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Finding mass per unit length of a string

  1. Mar 5, 2009 #1
    i am a non physics or math major taking a 'physics of sound and music' course that deals with different wave forms. i am enjoying the class very much (more than i thought i would!) but am having trouble with the math, as the last math class i took was pre-calculus my junior year of high school. here's the question i am having the problem with:

    The 4th string on a guitar is normally tuned to the D below middle C (D3). Suppose the string is 646 mm long. If I want the tension to be 30 N, what mass per unit length do I need?

    i think (but could definitely be wrong) that the equation to use is V = sqrt (T/mu)

    mu is what i am trying to find, and i am guessing that v would be the frequency of D3, which is 146.83Hz.

    so, 146.83 = sqrt (30N/mu)

    that's about as far as i have gotten - i don't know if i am on the right track and, if i am, how do i solve for mu? where does the length of the string come into play, if it does at all? i am lost!
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2009 #2


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    Homework Helper

    Hi whiterobot,

    No, the V in that equation is the velocity of the wave. How is the wave velocity related to the wave fequency?
  4. Mar 5, 2009 #3
    well, v = wavelength/period, correct? so, the new equation would be:

    wavelength = 344/146.8 = 2.3
    period = 2.3/344 = .007

    so v = 2.3/.007 = 385.71

    385.71 = sqrt (30N/ mu)?
  5. Mar 6, 2009 #4


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    That's true; and since period = (1/frequency), the more standard way to write this (and more convenient for this problem) is:


    This is the wavelength of the sound wave (in the air), but here you need the wavelength of the string wave. What would that be?
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