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Apr 30, 2020 - 11:16:33 AM
38 posts since 8/20/2019

I hope someone has seen this before and can make a suggestion. When I play a B note on my A string, I get a warbling sound--instead of a clear B note, I get some strange modulating. I have tried a new string, different bow, different rosin, different bridge. Still have the warble. And it is only on the B note (first position) on the A string. No where else.
It doesn't seem to be an overtone coming from the tailpiece, but I verified the position of the tailpiece, just to rule it out.
Any thoughts?

Apr 30, 2020 - 11:21:44 AM
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65 posts since 10/19/2007

Maybe your sound post has an issue?

Apr 30, 2020 - 11:33:20 AM

1411 posts since 4/6/2014

Check the string for any unwinding of the outer covering, and the fingerboard for a dint,

Apr 30, 2020 - 1:25:39 PM
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1793 posts since 8/27/2008

It's probably a wolf tone. There are ways to tame them.

Apr 30, 2020 - 1:52:53 PM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

Some interesting ideas. The soundpost I will rule out at the moment because it was just set up a couple of weeks ago by a luthier. Plus I don't know how to do anything with the sound post.
The fingerboard--Good idea. I examined it today with the strings off, but see no unevenness. The strings are new as of today and are in good shape. The last strings made the same noise so I don't think it is the strings.
Wolf tones I've only heard of on cellos. How would I verify it is or isn't a wolf tone?

Apr 30, 2020 - 3:09:54 PM

276 posts since 1/5/2009

Check the string slots in the nut and bridge. If they are to deep, it can result in a wolf note. Check the string height above the fingerboard at the string nut and the end of the fingerboard. When the string nut slot is to low it can produce a buzzing or a wolf note. If you have assistance available, have that person touch different points on the string nut, bridge, tail piece, tail piece nut and finger board. If there is ornamentation on your pegs do the same there. Check each one of the listed areas by just applying slight pressure with the index finger. While you are playing the B note on the A string. When the warbling sound stops as the index finger touches that location, that is the cause of the problem.
It could also be the ball end of the string vibrating slightly under the tail piece.

Apr 30, 2020 - 3:30 PM

1793 posts since 8/27/2008

Wolf tones are more common on the larger instruments but do occur on fiddles too. A 'B' note wolf tone on the 'A' string is a common place for it to be. Adding mass to the afterlength of the string next to the fine tuner is recommended, using the smallest amount of mass that works. I think there are kits you can by for this, or use small split shot. I mostly know about this second hand although I do build fiddles occasionally. I've had a couple that resonate slightly differently in the area you're talking about. It's never been enough to deal with in my case. From what you describe I'm pretty sure it's your problem.

Apr 30, 2020 - 4:27:01 PM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

Brian, thanks for the info. I hadn't connected this before but I did adjust the tailpiece position a couple of weeks ago when I had the bridge off. Following the 1/6 rule. It was after that adjustment that the wavering sound started. Well, split shot is easy to come up with. I'll give that a shot (get it??). Thanks!

Apr 30, 2020 - 5:28:28 PM

194 posts since 3/1/2020

If it’s a wolf, the sound post position is most likely the issue. You’ve mentioned that you checked the afterlength already; that would have been another suggestion.

Apr 30, 2020 - 6:05:45 PM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

Ahh, afterlength--great addition to my vocabulary. Yes--it's dead on.
I am not sure how to deal with the sound post. Given that the sound is on the B note of the A string, does that indicate which direction the soundpost should be moved?

May 1, 2020 - 10:54:57 AM

194 posts since 3/1/2020

Hard to say without seeing it. It may be that the post is a bit too close to the bridge, which can accentuate overtones.

May 1, 2020 - 1:04:40 PM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

I'm not sure what too close to the bridge is, but right now the soundpost is below (tailpiece side) the treble bridge foot, by a distance equal to the width of the soundpost.

May 1, 2020 - 3:22:50 PM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

OK, I watched a few YT videos about soundpost location and decided to move it. Bonus, I found someone demonstrating the sound of a wolf tone on a violin, and it is exactly what I have. So at least I know it is a wolf tone.
The soundpost started about 5 mm from the bridge. So I moved it ever so slightly toward the bridge, much less than 1 mm. I can tell no difference in the wolf tone at all. Not sure what I'll do next. Perhaps move it a little closer to the bridge?

May 1, 2020 - 4:55:40 PM
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57 posts since 11/19/2019

I'm an amateur luthier, but won't claim to know the answer to the question.

What I do know is the problem solving method that an old guru told me a long time ago that has helped me solve more problems than any other --- What did you change, or what changed right before the problem started?

You mentioned you took the fiddle to a luthier for a setup before the problem started. Did the fiddle have the wolf tone when it came home, or did it happen when you changed something after you got it home. If it had it when you got it home, I'd take it back to the luthier and ask him to help out, as he/she knows the answer to the problem solving method.

