A mixed numerical-experimental identification procedure for estimating the storage and loss properties in sandwich structures with a soft core is developed The proposed method uses at the experimental level a precise measurement setup with an electro-dynamic shaker and a scanning laser Interferometer and at the computational level an original structurally damped shell finite element model derived from the higher-order shear deformation theory with piecewise linear functions for the through-the-thickness displacement The parameter estimation is derived from adequate objective functions measuring the discrepancy between the experimental and numerical modal data Through a sensitivity analysis it is shown that for sandwich structures with a soft core only one specimen is required for characterizing the dominant properties of both the core and the skins The procedure is then applied to two test cases for which all the Influent elastic properties and the major damping parameters could be estimated with a fairly good precision (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved