The Ultimate EQ Cheat Sheet for 30+ Instruments

The Ultimate EQ Cheat Sheet for 30+ Instruments

Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.

Thomas Merton

Getting the balance right in your mix is hard and I bet you wish an EQ Cheat Sheet existed, right?

You’re in luck! Today, we’re going to make making decisions on what to adjust on your EQ easy. There will be no more guesswork and you’ll have a nifty resource to look back on in case you hit a roadblock.

In this article, you’ll learn about the frequency spectrum, when to cut/boost certain frequencies, and when you know you’ve hit that “sweet spot” in a particular band of your EQ. We will start by breaking down the EQ spectrum on a feel and character basis. Then we will break down the spectrum by where common instruments live. 

This is your one-stop shop EQ Cheat Sheet.




"I'd buy a book full of tips like these." — some dude on Reddit





"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit





"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit

Real Quick: What is EQing?

“EQ” stands for “Equalization” or “Equalizer” in the music production world. It’s an essential step in the song creation process to get a mix that sounds clean and professional.

As a producer, it’s essential that you understand how frequency ranges sound. As you grow your experience through education (like in the Hyperbits Masterclass) and practice on your own, you begin to “train” your ears. 

Eventually, you will be able to pinpoint the location of various tones and sounds in your mix. As a result, your music improves in quality and gets heard more on platforms like Spotify.  

The guides below will give you a starting point, but nothing beats real practice in the DAW. Use this EQ Cheat Sheet to grow your skills as a music producer and make amazing music.

The EQ Spectrum

Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter

The frequency spectrum is broad from a scientific perspective. But when it comes to music production, we only focus on frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Why? Because this is the range of frequencies that are audible to the human ear. 

Everything outside of these frequencies, humans can’t hear. For example, ever wonder why you can’t hear a dog whistle, but they can? It’s because a dog whistle resonates at 35,000 Hz. Crazy right?

Below is your EQ Cheat Sheet for the frequency ranges and their classifications.

Sub Bass (0-60Hz)

AKA - "Rumble"

Sounds that live in this range are more felt than heard. Most speaker systems won’t even resonate this frequency because they’re physically incapable. These frequencies hold the most energy and are where you typically hear the rumble.

Bass (60-250Hz)

A.K.A - “Bottom”

Especially in EDM music, this is the area of the spectrum responsible for making a track sound full. The kick and bass are the only things that should live in this space. Be careful because it’s easy to get carried away boosting or cutting too much in this area.

Low Mid-Range (250-500Hz)

A.K.A - Boom/Warmth/Mud

This is where the power of a track comes from. In rock music, this range is responsible for housing the power that you feel from electric guitars. It also holds the character and presence of bass sounds as well.

Mid-Range (500-2000Hz)

A.K.A - Honk/Tinny

This is the meat of the music. Most of your instruments will live in this range. But be careful adding too many instruments because this area can start to sound muddy pretty quickly.

High Mid-Range (2000-6000Hz)

A.K.A - Crunch/Presence

The overall presence and clarity of a mix is best heard here. You’ll find the attack of your percussion and rhythm instruments in this range. However, this range is perceived to be the loudest to humans out of all other ranges. Too much boosting here can cause ear fatigue.

Highs (6000-20,000Hz)

A.K.A - Definition/Air

If you ever noticed how some vocal recording seems to sparkle and be so airy, this range is responsible for that. Too much boosting here can also cause ear fatigue and give a shrill-like tone. Too much cutting, and your mix will sound too dark.

The EQ Cheat Sheet for Finding the “Sweet Spot”

The million-dollar question; How do you know when you’ve boosted or cut enough? Also known as the  “sweet spot” it can be hard to tell when you’ve EQed a sound just right.

This is where you need to trust your feelings more and also your tastes. Use this EQ Cheat Sheet below as your guide to creating the right balance in your mix.

Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter

The EQ Cheat Sheet for Instruments

This EQ Cheat Sheet will show you where common instruments tend to live in the frequency spectrum and a guide on how to EQ them to get the character you want.


Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
Kick (Acoustic)
  • 40-60Hz - Rumble
  • 60-145Hz - Body/Weight
  • 250-300Hz - Mud/Boxiness
  • 2000-4000Hz - Knock/Attack
  • 4000-8000Hz - Air/Click

As a starting point, highpass your kick at 20-50Hz to get rid of any unwanted rumble and to give more headroom. Mud tends to build up in the 250-350Hz range but can live elsewhere too.

Kick (808)
  • 20-40Hz - Low End
  • 50-60Hz - Bottom
  • 100-200Hz - Body/Smack
  • 200-500Hz - Mud/Boxiness
  • 2000-4000Hz - Knock/Click/Attack

Highpass your 808 kick at 20-40Hz with a minimum 24 db slope minimum. If you need more energy in your sound, boost it in the 50-60Hz range. But for punch, boost in the 100-200Hz area. Scope out the mud with a high Q and cut in the area you find it. Every 808 is different.

Kick (EDM)
  • 20-40Hz - Low End
  • 40-100Hz - Energy
  • 100-200Hz - Body/Punch
  • 5000-15,000Hz - Presence/Click
  • 10,000-20,000Hz - Tone

EDM kicks are known for their energy. A lot of this lives in the 40-100Hz range. Boost in the 100-200Hz range for added punch. Boosting in the 5kHz-15kHz range will increase the kick's click and presence. Boosting over this range will make the kick sound sharper or darker.

  • 20-120Hz - Rumble
  • 200-400Hz - Body
  • 250-600Hz - Ring
  • 2000-4000Hz - Smack/Bang
  • 6000-10,000Hz - Air/Definition

Highpass your snare at 100Hz. In between, 200 and 400Hz is the body of the snare. Every snare is different but you can see it in a spectrum analyzer. The ring of the snare lives between 250 and 600 but varies depending on the snare. Sweep for it with a narrow Q.

  • 20-100Hz - Rumble
  • 100-300Hz - Body/Thump
  • 3000-5000Hz - Attack
  • 5000-12,000Hz - Air/Presence

Highpass your toms at 40Hz. For more weight, boost in the 100 to 300 area. Too much can make them sound boomy, though. To make your toms spack, boost in the 3kHz to 5kHz area.

  • 20-200Hz - Low End
  • 200-400Hz - Clank/Clink/Gong
  • 6000-15,000Hz - Brightness/Air

All of your cymbals should be highpassed at 100-200Hz. In between 200 and 400Hz, you can increase the clank and gong sounds, but it’s very easy to overdo it. The “Tsss” sound you hear in a lot of EDM is found above 6kHz. 


Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
Grand Piano
  • 20-50 Hz - Low End
  • 50-250Hz - Boom/Mud/Warmth
  • 250-3000Hz - Body/Mud
  • 3000-5000Hz - Presence
  • 5000-6000Hz - Attack
  • 7000-9000Hz  - Clarity
  • 10,000-15,000Hz - Sharpness

With grand pianos, a lot of mud tends to build up in the 250-500Hz range. A lot of the magic happens in the higher frequencies. Depending on the piano and the effect you want in your song, there’s a lot of room for experimentation.

Electric Piano
  • 20-50Hz - Low End
  • 50-250hz - Boom/Mud
  • 800-1000Hz - Bark
  • 1500-250Hz - Presence

The 50-250Hz range should have the most attention with this instrument. Properly treating any boom and muddiness can make your pianos sound super lush and warm.


Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
  • 20-120Hz - Rumble
  • 150-300Hz - Body/Thickness
  • 300-1000Hz - Character
  • 1000-2000Hz - Honk
  • 3000-10,000Hz - Presence/Attack/Brightness

Where a lot of people miss out on getting those big and powerful guitar sounds lies in the 200-1000Hz range. This is where the meat and power of the guitars come from. From 1000 to 2000Hz, boosting or cutting here is primarily taste and style.

  • 20-70Hz - Rumble
  • 200-400Hz - Wood
  • 80-400Hz - Body
  • 500-1000Hz - Warmth/Fullness
  • 1500-2500Hz - Definition
  • 7000-10,000Hz - Air/Attack

Highpassing acoustic guitars up to 70Hz is important because of how they’re recorded. It’s common that the mics will pick up rumble that can sound unpleasant in your mix. If you’re making an acoustic track, you’re going to preserve a lot of low-end. In a full mix, the magic is in the top end.

