Making a Wolf Tone

When one starts into a new violin project, it’s rare NOT to learn lessons, some quite valuable. Some are surprising. Some are a reminder. I had one more violin for decoration and adornment, and decided to bling it up real good, including adding some hardware for decoration.

As themes go, this one could be called the butterflies and the bees, though it has lots of glitter and my wife calls it, ‘Nashville’. It is quite pretty, alright, so I suppose I accomplished what I set out to accomplish.

Now for the valuable lessons part. With a violin of this quality, one never really expects too much as far as playability or quality of sound. I was surprised, though, that when I put my bow to the strings, a ‘wolf tone’ jumped out at me, and I’ll be damned if I can get rid of it.

What is a wolf tone? Well, simply put it is a harmonic distortion that can be caused by a multitude of factors, none of which are easy to solve. In this case, the weird thing is that it is in the D (on F sharp and G) string, as opposed to the usual culprit, the E string.

I suspect that in this case it’s the result of the bling that I attached to the plates. I guess this is just a reminder that, after carefully tuning the plates to try to achieve the best sound production, you just don’t go hanging stuff on the outside… dummy!

Master Italian violin maker Edgar Russ talks about wolftones:

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