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  • Notes and Their Frequencies for Bass Guitar

    ThunderRow Replay: Ever wonder about what those frequency specifications mean? Let me give a very basic, layman's explanation

    Each note has a fundamental frequency, expressed in Hz ( Herz) or KHz (KiloHerz, 1,000Hz). Herz is just a fancy name for "cycles per second." You see, sound is the result of a wave of pressure moving the air. The faster the wave moves - that is, the more cycles per second - the higher the pitch.

    Here is a table that shows the frequency for notes on a 6-string bass guitar.

    Here's a little more info published some time ago by the good folks at diyAudio http://www.diyaudio.com/, from one of their well-informed readers:

    "I think it depends heavily on playing style and the actual instrument. As pointed out, the low end is well defined - around 30 Hz for a 5-string bass tuned to standard pitch, around 40 Hz for a 4-string bass tuned to standard pitch.

    My cheapo Fender Squire bass guitar has passive pickups with lots of turns of fine wire, making for lots of series inductance and series resistance. Combine that with the capacitance of even a short length of guitar cable, not to mention the input capacitance of anything it is plugged into, and you have a permanent low-pass filter built into the system which makes it very unlikely that there is any significant output above 5kHz from this guitar. If you play it the way James Jamerson played on all those great Motown songs - the classic fat, round tone - I would be surprised if there was any significant output above 1 kHz.

    If, on the other hand, you have a bass with active pickups which are designed with lower impedance and then buffered by the onboard electronics, and you combine that with a heavily percussive style of playing (lots of slaps and pops), you can expect more treble output. I am still somewhat skeptical that there is much output beyond 5 kHz, but then again I've been wrong before and will undoubtedly be wrong again. I will volunteer to eat my hat, though, if anyone shows me a stock bass guitar and playing style that generates significant (defined as, say, 10% or more of total RMS signal) output above 15 kHz!

    Put it this way: if you play your bass through a speaker that does not include a tweeter, and you like the sound if it just fine, that means you're probably not hearing much above a kHz or two, and don't miss it. Those big bass-guitar sized loudspeaker drivers don't usually have much output beyond a kHz or two. In fact a healthy 8-inch woofer may not go much above a kHz, and a 12 or 15 inch driver will usually top out at an even lower frequency, though this does depend somewhat on things like cone material and moving mass. I remember measuring an 8" driver that had its first cone breakup mode at 1 kHz, followed by very rapid roll-off except for the odd spike here and there in the frequency range as other break-up modes peaked."


    Hope it helps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Elmeaux's Avatar
      Elmeaux -
      Thanks!! I love info like this.
    1. JeffB's Avatar
      JeffB -
      Yeah, I check here 'frequently'
    1. Bass4Gsus's Avatar
      Bass4Gsus -
      You left off the low B

      30.87 hz B0

      Make it rumble.
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