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  1. #1

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    Any thoughts on how to control them?


    I just put new strings on one of my guitars and noticed major wolf tones that may or may not have been present before the change. I changed from D'A Chromed 12's to D'A wound 12's. The wolf tones were first noticed and are worst when working on inversions, and playing a C Maj 7 chord starting at the 10th fret over strings 3-6 ( E, B, C, G from 6-3). When I play each note separately it's okay. When I play the B and C together by themselves or as part of the chord the wolf tones are tremendous. Do the strings have anything to do with it? Any ideas on how to resolve these unwanted tones? Thanks

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    try puting a piece of foam between the bridge and the tailpiece...i'd imagine you are talking about an archtop setup...

    the break angle over the bridge from the tailpiece may be a hair too shallow or have an ever so slight less amount of tension (due to string change) and w tones occur

    start there

    cheers

    ps- here's the basic idea..albeit a bit much

    Wolf Tones...-img_3176-jpg
    Last edited by neatomic; 07-24-2016 at 09:03 PM. Reason: ps-

  4. #3

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    Thanks neatomic for that important info. I've got the same problem when I change strings.

  5. #4
    Yes, an archtop with a soundpost. I tried a towel without success, but will try foam. As for strings I don't want to increase above 12's, but may try 11's.

  6. #5

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    Wolf tones can come from sympathetic resonances from the bridge to the tailpiece. There are also other sources. For eg it may be main body resonance. Think blowing across a bottle to generate a tone. You can try covering up one f hole with cellophane. If the wolf tone goes away then you know it has nothing to do with your tailpiece.


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  7. #6

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    Be careful with foam and nitro finishes.

  8. #7

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    Using a TOM saddle? Try loosening the strings and reseating them over the individual saddles. The saddles may be loose and sitting in a position that causes sympathetic resonances. I would use a dab of clear nail polish to lock them in place. Be careful as nail polish eats nitro. Try reseating the string ballends at the tailpiece. Reseat the strings at the nut slots.

    If there is anything I have learnt about guitars it is that there are so many little bits that can work themselves a little loose and cause wolf notes. Pickguard bracket tightened?

    My first course of action is to try re-stringing it and checking all the bits that could rattle for rattle. The rattling bits could just work together to set off wolf notes.

    Changes in string tension could also excite wolf notes.

    Get a ball of yarn and weave it amongst all 6 strings between the bridge and tailpiece.

  9. #8
    All of my guitars have rosewood bridges except for my G&L Legacy.

  10. #9

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    On one of my archtop guitars, I find the G note, (and Gb and Ab to a lesser degree) can be highly resonant. The notes start off very loud, but it seems the resonance gets out of phase, and then quickly cancels the note. Is this the type of behavior you get when you describe a wolf note?
    Last edited by DanielleOM; 07-25-2016 at 07:45 AM.

  11. #10

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    Wolf tones are sometimes from the resonance frequency of the guitar matching a note on the scale. Sometimes adding or removing weight from the bridge can alter the resonance freq. enough to cure the problem. A simple way to add weight to the bridge is by adding an extra thumbwheel nut. Removing weight from the bridge is more difficult.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    ...Try reseating the string ballends at the tailpiece. Reseat the strings at the nut slots...
    Sometimes the ball ferrule things can stay loose on the end loop of the strings. Ideally you would like the hole in the tailpiece to clamp down on the loop so that it pushes tight against the ferrule so that the ferrule doesn't vibrate. Just a thought. I am not saying that this is the OP's issue, but I have had it happen.

  13. #12
    The funny thing is that it happens only when the 1 and 7 are played together, but not individually...and predominantly when played on strings 3-6. Chords on the middle or bottom sets are okay, as are chords which skip strings. Is this typical? Funny, but it's probably been happening forever, but I just noticed it after beginning to work on my inversions.

  14. #13

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    Maybe you should go back to flats. T-I Jazz Swings?

    I have got this yearning to tune to A432 after hearing Michael Chapdelaine. Not for any mystical reason but man, Michael tears it up. His guitars do sound great tuned to a lower A. There is something to it. I tried it on one guitar. Easier to sing along to and the strings feel softer under the fingers.

