wolf tone

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
Abd El Ghani AZZI

Re: wolf tone

Post by Abd El Ghani AZZI » Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:53 pm

jmdlister wrote:..and it's possible you could introduce other problems. If you really want to have a go though, I'd be happy to guide you through the process. James
Thank for you reply James but as you said I'd rather leave it as is. :)
Isn't nogin making a good observation about tuning it down to avoid the wolf tone? :roll:

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James Lister
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Re: wolf tone

Post by James Lister » Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:50 am

goni wrote: Hi James,
wouldn't slightly altering the tuning up or down (let's say 1/4 of a tone) solve this?
My thinking being, since the guitar is fretted there are only half tone intervals and the "wolf frequency" could end up being in some intermediate space...
Possibly - it's certainly worth a try if you don't mind being slightly off concert pitch (aren't we lucky we play mostly on our own!). The resonances usually have a width of between a 1/4 tone and a 1/2 tone, so I wouldn't expect it to go away completely, but it will probably improve either by going up or down.

If you have an electronic tuner, you can sometimes get a more accurate idea of the exact resonance pitch by holding the guitar very close to the tuner, and tapping repeatedly on the bridge, whilst damping all the strings. You have to tap fairly fast, and quite firmly, but it often works. If you find from this that the resonance is slightly above A, you could tune down slightly, and vice-versa.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Brad Maestas

Re: wolf tone

Post by Brad Maestas » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:31 am

Cool thread!

I have read on various violin and guitar luthier's pages that they shoot for resonant frequencies that lie somewhere between the notes that we would normally sound, assuming concert pitch. Most classical guitars that I've played have had resonant frequencies between Ab3 (207.652 Hz) and A3 (220.00 Hz) and some have been between G3 (195.998 Hz) and Ab3 (207.652 Hz). Violins would be an octave above that.

Now that's assuming concert pitch, which is what most of us use but if you have a faulty electronic tuner (like el baroda) or cannot (or choose not :)) to use a tuner at all, you might land on those frequencies. If you're playing with other instruments that tune to pitches higher or lower than concert pitch, say an oboe or a piano, and your guitar is properly calibrated for concert pitch you can also have this problem. As we all know pianos are not always A=440 and oboists' "reference" pitch can vary even wider. In addition, some orchestras intentionally tune to A=442 or higher and this can cause (or cure) problems like this. However, since most of us play solo and tune with an electronic tuner, we can tune up or down to help alleviate this problem as needed. Also, instead of tuning up or down entire semitones, try a few hertz at a time. Shifting your tuner's reference pitch to A=442 or 443 is an easy way to do this. Tuning forks have a tendency to go down, depending on how well they're kept. I've taken great care of my Wittner A440 and it's somewhere around 438. My guitar does respond slightly differently if I tune it with the tuning fork as opposed to my electronic Peterson VS-1 (with the guitar sweetening curve on).

Since I have slight intonation problems with my G and B strings, it got me thinking how that might also be a way for some of your sounded notes to hit the resonance area. If your fretted notes play sharper than your open string, which is fairly common, this could probably explain why some people have noticed these notes appear on the higher strings while the lower strings are fine.

It's interesting to note how hand made guitars seem to suffer from wolf tones and dead spots more than factory made guitars. You would think that the opposite would be true, that hand made guitars would be less susceptible to this due to the greater time spent in the luthier's hands and their ability to fine-tune the guitar before delivery and that factory mades would be more susceptible due to their relatively short assembly time, lower grades of wood and less one-on-one time with the makers. Perhaps as we build more responsive, lively yet balanced instruments, we are also amplifying some of these undesirable frequencies and that's why we're noticing them in the hand made ones more? That's what makes me even more appreciative and respectful when I find a guitar that doesn't have any noticeable problem areas!

noel45
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Re: wolf tone

Post by noel45 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:10 pm

I successfully cured a wolf note (f 13th fret 1st string) by blu-tacking 3x 1p English coins (10 grammes total) under the table close to the side, treble large bout in line with the distal bridge edge. I found that putting the weight on the bass side also cured it but damped the bass sound too much, as did putting it near the bridge. I worked found the edge of the table till I got the sweet spot. I hope the blu tac doesn't cause any problem long-term. Thanks to the poster who gave the info about John Williams doing similar.
Noel

Alastair McNeill spruce 1982
Pauline Bernabe cedar 1973

robert e
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Re: wolf tone

Post by robert e » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:23 am

Brad Maestas wrote:Perhaps as we build more responsive, lively yet balanced instruments, we are also amplifying some of these undesirable frequencies and that's why we're noticing them in the hand made ones more? That's what makes me even more appreciative and respectful when I find a guitar that doesn't have any noticeable problem areas!
I know that with violin family instruments, the better ones are more likely to have wolf notes, though accessories to deal with them are available. Yes, it stands to reason that you need responsiveness and resonance in the first place to have resonance problems. Factory guitars tend to be overbuilt and overfinished, while most luthiers take pains to make their instruments "sing". So I'm sure it's a similar situation with guitars.

I have a factory guitar that developed a boomy G# in all registers, as well as an odd intonation problem, when I replaced the saddle. After I lowered the saddle a mm, both problems went away.

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Evocacion
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Re: wolf tone

Post by Evocacion » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:40 pm

I finally traced the strange, high-pitched note I was sometimes getting to the careless way I had restrung the guitar. The short piece of the G string between the nut and the roller sometimes vibrated, and when it did it touched the side, producing a faint but noticeable sound. Nothing to do with wolf notes, but annoying until I tracked it down.

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tmblweed1
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Re: wolf tone

Post by tmblweed1 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:05 pm

Very old thread I know, but wanted to add that I have been told by two experienced people that true wolf tones cannot be "fixed". Not by changing your strings or most anything else.
As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.
Shunryu Suzuki-roshi 1905 1971

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Gregory Gleason
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Re: wolf tone

Post by Gregory Gleason » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:00 am

I would think they can only be 'fixed' by changing the resonant frequency of the guitar, which requires changing the physical characteristics of the instrument. Maybe putting material inside the body would alter it.
1994 Kohno Special (spruce/Brazillian)
2002 Hill Munich (spruce/Indian Rosewood)
1999 Hill Madrid (cedar/Indian Rosewood)
1972 Ramirez 1a

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James Lister
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Re: wolf tone

Post by James Lister » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:14 am

tmblweed1 wrote:
Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:05 pm
Very old thread I know, but wanted to add that I have been told by two experienced people that true wolf tones cannot be "fixed". Not by changing your strings or most anything else.
Every guitar has resonant frequencies, and these can be shifted, but not eliminated. Moving a resonant frequency can reduce its effect, and a resonance that falls exactly between two notes will have a reduced effect on both of the adjacent notes.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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tmblweed1
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Re: wolf tone

Post by tmblweed1 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:13 am

But this only shifts the weak spot somewhere else, correct?
As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.
Shunryu Suzuki-roshi 1905 1971

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James Lister
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Re: wolf tone

Post by James Lister » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:41 am

tmblweed1 wrote:
Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:13 am
But this only shifts the weak spot somewhere else, correct?
Yes, but the effect is much reduced if the resonance falls between two notes rather than being at exactly the same pitch as the note.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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tmblweed1
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Re: wolf tone

Post by tmblweed1 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:21 am

Thank you sir
As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.
Shunryu Suzuki-roshi 1905 1971

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