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#1
Hi folks,

The Fitz recently told me of a "discussion" going on here in the bass forum about the low end of the bass guitar's playing spectrum.

Apparently there are a few bassists who think that there are sounds below 20 Hz that can be heard by the human ear. 20 Hz seems to be the cutoff frequency for humans--anything above that, we can make out a distinct pitch, but below that, it is merely a pushing of air back and forth. In physics, this range from 0 to 20 Hz is called infrasonic waves. When played as pure sine waves, anything below 20 Hz will not be audibly perceived as having pitch.

Bass guitar, however, has a rich, complex timbre composed of the fundamental and harmonics--depending on where the string is plucked, how it is plucked (or slapped), and what means are utilized to transduce the string vibrations into electrical signal (usually, this is done with pickups).

If one happens to play a note below 20 Hz, say an F# (17 Hz) on a specialized bass, what one can say is that the played note has a rich harmonic content composed of the 2nd harmonic (34 Hz), 3rd harmonic (51 Hz), 4th harmonic (68 Hz), etc., diminishing in amplitude as you go higher in harmonic. When this is played through a standard bass amp, it will be heard due to those higher harmonics. Most bass amps will have a low-cut filter that will remove anything below 20 Hz--it improves the punchiness of the notes. Some bass amps though, have the means to bypass the low-cut filter and will let all frequencies produced by the bass come through, including the 17 Hz. The 17 Hz portion of the spectrum will not be heard, but rather felt as a rumble--a pushing and pulling of air.

As proof of this, I challenge those who think that the 17 Hz is really audible--play that low F# note through a low-pass filter (with everything above 20 Hz attenuated), and play it into a set of high quality audiophile headphones. This will ensure that the note will not be felt by the rest of the body and be confused as sound. I guarantee that you will hear just a warble of the headphone diaphragms, but no discernible pitch. Play it through your amp now and see if you can actually discern a pitch to the 17 Hz. Not likely.

It is the higher harmonic content that make that low F# sound like it can be distinguished as a pitch--not the 17 Hz. For the same reason, most ABGs (acoustic bass guitars) fall short when played unplugged--their bodies are too small to reproduce the fundmental note faithfully--what you end up hearing are the harmonics of the bronze strings. As the strings get duller, the sound diminishes quickly. You need bright sounding strings for the typical ABG to compete against acoustic steel string guitars--or you need to plug it into an amp, which defeats the purpose!

I'm sure there is some musical merit in playing notes below low B--the rumble is cool--but the notes are not as useful as the range above B. It's like those low notes on an 88 key piano--they are a nice to have, but who really uses them when playing normal pieces, other than to produce a low rumble? At that point, the function of the bass is more percussive than melodic, and those low strings serve to add kick-drum type tones to the bass' musical palette. Slapped & muted, they give a sharp kick sound with a quick transient and decay--slapped and left ringing, they give a nice "808" kick sound.

I hope this clears things up. I figured a physics guy like me can help shed light on this and help stop the conflict between perception and definition.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#2
I thought 1 in a 1000 humans could hear below 20 hz or am i getting mixed up with perfect pitch?
#3
I'm glad that you highlighted the fact that even though notes might not be heard, they'll still be sensed otherwise. It's scarily overlooked.

Most really good studio cans don't have that good a frequency range. My cans, which are low-midrange only go down to about 40Hz.

I would also argue that the prime function of a bass guitar IS to be percussive, (since it is a percussion instrument) and of course, harmonic rather than melodic - bass is rarely the main timbral focus of a piece of music. Even in soul/funk etc, where it's very important, it's really only a vehicle to support the voice.

I also don't understand why EVERY musician is always looking lower. It's like the loudness war, but the frequency war. Not only are your options down there limited, but it's been done to death. Looking upwards, the possibilities are endless, because you have FAR more than 1 1/2 octaves to explore.

That's my 0.02.

EDIT: Obviously, this is the bass forum, so it's appropriate to look downwards, but my point is that when guitars are downtuned, basses are usually done proportionately. Plus there's no reason you shouldn't tune a bass above concert pitch.
Last edited by BrianApocalypse at Mar 3, 2008,
#6
Quote by BrianApocalypse
I would also argue that the prime function of a bass guitar IS to be percussive, (since it is a percussion instrument)


/facepalm

The bass is a string instrument, as it uses strings to produce the sound. I don't see how people can think of it as percussion. Sure you hit the strings, but it is the strings making the noise, and the fact it is using strings to produce sound overrides the hitting aspect of percussion instruments. It is similar with the piano. It uses hammers to hit the strings, but it a string instrument as the strings are what produces the sound.
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+1
#7
I believe what you are seeking is the elusive "brown note."

A note so low that when it's played everyone who hears it ****s their pants.

Never play this not without headphones.