Bass Guitar
  • 20-70Hz - Rumble
  • 80-200Hz - Body/Girth
  • 250-500Hz - Mud
  • 400-800Hz - Definition
  • 1200-1500Hz - Attack
  • 2000-5000Hz - String Buzz

The magic of a bass guitar is in the 80-200Hz range. Cutting the right amount of mud and boosting the definition gently can give a nice sound. Sometimes the string noise and fret buzz is desired in the top end but low passing these out is fine as well.




"I'd buy a book full of tips like these." — some dude on Reddit





"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit





"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit

Symphony & Orchestral

Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
  • 20-100Hz - Rumble
  • 120-400Hz - Mud/Honk
  • 1000-2000Hz - Squawk
  • 5000-7000Hz - Reed Sounds
  • 11,000-14,000Hz - Overblow

Saxophones sound good by themselves most of the time. Search out mud and cut it down. Reducing harsh tones in the 1-2kHz range can bring the great character out of this instrument.

  • 20-200Hz - Rumble
  • 200-500Hz - Mud/Fullness
  • 5000-5000Hz - Brightness

Trumpets are also another instrument that sound great out of the box. All you need to do is cut any mud or harshness found in the recording.

  • 20-60Hz - Rumble
  • 60-250Hz - Mud

Always high pass out the rumble in your orchestral instruments. If you want rumble in your song, it should come from only one source.

  • 20-250Hz - Rumble
  • 250-400Hz - Mud
  • 2000-4000Hz - Softness
  • 10,000-12,000Hz - Brightness

Pretty simple here; check for mud and adjust the ranges listed above to taste.

  • 20-140Hz - Rumble
  • 200-300Hz - Mud

Check for mud and adjust the ranges listed above to taste.

  • 20-80Hz - Rumble
  • 65-95Hz - Fullness
  • 150-250Hz - Mud
  • 450-550Hz - Resonances

Check for mud and adjust to taste. Make sure to attenuate resonances as well.

  • 20-250Hz - Rumble/Fullness/Mud
  • 4000-10,000Hz - Brightness and Overblow

Boost in the 100-200Hz range to add fullness. Be careful attenuating frequencies for a bass trombone as it might thin out the instrument too much.

  • 20-80Hz - Rumble
  • 200-300Hz - Mud
  • 400-600Hz - Fullness
  • 6000-8000Hz - Presence
  • 14,000-20,000Hz - Harshness

Cellos can have some harshness in their top end. If you find that to be the case, put a lowpass filter to remove what’s not sounding right.

  • 20-100Hz - Rumble
  • 100-250Hz - Fullness/Mud
  • 2000-10,000Hz - String and Bow noises

Violins tend to carry the high parts of music. Highpass out any rumble you hear. Depending on how much of the ear candy from the bow and strings, boost the upper registers to bring those out.

Full Strings Section
  • 20-50Hz - Rumble
  • 80-300Hz - Weight/Warmth/Mud
  • 500-1000Hz - Attack
  • 2000-5000Hz - String noises and air
  • 7000-12,000Hz - Sparkle/Creak

When it comes to orchestras, the rumble you hear in songs is typically driven by the drums section. So for full strings sections, be sure to highpass the record to make room for those drums.

Full Brass Section
  • 20-125Hz - Low End
  • 200-500Hz - Fullness/Mud
  • 1000-5000Hz - Roundness
  • 5000-10,000Hz - Definition/Brightness

When high passing the brass section to eliminate rumble, it’s easy to overdo it as it can think out the sound. In the high end, you can boost or dull the frequencies based on the character of the section they’re playing in the song.


Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
Bass Synth
  • 20-80Hz - Rumble
  • 60-250Hz - Body/Pressure
  • 250-500Hz - Mud/Warmth
  • 2000-3000Hz - Presence

There are lots of different kinds of bass synths but the ranges listed above are a commonality between them. Make sure to scope out for mud to reduce. When boosting or cutting anything, solo it with the mix to see how it fits.

