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Sympathetic String Harmonics and Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Johnny L, Oct 3, 2003.


  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    So you've got your bass tuned, you're playing in tune, and the other strings you're not playing may ring sympathetically with the note you're playing and improving the sound.

    But it's especially fun when I play a C in first position on the A string...instead of the C ringing out through the open strings when I take the bow off the A string, I'm getting a G ringing out a 5th above.

    Maybe I'm only revealing the budget Strunal effect, I don't really know. But it seems normal to have stopped notes set off either the open string pitch or natural harmonics. Still, I was curious to know if such knowledge gets explored and has any applicable value for bass makers.

    Thanks,
    Johnny
     
  2. While most of us have a pretty good knowledge of the physics involved, it's not something that (in itself) plays a significant role in making instrument. There are some harmonics you don't want to have come out and we do take that in to account. One of the "bad" ones is the 7th harmonic. One of the reasons that many luthiers make the after length of the string 1/6th of the length is that it makes the bridge fall on the location of the 7th harmonic of the entire string length. Sometimes, bowing on the location of the 7th harmonic (1/7th of the playing length)will improve the sound because it mutes the 7th harmonic.
     
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    My knowledge of the phyics involved is zero, and so it's not obvious to me why the 7th harmonic gets "bad boy" status.

    Is it because it sounds too flat or too jazzy or something?
     
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thanks very much for the link. Good read.