An exact solution for the natural frequencies of vibration of a finite length free-free beam with a circular cross section is found and compared to approximate solutions. This exact solution is a series solution of the general linear elasticity equations which converges to correct natural frequencies. Correctness of the frequencies is established by comparison to previous experiments. Comparison of the exact to approximate solutions is made with the Pochhammer-Chree approximation, the Timoshenko beam approximation and the Pickett approximation. The comparisons clearly show the range of applicability of the approximate methods as well as their accuracy. The correct shear coefficient for use in the Timoshenko beam approximation is investigated and conclusions which differ with, yet at the same time complement, those of previous researchers are reached.

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