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May 16, 2024 - 8:50:09 AM
35 posts since 3/20/2020

Recently I’ve noticed something that feels like a vibration when I play the note B flat (low first finger) on the a string. I’m wondering if it is a “wolf note” that I have heard others mention but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it. When I play the note by itself or with another, it sounds muddy or wavy, similar to if you didn’t use the right bow pressure or the note going in and out of tune. Could this be a wolf note? Is there anything that can be done to fix it or does a luthier need to look at it (and if it does require a luthier how big of an issue is it)? Thanks

May 16, 2024 - 12:05:29 PM

2497 posts since 12/11/2008

I produced more than a few wolf notes in my earlier days. I was told it happens when you don't bow the string with the appropriate amount of pressure, doing it either too lightly or too heavily. Sometimes more rosin on the bow helped me, as well. I found it could also happen when my bow stroke angle got a little too far from the ideal ninety degrees. In any case, as my bowing and left hand fingering got better, my production of wolf tones is now largely a thing of the past.

And oh yeah -- I found that wolf tones are less of a problem when you use steel strings, not synthetic ones.

May 16, 2024 - 4:53:15 PM

1511 posts since 3/1/2020

A wolf note is produced by an overtone that competes with the fundamental and overpowers it, usually a pitch that is not in harmony. The sound is a “beating” sound, where what you hear is the two pitches fighting against each other. Although bowing attack can influence its appearance, its cause is not the bow.

When you bow the string in a way that contacts poorly you get a screech or a whistle, two different phenomena.

Wolves can be caused by a number of things. Soundpost position is the main factor. It’s something a skilled luthier should assess. In good cellos, a wolf is common and has to be dealt with (moved) by adjustment or adding mass in one of several ways. In violins, wolves are generally the sign of a setup issue, so adjustment will help. Tailgut length, arching, plate thicknesses, graduations, bassbar, string choice, and the bridge can all be causes of wolves. 

Make sure your nut isn’t too low and that there isn’t a bump in the fingerboard in first position. Either of those things could cause the string to come into contact with the fingerboard in a place it shouldn’t and could cause an impure note or a buzz.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 05/16/2024 16:58:02

May 16, 2024 - 5:14:07 PM

DougD

USA

11931 posts since 12/2/2007

If this just started "recently" it could be the string. Have you tried a new one? Also, make sure the chinrest, and any other hardware is tight (fine tuner attachment nuts, if you have them). Things can vibrate and interfere with sound without actually buzzing.

May 16, 2024 - 7:04:39 PM
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35 posts since 3/20/2020

Thanks everyone. Maybe I should rephrase- it didn’t really start recently, but that note is not one that appears all too much in most of my playing, and thinking back I do remember something similar occurring and wondering what it was, but never really staying on that long enough to think much of it. Today I was working on a song that has this note in a lot of double stops (Cheyenne by Bobby Hicks- a great one to practice double stops or playing in an uncommon key) and I thought my double stops were just badly out of tune. I narrowed it down to that note seeming to be the issue in most of the out of tune double stops and then after playing the note by itself for a few minutes with the sound still occurring no matter what I did to my bowing I thought I’d post this question. Thanks for the responses.

May 17, 2024 - 7:22:39 AM
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6482 posts since 9/26/2008

I have one fiddle with that sort of thing, low string, warbling/pitch weirdness. I assumed it was a set up issue, but since it's not my main axe I've not had my man look at it. On mine, where the bow contacts the string changes it (closer/farther from end of fingerboard).

May 17, 2024 - 9:02 AM

RichJ

USA

979 posts since 8/6/2013

Could a violinists wolf note be a fiddlers drone?

May 17, 2024 - 9:42:23 AM
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1511 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Could a violinists wolf note be a fiddlers drone?


No. Wolves are not pleasant and they happen when you're trying to play a note. They sound a lot like Chewbacca  vocalizing. 

May 18, 2024 - 10:31:59 AM
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6482 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful
quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Could a violinists wolf note be a fiddlers drone?


No. Wolves are not pleasant and they happen when you're trying to play a note. They sound a lot like Chewbacca  vocalizing. 


I'm going to react the same to both of these comments  laughlaugh

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