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Taming of the ... wolf (instead of shrew)
Fixing Wolf Tones
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RDP
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November 29, 2021 - 7:40 pm
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I have a developed a wolf in my violin.  It's at B (A1) and it's gotten really loud and screechy.  I originally thought it was me, but it's not.  Something is howling in the dark and blinking its green eyes at me from the shadows.

 

Currently, the violin has Tomastik dominants on it based on the string wrapping colors (perfect match on the chart).  Would changing the A string to something else help tame the wolf without resorting to a "wolf tamer" behind the bridge?  If so, what?

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ELCBK
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November 29, 2021 - 8:20 pm
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@RDP -

Sorry, I didn't hear a wolf tone in your video, because I saw you bowed that note very differently than your other notes (not smoothly) and you did show bouncing. 

Thomastik is suggesting to use a higher tension string, in place of the wolf tone string. 

WOLF TONE on your STRINGS?  This is what you need to know!  Thomastik-infeld

 

This video suggests something I've never seen before, he corrects a wolf on C - by attaching his little "Wolf-tuner" to the 'A' string, but up in the peg box! 

Wolf eliminator for violin - Andre Theunis

This is his website for more info.  He has "Wolf-tuner" for Violas and Cellos, too. 

Wolf-Tuner

 

Btw, I encountered a wolf once, when I accidentally moved my bridge a little off.  I repositioned my bridge and no more wolf. 

I do not use Thomastik strings.

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November 30, 2021 - 1:48 pm
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ELCBK said
@RDP -

Sorry, I didn't hear a wolf tone in your video, because I saw you bowed that note very differently than your other notes (not smoothly) and you did show bouncing. 

  

 

I was probably trying to minimize the howl even while recording for the howl.

 

Changing from Tomastik to higher tension strings?  I have no idea which strings would work for that.

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AndrewH
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November 30, 2021 - 7:43 pm
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Are you sure this is a wolf tone? My understanding of a wolf tone (and my violin has a very noticeable one) is the name comes not from a "howl" but from the note seeming to have been "swallowed" by a wolf. Which is to say, the note stutters because interference from the instrument's resonance cancels out the sound.

RDP said

Changing from Tomastik to higher tension strings?  I have no idea which strings would work for that.

  

Almost any other popular string brand would work. Thomastik Dominant is one of the lowest-tension string brands in common use. Here are some string tension charts on Violin String Review:

https://www.violinstringreview.....chart.html

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Fiddlerman
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December 21, 2021 - 11:17 am
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Wolfes can be EXTREMELY difficult if not impossible to tame. They call it a wolf for a reason, but there are variations of wolf tones that are tame and light that can be hard to put a finger on. Most of us know why an instrument has as wolf tone but not how to solve it.
We've received expensive instruments with major wolf tones present and we try everything to tame them. Sometimes we can change the sound post or bridge to a thicker one and that could solve the problem. Sometimes it doesn't help much and we look at options like adding weight in different areas of the instrument. We've gone as far as changing the bass bar in an instrument that had a short hump on the bass bar to solve the issue.
In any case, sometimes it's best to accept that you have a wolf and learn to tame it when you play. We sell wolf tone eliminators for all instruments but they will usually not eliminate the wolf completely. Changing strings can work, but it's rare.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
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RDP
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December 23, 2021 - 12:00 am
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Fiddlerman said rnWolfes can be EXTREMELY difficult if not impossible to tame. They call it a wolf for a reason, but there are variations of wolf tones that are tame and light that can be hard to put a finger on. Most of us know why an instrument has as wolf tone but not how to solve it.We've received expensive instruments with major wolf tones present and we try everything to tame them. Sometimes we can change the sound post or bridge to a thicker one and that could solve the problem. Sometimes it doesn't help much and we look at options like adding weight in different areas of the instrument. We've gone as far as changing the bass bar in an instrument that had a short hump on the bass bar to solve the issue.In any case, sometimes it's best to accept that you have a wolf and learn to tame it when you play. We sell wolf tone eliminators for all instruments but they will usually not eliminate the wolf completely. Changing strings can work, but it's rare.rn  rn

 

Thank you for the information.rn rnI've got a new set of Larsen strings coming.  Hopefully they'll help me ward off the worst effects.  Beyond that I'll probably have to learn to live with it and figure out how to play around it.  Not easy when you're learning how to play at the same time.rn rnUnless someone has some wolfsbane handy...

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Gordon Shumway
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December 23, 2021 - 3:22 am
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Learning to play around any instrument's foibles is a part of learning to play.

And if you are a noob, then it's best to assume it's you and not the instrument, otherwise you may find a local unscrupulous luthier ready to rip you off.

As I've said before, the C above middle C on an oboe sounds like an asthmatic duck until you've mastered breath control [added: and embouchure].

This isn't an argument for buying the best instrument money can buy for a beginner (one good enough to minimise the foibles is what you should aim for), as Pierrre has pointed out - good instruments can have foibles. Nicola Benedetti's Strad has two wolf tones: she just has to play around them.

Yesterday I discovered the opposite of a foible - I found for the first time that F# on my D string now has a nice internal resonance that I never noticed before. Unusual because it can't be the sympathetic resonance of another string. But I'd better experiment, as, if it's a cavity resonance, it might not be in tune, and exploiting it might lead me into bad habits.