  • 20-160Hz - Low End
  • 250-450Hz - Mud
  • 400-600Hz - Thickness

Pads are known for having a darker sound most of the time. Some synths generate a lot of mud, so it’s very important to make sure you address it.

  • 20-160Hz - Rumble
  • 160-450Hz - Mud
  • 1000-2000Hz - Character
  • 2000-3000Hz - Presence
  • 3000-4000Hz - Clarity
  • 7000-9000Hz - Sharpness

Getting the EQ right on your lead synth is paramount. This will likely be the sound that’s most remembered in your song. Make sure to spend time getting the balance here correct.

  • 20-50 Hz - Low End
  • 50-250Hz - Boom/Mud/Warmth
  • 250-3000Hz - Body/Mud
  • 3000-5000Hz - Presence
  • 5000-6000Hz - Attack
  • 7000-9000Hz  - Clarity
  • 10,000-15,000Hz - Sharpness

The best part about plucks is their staccato nature. A lot of the character in plucks will come from the 3kHz-9kHz range. If you need more attack in your plucks, this is the place to boost.


Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
  • 20-100Hz - Rumble
  • 200-500Hz - Mud
  • 800-1500Hz - Honk/Nasaly
  • 2500-4500Hz - Presence
  • 5000-10,000Hz - Clarity
  • 10,000-16,000Hz - Air

Always highpass vocals at 100Hz minimum. Most of the sounds down here are unpleasant to have in a vocal. What makes vocals shine is the amount of presence and air they have. Every singer is different so each EQ is going to look different.

Background/Backing Vocals

Backing and background vocals aren’t as forward in the mix as lead vocals. So they don’t need as much presence and air as the lead. Most of the time, you can get away with using the same vocal chain on all of your vocal tracks. But backing vocals may need some special treatment.

Vocal Chops

Vocal chops behave similarly to the lead vocal. However, they don’t need as much body usually. You want to make sure you remove any mud or rumble from your vocal chops. Make sure they are present and airy so they can be memorable in your music.


Best Mastering Plugins: Weiss Compressor and Limiter
White Noise & Sweeps
  • 20-500Hz - Low End
  • 1500-2500Hz - Presence
  • 10,000-20,000Hz - Brightness

Using white noise can be a great tool to create textures and effects in your song. It’s a very malleable sound. For example, high passing it in various places can yield different tones. 

When it comes to sweeps, make sure you highpass out any low frequencies and mud, so they don’t interfere with your other sounds.

  • 20-160Hz - Rumble
  • 160-450Hz - Mud
  • 1000-2000Hz - Character
  • 2000-3000Hz - Presence
  • 3000-4000Hz - Clarity
  • 7000-9000Hz - Sharpness

Lasers typically occupy the mids and highs. Add a highpass at 250Hz minimum and boost around 2.5kHz to give it more bite and presence.

  • 20-100Hz - Boom/Rumble
  • 100-400Hz - Mud
  • 2000-4000Hz - Impact
  • 5000-20,000Hz - Top-end

Impacts come in all shapes and sizes. What commonality they have is their boomy low-end. It’s very important to listen for any mud and make sure other low frequencies aren't clashing with your impacts. They can add up and create unpleasant resonances.

Final Thoughts

You are now equipped with the best EQ cheat sheet to help you approach mixing like a pro. In fact, even pros use cheat sheets. Print out this article and save our guides so that you can reference them in your next mix session. As you reference the cheat sheet and practice mixing, your ears will begin to pull out tones instantly.

Happy mixing!




A bit about me in case you're new here: my music has been streamed over 52+ million times.

I've done official remixes for artists like Beyonce, Tove Lo, and Nick Jonas, signed record deals with Universal, Island, and Sony, and worked with brands like Target, Samsung, and Equinox. I've even DJed some of the world's biggest stages, like Electric Daisy Carnival, Terminal 5, Fonda Theater, and Echostage.

If you have questions about music production or the Hyperbits Masterclass get in touch. I'm here to help.




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"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit