Why does low E on guitar sound so different to the same note on bass guitar?

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KVRAF
2275 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:14 pm

I only recently found out low E on a bass is only 1 octave below low E on a guitar, meaning on bass second fret on D is the same note in the same octave as low E on guitar... So why do they sound so different?
I can't find an easy answer. It's obvious that a bass guitar has sub content that a regular guitar doesn't.

Sorry to sound like a noob, I have actually been playing for 25 years... so I'm not actually a noob. :hihi: I just want to delve into the science of what can make the same note "bass" or "not bass".

KVRAF
3344 posts since 21 Mar, 2020 from Gothenburg, Sweden

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:17 pm

Thicker strings I presume.
Sad about tomorrow
Sorry, but it's not my fault

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KVRian
553 posts since 20 Oct, 2018

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:35 pm

I think a bass string vibration in a certain frequency runs out of energy much faster because of its thickness.
A guitarstring keeps vibrating for much longer and thus produce a more energy rich sound.

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Boss Lovin' DR
7784 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:41 pm

Saffran wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:35 pm
I think a bass string vibration in a certain frequency runs out of energy much faster because of its thickness.
A guitarstring keeps vibrating for much longer and thus produce a more energy rich sound.
Hmm, I would have thought the opposite; The tension on an A string on a standard bass will be round about twice that for the E on a guitar, given the thicker strings and longer scale. More energy to be released then and it vibrates for longer. I think.... :scared:

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addled muppet weed
76872 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:46 pm

same note on one of your bottom 3 (the thick ones) compared to the same note on the g string sounds different.

as mentioned above, the thicker strings, although producing the same frequency, have a different timbre.

weirdly, same thing happens when you inhale helium. it's the timbre that changes, but we often perceive it as a frequency shift :shrug:
this happens because the helium doesn't alter the length of the vocal chords, but chills them, so they vibrate different but not higher? bloody physics.
i should be able to explain this better, im beginning to think i fluked my degree :o

KVRist
471 posts since 17 Nov, 2015 from Dawson Creek

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:47 pm

an-electric-heart wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:14 pm
I only recently found out low E on a bass is only 1 octave below low E on a guitar, meaning on bass second fret on D is the same note in the same octave as low E on guitar... So why do they sound so different?
I can't find an easy answer. It's obvious that a bass guitar has sub content that a regular guitar doesn't.

Sorry to sound like a noob, I have actually been playing for 25 years... so I'm not actually a noob. :hihi: I just want to delve into the science of what can make the same note "bass" or "not bass".
as long as you able to hear the difference, no need to dive deeper^^- its a good sign tbh. some folks dont hear hear any difference. or at least they dont care to hear one.
its somehow like the difference between an empty string and the same note on the 5th fret. its all a combination of the stringtension, the string thickness and how the string is plucked. it all matters and sums up for the timbre at the end. ask coders of physical modeling synths about it ^^

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Boss Lovin' DR
7784 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:51 pm

Whilst I was looking on the poogle I found some reddit page of moaning about people playing chords up the neck on bass. I think I'll pass.. :hihi:

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KVRAF
6418 posts since 7 Sep, 2006 from Roseville, CA

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:55 pm

It's a good question and, as a lifelong bassist, this question has crossed my mind before as well. I've never looked into it, but always assumed that it had to do with string thickness and tension and the resulting harmonics and timbre, not to mention all the other factors, like neck length, fretboard material, pickups, bridge, etc.

I do like the idea of asking physical modelers about it and I'm interested in hearing thoughts.

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KVRAF
15095 posts since 16 Sep, 2001 from Las Vegas,USA

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:56 pm

Why does a low E sound different on a Piano than on a Bass Guitar ?
None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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KVRAF

Topic Starter

2275 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:59 pm

donkey tugger wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:51 pm
Whilst I was looking on the poogle I found some reddit page of moaning about people playing chords up the neck on bass. I think I'll pass.. :hihi:
I actually play bass in a 90s style punk band. I play with a Jazz bass with a pick, have a really bright tone and mostly play an octave up (rather than going to the lowest notes on e), and yes, often play power chords on D and G. :tu:

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addled muppet weed
76872 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 5:13 pm

Teksonik wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:56 pm
Why does a low E sound different on a Piano than on a Bass Guitar ?
is the pianist girthy?

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KVRAF
15095 posts since 16 Sep, 2001 from Las Vegas,USA

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 5:26 pm

That's a very personal question so I did not ask....
None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

KVRAF
2524 posts since 15 Feb, 2020

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 6:50 pm

Could be because we use fingers on (P) bass (with tort guard) and picks on guitar....

Guitar! How low can you go?
FKA samsam. PMs from likely lecturers deleted without reading :party:

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KVRAF

Topic Starter

2275 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 6:56 pm

revvy wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 11, 2021 6:50 pm
Could be because you use fingers on bass and picks on guitar....
There isn't as much difference between picked and finger tone as people make out, picked bass has a bit more of a sharp attack, but the basses tone is the basses tone, and doesn't change that much regardless of fingers or pick.

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KVRAF
6397 posts since 18 Aug, 2007 from NYC

Post Thu Mar 11, 2021 9:09 pm

vurt wrote: ↑
Thu Mar 11, 2021 2:46 pm
same note on one of your bottom 3 (the thick ones) compared to the same note on the g string sounds different.

as mentioned above, the thicker strings, although producing the same frequency, have a different timbre.

weirdly, same thing happens when you inhale helium. it's the timbre that changes, but we often perceive it as a frequency shift :shrug:
this happens because the helium doesn't alter the length of the vocal chords, but chills them, so they vibrate different but not higher? bloody physics.
i should be able to explain this better, im beginning to think i fluked my degree :o
I think this is probably the best explanation so far.

timbre. It'll sound different on other stringed instruments too. You don't have to stop with just guitars and bass, or the already mentioned piano (stringed too).

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