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Q & A: Factors that determine the pitch of a string

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Why do different strings on instruments make high and low pitched sounds?
- C. George (age 14)
San Angelo, TX
A:
There are three parameters that effect the pitch or frequency f,  that a string makes:
the tension T,  the length L, and the mass per unit length of the string, lambda.   There is a formula that gives the frequency:    f  =  sqrt(T/lambda) / (2*pi*L).   So when you tighten the string or shorten the length, the frequency goes up.  The fatter the string, i.e. bigger lambda, the smaller the frequency. 

LeeH


(published on 10/22/2007)

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