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Published January 1, 2015 | public
Journal Article Open

Banjo timbre from string stretching and frequency modulation


The geometry of a floating bridge on a drumhead soundboard produces string stretching that is first order in the amplitude of the bridge motion. This stretching modulates the string tension and consequently modulates string frequencies at acoustic frequencies. Early work in electronic sound synthesis identified such modulation as a source of bell-like and metallic timbre. And increasing string stretching by adjusting banjo string-tailpiece-head geometry enhances characteristic banjo tone. Hence, this mechanism is likely a significant source of the ring, ping, clang, and plunk common to the family of instruments that share floating-bridge/drumhead construction.

Additional Information

© 2015 S. Hirzel Verlag. Received 09 July 2014, accepted 18 September 2014. I would like to thank Frank Rice of Caltech for constructive observations.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023