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Problem with overtones?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by webmonster, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. webmonster


    May 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    I have a new Christopher 403 3/4 bass and there are two things I want to check out about it:
    1. When amplified, the A on the G string and open G string tend to 'run away' and increase in volume
    2. Unamplified There is a funny harmonic thing going on when I play the open A string; orchestral pizz particularly brings out a high pitched ring that is the note D. The open A string is a very difficult note to bow cleanly - I tend to get the higher harmonic smudging the note. Jazz pizz in exactly the right place (very close to the end of the fingerboard) can minimize the harmonic.

    Is there anything I can do myself about these problems or are they better for a luthier to look at?
  2. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    You have a wolfnote my friend.
    Various things you can do other than very good left hand contact:
    Opening the extension to a D will help the A, C# for the Ab and open C for G. This, of course, only helps on the ADG strings.
    Various wolf eliminators.
    On one of my basses, the wolf disappeared completely with Genssler strings - this is true for Basso, Red and Rabbath. Clearly on that particular bass, lower tension is better.
    On my other basses, Spirocore is wolfy. The least wolfy is with Flatchrome Originals and Passione medium, both of which are less than stellar jazz strings IMO.
    Each bass is different, although in my experience, heavy strings tend to be wolfier.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  3. What kind of pickup are you using? If you have a realist, you may want to check how well positioned it is under the bridge foot, because that could be a culprit. The unamplified issue I’m unsure about.
  4. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Wolf-uuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.... I just went back to plain gut GDA / Spiro weich E at as high setup as my bridge allows, it`s over the safety zone now, but boy does it sound good arco. I have a wolf terminator under the front plate as I have a aggressive wolf on the A harmonic. It`s better now but the wolf is alive still. Drop D kills it completely, but with standard orch tuning low tension strings help a lot. Spiro weich A woke the wolf up, and switching to Evah weich A the wolf was all over the bass, at A flat and A. Now with guts it`s almost gone. Hope you find a solution for the problem!

  5. Playing the crap out of it for years should also help.
    webmonster likes this.
  6. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    I will mention this to my friend who was complaining last week about the wolfs on his Grancino. Another 350 years, and those wolftones should be much better.
    s van order and webmonster like this.
  7. Imagine what it sounded like when it was new!
    s van order and webmonster like this.
  8. webmonster


    May 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    Many thanks for all the replies.
    Pickup is an underwood, so nothing new-fangled or out of the ordinary...

    Strings are TI. Not sure exactly, but I could ask. The supplier (pete McGregor here in NZ) fitted these strings and had the bass set up with an adjustable bridge. The TI strings have red winding.

    The bass earns it's keep playing jazz, but I need it to perform ok orchestrally as well. I'm wanting to sit my grade 8 later this year.
    Every thing sounds great except for the open A and open G G# A.

    I've got one of those weights to put on a string to try and improve wolf notes... Wpuld I put it on the A or G string?
  9. Well jeez. New Spiro Mittels on a new Chinese bass...small wonder it doesn’t sing like Nina Simone.
    VictorW126 and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  10. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    As mentioned chasing wolf tones involves trial an error. Every bass including electric basses have a resonating frequency that creates the WT. Here's a short list of things to check out 1. Changing strings. 2. Bridge - is it warped or tilts? The weight/density of the bridge is a factor. 3. Adjusting the sound post. 4. Tailpiece - some go w/heavier, some go lighter woods or a wire tailpiece like Marvin. Some advocate tuning the strings after-length. 4. Endpin - lighter/heavier or solid wood. Basically any addition/subtraction of weight to the bridge/tailpiece can alter the resonating frequency of your bass. There are magnet products that can be applied to the top plate and moved around as a means of addressing WT's. like this one, or just buy some Neo magnets and try it yourself. Rezx ~ Innovative Violin Solutions
    tlintu, webmonster and the_Ryan like this.
  11. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    The Jan 2018 edition of the The Strad magazine, page 23, shows a gentleman in Italy that developed a carbon-fiber tailpiece that he says aims at reducing/fighting wolf tones. The tailpiece shape is such that the afterlength varies for each string; for example the E string having 6" longer afterlength than normal, the A 2" longer, and so on. He says the purpose of that is to balance the tension in all the strings which helps fight wolf notes. There's a web page link, but unfortunately there's no picture of the tailpiece on the website (only in The Strad issue):

    Harmonics Tuning System - Luogo Arte
    webmonster likes this.
  12. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    webmonster likes this.
  13. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    I've tried the eliminators on all my strings. No improvement. For me, foam rubber between the tailpiece and the belly works best with my amp. It doesn't bother me as much
    webmonster likes this.
  14. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    Try the A string first. For me, I start close to the bridge and move it while bowing or plucking the afterlength below until it hits the same note as the wolf pitch. Try for an Ab in your case and see if that helps.
    webmonster likes this.
  15. Mat Roop

    Mat Roop

    Oct 28, 2015
  16. terryna


    Mar 15, 2018
    subscribed, this seems like a very interesting thread[​IMG]
  17. webmonster


    May 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    2018-03-23 21.42.49. I've had some success!
    I noticed that the bridge was leaning forward slightly, so I reset that and adjusted the height down a little bit. I also fitted a weight to the A string and the wolf note seems to have shifted to G#.
    Lastly, the pickup seems to be a bit dodgy, but that is better in another forum I'm thinking.
  18. I think you're on the right track. My bass also rings a D while playing certain notes. I found that the after-length of the D string also is a D, and that the 'ring' was the after-length vibrating. So I attached the wolf note weight to the D after-length, and my problem went away.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
    webmonster likes this.
  19. webmonster


    May 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    The bass now seems to be working well acoustically and usually ok with the pickup. What I'm noticing is that the pickup seems to be very fussy. The other day I did a gig and the 'open G string running away' problem came back - sorted by slightly repositioning the pickup elements... but reposition them slightly wrong and other probs crop up e.g. nasty farting distortion on the e string or poor balance between each string.
  20. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Asheville, NC
    I've also had issues with harmonic/lack of fundamental with arco on open strings, especially with spirocores. I remedy it by barely touching the string in question with my left hand (not stopping the string, but just muting it slightly with my fingers up close to the nut). Seems to bring out the fundamental and tame the harmonic pretty well. I've seen other players do it too, maybe there's a name for the technique?
    gnypp45 likes this.

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