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EQ/Wolf Tone Question

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by BassiklyAC, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Hey folks,

    Unsure if I'm posting this in the right forum but here goes:

    I've noticed that, when amplified, my bass is emitting (or perhaps the amp is emitting) a horrible booming or blooming(?) kind of tone on the open A string. It seems to be only on that one note.

    When I try to EQ it out, the overall tone that results is thin and not a desirable sound. I've tried the HP filter and that essentially arrives at the same result once I've hacked off enough low & mid frequencies to have an effect.

    When bowing without the amp, I notice the same kind of out of control sound on the open A.

    Is this a product of the cabinet I'm using (1x12 front ported)? Soundpost issue? Strings? Tailpiece needing to be shortened or lengthened (the cable, that is)? Some combination of all of the above?

    [Really hoping to avoid re-entering the cabinet wars as I've otherwise been very pleased with what I have.]

    Steps I'm getting ready to take:
    >Bringing in to the shop for a soundpost adjustment.

    >New strings (a fresh set of Zyex Mediums that will put less tension on the top).

    >Shortening the tailpiece cable.

    Suggestions or insight from you folks out there? Appreciate any input or similar experiences (and subsequent remedies) you might have.

    Happy holidays,
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    What pickup are you using? Is there any hint of this wolf tone when you are playing acoustically? I would start there.
  3. Yup, if the "out of control sound" is there even without the amp you're likely experiencing a garden-variety wolf tone, which can't really be EQed away... since it's native to how the bass is actually responding to being played.

    If you search here for "wolf tone eliminator" you're find a bunch of threads on this fairly common malady. The usual fix is to install a small weight on the afterlength of one of the strings (generally starting with the offending string) and adjusting its position on the string until the wolftone is eliminated or diminished sufficiently.

    I've had one wrestling match with a wolf tone in my bass-playing career to date, and was never able to tame it sufficiently with an eliminator. Installing a new set of strings fixed it immediately. Resonances are strange beasts!
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  4. Different strings (even from the Sam string family) have different mass distributions on the underlength which influences the pitch relation to the open string. So if you even change complete sets the wolf tone might be on a different pitch or might have gone or come back.
    Unfortunately this can theoretically also happen with a new set of the same strings.

    If the problem persists acoustically, don't blame amp or cab, they only reproduce the ugliness they get. Probably a good idea to visit a luthier, show the problem and let him solve it.
  5. Yup, in my case the wolf tone showed up the instant I finally treated my bass to brand new strings. :)
  6. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I'ld try adjusting the soundpost
    Ortsom likes this.
  7. IMG_1483.JPG Some great replies so far. Helpful and much appreciated! (As you can see, I've got a daunting task ahead of me ).

    But seriously...

    First step today; strings and a brass wolf tone eliminator arrived and I'm going to slap them on today before my gig tonight. Hopefully enough time to experiment and for the strings to settle in a bit. See what happens.

    Bringing the bass in to L.A. Bass Works on Tuesday and address the soundpost issue (if there is one). Might need an adjustment anyway since it's been a while.
  8. If that's your bass I'm thinking you have more of a sasquatch tone problem than a wolf tone problem :) :)

    Best of luck with your experiments... let us know how it turns out for you.
  9. Update:
    So, with the new strings and wolf tone eliminator in place, I can report a noticeable difference in not only the taming of the overly resonant open A string, but an overall improvement in my sound both with & without the amp.

    Tomorrow is soundpost day at the luthier.

    Zyex strings are a joy. Glad I went back.
  10. Reiska

    Reiska Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    I have a aggressive wolf on the A harmonic, it messes up the open A string, especially with the bow. Drop D and other tuning systems, and summer season diminish or kill the wolf completely. It`s surely strange all this vibration stuff. However, I`m about to get a wolf TERMINATOR, a device, or more like a weight, attached to the underside of the top plate. It`s something about the under area of the bridge on the top plate and the strings vibrating simultaneously in a unwanted way that creates the wolf, and this kind of minor prosedure will take it away, without killing too much of the natural resonance, I wish.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  11. Ha... guess what new strings I was installing....that I had to remove...due to an unsolvable wolf tone. :)

    Goes to show that in life, Your Mileage May Vary. :) :)

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