I am interested in learning more about the physical sound properties of the bass guitar. First off, how do I determine the frequencies (in Hertz) of each note on the fretboard of the bass starting from the low E string? Also, does anyone know of any good books or resources on the net that go into the idea of fundamental frequencies, harmonics, etc. from a musical perspective (specifically the bass)? Thank you

Here's a link: http://www.azstarnet.com/~solo/insrange.htm Page down to the keyboard at bottom. see B0? B string, ~31 Hz see E1? E string, ~41Hz and so on... Hope that helps. Maybe someone else could offer book suggestions on this?

Thanks Seamus, that definitely part of what I'm looking for. Does anyone know if there is a mathematical formula to derive all the pitches based on A440? I swear I'm not intentionally asking others to do research for me, I'm just frustrated and need some starting points. I would eventually like to learn this stuff well and do a nice write up of the physical sound properties of the bass guitar.

I'm glad you're trying to learn as much as you can. The standard 12-tone tempered scale is obtained by having each pitch at a fixed ratio of frequency from its neighbor. That ratio is the twelfth root of 2 (approx. 1.059463). If you take this ratio to the twelfth power, you get 2, which is the ratio of frequencies of a full octave. So get your calculator out, count the number of half-steps away from a known pitch (easiest are the A standards - 440, 220, 110, 55, 27.5), then take the ratio to the power of the number of half-steps. If you are going down in pitch, use your result as the divisor. Otherwise, it's the multiplier. - Mike

Between the formula I gave and the pitch-frequency tables available on the web, that's all you need. If you want to get into the theory of pitch intervals and psychoacoustics (e.g., why a major third sounds pleasing to the ear) - well, that's a big subject. Note that the major third in the tempered scale is not a harmonically perfect major third, and good musicians try to compensate a little if they can. - Mike

Thanks again MikeyD, what you posted was exactly what I was looking for. Once I tried out the formula and saw it was producing the correct results, I started checking the overtones and noticed what you mentioned; that the major thirds were close to existing pitch frequencies but not perfect. I have a fretless bass so it would be easy to compensate for the slight pitch difference, that is if my ear is good enough to even tell the difference. Now that I understand how to figure out the frequency in hertz of any pitch on the bass fretboard along with the related overtones, I can now eliminate the guess-work when dialing in my amplifier sound and do it by the numbers.

www.contrabass.com/pages/frequency.html This is a pretty helpful link. Hope it's along the lines of something that will be useful to you.

Once your ear is able to tell the difference, it will become very obvious to you when playing say a chord or a root+major 3rd double stop. That's why I love fretless so much, the major third sounds much better, and the fretless has vastly improved my ears.