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Do strings vibrate at the same pitch underwater?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by topo morto, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Anyone know?
  2. An a440 is ALWAYS 440HZ. Undearwater, in a vacume etc doesn't matter.

    It will not vibrate as long due to the resistance on the water as there string passes through.
  3. I think post #2 is correct but I can't think of a good way to prove it. I actually tried with a rubber band but the water damped the vibration too quickly to detect pitch.
  4. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Brb, testing this with my 63 jazz bass.
  5. Lol...
  6. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    This is scientifically sound. The numbers are the numbers. The frequencies are the frequencies. Timbres and durations are another matter entirely.

    Maybe an effects pedal can approximate what happens to the sound.
  7. FourBanger


    Sep 2, 2012
    SE Como
    Frequency (pitch) would indeed be the same. The thincker the medium in which the string is vibrating the fewer overtones I think you would get, however, and less duration. Put another way, more resistence gives more fundamental less harmonic less sustain.

    Think of the pendulum in a clock. Gravity adds the resistence in place of the water in the OP question and the amplitude of the swinging weight changes, but not the frequency. Savvy?
  8. zacinaction

    zacinaction Supporting Member

    Jul 22, 2008
    Bay Area, CA
    In scientific lingo, the water will provide viscous damping. That basically means the string will have less sustain. It also means that the frequency of vibration will theoretically be (very) slightly lower. Generally speaking, higher modes are damped to a greater extent, so that would mean the higher harmonics would be damped out more and the fundamental and lower harmonics would be more present.
  9. groovaholic

    groovaholic The louder the better. Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI
    The frequency of a sound is inversely proportional to it's wavelength: f = 1/lambda.

    And the speed of sound is a function of the density of the medium; the closer together the particles are, the more quickly the sound is transmitted.

    So, on one hand, I'm thinking that the density of the water, relative to air, would slow down the oscillation of the string and effectively lower the pitch.

    But I'm remembering swimming pools with underwater speakers, and while I'm guessing that they couldn't use normal magnet and cone transducers, I don't remember the music sounding at a different pitch.

    Then on the other hand, the sound would be transferred to your ears more quickly by the more dense medium.

    This is a better questions than I initially thought it was, but my guess is that the string would oscillate more slowly, and sound at a lower pitch.

    I'm hoping this is just hypothetical, because playing your bass underwater will probably damage it. A lot.
  10. In water lower pitchs travel further. Whale song is ritch on low freq. and sub audiable tones. These travel miles.

    Dolphin clicks don't travel as far because they live in pods and don't need to comunicate over 100's of miles.

    This question is like asking which falls faster? A lead ball or a feather? In a vacume they both fall at the same speed. In a gas atmosphre the feather falls slowly because of wind resistance. In a liquid it doesn't sink because of boyancy.
  11. JamesGoodall


    Aug 29, 2011
    This is what I was thinking. I know a440 is a440 because 440 is a measure of the hertz, I just don't think a string will vibrate as fastin a denser medium. Anyone want to take the time to completely waterproof the electronics on an SX or similarly priced pawnshop bass and test it out?
  12. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Sounds like a good case for light gauge strings, to handle the ambient densities of playing underwater.

    It only has to travel back and forth one time to be a 'cycle'. That's when questions of duration and decay take over. It might take more energy to produce the pitch, but the pitch CAN still be produced.
  13. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    The speaker is driven to vibrate at that frequency though; it's not vibrating at its resonant frequency(ies) like a string.
  14. bertbass666


    Mar 6, 2009
    Of course it isn't. The proof is in Star Trek lV, The Voyage Home.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    What strings are better for under water ... flats or rounds?
  16. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    With all due respect, I don't know, I don't want to know, and I don't know why you would want to know.
  17. Im so intrigued.. why you want to know that?
  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Which brand of water is best for metal?
  19. I've been thinking about this some more and have decided that it MUST slow the string. Think of it in terms of archery--a bow string. The energy in the string, just before it's released by the archer, is fixed. Think of one bow 'cycle,' where the bow string is pulled back, then released, and for simplicity imagine that the string stops as soon as it's straightened out at the mid-point of its swing--forget about 'sustain' for a moment.
    In air, the string will take .00X seconds to complete its travel. In a vacuum, slightly less as there's less friction. Now encase the archer and his bow in peanut butter, and repeat. The string will certainly take longer to complete its trip. The 'pitch' of the bow string is thus lowered.
    Underwater speakers don't have this problem because they aren't passive devices like a bass (or bow) string-they are actively forced to complete a task of movement X number of times per second. However, being underwater does reduce the DISTANCE the speaker can travel in a cycle. Different problem.
  20. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    That's only for humpback whales, silly.

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