When EQing an audio signal or choosing a microphone based upon its frequency response, known the frequency range of the sound source is important. Though it's easy to find out the range of possible notes in an instrument, it's a bit trickier to under the fundamental frequencies and harmonics of the sound source to truly comprehend its sonic character.
In this article, I present to you two tables of musical notes (in A=432 tuning and A=440 tuning) with their coinciding fundamental frequencies and fundamental wavelengths.
A Few Notes Before We Get Started
I'll be using the modern equal temperament system, which approximates 12 just intervals by dividing an octave into equal steps.
Note also that I'll be taking the speed of sound to be equal to 343.2 m/s (1,125 ft/s; 1,235 km/h; 767 mph). This is the speed of sound in air at standard atmospheric pressure and temperature.
This list will start with the lowest note of the Bb Octocontrabass Clarinet which is an A#-1 at 14.5 Hz in A=440. The list will end with the highest note of the extended piano which is a B8 at 7902 Hz in A=440.
Middle C is C4.
With those notes out of the way, let's start with the more commonly used A=440 Hz:
Frequencies Of Musical Notes In A=440 Hz
|Musical Note||Fundamental Frequency||Fundamental Wavelength|
|E0||20.602 Hz||16.659 m
|F0||21.827 Hz||15.724 m
|F#/Gb0||23.125 Hz||14.841 m
|G0||24.500 Hz||14.008 m
|G#/Ab0||25.957 Hz||13.222 m
|A0||27.500 Hz||12.480 m
|A#/Bb0||29.135 Hz||11.780 m
|B0||30.868 Hz||11.118 m
|C1||32.703 Hz||10.494 m
|C#/Db1||34.648 Hz||9.9053 m
|D1||36.708 Hz||9.3495 m
|D#/Eb1||38.891 Hz||8.8247 m
|E1||41.203 Hz||8.3295 m
|F1||43.654 Hz||7.8618 m
|F#/Gb1||46.249 Hz||7.4207 m
|G1||49.000 Hz||7.0041 m
|G#/Ab1||51.913 Hz||6.6111 m
|A1||55.000 Hz||6.2400 m
|A#/Bb1||58.270 Hz||5.8898 m
|B1||61.735 Hz||5.5592 m
|C2||65.406 Hz||5.2472 m
|C#/Db2||69.296 Hz||4.9527 m
|D2||73.416 Hz||4.6747 m
|D#/Eb2||77.782 Hz||4.4123 m
|E2||82.407 Hz||4.1647 m
|F2||87.307 Hz||3.9310 m
|F#/Gb2||92.499 Hz||3.7103 m
|G2||97.999 Hz||3.5021 m
|G#/Ab2||103.83 Hz||3.3054 m
|A2||110.00 Hz||3.1200 m
|A#/Bb2||116.54 Hz||2.9449 m
|B2||123.47 Hz||2.7796 m
|C3||130.81 Hz||2.6237 m
|C#/Db3||138.59 Hz||2.4764 m
|D3||146.83 Hz||2.3374 m
|D#/Eb3||155.56 Hz||2.2062 m
|E3||164.81 Hz||2.0824 m
|F3||174.61 Hz||1.9655 m
|F#/Gb3||185.00 Hz||1.8551 m
|G3||196.00 Hz||1.7510 m
|G#/Ab3||207.65 Hz||1.6528 m
|A3||220.00 Hz||1.5600 m
|A#/Bb3||233.08 Hz||1.4725 m
|B3||246.94 Hz||1.3898 m