Where are those ".rn rn"s coming from?

Andrew

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December 23, 2021 - 5:25 am
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Gordon Shumway said
Learning to play around any instrument's foibles is a part of learning to play.

And if you are a noob, then it's best to assume it's you and not the instrument, otherwise you may find a local unscrupulous luthier ready to rip you off.

As I've said before, the C above middle C on an oboe sounds like an asthmatic duck until you've mastered breath control.

This isn't an argument for buying the best instrument money can buy for a beginner (one good enough to minimise the foibles is what you should aim for), as Pierrre has pointed out - good instruments can have foibles. Nicola Benedetti's Strad has two wolf tones: she just has to play around them.

Yesterday I discovered the opposite of a foible - I found for the first time that F# on my D string now has a nice internal resonance that I never noticed before. Unusual because it can't be the sympathetic resonance of another string. But I'd better experiment, as, if it's a cavity resonance, it might not be in tune, and exploiting it might lead me into bad habits.

Where are those ".rn rn"s coming from?

  

I had a friend who has a degree in music listen while I played because I thought it was me at first and I was hoping for tips on how to not do that because it's exactly like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears.  He's a guitar guy and doesn't play the violin but he's still very knowledgeable about stringed instruments.

What we discovered was that if I hold A1(B) and bow, sometimes the intonation would fade out and disappear and what sounds like a feedback loop on an amplifier would come out of the violin.  Not all the time, just sometimes.  When it did happen, I could, without moving my finger on A1, stop the bow, leaving it on the strings, then start bowing again and the feedback would be gone.  It wouldn't stay gone, but it would disappear for a bit then come back.

My friend got to the point he could create the feedback squeal (what I called a howl originally) almost at will.  Strangely enough, the tuner we were using would indicate a true note on the screen prior to the intonation disappearing and the feedback squeal appearing.  Once the squeal started, the tuner couldn't find a note in whatever sound was being produced because whatever the sound is, it's not a "note."  Which also means that while I'm a n00b, it's not "me" that's causing it.

This isn't to say that I'm perfect in my playing because I'm not.  I am sometimes off key and I have the usual scratches, squeaks, and squawks of a beginner.  However, when someone else can create the exact same loss of intonation accompanied by the resulting sound of a feedback squeal almost whenever he wants, and that it shows up even if the tuner is displaying a true note being played right before it shows up, I'd tend to think it's the instrument, not the player.

In the end I could be wrong, because I'm a n00b, but that's the way I feel about it.  In any event, I do understand that I'll never get rid of it and that I'll have to learn to play around it.  Which in itself is fine but I'm still going to change strings to see if I can minimize it as much as possible.

 

I think the "rn rn's" are "hard returns" that the software somehow didn't catch as code and is displaying it as text.  But, I could be wrong in that too.

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Gordon Shumway
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December 23, 2021 - 6:38 am
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Having a non-violinist replicate a noob's problem isn't really the greatest diagnostic method. Otherwise squeals on the E string would never be the noob's fault. (or what if a tenor sax player couldn't play that C above middle C on an oboe?)

Usually squeals are due to too little bow pressure for the bow speed, or, conversely, too much bow speed for the bow pressure. Best to get a violinist diagnose for you, rather than a guitarist.

If it's any consolation, the A string was the last string that I became comfortable with, which was irksome, as a lot of the easiest music is played on it.

Andrew

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December 23, 2021 - 2:27 pm
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Gordon Shumway said
Having a non-violinist replicate a noob's problem isn't really the greatest diagnostic method. Otherwise squeals on the E string would never be the noob's fault. (or what if a tenor sax player couldn't play that C above middle C on an oboe?)

Usually squeals are due to too little bow pressure for the bow speed, or, conversely, too much bow speed for the bow pressure. Best to get a violinist diagnose for you, rather than a guitarist.

If it's any consolation, the A string was the last string that I became comfortable with, which was irksome, as a lot of the easiest music is played on it.

  

Not sure what you're trying to accomplish with this.  I freely admit I'm a n00b but the equipment used to diagnose the loss of intonation doesn't lie.  The guy who owns and uses the equipment isn't inexperienced in diagnosing problems either.

 

There are 2 ways to look at this.  One the one hand, it's just me creating a problem for myself.  On the other, it's a wolf and I'll have to learn how to compensate for it.  Either way it's up to me to deal with it as best I can.

 

Thanks for the help.

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RDP
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December 25, 2021 - 5:25 pm
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Put some Larsen Tzigane strings on the other day.  They're still breaking in but it's a lot better even though the wolf is still there.  The difference is that I almost have to chase the wolf to find it now, instead of trying to avoid it all the time.

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Mark
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December 25, 2021 - 5:43 pm
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RDP

Good to hear it's better.

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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RDP
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Mark said
RDP

Good to hear it's better.

 

Mark

  

Yeah, I can almost play without the neighbors screaming at me for it.

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Fiddlerman
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December 29, 2021 - 10:39 am
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That is great news @RDP

Gordon Shumway wrote:
Learning to play around any instrument's foibles is a part of learning to play.

I agree. I can play through most wolves and if I look hard enough, I can find wolf tones on most instruments, if not all.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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