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Which weight to use for wolf tone eliminator

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by g-dude, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. So I have what is probably a wolf tone - basically, I’m getting a buzzing when I stop the D string at a G and play pizzicato (starts if I stop the string a quarter step higher on the neck, and continues to around a half step closer to the bridge).

    It does not happen when I play arco, which is strange, but what’s stranger is that if I de-tune the string, the worst offending note remains constant. So if I drop a whole step, it’s still the actual pitch of G that buzzes - while the note of F, which is the exact same spot on the fingerboard board where the G once was - sounds fine.

    I mean, it could be a string issue, but the string looks to be in good shape and it’s only been played since late November.

    So before I start shelling out on strings, I’ll try a wolf tone eliminator, but which weight(s) should I get? Do I just pull the bandaid off and get all of them? Supposedly the screw on types don’t work as well, so seems silly to waste money on something that might not work properly if I indeed have a wolf tone.
  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Sounds like a fingerboard dressing issue to me.
    RSBBass likes this.
  3. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    I agree with salcott. That sounds like a fingerboard issue, not a wolf note.
  4. I’m going to check with a straight edge once my wife is around to help shine a bright light, but there doesn’t appear to be any high points.

    The fact that the issue “moves” in location physically while being fairly constant in terms of the actual frequency of the note is what is really strange. If it was just a fingerboard issue, I would have expected it to stay in the same spot as I tuned down.
  5. Update: detuned my D string all the way down to A, and the problem note remained a G. Meanwhile, when I tune back up, I can play a C without issue.

    Using a straight edge, there doesn’t seem to be any place where I can get it to rock, so I don’t think that a high point is really my issue.

    Edit: Would just raising the action using the bridge adjusters be a solution, or is that going to potentially give me other issues?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2021
  6. nogbert


    Jul 18, 2010
    Denver, CO
    wolf notes are not usually associated with pizzicato/you can't hear them playing pizz in my experience. this is almost certainly a fingerboard issue or a defective string issue
  7. So I did some more testing.

    The G on my E string rattles - not as much, but it does.

    The G on my A string rattles - not as much, but it does.

    And obviously the G on my D string rattles.

    Open G does not. Move a whole step above or below, and it doesn’t. Detune the D string, and the rattle moves to a different spot on the fingerboard that does not have an issue when the string is fully tuned up.

    Now, it is possible to have three out of four of my 4 month-old strings be defective. It’s also possible that my fingerboard has issues on three out of the four strings, in totally different regions of the neck.

    But I think the probability of that happening, and it all happening in such a way that it corresponds to G, is unquestionably lower than having a wolf note that shows up pizzicato instead of arco.
  8. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    You do appear to have ruled out the fingerboard and and strings. I still say what you have isn't a wolf note as they aren't a buzz and they show up the most when bowing. It sounds like you have a sympathetic vibration. They can be a real pita to locate. First, if you haven't done so, I would play in a different room. It may not be the bass. after that it is a matter of touching the possible candidates as you play, such as the tuners, bridge, around the seams, and anywhere on the body. A loose seam or brace can show up first as a buzz.
    mtto, AGCurry, misterbadger and 2 others like this.
  9. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Having ruled out the strings and fingerboard, a specific sympathetic rattle tells me to expect something's broken loose: edge seam, end of the bass bar, endpin, possibly something in the peghead.
    M0ses, AGCurry, jsf729 and 4 others like this.
  10. So on the room thing, ironically I noticed it when I was at someone else’s house, on a different type of flooring, so I can thankfully rule that out.

    With the help of my wife, I went through just about everything “attached” to the bass. Also tapped around and didn’t notice anything. Might go ahead and try that again, but in the meantime, I dropped $14 plus shipping on a 24g weight, which is better than buying a new string as a first step.
  11. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    My Thompson had a similar rattle. I lengthened the peg and it went away. The peg was at least ten inches longer than I would ever use, so I cut off about 9. Problem solved. Likely not your issue, but easy to check.
    james condino likes this.
  12. So I went back, checked some more stuff, and then played arco.

    I’m not hearing a wolf tone, at least nothing that sounds like any of the recordings I’ve heard. What I am getting is the body of the instrument becomes significantly more “live”. As in, when I play a G with the instrument away from me, and then touch it with my leg, there’s a huge difference in the vibration.

    Doing some reading, it seems like the reason that people don’t tend to hear wolf tones played pizzicato is because of the sustain...but yet I’m able to get a pretty decently long sustain on my notes when I play pizzicato. I wonder if that’s why I’m able to get it to show up there.

    At any rate, I think the pizzicato allows for greater string excursion, which is why I’m getting what sounds like the string rattling against the fingerboard, while the bowed G notes are sounding normal but with the vibration of the body of the instrument being where it manifests.

    Now we wait for the wolf tone eliminator to show up and see if that helps.
  13. And it has shown up....and no dice.

    Thankfully it wasn't too expensive, and now I have one should I ever need it.

    Time to find a luthier and get this thing sorted.
  14. Postscript:

    Went to Double Bass Workshop, and had some work done!

    Vincent worked over a section of the fingerboard that had a bit of a flat spot. (issue 1)

    He then raised the action (issue 2), because apparently I have a very heavy right hand (issue 3).

    While it was in there, went with new bridge adjusters, because mine didn't have much more to go in terms of threads inside the feet.

    Bass is now back, and it sounds great. The higher action will take some getting used to, BUT I'd rather get used to it than have unnecessary buzzing.
  15. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    How high are the strings at the end of the fingerboard?
  16. Now it's about 5mm.

    The action is definitely noticeably higher now. They were pretty dang low before.
  17. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Usually there would be a progression like 4-8mm. Believe it or not, mine are 3-5mm with no buzzing. I dig in, too. The board really has to be perfect.
  18. Yes, there is a slight progression, but I grabbed an old wooden ruler that can be used to "measure" and so I don't really trust much in the way of markings.
  19. i agree it doesn't seem like a wolf issue. having dealt with two basses with really strong wolf tones, i think they're really less mysterious than it seems at first.

    1. playing arco, identify the note in thumb position on the E string. almost always it'll be between F# and Bb. most of the time between G and A. you'll know when you hit it. slide up slowly, bow loudly, and it'll start to fight or warble on you.

    2. usually you can confirm the same note on the A string won't behave too well.

    i tried the krentz, as well as wolf terminator, and brass weights. if brass weights are installed properly, i do think it's the way to go.

    get the correct tailpiece length. make sure your afterlengths are tuned to 2 octaves and a 4th above the open strings. (this is so important!!!)

    from there, you will be able to "tune" your brass weight to the note. several ways of doing it, but your goal is for the after length between the bridge and your brass weight to match the note of the wolf. doesn't seem to matter which string its on. (you can test by pinching the string and plucking that length to find the spot, then install the weight and adjust from there.) don't get too close to the bridge or it'll just act like a mute.

    while the other products sort of work, this system really is the most effective in terms of practicality. the wolf terminator absolutely works, but sticking something to the top with putty didn't seem worth the trouble.

    anyway, all that being said, your particular issue doesn't seem wolf related, but make sure to check as the brass weights are cheap and not a bad thing to have around anyway. I think the one i used was 16g, the round brass kind. worth the $20 or so it costs to keep one around.
    16fuss and AGCurry like this.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 18, 2021

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