May 1, 2020 - 6:01:54 PM

194 posts since 3/1/2020

If the bridge is the only thing you’ve changed, it might be the issue.

The solution to the problem is probably fairly simple, but diagnosing unseen is tricky.

May 2, 2020 - 7:58:17 AM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

When I got the fiddle back, I didn't notice any wolf tone. The top had been off, and there was a new bridge. After playing a few days I decided to add a new bridge to suit my preferences. At this time I adjusted the afterlength. So those were the two changes that preceded the arrival of the wolf tone. After a few days, I decided to add a new bridge (again), again to suit my preferences. Adding the second bridge did not reduce the wolf tone.
I am not sure what to do about the afterlength, as it is standard now. I suppose I could lengthen it again to see if the wolf goes away.

May 2, 2020 - 8:16:19 AM

194 posts since 3/1/2020

What work was done when the top was off? If the instrument has been apart, there are a lot of other possibilities.

May 2, 2020 - 9:46:18 AM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

The top was off because of a neck reset.

May 9, 2020 - 11:55:58 AM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

For anyone that may encounter a wolf tone, I'll share what I did, and should have done. About a week ago I used a couple of homemade measuring tools and discovered that the soundpost was too far to the treble side and too far forward (toward the peghead). So I embarked on cutting a new soundpost and placing it on the traditionally accepted imaginary line. I did this and it had no effect on the wolf tone. Drat! I moved the post toward the end peg. No difference. I moved it toward the bridge. No difference. (I did discover that I like the sound better with the post moved toward the end peg--so some benefit). So the soundpost is not the problem.

Then I did what I should have done first. I took a long rubber band and wove it through the strings between the tailpiece and bridge. Wolf tone went away. That was easy!
The dilemma now is which way to move the tailpiece. The afterlength is at the correct 1/6 position now. I think I will try to lengthen the afterlength by 1-2 mm and see what happens.

May 9, 2020 - 12:40:09 PM
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1793 posts since 8/27/2008

Originally posted by papawhisky

...Then I did what I should have done first. I took a long rubber band and wove it through the strings between the tailpiece and bridge. Wolf tone went away. That was easy!

Good to know that worked. That would seem to indicate that the string after-length is the cause, as you say. Have you tried damping just one string at a time to isolate it further? I would say the "correct" after-length is one that doesn't cause wolf tones.

Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/09/2020 12:41:58

May 9, 2020 - 2:10:43 PM

8701 posts since 3/19/2009

NOT having read all of the comments, I'll comment.. The B on the A string is an Often played note.. There could be fingerboard wear...that is, a groove may be developing.. Check that..

May 9, 2020 - 4:59:36 PM



9767 posts since 12/2/2007
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Can you put the afterlength back the way it was? I'm no luthier but I don't think adjusting the tailpiece is an exact science. I think when you moved the taipiece you created a stronger harmonic resonance that's beating with that fingered B note.
I just found an old five page discussion of afterlength over at maestronet if you're curious.

Edited by - DougD on 05/09/2020 17:00:52

May 9, 2020 - 6:00:03 PM

194 posts since 3/1/2020

If the neck was reset, the projection has changed. That’s significant, as it means the instrument’s response will have changed. What is the projection now?

May 10, 2020 - 12:15:39 PM

38 posts since 8/20/2019

It has occurred to me that the B note of the A string is probably the note I play most. But when I look at the fingerboard, with strings off, I do not see evidence of wear. But i do not have a trained eye and may be overlooking something. If anyone has a tip, I'd appreciate it.
I lengthened the afterlength yesterday by about 1 mm but still detect some wolf tone. I may try to lengthen it more, but first I'll head over to maestronet to read that paper.

The neck reset did change the tone and the way the fiddle projects. I am not sure I understand the question, "What is the projection now?"

May 10, 2020 - 1:06:09 PM



9767 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

Here's the thread I found about afterlength. There are plenty more:

"Projection" refers to the height the fingerboard would be if it extended to the bridge position. That, plus the desired string clearance, determines the bridge height:

Edited by - DougD on 05/10/2020 13:09:24

May 21, 2020 - 2:15:29 PM
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38 posts since 8/20/2019

A victory post for me--I finally got rid of the wolf tone. After reading a lot of posts/articles, swapping strings, swapping the bridge, moving the soundpost, inspecting the fingerboard for dimpling, trying different bow, different rosin, and changing the afterlength, I found the cure. It was the afterlength. Starting from the 1/6 position, I began to lengthen the afterlength about .3 mm at a time. I thought I was hearing a difference, but I find I can deceive myself. But after the third time, today, I no longer hear the wolf tone. Yay!
I learned a lot and appreciate all the ideas you all gave me. Many thanks!

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