I understand why there are peaks in integer multiples of the fundamental in the Fourier transform. But why is there often a peak in half the fundamental?

I am testing for the guitar specifically. I am doing an STFT on an guitar audio monophonic signal and then get the 4 strongest frequencies in each note. I always get the fundamental in those 4 and of course some multiples of it but also half of it.

  • $\begingroup$ At the risk of sounding like a total dofus: you have taken into account that guitar is a transposing instrument, sounding one octave lower than written? $\endgroup$
    – user28833
    May 31, 2017 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


When I play A3 (220Hz) in my guitar, the fifth string which is A2 (110Hz) also vibrates a bit: it is what is called Sympathetic resonance. Besides other non-linear effects, this could be the case.

  • $\begingroup$ If I check not immediately after the onset but 10 or 15 frames later, then I actually stop getting that half frequency. Could that be the case? $\endgroup$
    – pavlos163
    May 30, 2017 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ Do you see a continuous (progressive) attenuation of that half-harmonic as time goes by? $\endgroup$
    – Fusho
    May 30, 2017 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. At a faster rate than other harmonics. $\endgroup$
    – pavlos163
    May 30, 2017 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Most probably something in the path from string being picked to microphone is in resonance. And that "something" (probably a lower string, but it could be the body of the guitar for example... or both) has a big impedance at that half-harmonic frequency, that is why it gets attenuated faster. $\endgroup$
    – Fusho
    May 30, 2017 at 17:12

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