|C4||261.63 Hz||1.3118 m
|C#/Db4||277.18 Hz||1.2382 m
|D4||293.66 Hz||1.1687 m
|D#/Eb4||311.13 Hz||1.1031 m
|E4||329.63 Hz||1.0412 m
|F4||349.23 Hz||982.73 mm
|F#/Gb4||369.99 Hz||927.59 mm
|G4||392.00 Hz||875.51 mm
|G#/Ab4||415.30 Hz||826.39 mm
|A4||440.00 Hz||780.00 mm
|A#/Bb4||466.16 Hz||736.23 mm
|B4||493.88 Hz||694.91 mm
|C5||523.15 Hz||656.03 mm
|C#/Db5||554.37 Hz||619.08 mm
|D5||587.33 Hz||584.34 mm
|D#/Eb5||622.25 Hz||551.55 mm
|E5||659.26 Hz||520.58 mm
|F5||698.46 Hz||491.37 mm
|F#/Gb5||739.99 Hz||463.79 mm
|G5||783.99 Hz||437.76 mm
|G#/Ab5||830.61 Hz||413.19 mm
|A5||880.00 Hz||390.00 mm
|A#/Bb5||932.33 Hz||368.11 mm
|B5||987.77 Hz||347.45 mm
|C6||1046.5 Hz||327.95 mm
|C#/Db6||1108.7 Hz||309.55 mm
|D6||1174.7 Hz||292.16 mm
|D#/Eb6||1244.5 Hz||275.77 mm
|E6||1318.5 Hz||260.30 mm
|F6||1396.9 Hz||245.69 mm
|F#/Gb6||1480.0 Hz||231.89 mm
|G6||1568.0 Hz||218.88 mm
|G#/Ab6||1661.2 Hz||206.60 mm
|A6||1760.0 Hz||195.00 mm
|A#/Bb6||1864.7 Hz||184.05 mm
|B6||1975.5 Hz||173.73 mm
|C6||2093.0 Hz||163.98 mm
|C#/Db7||2217.5 Hz||154.77 mm
|D7||2349.3 Hz||146.09 mm
|D#/Eb7||2489.0 Hz||137.89 mm
|E7||2637.0 Hz||130.15 mm
|F7||2793.8 Hz||122.84 mm
|F#/Gb7||2960.0 Hz||115.95 mm
|G7||3136.0 Hz||109.44 mm
|G#/Ab7||3322.4 Hz||103.30 mm
|A7||3520.0 Hz||97.500 mm
|A#/Bb7||3729.3 Hz||92.028 mm
|B7||3951.1 Hz||86.862 mm
|C8||4186.0 Hz||81.988 mm
|C#/Db8||4434.9 Hz||77.386 mm
|D8||4698.6 Hz||73.043 mm
|D#/Eb8||4978.0 Hz||68.943 mm
|E8||5274.0 Hz||65.074 mm
|F8||5587.7 Hz||61.421 mm
|F#/Gb8||5920.0 Hz||57.973 mm
|G8||6271.9 Hz||54.720 mm
|G#/Ab8||6644.9 Hz||51.649 mm
|A8||7040.0 Hz||48.750 mm
|A#/Bb8||7458.6 Hz||46.014 mm
|B8||7902.1 Hz||43.431 mm
Frequencies Of Musical Notes In A=432 Hz
|Musical Note||Fundamental Frequency||Fundamental Wavelength|
|E0||20.227 Hz||16.967 m
|F0||21.430 Hz||16.015 m
|F#/Gb0||22.704 Hz||15.116 m
|G0||24.054 Hz||14.268 m
|G#/Ab0||25.485 Hz||13.467 m
|A0||27.000 Hz||12.711 m
|A#/Bb0||28.606 Hz||11.997 m
|B0||30.306 Hz||11.324 m
|C1||32.109 Hz||10.689 m
|C#/Db1||34.018 Hz||10.089 m
|D1||36.041 Hz||9.5225 m
|D#/Eb1||38.184 Hz||8.9881 m
|E1||40.454 Hz||8.4837 m
|F1||42.860 Hz||8.0075 m
|F#/Gb1||45.409 Hz||7.5580 m
|G1||48.109 Hz||7.1338 m
|G#/Ab1||50.969 Hz||6.7335 m
|A1||54.000 Hz||6.3556 m
|A#/Bb1||57.211 Hz||5.9988 m
|B1||60.613 Hz||5.6622 m
|C2||64.217 Hz||5.3444 m
|C#/Db2||68.036 Hz||5.0444 m
|D2||72.081 Hz||4.7613 m
|D#/Eb2||76.368 Hz||4.4940 m
|E2||80.909 Hz||4.2418 m
|F2||85.720 Hz||4.0037 m
|F#/Gb2||90.817 Hz||3.7790 m
