Different styles of instruments.

As well as the more common musical instruments that are usually encountered in the every day life of a live sound bod, there is always someone who presents something new, maybe from a far distant country, or custom made etc. Nearly every instrument that works on acoustic or electro-acoustic principles.(i.e. not electronically generated), conforms to one or more known parameters.


Strings; bowed, plucked, hammered

Wind: wood, brass, reed, hollow tube, etc

Resonant; xylophone, marimber, vibes, bells...

Percussion: tuned, untuned, hand, stick,


Monophonic; Most blown wind instruments.

Polyphonic; piano, guitar...


Frequency (pitch range):

Musical range of instrument; bass, lower mid, upper mid, hi or treble range etc.

Electronic instruments; These can be associated in a similar way to the above but the sounds may combine principles in a way not found in nature.


Working with instruments and sounds

Listen to the essence of the sound.

It can be handy to listen close to an acoustic instrument before miking etc. Hear where the sound actually sounds best, what its natural qualities are.

Listen to the instrument in context of the mix. Can't hear an instrument or voice well? maybe others need taming to let it through...

Lean toward cut as well as boost when it comes to EQ. A cut on the lows and highs brings mid forward.

Use EQ and or filters to cut out sound frequencies not in the intrument/voice range. Don't be to harsh

Set input gain to suit source. Faders should not generally be at widely different levels. Keep mic input gain below feedback threshold when fader is at max.

Mark instruments on mixer channels with disposable tape and marker pen. (white or yellow pvc insulation tape works well).

Most acoustic instruments have resonant frequencys or prominant bands (formants) Sometimes reducing these frequencies on the monitors helps to allow more FOH.

A Quick Guide To Instruments and Their Frequency Ranges to EQ

Kick Drum - 60-80 Hz Bottom depth; 2.5kHz Slap attack

Snare Drum - 240 Hz Fatness; 2-3kHz Crispness

Hi-Hat and Cymbals - 200 Hz Clank or gong; 2-4kHz Stick hitting metal; 6-8kHz Sibilance, Harshness; above 8 kHz Shimmer

Rack Toms - 240 Hz Fullness; 2-4kHz Attack; 8kHz Overtones

Floor Toms - 120 Hz Fullness; 2-4kHz Attack; 8kHz Overtones

Bass Guitar - 60-80 Hz Bottom; 700-1kHz Attack or Pluck; 2.5 kHz String Noise or Pop

Acoustic Guitar - 80-120 Hz Bottom; 240Hz Body; 2.5-5kHz Clarity;

Electric guitar - 100-250Hz Body; 2.5-3KHz Clarity; 6-8kHz Presence.

Electric Organ - 80-120 Hz Bottom; 240Hz Body; 2.5kHz Clarity

Acoustic Piano - Bottom at 80-120Hz; Clarity at 2.5-5kHz; "Honky Tonk" sound with high "Q" at 2.5kHz

Horns - Fullness at 120-240Hz; Shrill at 5-8kHz

Strings - Fullness at 240Hz; Scratchiness at 7-10kHz

Conga/Bongo - Resonance at 200-260Hz; Presence/Slap at 2-4kHz

Vocals - Fullness at 120Hz; Boominess at 200-280Hz; Presence at 5kHz; Sibilance at 6-7kHz