Source: Southpark
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GeEbZ.
#8
Quote by Geebz
I believe what you are seeking is the elusive "brown note."

A note so low that when it's played everyone who hears it ****s their pants.

Never play this not without headphones.

Source: Southpark


The brown note is the biggest load of bullsh*t I've ever heard.
#9
Quote by Deliriumbassist
The brown note is the biggest load of bullsh*t I've ever heard.


It is actually a semi truth. There is anow way in hell it can cause you the crap yourself, but certain very low notes can resonate your gut, hence causing feeling of needing an urgent visit to the toilet. However, they have to be played extremely loud, and at any volume short of causing permentant ear damage, they will simply make your gut feel a bit wierd.
Warwick freak of the Bass Militia. PM Nutter_101 to join

Quote by elliott FTW
Damn you and Warwickyness

Quote by ScottB
Quote by CLIFF_BURTON
gm jack knows everything
+1
#10
Quote by gm jack
It is actually a semi truth. There is anow way in hell it can cause you the crap yourself, but certain very low notes can resonate your gut, hence causing feeling of needing an urgent visit to the toilet. However, they have to be played extremely loud, and at any volume short of causing permentant ear damage, they will simply make your gut feel a bit wierd.


There is no scientific evidence that low frequency notes do anything to the body.

Collapsing of lungs is only due to how loud the subwoofer arrays are at concerts.

Air is crap at transmitting low frequencies to the human body.
#11
So this was kinda pointless. Some people can't discern a pitch difference on the B string of a regular fiver, so does that mean the lowest note we can hear would be the E of 41Hz? No. We can hear that something is being played when we hear notes below 20Hz and because of the harmonic overtones, we can identify what's being played. Psychoacoustics, friend. If our mind tricks us into thinking we heard something, we may as well have heard something.
Millie, my Peavey Grind Fiver
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Quote by NakedBassist
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#12
Quote by Deliriumbassist
The brown note is the biggest load of bullsh*t I've ever heard.


Dude, seriously, my brother died that way.
#14
^Came home on the 22nd of February. And I'm just now getting used to the forum again.
#16
I'd love to be in Bass Wars. Too bad I haven't owned a bass in forever. Maybe I can borrow one or fix my ancient one and school all you young whipper-snappers.
#17
And let's not forget the frequency response of speakers. Only the Whappo Grande 21" cab can reproduce an F# fundamental so you can indeed FEEL the note along with psychoacoustics synthesizing it. All other cabs simply cannot reproduce the fundamental, assuming the amp can.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#18
Quote by thefitz
And let's not forget the frequency response of speakers. Only the Whappo Grande 21" cab can reproduce an F# fundamental so you can indeed FEEL the note along with psychoacoustics synthesizing it. All other cabs simply cannot reproduce the fundamental, assuming the amp can.


Frequency repsonse is not a cut off. From what you've said I feel that you think that any note below a certain frequency will not be produced. This is incorrect.

The notes below the frequency response will be produce just at a lower level. I could draw you an example if you want...

The Freq Response is the range in which the output is +/- 3dB. Anything thats lower than the range is produced but at an output great than 3dB less than the mean.

Gear:
Fender Standard Jazz Bass
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#19
But the thing about all of that is that it's in fractions when it comes to octaves. An Ampeg 810 bottoms off at 65Hz, and 17Hz is roughly 2 octaves below that. An octave is a huge amount going down. An Ampeg 18 gets down to 28Hz -10db. 17Hz will be at such a steep -dB that you won't be able to hear it. The rolloff isn't linear. The farther away from the -3db point, the lower it is. The difference between, say, 45 Hz and 35Hz is less than the difference between 35Hz and 25Hz by a considerable amount (in the case of the Ampeg).

And, the high-pass filter of an amp IS a direct cutoff point.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#20
Quote by thefitz
And let's not forget the frequency response of speakers. Only the Whappo Grande 21" cab can reproduce an F# fundamental so you can indeed FEEL the note along with psychoacoustics synthesizing it. All other cabs simply cannot reproduce the fundamental, assuming the amp can.


Ahh I finaly get to say this: Fitz, you're wrong!

Check out the rotery subwoofer:

http://www.rotarywoofer.com/index.htm

It goes down to 1 hz!
Last edited by Puma89 at Mar 3, 2008,
#21
so is this F# the F#0?
the one that can make girls orgasm?
I have to get that rotary subwoofer
I'm a Fire, and I'll Burn.Burn.Burn.
#23
Okey we gotta get this straight now. The F#0 is at 23.12 Hz it's the C#0 that is at 17.32 hz.

Okey? Everybody got it?
#24
YAY ORGASM NOTE!
gotta get a good bass amp!
I'm a Fire, and I'll Burn.Burn.Burn.
#25
Quote by Jonn0
YAY ORGASM NOTE!
gotta get a good bass amp!