|G2||96.217 Hz||3.5669 m
|G#/Ab2||101.94 Hz||3.3667 m
|A2||108.00 Hz||3.1778 m
|A#/Bb2||114.42 Hz||2.9995 m
|B2||121.23 Hz||2.8310 m
|C3||128.43 Hz||2.6723 m
|C#/Db3||136.07 Hz||2.5222 m
|D3||144.16 Hz||2.3807 m
|D#/Eb3||152.74 Hz||2.2470 m
|E3||161.82 Hz||2.1209 m
|F3||171.44 Hz||2.0019 m
|F#/Gb3||181.63 Hz||1.8896 m
|G3||192.43 Hz||1.7835 m
|G#/Ab3||203.88 Hz||1.6833 m
|A3||216.00 Hz||1.5889 m
|A#/Bb3||228.84 Hz||1.4997 m
|B3||242.45 Hz||1.4155 m
|C4||256.87 Hz||1.3361 m
|C#/Db4||272.14 Hz||1.2611 m
|D4||288.33 Hz||1.1903 m
|D#/Eb4||305.47 Hz||1.1235 m
|E4||323.63 Hz||1.0605 m
|F4||342.88 Hz||1.0009 m
|F#/Gb4||363.27 Hz||944.75 mm
|G4||384.87 Hz||891.73 mm
|G#/Ab4||407.75 Hz||841.69 mm
|A4||432.00 Hz||794.44 mm
|A#/Bb4||457.69 Hz||749.85 mm
|B4||484.90 Hz||707.77 mm
|C5||513.74 Hz||668.04 mm
|C#/Db5||544.29 Hz||630.55 mm
|D5||576.65 Hz||595.16 mm
|D#/Eb5||610.94 Hz||561.76 mm
|E5||647.27 Hz||530.23 mm
|F5||685.76 Hz||500.47 mm
|F#/Gb5||726.54 Hz||472.38 mm
|G5||769.74 Hz||445.86 mm
|G#/Ab5||815.51 Hz||420.84 mm
|A5||864.00 Hz||397.22 mm
|A#/Bb5||915.38 Hz||374.93 mm
|B5||969.81 Hz||353.88 mm
|C6||1027.5 Hz||334.01 mm
|C#/Db6||1088.6 Hz||315.27 mm
|D6||1153.3 Hz||297.58 mm
|D#/Eb6||1221.9 Hz||280.87 mm
|E6||1294.5 Hz||265.12 mm
|F6||1371.5 Hz||250.24 mm
|F#/Gb6||1453.1 Hz||236.18 mm
|G6||1539.5 Hz||222.93 mm
|G#/Ab6||1631.0 Hz||210.42 mm
|A6||1728.0 Hz||198.61 mm
|A#/Bb6||1830.8 Hz||187.46 mm
|B6||1939.6 Hz||176.94 mm
|C6||2055.0 Hz||167.01 mm
|C#/Db7||2177.1 Hz||157.64 mm
|D7||2306.6 Hz||148.79 mm
|D#/Eb7||2443.8 Hz||140.44 mm
|E7||2589.1 Hz||132.56 mm
|F7||2743.0 Hz||125.12 mm
|F#/Gb7||2906.1 Hz||118.10 mm
|G7||3078.9 Hz||111.47 mm
|G#/Ab7||3262.0 Hz||105.21 mm
|A7||3456.0 Hz||99.306 mm
|A#/Bb7||3661.5 Hz||93.732 mm
|B7||3879.2 Hz||88.472 mm
|C8||4109.9 Hz||83.506 mm
|C#/Db8||4354.3 Hz||78.819 mm
|D8||4613.2 Hz||74.395 mm
|D#/Eb8||4887.5 Hz||70.220 mm
|E8||5178.2 Hz||66.278 mm
|F8||5486.1 Hz||62.558 mm
|F#/Gb8||5812.3 Hz||59.047 mm
|G8||6157.9 Hz||55.733 mm
|G#/Ab8||6524.1 Hz||52.605 mm
|A8||6912.0 Hz||49.653 mm
|A#/Bb8||7323.0 Hz||46.866 mm
|B8||7758.5 Hz||44.235 mm
To better understand how we can make sense of the frequencies of musical notes, let's have a look at the general frequency bands in mixing. Let's also discuss the fundamental frequency ranges of common instruments along with their harmonic content. Finally, because this is a website about microphones, we'll discuss microphone frequency response.
