EQ Cheat Sheet

January 03, 2022
EQ Cheat Sheet

Equalization (EQ) often takes time for beginners to master. It will likely require a fair amount of trial and error, a good ear and plenty of learning hours before you can figure out the golden frequency bands for various instruments. The good news is that an EQ cheat sheet can help you figure it all out quickly.

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What is EQ?

EQ is the process of using a plugin or software to manipulate the different frequencies or range of frequencies found in a particular audio signal or audio mix. Typically, the human ear can detect frequencies ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz. An equalizer divides this frequency spectrum into different bands. This makes it easier to alter the balance of a mix's different frequency components in the following ways.

  • Cutting - This is called subtractive EQ and it involves finding a problematic frequency, then reducing it.
  • Boosting - When you need to add extra oomph to recorded instruments, boosting helps you gain the desired characteristics.
  • Filtering - Here you'll be removing a particular frequency completely - for example, when you remove low or high frequencies from an audio signal.

Why is EQ Important in Music?

Equalization is often the first port of call for engineers and producers who want a mix that's nicely put together. You can use this EQ cheat sheet to become more efficient at creating mixes that sound professional. But what makes EQ such a great and important tool in music?

In a nutshell, EQ allows you to get rid of imperfections in an audio signal, sound or song, leaving everything balanced and clear. As noted, this can be achieved by reducing or eliminating unwanted frequencies while boosting others. Equalization gives you control over the final audio, so you'll have those optimal vocal and instrument sound frequencies you want, that are pleasant to the ear.

EQ Cheat Sheet for 10 Common Instruments

Different instruments will have varying optimal EQs. This is because various instruments will create vastly different sounds and frequencies. So it makes sense that how they work with synthesizing will also vary.

The EQ cheat sheet below is by no means a rule of thumb. Depending on the mix you're looking to create, you may find that some of the numbers can fall outside these "recommended" ranges. That said, here’s a detailed EQ range list for some of the most popular instruments:


  • 100 Hz and below - Rumble, which is undesirable
  • 120 Hz - Fullness
  • 200 to 240 Hz - Boom
  • 800 to 1 kHz - Word Clarity
  • 3 to 5 kHz - Presence
  • 4 to 8 kHz - Sibilance
  • 10 to 15 kHz - Air

Electric Guitar

  • 80 or 90 Hz and below - Muddiness
  • 150 to 200 Hz - Thickness
  • 240 to 10,000 Hz - Fullness
  • 1.5 to 2.5 kHz - Presence
  • 3 to 8 kHz - Brilliance

Acoustic Guitar

  • 80 Hz - Fullness
  • 120 to 200 Hz - Body
  • 240 to 400 Hz - Thickness
  • 2 to 5 kHz - Definition or harshness
  • 7 kHz - Air and Sparkle

Bass Guitar

  • 40 to 80 Hz - Bottom resonances
  • 80 to 200 Hz - Fundamentals
  • 200 to 600 Hz - Overtones
  • 300 to 500 Hz - Woodiness
  • 800 to 1.6 kHz - Bite
  • 2 to 5 kHz - String noise


  • 100 to 200 Hz - Boom
  • 800 to 1,000 Hz - Bark (electric piano)
  • 3 kHz and above - Presence


Kick Drum

  • 50 to 60 Hz - Bottom
  • 60 to 100 Hz - Thump
  • 100 to 200 Hz - Body
  • 400 to 2,000 Hz - Hollowness
  • 3 to 5 kHz - Beater attack


  • 200 to 400 Hz - Body/Bottom
  • 400 to 800 Hz - Ring
  • 900 to 4,000 Hz - Point/Attack
  • 5 kHz - Crispness
  • 10 kHz - Snap


  • 240 to 500 Hz - Fullness/Body
  • 3 to 7 kHz - Attack


  • 200 to 300 Hz - Clang
  • 6 to 10 kHz - Sparkle/Sizzle



  • 300 to 400 Hz - Honk
  • 1 to 2 kHz - Squawk
  • 6 kHz - Reed noise


  • 100 to 200 Hz - Boom/Mud
  • 4 to 10 kHz - Brightness


  • 240 Hz - Fullness
  • 7 to 10 kHz - Scratchiness


  • 80 Hz - Fullness
  • 240 Hz - Body
  • 2 to 5 kHz - Presence


  • 200 Hz - Ring
  • 5 kHz - Slap

EQ Frequency Chart

To make it easier to create a balanced frequency chart music, it also helps to have a summary of the EQ recommendations for each instrument. Use this handy EQ chart that follows:

50 Hz

Increase for drums to add fullness; decrease for bass to reduce boom and make overtones clearer.

100 Hz

Increase for bass, guitars, snare, horns and piano to add more fullness; reduce for guitars to add more clarity.

200 Hz

Increase for vocals, snare or guitar fullness; reduce to remove muddiness or the cymbals gong.

400 Hz

Increase for bassline clarity; reduce if you want to decrease cymbal ambiance.

800 Hz

Increase to add clarity to bass; reduce if you want to decrease any cheap sounding guitars.

1.5 kHz

Increase to add clarity to bass; reduce to remove guitar dullness.

3 kHz

Increase to add more pluck to brass and more attack in electric and acoustic guitar and piano; reduce if you want to increase soft backing vocals and to mask vocals or guitar that are out of tune.

5 kHz

Increase to add vocal presence, drum attack, bass finger sounds, acoustic/brightness on guitars; reduce to mute background and soften any thin guitars.

7 kHz

Increase if you want to try adding attack to low-frequency drum or percussion instruments/synthesizer, piano, acoustic or rock guitar-sharpness; decrease to reduce sibilance.

10 kHZ

Increase to add brightness to any vocals, acoustic guitar or the piano as well as add hardness to cymbals; reduce to lower sibilance.

15 kHZ

Increase to add brightness to vocals, cymbals and string instruments.


Not everyone will take the same approach on EQ - the truth is, you can ask a dozen people and get a dozen different opinions when it comes to which sound is “right.” The best approach to take when it comes to mixing elements is to experiment. Take risks, use this EQ cheat sheet as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to trust yourself. And above all, be patient. Not getting it right the first time may just be the best thing you’ll ever do when it comes to your music.

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