    Tune to A432 or any low A and see if the wolf notes go away. The energy that comes from playing stacked notes is causing some bodily resonance and you to got to move it away from that.

    I am going out on a limb here. Other than changing the wooden saddle to a TOM, loath as I am to suggest it, tweak the truss rod a smidge? Move the intrinsic tension in the neck assembly around. I'd back off the truss rod a little to lower the resonant frequency. 1/32nd of a turn. Just what I'd try.

  15. #14
    Interesting discovery...

    All of my guitars are archtops but one--a G&L Legacy. I'm sure most are familiar with this model, but for those who aren't it is Leo Fenders version of the Stratocaster after he and Fender parted ways. I don't play it much as it isn't the ideal jazz guitar, but I got curious about whether or not similar wolf tones would exist on this guitar as they do on all of my archtops (I tried them all and got the same results). To my surprise they occur on this guitar as well, and like the others they only occur when playing a Major 7 on the upper four strings, and occur from the interaction between the 1 and 7 of the chord. This guitar is different from my Guilds in every way, so is it possible this issue is originating from the amp? Or perhaps it occurs on every guitar? I will next try each guitar through my JC-40, through my multi-effects unit going into my computer, and directly through my PA system.

    And regarding strings, I use the following:

    X-170: DA Nickel 12's
    Aristocrat: DA Chromes 12's
    X-500: DA Chromes 12's
    Artist Award: TI Jazz Bebop 13's

    G&L Legacy: DA 10's, I think.

    And all respond exactly the same way.
    Last edited by snoskier63; 07-30-2016 at 12:36 AM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by snoskier63 View Post
    ... so is it possible this issue is originating from the amp?...
    What amp you got? Is it the JC-40 you mentioned?

  17. #16

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    Is the Legacy wolf tones or is it oscillation from the pickups being too close to the strings? Start style single coils tend to have a strong magnetic field and should bet set lower than you would set a humbucker, if the pickups are too high the magnetic field can interfere with the string vibrations, especially as you move up the neck.

  18. #17

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    Wolf tones are well known in the violin family.

    How to Tame Annoying Howling Wolf Tones ? Strings Magazine

    With violins, wolf notes are pushed in between two half notes where they are not heard so much (except when plying glissandi). They are hard to remove completely. Usually small metal weights are fastened on the string in question between the bridge and the tailpiece and moved back and force on that length of string until the desired effect is reached. I haven't tried it myself but maybe they can work on archtops too. I figure the ones designed for cellos would have the right size. They are available from most sellers of violin accessories.

    Last edited by oldane; 07-30-2016 at 07:00 AM.
    "But if they all play like me, then who am I?" (Lester Young)

  19. #18

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    Wolf Tones...-maxresdefault-jpg

    My ex-wife gave me this T-shirt in the 80's when we were dating--excellent Irish band. Her brother did an Irish music radio show at Notre Dame when he was in college there.

    I wore the shirt til I wore it out, which pretty much explains my history with the ex-wife...

  20. #19

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    Back OT, there are MANY causes of wolf tones, which I have also heard referred to as tone buildup. My Peerless Sunset has this tendency especially with B on the first string.

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kXQ6FhpaHHE/maxresdefault.jpg

    I have observe that different strings and a slight change in the setup--action and all that--makes a bit of a difference.

    What really helps is a sweepable midrange filter or feedback filter, like on my Loudbox Artist. This pretty much eliminates unwanted tones which tend to feed back.

  21. #20

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    Hi,
    While I cannot be certain that your "wolf tones" are what I heard with my arch tops, I believe that I encountered a similar
    dissonance with 2 guitars—L5 CES and New Tal Farlow—and it turned out to be the PUP springs. I only heard the dissonance above the 7th fret and only when playing contiguous strings or chords above that level. But the tones were heard, for the most part, only when played acoustically. When amplified, I did not appreciate the dissonance. My luthier replaced the L5's springs with plastic tubing and the Tal responded to a slight tightening of the PUP screws, thereby lowering it a tad.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxTwang View Post
    Is the Legacy wolf tones or is it oscillation from the pickups being too close to the strings? Start style single coils tend to have a strong magnetic field and should bet set lower than you would set a humbucker, if the pickups are too high the magnetic field can interfere with the string vibrations, especially as you move up the neck.
    I'm not sure pickup height is an issue because on one archtop I lowered the pups all the way down (way below the strings) and it didn't change anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200 View Post
    What amp you got? Is it the JC-40 you mentioned?
    The amp I have been using is my Roland Blues Cube Artist. I also have a JC-40, and will try that next.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by snoskier63 View Post
    I'm not sure pickup height is an issue because on one archtop I lowered the pups all the way down (way below the strings) and it didn't change anything.

    My pickup height suggestions was regarding the G&L Legacy, Strat style single coils can have a very strong magnetic field.

  24. #23
    Right, but my point is that a guitar with very low pickups, and the Legacy with higher pickups both responded the exact same way. I take that to suggest that pickup height is irrelevant, but perhaps my conclusion is faulty.

    I realized that a simpler test would be to play the Major 7 on the upper four strings on each guitar unplugged, taking the pickups and amps out of it. The results remained the same for all guitars.

    Perhaps others can test this on their guitars, focusing on the upper set. Play each note separately, then either play the full four-note chord, or simply play the 1 and 7 together. Let me know what happens.
    Last edited by snoskier63; 07-30-2016 at 11:40 PM.

  25. #24

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    What's interesting is it happens on all your guitars. Is this happening on all Maj7's on the top 4 strings or a specific chord?

  26. #25

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    Sounds like it could be a speaker issue.

  27. #26
    All guitars, all M7's on the top 4 strings, amp or no amp. There's something about the resonant frequency between the 1 and 7 that results in the flutter as it occurs whenever those notes are played together. Funny that I never noticed this before given my years of playing.

  28. #27

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    I have been playing around with my 16" laminate guitar, where I have find G notes to be problematic.

    I have two supermagnets under the tailpiece that seem to move the frequency of the offending note. I also have some elastic hair scrunchie wrapped around 3 of the strings, each string individually, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings, that seem to dampen things a little. There's about 5 wraps off scrunchie on each string and have them reasonably tight, but loose enough where I can easily slide and re-position the material, between the bridge and tailpiece. I find the 2nd string 8th fret and the 4th string 5th fret to be problematic.

    Although the hair scrunchie material works I am thinking I am still searching for other material that might be heavier and more precise.

    I am trying to force myself to spend more time with this instrument. I like this instrument however, my practice time gets disrupted, because I end up trying to resolve this problem.

    I stopped at a store yesterday and noticed the same response on the G 5th fret on another guitar. Something about G notes?

  29. #28

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    Hi all, I've found recently that Mr Schottmueller uses sth like this:

    Wolf Tones...-20747933_1269695103142881_625214420827376700_o-jpg

    is it a foam? or what do you think?

  30. #29

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    String, yarn, ribbon, foam all work behind the bridge to get rid of wolf tones. My favorite, super cheap method is to get silicone rubber grommets from the hardware store. They have a slit around the diameter that lets it be held between the strings to dampen unwanted vibrations.
    Wolf Tones...-20170814_144104-jpgWolf Tones...-20170814_144116-jpg

  31. #30

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    Looks like Mr. Schottmüller used Velcro.

  32. #31

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    Great idea, rubber grommets. My only concern is reaction with nitrocellulose over a long period. Sometimes, grommets drop off and lie on your guitar without you noticing...

  33. #32

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    there's a fine line with grommets...very hard to get exactly right size...too little and they can rattle (and move!) on their own...two large and they can deaden strings beyond just the bothersome overtones...

    you want to dampen not extinguish!! hah

    cheers

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    Looks like Mr. Schottmüller used Velcro.
    Indeed, it looks so! Thank you

  35. #34

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    Although I say this with some reluctance, I believe I have come up with something that is now working for me. I say reluctance as I find the wolf can be a little bit of a moving target that moves with humidity.

