaps worth a try.
Edited: February 3, 2018, 6:44 PM · I guess I don't know what a wolf note is on the violin. I had always thought a wolf note was an interval out of tune, ie, something on a fretted or keyboard instrument where the temperament made for a dissonant interval in certain scales. The kind of thing equal temperament was adopted for in order to eliminate. Apparently on the violin the wolf note seems to mean some dissonant or vibratory resonances on a particular note on a particular string?

I am interested because I might have been getting one on the C6 (2 octaves above middle C) on my E string --sometimes the vibration is so bad I despair there is something wrong with my fiddle, which hurts when I recently spent $1,000 getting some cracks repaired and usually I am very pleased with the work and the violin it now is. And luckily it seems to be maybe a temperature and humidity or other transient environmental problem, because tonight I was playing a lot and no hint of the problem.

February 3, 2018, 10:17 PM · "A wolf tone, or simply a "wolf", is produced when a played note matches the natural resonating frequency of the body of a musical instrument, producing a sustaining sympathetic artificial overtone that amplifies and expands the frequencies of the original note, frequently accompanied by an oscillating beating (due to the uneven frequencies between the natural note and artificial overtone) which may be likened to the howling of the animal. A similar phenomenon is the beating produced by a wolf interval, which is usually the interval between E? and G? of the various non-circulating temperaments." Sometimes it sounds almost like a machine gun.

Of the 4 cellos I have owned, 3 have had a wolf note on F# (4th position on the G string and "higher up" on the C string - "9th position"? - same note!). All 3 were Strad/copy-models. My Rugeri copy has no wolf - I traded one of the "Strads" in for this. Both of the other Strad's wolfs have been eliminated by Krentz devices.

The one time I had a resonant disturbance at a different frequency on one of my cellos it turned out to be a break in the glue holding the top; lower bout near the endpin. Solved the problem in a couple of hours with some hide glue and clamps. You can usually find that kind of problem by tapping the top of the instrument and listening for the click.

February 4, 2018, 9:56 AM ·
Edited: February 5, 2018, 9:11 AM · Fox - thanks for posting that wonderful video. I have not had wolf problems with my instruments, perhaps because I am not normally up that high on the G string. However, this does put me in mind of a one-woman show I saw at the D.C. Fringe Festival some years ago put on by former NSO cellist Yvonne Carruthers. It was a very good show in which she talked about her life and how she came from a childhood in Spokane, WA, to end up in the NSO. She did talk some about wolf tones on her cello and entitled her show "In Search of the Perfect G String." It received quite favorable reviews, e.g.,

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