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Wolftone Elimination Procedure?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Johnny L, Jul 31, 2002.


  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I have recently acquired a wolftone eliminator, but this little darling of a gadget did not come with installation instructions.

    I see that there is room enough to slip the string in without removing the string from the pegbox, and there is rubber inside the eliminator that I assume should remain inside. I am also aware that the eliminator is placed on the string between the bridge and the tailpiece, and that there is a "sweet spot" that I must hunt within this territory. However, I'm not entirely sure how the string, screw, locking nut(?), and rubber work together in unison. And why is the screw opposite the channel that the string slips into?

    Thanks,
    Johnny
     
  2. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Loosen the screw so that the string slips into the rubber easily. Position the slit in the rubber so that it is 90 degrees to the direction of the screw. Tighten and it will clamp on to the string changing it's resonating length. I find that usually if your wolf is on the E the wolf e. should be put on the A below the bridge. If on the A---put it on the D etc.
    Hope this helps.
     
  3. I picked this up from a Met player. I knocked out a wolf on Michael Moore's bass immediately:

    First, establish the pitch of your wolf. It will generally appear on any string when you play that pitch.
    For no particular reason, I put the eliminator on the A string.
    With a pair of needle nose pliers in one hand and the bow in the other, grip the string below the bridge at various distances from the bridge with the pliers and bow between the bridge and the pliers. You want to find the spot where the note played is equal to the wolf pitch (different octave, of course). When you find it mark the adjacent string with chalk at the same distance. Now slip on the eliminator, using the adjacent chalk mark as a guide to where to tighten the set screw. It won't be perfect, so you might have to move it one way or the other, but you'll be very close.

    This always works for me, but in the interest of full disclosure, I will report that Arnold Schnitzer, my absolute bass guru, does not think all my machinations are necessary.
     
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thank you both for your answers and insights.

    The hunt is on, and the wolf(tone) shall soon be in my sights...
     
  5. vhgmbh@aol.com

    vhgmbh@aol.com

    Jun 21, 2002
    I apoligize for my ingnorance. What exactly is defined as a wolf? Is it a dead or a sharp tone on a particular string or a tone resulting from the resonance features of the body?

    Thanks:confused:
     
  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    A wolf tone occurs where the instument's natural body resonance and the note being played match. The instrument behaves wildly at that pitch when bowed, creating a kind of "wah-wah" effect, alternately accepting and rejecting the bow hair. The wolf modifier works by vibrating more or less in synch with the offending pitch, and by doing so, sucks away excess energy before it reaches the body. Sometimes this has the unwanted side effect of damping the entire instrument's response. Almost every good bass has a wolf. Often, it is worsened by adjusting the post too far from the bridge in an attempt to coax more bottom from the bass.

    By the way, when Don Higdon told me his method (of tuning the wolf modifier) I nearly wet my pants with laughter. Turns out it works like a charm!
     
  7. vhgmbh@aol.com

    vhgmbh@aol.com

    Jun 21, 2002
    Thanks Arnold,

    now I will start hunting the wolf.:)
     
  8. vhgmbh@aol.com

    vhgmbh@aol.com

    Jun 21, 2002
    Arnold,

    my wolf is the A flat. And it appears on the D string. Bowed it's less audible on the G string. As I'm pizzing most of the time, it won't be a big problem for mem, so far.

    Thanks again
    Andreas
     
  9. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Sounds like your wolf needs no taming...
     
  10. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    The hunt is over, and the wolf has finally been drawn into my trap. Now I may learn the exercise in all the major and minor keys with no fear...

    The wolf on my bass started with B flat sans eliminator, and every time I thought I had it in the right position on the right string, the wolftone would simply slip to another note such as A, or G sharp, or F. It wasn't until I took a file to the metal ring and opened up the slot a little to accomodate my E string that I finally found success.