The Frequency Bands Of Human Hearing
Let's improve our knowledge of musical notes and frequencies by learning about the frequency bands of sound.
Frequencies of sound waves (and other waves) are often separated into bands. These bands are smaller ranges within the audible range and we, as humans, tend to hear each band slightly differently.
As an aside, the range of human hearing is universally known to be 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz. Sounds above this range are called ultrasound while sounds under this range are known as infrasound.
But humans do not hear all frequencies equally. Rather, our ears have their own frequency responses. If that's not complicated enough, each person has a slightly different hearing response and these hearing responses change (for the worse) as we get older.
The Fletcher-Munson curves show the typical hearing sensitivities of human beings:
As we see above, we are most sensitive to sounds in the range of 2 kHz to 5 kHz. This is where much of our speech intelligibility lies regardless of language.
We are much less sensitive to low-end frequencies and are also not-so-sensitive to the high-end frequencies. Keep that in mind as we go through the bands
The Frequency Bands Of The Sound/Audio Spectrum
The frequency bands within the audible range of sound are not universally agreed upon. Even though audio mixing engineers will have differing opinions on the number of bands and the frequency ranges they own, most professionals will understand the relative ranges and their impact on human hearing.
With that said, let's get into one rendition of the audible frequency bands:
|Audible Frequency Band||Frequency Range|
|Sub-Bass||20 Hz - 60 Hz|
|Bass||60 Hz - 250 Hz|
|Lower Midrange||250 Hz - 500 Hz|
|Midrange||500 Hz - 2,000 Hz|
|Upper Midrange||2,000 Hz - 4,000 Hz|
|Presence||4,000 Hz - 6,000 Hz|
|Brilliance||6,000 Hz - 20,000 Hz|
Sub-Bass (20 Hz – 60 Hz)
Some instruments, like the pipe organ, contrabassoon, and bass guitar have low notes that extend into the sub-bass frequency band.
Sound frequencies in this band a typical felt physically more than they are heard. Think of the feeling the low-end of a loud kick drum at a concert and you'll have a sense of feeling a more transient sub-bass frequency.
Low-end rumble, electromagnetic interference, and handling noise are commonly found in this range.
Therefore, high-pass filters are commonly engaged in microphones and other audio equipment to cut out the sub-bass range.
For more information on high-pass filters, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
• What Is A Microphone High-Pass Filter And Why Use One?
• Audio EQ: What Is A High-Pass Filter & How Do HPFs Work?
This is particularly useful with instruments that do not naturally produce sound in the sub-bass range, to begin with.
- Too much energy in the sub-bass will feel overwhelming to the listener and quickly eat up the headroom in an audio mix.
- Too little sub-bass will thin out the sound if there are actual sources that are producing notes in this range.
Bass (60 Hz – 250 Hz)
The bass range is home to many of the fundamental frequencies of our typical “bass” instruments (bass guitar, tuba, contrabassoon, etc.) and provides power and fullness in sound and in audio mixes.
- Too much energy in the bass range will sound overly boomy and unclear. These bass frequencies also take up a lot of a mix's headroom.
- Too little energy in the bass range will cause a shallow sound with no power.
Lower Midrange (250 Hz – 500 Hz)
The lower midrange contains many low-order harmonics of bass instruments (first, second, third, fourth, and even fifth harmonics). It also hosts many of the fundamental frequencies of various instruments.
Therefore, the lower midrange is home to the presence and clarity of bass instruments, and the power of non-bass instruments.
- Too much energy in the lower mid-range will quickly muddy up a mix and/or acoustic listening experience.
- Not enough energy in the lower midrange will cause a thin-sound that lacks excitement.
Midrange (500 Hz – 2,000 Hz)
The midrange is where human hearing becomes more sensitive. An instrument or audio channel with a strong midrange will naturally sound more present to the listener.
The midrange is also home to many low-order harmonics in non-bass instruments, which means it's a critical range in terms of instrument timbre.