Please, just don't. Save that rubbish for the pit.
#26
Quote by Jonn0
YAY ORGASM NOTE!
gotta get a good bass amp!

Please tell me that you're kidding and that you didn't completely neglect that F#0 thread.
Quote by Yerjam
Could be, but the most important thing to remember is that it wasn't your fault, even if it was.
#28
Quote by Jonn0
YAY ORGASM NOTE!
gotta get a good bass amp!



Really, some urban myths need to die. Stick a fork in this one boys....


And on the infamous brown note:

"The brown note was tested on the television show MythBusters using twelve Meyer Sound 700-HP subwoofers—a model and quantity that has been employed for major rock concerts.[1] Normal operating frequency range of the selected subwoofer model was 28 Hz to 150 Hz[2] but the twelve enclosures at Mythbusters had been specially modified for deeper bass extension. The experimenters on the show tried a series of frequencies between 5 and 10 Hz at a level of 120–153 dBSPL, but they were unsuccessful in producing the rumored effects. The test subjects all reported some physical anxiety and shortness of breath, even a small amount of nausea, but this was dismissed by the participants, noting that sound at that frequency and intensity moves air rapidly in and out of one's lungs."
#29
Hate to sound like a jerk but until someone can musically use frequencies that low I don't care.
Got Bass?
#30
Quote by DoctrDrew116
Hate to sound like a jerk but until someone can musically use frequencies that low I don't care.

He-who's-name-shall-not-be-mentioned actually manages to do it fairly well with his C# standard tuned four string.
Millie, my Peavey Grind Fiver
Peavey BAM 210 350w combo amp
Sansamp Bass Driver DI
Modded Ernie Ball VP Jr.
Monster Bass Cable, 21'

Quote by NakedBassist
Welcome to bass, you'll f*cking love it
#31
Some people can hear really high/low notes. Its kind of like the third nipple for hearing.
Call Me Joe
Quote by wesleyisgay
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FUK



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#33
Quote by Puma89
Ahh I finaly get to say this: Fitz, you're wrong!

Check out the rotery subwoofer:

http://www.rotarywoofer.com/index.htm

It goes down to 1 hz!

OK, you're right. A $25,000 fan that you can't move anywhere and must be attached to an attic or basement using the floor as a soundboard is a counterexample that proves me wrong.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
Last edited by thefitz at Mar 3, 2008,
#34
Quote by thefitz
OK, you're right. A $25,000 fan that you can't move anywhere and must be attached to an attic or basement using the floor as a soundboard is a counterexample that proves me wrong.


Haha yeah sorry dude, I'm just being an ass.

And, t3hrav3n your talking about Jauqo X-III and I agree he does play well with his C#0 string. Also Jean Baudin's (the dude who plays super mario and zelda on youtube) 12-string has a C#0 on it.
#35
Quote by Jonn0
YAY ORGASM NOTE!
gotta get a good bass amp!


Just one question. Who cares if it makes girls cum? Find one that makes my weener throw up, then I'll start investing in ridiculously expensive subs.
#36
Quote by Bumper
Just one question. Who cares if it makes girls cum? Find one that makes my weener throw up, then I'll start investing in ridiculously expensive subs.

Y'know, if you wanted to make your weiner throw up, instead of playing the bass perhaps you could use your hands t--


No, no, I just can't do it. I will not finish that sentence. I refuse to.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#37
Quote by Jonn0
YAY ORGASM NOTE!
gotta get a good bass amp!

How did i know this thread was gonna end up like this?
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#38
Quote by thefitz
Y'know, if you wanted to make your weiner throw up, instead of playing the bass perhaps you could use your hands t--


No, no, I just can't do it. I will not finish that sentence. I refuse to.


This thread makes me

Okay the F#0 thing I disproved by means of physically doing it. I tried it on my singer, and she didn't move at all Her boyfriend did jump a bit though 0_0

And really if you play any of your strings around the 12th fret you feel a tingle.
#39
Quote by thefitz
Y'know, if you wanted to make your weiner throw up, instead of playing the bass perhaps you could use your hands t--


No, no, I just can't do it. I will not finish that sentence. I refuse to.



You know what, one day when I grow up and marry a skeezy pornstar, I'm gonna throw you a birthday party and invite all of her pornstar friends. You can go ahead and thank me/send money/name your firstborn after me in advance.
Last edited by Bumper at Mar 3, 2008,
#40
Quote by Bumper
^You know what, one day when I grow up and marry a skeezy pornstar, I'm gonna throw you a birthday party and invite all of her pornstar friends. You can go ahead and thank me/send money/name your firstborn after me in advance.




Wow I feel so honored

But to add to the thread, isn't F#0 around 21 or 23 HZ?
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