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 wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: kroboe 
Date:   2017-11-30 15:59

On stringed instruments like the cello you have a phenomenon called a Wolf tone which is a tone very unstable caused by accustic properties of the instrument itself.
I have similar trouble with the F and partly also F# on the upper octave of my oboe, weather forked or straight fingering.
Also pretty much unaffected by switching between reeds.

Now I wonder, could the cello phenomenon apply to the oboe as well, is there a Wolf lurking?
Anyone heard of such a thing? If so, any remedy?

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2017-12-01 00:18

Yes, like the cello, oboes, oboe d'amores, English horns, and clarinets sometimes have detectable "wolf" tones. They can be caused by an amplification of a note because of a little tuned resonance lower down on the instrument. Second register Ab, G and Eb on my Loree English horn are some of the notes that stand out or go a bit out of tune for me, and one can use some alternate fingerings to sound better.

On the clarinet, second register G is a standout note, possibly for the same reason. One can live with these anomalies in many situations.

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: oboist2 
Date:   2017-12-01 01:18

I find this happens rarely, but used to occur quite a lot when I was first making my own reeds. Eventually I put this down to scraping too much from the heart of the reed, and also if the back reaches of my blend were too thin. Nowadays, I make my reeds in stages and never "finish" a reed until I have played on it for a day or two, and leave a bit more resistance in the reed than I would for a totally finished reed. The only time I have that issue now is when I try to reduce the resistance for a very young beginner player, or for a student who has difficulty maintaining an embouchure - and it happens when I have gone too far.

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: JRC 
Date:   2017-12-01 08:28

I sometimes get into this situation with 2nd octave f and/or f# when my reed and instrument mismatch impedance. Different proportion of tip length to heart size, and back scrape usually avoid the situation. Try different reed with different tube and/or length... assuming your scraping is consistent. Also assuming your oboe is in good mechanical condition (no leaks, proper adjustment ...etc). Change the impedance characteristics of your reed.

Adjusting reed is much easier than changing the oboe tube and holes.

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: kroboe 
Date:   2017-12-01 19:01

Thank you so much for your comments. A relief to have it confirmed that Wolfs may appear also in the oboe. So I may stop looking for leaks and maladjustment. I am using a profiling machine for the initial scrape, so my reeds are pretty consistent. I may start there, by altering the scrape slightly. Also trying out a different batch of cane, as the quality of cane varies pretty much.
Thanks again!

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: mschmidt 
Date:   2017-12-02 03:35

I'm with Wes on the English horn notes--not E flat so much, but definitely the 2nd octave A flat and G. And I agree with oboist 2--the key to avoiding the instability in these notes is not to take too much out of the heart of the reed.

I haven't experienced nearly as many problems on the oboe as on English horn, but once again, reeds have to approach the optimum slowly so that they're not to weak and "give in" to the whims of the instrument.


Middle-Aged Amateur

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: Wes 
Date:   2017-12-03 10:35

On older Loree oboes, I've heard that the F2, F#2, or G2 can be unstable. My teacher said to add the low B key to help. Yet, I think that this situation was fixed by Loree a few decades ago, possibly by bore changes.

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 Re: wolf tone on the oboe?
Author: tgenns 
Date:   2017-12-07 06:32

A couple of comments. As for old Loree oboes, I currently own (original owner) and play two old Lorees. The B natural key is sometimes added for middle e, f#, and g to bring down/darken the pitch/sound on these these notes. I did this in my earlier years of playing, but now I use my embouchure to make the necessary adjustment. There is nothing wrong with these old oboes as far as stability goes.

As for wolf tones on oboe, I do not believe there is such a thing. Yes, some notes can be unstable, but this is usually due to a bad reed, or less likely, a damaged bore or leaky oboe. Concerning reeds, check out what “oboist2” has to say above – good advice.

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