    I took two of those shiny super magnets that are a little bit larger in diameter than a dime and a little bit thicker. I put one inside the guitar next to the brace about 2" away from the bridge (between the bridge and pickup). I put the other one on the guitar top. The magnetic attraction of the two magnets holds both of them in place.

    You cannot see the one that's on top of the guitar as the pickguard hides it from view.

    I rationalized this would be similar to adding a little weight to a brace in that spot.

    My ear tells me this more effective than a lot of other solutions I have tried in the past. (Weight on the tailpiece, damping between the bridge and tailpiece)

    I have heard of people making slight shave to a brace to take care of problems. Anyone else experiment with adding weight to a brace? I am thinking adding weight is a lot less invasive with much less risk than shaving.

    I suppose there are other methods of adding weight that might be better. I am trying to think of a little clip that would fit nicely on the brace. Perhaps a fishing weight and tape?

    I did bring the guitar out last night to a louder bar room open mic and detected none of the problems I had experience in the past. For almost two years I have been debating whether I want to keep the guitar or not.
    Last edited by DanielleOM; 11-20-2017 at 01:10 PM.

  36. #35

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    For a string damper, I mostly use a piece of Velcro, only the loop side, cut to the width of the fingerboard, and slid underneath the strings just in front of the nut. It works well to prevent sympathetic string vibrations, and is easily removable. It does prevent playing open strings, just as any string damper does, but that's not a big concern to me. Some guitars need it worse than others. But I'm not sure that would help in the OP's case. Danielle's magnet trick might work, though. Sometimes just using magnets on the tailpiece can help. It can be time-consuming to find the best location for the weight, but it may be worth the effort.

  37. #36

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    Hey guys, was searching for info on wolf tones and found this thread. Hoping perhaps someone has any more idea about based on how my issue is manifesting.

    I have a guitar generously on loan from a friend and it has taken some getting used to but I think I have both the guitar where I want it and gotten used to it since it felt very different from what I wasn’t used to at first. There is on persistent issue though and that’s the high B on string one and two (frets 7 and 12 respectively) immediately die. There is no sustain, just the note attack accompanied by a faint high sound kind of like a harmonic. I have dealt with wolf tones on bass but I guess have been lucky enough to not have it happen on guitar before this.

    I have tried everything mentioned here so far and had actually gotten to most before reading here coincidentally. A variety of string gauges (as I was setting up the guitar to see what felt best for me), string heights, string break angles at the bridge (adjustable tailpiece), foam between the bridge and tailpiece (needed to eliminate resonance anyway). One thing I can’t adjust is pickup height and it is on the high side. When I tune down those frets ring out fine and where the B moves to due with the alternate tuning still exhibits the problem.

    Of all the notes i think this is one i’d choose (as opposed to Bb or C for example) but still is like to try to see what more I can do since I do it course still play those notes. Any ideas?

    Edit: I should add that while the B is incredibly pronounced with no sustain on both strings, the note immediately disappearing is more pronounced on string 1 and the other notes on that string don’t sustain as much as I would expect. It is a small body archtop with a 24.75” scale so I thought maybe that is why but thought I’d mention it in case it helps with diagnosing things. Trying to describe it, it’s like there’s a very high harmonic along with the fundamental. I was just playing the Song Is You and with all of the Bs it sounds almost like a banjo so the other notes are not at all on the level that B is so while all of that would be nice to address the B is really the main thing. Also further searches make me think I used the wrong name perhaps as it’s a dead spot.
    Last edited by rio; 06-24-2019 at 01:47 AM.

  38. #37

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    Years ago, I had a guitar with some dead notes (which is the opposite problem of wolf notes but is due to the same physical principle), and, as it was an expensive instrument I did some research and I ended up buying this magnetic device, which resulted in a great help.Wolf Tones...-img_20190624_123128-jpg

    As you can see, the maker doesn't produce a specific model for guitar but this one, intended for cello, worked well.

    Modulator - Krentz String WorksKrentz String Works

    BTW, I sold the guitar, but I keep the modulator. Who knows, maybe I'll use it on another instrument one day.