- Too much level in the midrange will yield horn-like and tinny-sounding results. It is also conducive to ear fatigue.
- Not enough energy in the midrange will weaken the sound and drain its character.
Upper Midrange (2,000 Hz – 4,000 Hz)
The upper midrange is where human hearing becomes very sensitive.
Altering the midrange with EQ or with a different microphone frequency response will change the sound more noticeably than any other frequency band.
The upper midrange is home to the attack of many percussion instruments; the transient harmonics of many tonal instruments, and speech and vocal intelligibility.
- Too much energy in the upper midrange will quickly cause ear fatigue and cause a source to sound unnaturally loud.
- Too little information in this range will dull the sound and severely alter our ability to understand what the sound source is.
Presence (4,000 Hz – 6,000 Hz)
The presence range is typically where the clarity and definition of a sound resides. Humans are naturally very sensitive to this band.
- Too much in terms of presence in a sound will cause it to sound irritating and harsh.
- Too little energy in the presence range will remove the intelligibility of the sound and cause it to seem more distant.
The brilliance range is home to the upper harmonics of many sound sources. Though the human ear has difficulty hearing the high end of this range, it is important for the overall sound.
Many reflections and room information reside in this range and the brilliance range is responsible for “airiness and brightness” in an audio mix. For example, an EQ boost centred at 12 kHz or a mic that is naturally sensitive at 12 kHz will often sound more professional without being obviously different.
- Too much energy in the brilliance range will cause ear fatigue.
- Too little brilliance yields rather dull results.
Common Instruments And Their Frequencies
Let's consider a few commonly miked instruments and have a look at their typical musical note range and fundament frequency range. I'll also provide a rough idea of the range of the instruments' harmonic contents.
When appropriate, I'll note the formants of the instrument and/or the important harmonics.
Note that the harmonic content is especially important in the transient of the sound, where the instrument gets its distinct sound from.
Before we get started, let's define formants, harmonics, and transients.
What Are Formants?
A formant is a concentration of acoustic energy around a particular frequency. Formants are typically found in human speech but can also be found in tubed instruments (brass and woodwind).
Formants correspond to resonances in the vocal tract or the tube of an instrument. The formants can be changed by altering the size and shape of the resonator (the vocal tract or tube).
Changing formants and variations in the strength of the formants are necessary for speech intelligibility in our vowels. In other instruments, formants are thought of more as characteristic peaks in frequency production.
What Are Harmonics?
Harmonics are integer multiples of a fundamental frequency.
Instruments naturally have a harmonic profile with some harmonics being more present than others. Different harmonic profiles and the rate of decay of these harmonics are key distinguishers is an instrument's timbre and character.
What Are Transients?
Transients are fast variations in sound pressure common to many sounds. The most obvious example of a transient is a tight snare drum. As the drum is struck, it is very loud for a very short period of time. This is a sonic transient.
Most instruments will exhibit a transient at the beginning of their sound propagation. As I alluded to above, the individual harmonics of a sound have their own transient profile. The strength and duration of an instrument's transients are major factors in the instrument's timbre and character.
To learn more about transients and the microphone response to transients, check out my article What Is Microphone Transient Response & Why Is It Important?
The Frequency Responses Of Common Instruments
In this section, we'll have a look at the following instruments:
- Soprano Saxophone
- Tenor Saxophone
- Acoustic guitar
- Upright bass
- Concert harp
- Electric bass guitar
- Electric guitar
Note that all frequency ranges are calculated using A4=440 Hz.
Frequency Range Of Trumpet (B♭)
- Overall Range: 164 Hz ~ 10,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 164 Hz – 932 Hz (E3-B♭5)
- Harmonics range: 328 Hz ~ 10,000 Hz
- Important Note: The fundamental frequency doesn’t actually sound on a trumpet.
- Formant 1: 1,200 Hz – 1,400 Hz
- Formant 2: 2,500 Hz
Frequency Range Of Trombone
- Overall Range: 58 Hz ~ 10,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 82 Hz – 466 Hz for tenor trombone (E2-B♭4) or 58 Hz – 466 Hz for bass trombone (B1-B♭4)
- Harmonics range: 164 Hz ~ 10,000 Hz for tenor trombone (116 Hz ~ 10,000 Hz for bass trombone)
- Important Note: The fundamental frequency doesn’t actually sound on a trombone.
