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Dead Notes on Fretboard - Wolf tones?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by iluvchiclets, Jul 29, 2014.

  1. iluvchiclets

    iluvchiclets Tele-Meister

    171
    Jan 26, 2012
    Ontario
    Here is a problem I have been trying to deal with for many years.

    On a few guitars I have owned, I have noticed that there are certain specific spots on the fretboard where the fretted note is lifeless. The guitar is intonated and set up properly, but the resonance of the guitar seems to make this specific note die quickly. It sounds as if the note played at that specific fret rings at an additional octave higher (like an overtone) and then dies quickly.

    I did a search and found the term "wolf tones". I think this is the phenomenon I am dealing with. Often when I try a guitar at a store, I will immediately check the strings around to 9th to 13th fret to listen for this. I can find it quite quickly and, surprisingly, I find it on quite a few guitars.

    Many years ago I owned a Roland GR33 guitar synth, and the guitar I attached the GR pickup to had this problem on the G string around the 12 fret. Sure enough, fretting this position caused the synth to sound a note an octave higher. Great tracking on Roland's part! I experimented at the time with clamping metal on the headstock and it cured the problem. It was at that point I began to understand a guitar's personal resonant qualities and what was causing this problem... I hope reader's understand what I am talking about...

    My fave guitars obviously have none of this, but I have a basic Epi SG that has this problem. I often wonder if there is a trick to solving this problem. How does one add mass to a headstock, or get rid of this problem on a solid body guitar?
     

  2. motwang

    motwang Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 11, 2010
    plattsburg mo.
    You can buy clamps for this. I've forgotten their name. I've heard of, but wouldn't recommend glueing heavy coins to the headstock.
     

  3. iluvchiclets

    iluvchiclets Tele-Meister

    171
    Jan 26, 2012
    Ontario
    I did see this option as a product offered by Groove Tubes. Exactly the solution, but not a very nice looking one...

    I was considering making a brass shape, and screwing it on the rear of the headstock to try and improve mass there. Again, not a great solution. I was just thinking about trying to change the overall resonance of the guitar, and I might try a shim in between the neck and the body. I have several SG guitars, but this one in particular is a bolt-on neck. I wonder if just adding a shim of plastic under the neck might change the entire instrument's tonal properties? Can't hurt to try...
     

  4. dog fart

    dog fart Friend of Leo's

    Dec 16, 2009
    North Carolina
    I remember a product from around 1980 made of brass(everything was made of brass) called the Fathead(?) that was marketed to eliminate dead spots,increase sustain, cure your asthma too. Never saw one.

    I knew a guy with a Jazz Bass who sometimes touched the headstock to the wall trying to get rid of the deadspot on the G string around the 6th fret. He had the habit of making the bass go out of tune though.:rolleyes:

    These are both examples of trying to increase mass. I understand that Carbon Graphite necks don't have these problems. Not sure that's the solution I would settle on though.
     

  5. FenderGyrl

    FenderGyrl Friend of Leo's

    Jul 22, 2012
    Wisconsin
    I remember the Fatheads. Fender sells a Fender Fatfinger Guitar Sustain Enhancer . I never tried one though.
     

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  6. dog fart

    dog fart Friend of Leo's

    Dec 16, 2009
    North Carolina
    That's the one! I remember the Gibson clearly, but don't think I ever saw the chrome Telecaster one. First for the Fatfinger too!
     

  7. csimic

    csimic NEW MEMBER!

    Age:
    57
    2
    Jan 1, 2018
    Thornton NSW 2322 near Maitland
     

  8. csimic

    csimic NEW MEMBER!

    Age:
    57
    2
    Jan 1, 2018
    Thornton NSW 2322 near Maitland
    Gibson had a device called a String Butler that did the trick well for me .
     

  9. Syrinx

    Syrinx Tele-Meister

    Age:
    54
    358
    Aug 7, 2016
    Champaign illinois
    the fat finger and fatheads were the first I recall. Finger was as fenders is- the fat head was shaped like a plate the shape of headstock that went under tuners.
     

  10. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    Old thread, but it is an interesting topic. Wonder if this is the reason Fender started putting larger headstocks on most of their guitars back in the day?
     

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