  39. #38

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    Is that a Flux Capacitor?

    Interesting, the Krentz Modulator. I wonder if its neodymium magnet would affect the magnetic pickups should it find an ideal position too close to them. Too, it is a form of mass damping and I wonder if two felt covered neodymium disc magnets would not achieve the same effect on a guitar at lower cost.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 06-24-2019 at 07:00 AM.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    Maybe you should go back to flats. T-I Jazz Swings?

    I have got this yearning to tune to A432 after hearing Michael Chapdelaine. Not for any mystical reason but man, Michael tears it up. His guitars do sound great tuned to a lower A. There is something to it. I tried it on one guitar. Easier to sing along to and the strings feel softer under the fingers.

    Tune to A432 or any low A and see if the wolf notes go away. The energy that comes from playing stacked notes is causing some bodily resonance and you to got to move it away from that.

    I am going out on a limb here. Other than changing the wooden saddle to a TOM, loath as I am to suggest it, tweak the truss rod a smidge? Move the intrinsic tension in the neck assembly around. I'd back off the truss rod a little to lower the resonant frequency. 1/32nd of a turn. Just what I'd try.
    A430 also works really well for what you described. I also feel like it makes my archtops tone way warmer, but equally as loud, if not louder. I got the idea from Adam Neely.

  41. #40

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    A different tuning might help, but it makes playing with others problematic. I think I would try playing with mass in different locations. I would try the headstock, the tailpiece, different places on the body. The body can be difficult, depending on the guitar, but it might be possible to get some magnets inside through the f holes, and a magnet outside over the internal one. Or just use some Blu-Tack to attach weight in various locations on the top, starting near the bridge. Good luck with it, the top may just have a strong resonant frequency that can't be completely tuned out.

  42. #41

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    Maybe a long shot, but something else to check or eliminate...

    As it is string motion that the pickups detect, all oscillatory motions contribute, including twisting motions (rotations about the longitudinal axis of the string).

    Imagine twisting the string when putting it on so that the tuned string is subjected to a torsion about its axis held in equilibrium by the tuning tension. When the string is displaced by vibration from being played, its length and tension with respect to the scale length are cyclically increased and decreased... causing a similar cycle of rotation about its axis if there is a net torsion. You can see how these rotations are subject to the similar vibration partition elements of nodes and segments (the whole string rotating, two half lengths rotating opposite each other, etc.).

    Since the relationship between the cycles of rotation and tension are complexly related, and different for the various string gauges, winding, etc., but both cycle types change with the common connection between frequency and tension, some notes will be effected more than others... this is a mechanical relation, not a harmonic one, so the effected notes may be peculiar or specific singles or combinations.

    Twisting of strings may happen during string change application, the worst being those who place the string in, on, or through the tail piece/bridge and then proceed to insert the string end through the post hole followed by a few wraps of the string around the post directly by the fingers before beginning to turn the tuning key.

    To avoid twisting, just let the string lay limp through the post hole, pinch it near the bridge, and run that pinch up to the nut a few times to relieve any rotation before tuning up.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    A different tuning might help, but it makes playing with others problematic. I think I would try playing with mass in different locations. I would try the headstock, the tailpiece, different places on the body. The body can be difficult, depending on the guitar, but it might be possible to get some magnets inside through the f holes, and a magnet outside over the internal one. Or just use some Blu-Tack to attach weight in various locations on the top, starting near the bridge. Good luck with it, the top may just have a strong resonant frequency that can't be completely tuned out.
    The tuning was just to see if it was a fret or the pitch itself, and even tuned differently that B is still dead, just on different frets so it confirmed that it is some resonance issue.

    I tried the blue tack and while interesting to see how it slightly affected the tone it didn’t fix anything. However I was searching more and found another thread here specifically about dead spots. Someone said to stand up and press the headstock against the wall - and it completely fixes the problem to my surprise. I ordered a Fat Finger to see if that will help. I tried everything I could think of around the house to add mass to the headstock and none of it worked so hopefully this will. I feel like at least I’m learning and have found something out. Next time I’m playing out is Friday so hopefully I can get it resolved by then.


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