- Formant Information: 600 Hz – 800 Hz
Frequency Range Of Tuba
- Overall Range: 41 Hz ~ 4,200 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 41 Hz – 311 Hz (E1-E♭4)
- Harmonics range: 82 Hz ~ 4,200 Hz
- Formant range: 200 Hz – 400 Hz
Frequency Range Of Concert Flute
- Overall Range: 262 Hz ~ 12,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 247 Hz – 2,349 Hz (B3-D7)
- Harmonics range: 524 Hz ~ 12,000 Hz
- Formant: 800 Hz
Frequency Range Of Soprano Saxophone
- Overall Range: 233 Hz ~ 12,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 233 Hz – 1,480 Hz (B♭3-F#6)
- Harmonics range: 466 Hz ~ 12,000 Hz
Frequency Range Of Tenor Saxophone
- Overall Range: 78 Hz ~ 12,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 78 Hz – 880 Hz (A♭2-E5)
- Harmonics range: 156 Hz ~ 12,000 Hz
Frequency Range Of Oboe
- Overall Range: 233 Hz ~ 14,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 233 Hz – 1,568 Hz (B♭3-G6)
- Harmonics range: 466 Hz ~ 14,000 Hz
- Formant 1: 1,400 Hz
- Formant 2: 3,000 Hz
Frequency Range Of Acoustic Guitar
- Overall Range: 82 Hz ~ 7,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 82 Hz – 1175 Hz (6 string, 22 frets, standard tuning)
- Harmonics range: 162 Hz ~ 7,000 Hz (upper harmonics are much weaker, though still present above 7 kHz)
Frequency Range Of Upright Bass
- Overall Range: 41 Hz ~ 5,200 Hz (weak harmonics may be heard above 5,200 Hz)
- Fundamentals range: 41 Hz – 247 Hz (E1-B3) for standard 4-string double bass
- Harmonics range: 82 Hz ~ 5,200 Hz
Frequency Range Of Cello
- Overall Range: 65 Hz ~ 7,500 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 65 Hz – 659 Hz (C2-E5)
- Harmonics range: 130 Hz ~ 7,500 Hz
Frequency Range Of Violin
- Overall Range: 196 Hz ~ 17,000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 196 Hz – 3,520 Hz (G3-A7)
- Harmonics range: 392 Hz ~ 17,000 Hz
Frequency Range Of Concert Harp
- Overall Range: 31 Hz ~ 6,700 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 31 Hz – 3,322 Hz (C♭1-G#7)
- Harmonics range: 62 Hz ~ 6,700 Hz
Frequency Range Of Bass Guitar
- Overall Range: 41 Hz ~ 5,200 Hz (weak harmonics may be heard above 5,200 Hz)
- Fundamentals range: 41 Hz – 370 Hz (4 strings, 21 frets, standard tuning) or 30 Hz – 370 Hz (5 strings, 21 frets, standard tuning)
- Harmonics range: 82 Hz ~ 5,200 Hz or 60 Hz ~5,200 Hz
- Important Harmonics: First harmonics (60 Hz – 740 Hz)
Frequency Range Of Electric Guitar
- Overall Range: 82 Hz ~6000 Hz
- Fundamentals range: 82 Hz – 1319 Hz (6 string, 24 frets, standard tuning)
- Harmonics range: 164 Hz ~ 6000 Hz (louder, more pronounced harmonics happen with distortion)
- Important Harmonics: First harmonics (164 Hz – 2638 Hz)
Microphone Frequency Response
A microphone's frequency response refers to its frequency-specific sensitivity to sound.
Microphones with flat frequency response are, in theory, equally sensitive to every frequency and are, therefore, very neutral and truthful in their sound capture.
Microphones with coloured frequency responses are more sensitive at some frequencies than others. These mics often benefit certain instruments and sound sources by accentuating the important frequency band(s) of the instruments.
For more information on microphone frequency response, check out my articles Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples) and What Are Coloured And Flat Microphone Frequency Responses?