    Is my experience typical or has my quest simply brought me to madness?
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I have traded the wolftone eliminator in for as much resonance as my bass will permit, and I've decided to live with the wolftone on the G string's B-flat. I seemed only to be moving the dominant wolftone from one string (and pitch) to another anyway and wasn't accomplishing a whole lot. More eliminators only had me wasting time hunting instead of developing my playing skills further anyway, but it was kinda interesting to hear "character" changes. I'm going to experiment with weight on the scroll next.

    At least I'll know I'm in tune when it comes out and (I can vouch for Mr. Schnitzer's assertion) the bass sounds much richer overall, and I've decided it's worth wreaking the occasional havoc on slow stuff like the Beethoven 9th recitative.

    I'm curious though, is it standard practice for professional bassists to accept wolftones as a necessary evil in making music on a quality bass? Is the location of wolftones on the fingerboard a consideration for the knowledgable buyer? Do luthiers secretly roll their eyes at folks who want wolftones eliminated from their instruments in hopes that it's the magic pill?
     
  12. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Here's the answer I received for anyone interested:

    Good sounding basses and cellos have wolftones somewhere, period, as a function of their quality sound, and the pros use and abandon any and all tricks to work their way around or, alternately, live with those wolves. If I want to relish mine that's fine, and if I want to try to put my B-flat wolf in a pen (cheaply, for the bass I have now...though cellists are lucky enough to have free options available) that's fine too, as both choices have their ups and downs.
     
  13. fred pratt

    fred pratt Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2004
    New York City
    I have what might be a wolftone problem.

    I recently bought a Chinese copy of a French bass. It's carved, beautifully made, and it sounds great. I've got Spirocores on it and the bass has both growl and deep tones.

    The problem is the B flat on the A string, and to a lesser extent the B natural. The deepness and sustain that I like, goes away when I descend from the C to that B flat. The B flat is sort of dead, actually, compared to the other notes on the bass. (I'm just talking about pizzicato. I'm too busy in my other life to try to bow properly.)

    While I was bass shopping I encountered the same B-flat problem on an old Juzek made in Prague. Is this a common problem? What do you call it? What's the remedy? A Pecanic tail piece?
     
  14. Whatever else is said by way of solution, some basses have good spots, or bad spots, or both.
     
  15. Just to wade in....

    I had a huge wolf tone problem on my Strunal bass - whenever I hit a Bb. The bass was strung with Obligatos. When I switched to Flexocors, the problem went away (well, 95% away). I don't know if it was string contruction, gauge, tension or what, but that was the only change I made.

    No wolf makes me a happy puppy!
     
  16. Savino

    Savino

    Jun 2, 2004
    nyc
    Also, just to add a side note. sometimes, as I have found, a wolf tone is really just an out of tune note. I thought I had a wolf on my A string at G. but it was just that my intonation was slightly off causing the G string to sympathetically ring, producing the likeness of a wolf tone.
     
  17. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    I've used this method many times, and it works great. An extra set of hands can be a great help too!
     
  18. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I bet if you put a staightedge on the fingerboard by the A string you will find a serious dip under the dead note(s). Many set-up techs do this on purpose, thinking the bass' strings need lots of clearance there. If there's no dip, check to see if the nut is high. A business card should barely slip under the string at the nut.
     
  19. Bijoux

    Bijoux

    Aug 13, 2001
    Denver-CO-USA
    Just to add another thought. Velvet strings claim that their sets have even tension on all strings. meaning that the weight is distributed evenly on the top plate of the bass, and supposedly that helps and prevent wolf tones from happening.
    I also heard tha every bass has wolf tones, and I don't know if mine is not very noticeable, or if in fact my strings are taking care of it. I am using Velvet Animas.
     
  20. fred pratt

    fred pratt Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2004
    New York City
    Funny you should mention it, because I had Animas on the bass before I put on the Orchestras. The bass originally came with Weichs. The B flat problem was there with all three sets. I originally thought the problem might improve with playing time, but I don't think it has.

    I took Arnold's suggestion above and put a straight edge on the fingerboard. There wasn't a serious dip under the B flat, but there was a bit more light showing through than elsewhere. The fingerboard probably needs to be dressed anyway, so I suppose I'll try that and see if it helps.