How do I tame a wolf tone?

In principle, you should: tame the wolf tone, but not kill it!
Why not eliminate it? Easy: By killing the wolf you’d eliminate sound colors and brilliance as well. In short: Having a wolf tone means compromising. We’d like to share some tips and tricks on how to tame the wolf.

  1. All instruments: As a first step, check the condition of the bow hair and make sure to change it regularly, at least every six months.
  2. All instruments: Use stickier rosin for your practice as this can often tame a wolf. When playing the violin, mix violin and viola rosin, for violas mix viola and cello rosin and for celli, mix cello and bass rosin – a mixing ratio of up to 1:1 applies to all combinations. 
  3. All instruments: A wolf tone eliminator is best known for its use on celli and double basses but improves the wolf tone issue on violins and violas as well. Please note that every instrument is unique and what works for one, might not have the same effect on another.
  4. When it comes to your string setup, try the following for: Choose a warmer and more focused sounding string with similar tension to that of your previous string for a start. Dark and focused sounding strings suppress wolf tones. For violins, this is usually the G-, sometimes the D-string. For violas, it is the G- or C-string. All the bass’ strings are affected, while it is normally the G-string for a cello. 

    If you’re still not successful in taming the wolf, instead of changing one string only, change the entire setup for one that is entirely warm and focused as a wolf tone is more prominent on brilliant and broad sounding strings. For Violin we recommend the VISION SOLO® sets VIS100 with an aluminum-wound D-string or VIS101 with a silver-wound D-string. For viola, try the VISION SOLO® set VIS200. For Bass we recommend BELCANTO® BC600 and for Cello VERSUM SOLO® VES400?
  5. Still no luck? Reducing energy in the main resonance is the key element in controlling the wolf, therefore increasing string tension helps reducing the wolf tone. As a consequence, there might be a little too much tension on the top plate, instantly leading to the loss of sound colors but also taming the wolf tone. Just make sure you don’t over-tension the instrument so pay attention to its sound development over the next week and months. The cue? If you’re knowingly losing more sound colors during this time, it’s a definite sign of your instrument being under too much tension. For violin: Put more tension on the G-string and less tension on the D-string to keep your setup in balance. When dealing with a very prominent wolf, we recommend an aluminum-wound D-string over a silver-wound one (e.g. PETER INFELD® PI03 or VISION SOLO® VIS03).

    For viola: swap the string with the strongest wolf tone, normally the G-string, for a string with a higher tension. 
    For cello: if the wolf tone persists, choose a G-string with a higher tension.
    For bass: a string with a higher tension will also counteract the wolf tone on a bass but will also normally put the instrument under too much pressure.
  6. A longer sound post also might adjust your violin or viola in a way as to tame the wolf. The effect is the same as when using higher tension on the strings.  
  7. Using a darker sounding bow model might be the next step for you to help get rid of the wolf. 
  8. Last but not least: A thicker bass bar could also help with the wolf tone phenomenon. Please consult a luthier or repairman when thinking about re-adjusting your instrument!

Keep in mind: The above-mentioned measures become more time-consuming and cost-intensive from top to bottom!  


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