Most of finite element (FE) model updating techniques do not employ damping matrices and hence, cannot be used for accurate prediction of complex frequency response functions (FRFs) and complex mode shapes. In this paper, a detailed comparison of two approaches of obtaining damped FE model updating methods are evaluated with the objective that the FRFs obtained from damped updated FE models is able to predict the measured FRFs accurately. In the first method, damped updating FE model is obtained by complex parameter-based updating procedure, which is a single-step procedure. In the second method, damped updated model is obtained by the FE model updating with damping identification, which is a two-step procedure. In the first step, mass and stiffness matrices are updated and in the second step, damping matrix is identified using updated mass and stiffness matrices, which are obtained in the previous step. The effectiveness of both methods is evaluated by numerical examples as well as by actual experimental data. Firstly, a study is performed using a numerical simulation based on fixed-fixed beam structure with non-proportional viscous damping model. The numerical study is followed by a case involving actual measured data for the case of F-shaped test structure. The updated results have shown that the complex parameter-based FE model updating procedure gives better matching of complex FRFs with the experimental data. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.