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Every hollow body with an opening to the outside is a Helmholtz-Resonator
So is a guitar, a violin even a drum or any other musical instrument that fullfills the marks:
- hollow body
- opening to the outside
... regardless of the shape of the instrument and the shape of the so-called 'soundhole'.
The background and basics
The effect of 'Helmholtz resonance' was revealed by Hermann von Helmholtz in the late 1850s.
A indispensable mark of such a Helmholtz resonator is its 'Helmholtz resonator frequency'. This is the frequency where one gets an tremendous over-shot in sound strength at the opening (e.g. a 'soundhole') compared to the emited strength of sound of the body, if the body is stimulated by a mechanical frequency. (See Wikipedia for "Helmholtz Resonance" and/or "Helmholtz Resonator")
An excellent article about Helmholtz resonance [↑] can be found at the University of New South-Wales (UNSW) in Sydney/Australia and the 'Basics' section [↑] provides essential knowledge about the physics of musical instruments and the human voice as well.
Bringing this into practice ...
Below are two pictures from a 3D-spectrum analyser.
These pictures show the impact of the Helmholtz-Resonator-Frequency to an instrument if the soundhole is not covered and if the soundhole is covered: i.e. the opening is closed and therefore the Helmholtz-Resonator is 'turned off. Mounted into the instrument was an AnyMic/i from the normal production.
The chosen instrument was a Western-/Steel-string guitar that has a typical Helmholtz-Resonator-Frequency of 55 Hertz. This is half of the frequency of the the base-frequency that is for a steel-string guitar the open A string (A5; 110 Hz). The bad impacts of an uncovered soundhole can be seen clearly ...
Using an internal microphone in the instrument demands, that the soundhole is covered by a 'soundhole cover'.
Only this turns the Helmholtz-Resonator 'off'' with all the bad impact. Some call that a 'feedback killer' - which is wrong, because Helmholtz-Resonance has nothing to do with 'feedback'.
Specific instruments have typical H.R. frequencies.
I can speak here only for instruments, for which I have investigated it or have tested it with instrument that I have at hand.
The following table shows results from my invstigations and measures:
|H.R. frequency [Hz]||Base frequency [Hz]||Note/Tone|
|Steel-string guitar||55||110||A5 (open A string)|
(Work in progress ...)
Piezo is it! Piezo is it! Piezo is it!
If asking people who believe this, the resulting answer always is a swell of the marketing hype that manufacturers of piezo pickups unleash to their audience - regardless of what harm they do to the instrument.
Well, let's step through the facts ...
When were piezo elements invented? ...
"French physicists Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered piezoelectricity in 1880. The piezoelectric effect results from the linear electromechanical interaction between the mechanical and electrical states in crystalline materials with no inversion symmetry."
In audio technology, piezo pickup systems were used in record players in times post World War II up to the late 1960ies, since audio industries were not able to produce coils that were small enough to build electro-magnetic pickup systems. But with the invention of electro-magnetic pickups, the piezo technology vanished quickly from the market, since these were known for their harsh and screechy sound ...
Of what is a piezo pickup essentially made? ...
The easy answer is: 'sand'. This 'sand' is bound by an electrically conductible ceramic substrate, that keeps the crystals closely together which is essential that a piezo element can work at all.
The actual piezo element is in turn bound to a metal plate or bar with a weight of several grams.
- Barium titanate.
- Lead titanate.
- Lead zirconate titanate (PZT)
- Lithium niobate.
- Lithium tantalite.
- Potassium niobate.
- Sodium tungstate.
What does a piezo element actually do?
Frequency range of piezo elements ...
Linearity of piezo elements ...
Types of piezo pickups ...
- Bars or tubes (for 'under saddle' mount)
- soft (tubes)
- hard (bars)
What do all these types have in common?
Piezo pickups are soundboard killers in any shape and color they are coming along. In particular with nylon-stringed instruments they sound quacky and twangy.