Acoustic Guitar Frequency Range – The Complete Guide

As I covered in my overview of the guitar frequency range, the fundamental frequency range of the acoustic guitar also lies between 82Hz and just under 400Hz. UNLIKE the electric guitar, the acoustic guitar is a more transient and percussive heavy instrument by way of its strings (see the difference between acoustic and electric guitar strings) and above that fundamental range sounds very different. With that in mind, let’s break down the acoustic guitar frequency range section by section.

Acoustic Guitar Frequency Range

Feel free to download this chart detailing the acoustic guitar frequency range as it covers the predominant characteristics of the tone from the fundamental and up.

Acoustic Guitar Frequency Range

Now that we have an overview, let’s go section by section to talk about what the tone sounds like in each specific area of the acoustic guitar frequency range.

Below 80Hz

The lowest end of the body of the lowest strings is happening beneath 80Hz.

By applying a high pass filter at 70Hz, we’re preserving the last of the musical tones on that low end while removing everything unmusical which is contributing to the noise floor like any room sounds we picked up when recording:

high pass acoustic guitar

Speaking of which, check out my tips on recording acoustic guitar to get the cleanest recording as well as the best and most balanced tone.

Getting back to the acoustic guitar frequency range, I prefer an average EQ slope of 24dB/oct at 70Hz on my high pass filter to clear out all the low end noise which I don’t want competing with my kick and or bass and cluttering up the low end.

Also don’t forget to check out my entire acoustic guitar EQ guide as I show how to get your acoustic guitar sitting just right in the mix with all of the best cuts and boosts to make to correct the balance of your tone:

eq acoustic guitar

As I mention there, how high you high pass will depend on the context of the mix and specifically the acoustic guitar’s role in said mix.

I’d keep it at 70Hz if the guitar is one of the primary focuses of the mix. This will certainly hold true for folk or singer songwriter genres when stripped down mixes which rely heavily on the acoustic guitar and vocal are common.

If it’s a busier mix where the acoustic guitar is simply one of many featured instruments to fill out the sound, I might high pass as high as 200Hz.

Admittedly that’s placing more of an emphasis on the percussiveness of the strings as we’re filtering out actual fundamental body of the frequencies of the strings themselves. Speaking of the frequencies of the strings of the acoustic guitar, let’s identify the frequencies which each open string rings at.

Acoustic Guitar String Frequencies

The fundamental frequency or frequencies of a sound are where the frequencies are most prominent. In the case of the acoustic guitar, it’s the frequencies associated with the notes played themselves, so let’s identify the acoustic guitar string frequencies one by one.

Open E Frequency

The acoustic guitar’s low open E resonates at 82Hz. Technically 82.41Hz, I round down (or up) in the above acoustic guitar frequency range chart.

Frequency, one of the parts of a sound wave, refers to how many cycles the sound wave completes per second and it’s measured in Hz. That means the low E string when plucked emits a sound wave which completes 82 cycles per second:

sound wave frequency

82Hz is simply the fundamental frequency of the low E string; it contains overtones and other characteristics which make up the overall sound we hear, but we’ll talk more about that in a moment.

Open A Frequency

The A string on an acoustic guitar’s frequency is 110Hz. Go up an octave, fretting the A string at the 12th fret, and we effectively double the frequency at 220Hz.

Open D Frequency

The D string frequency on an acoustic guitar resonates at 147Hz.

Open G Frequency

The acoustic guitar’s open G resonates at 196Hz. As I mentioned earlier, I’ll sometimes filter out up to 200Hz in a busier mix, depending on the role the acoustic guitar is playing.

Note that we’ll still hear overtones and other characteristics of the G string, not to mention any strings played lower than the G, we just aren’t getting the full body by high pass filtering at 200Hz.

Open B Frequency

The B string when played open resonates at 247Hz. We’re starting to approach the boxier frequencies which I’ll talk about in a moment.

Open E Frequency

Lastly, the high E string on guitar’s frequency is 330Hz.

Again, every time you go an octave up, you double the frequency. The high E string on the acoustic guitar is two octaves up from the low E string so it makes sense that the frequency is 330Hz.

One octave up from the low E’s 82Hz is 164Hz (and some change), and double that one more time and you get 330.

Going an octave up, the 12th fret on this high E string is double that at 660Hz.

300Hz-600Hz (Boxy Overtones)

The first practical overtones, meaning the sounds which ring out an octave above our fundamental frequencies though not as loudly, begin to really come through when we hit the 300Hz range.

At the same time, this area sounds slightly suffocating on the acoustic guitar. We need to be careful about how we treat the 300-600Hz range because a small cut can create some clarity by removing unflattering overtones. Going too far in this direction will make the guitar sound too thin and weak, however. We all want cleaner mixes, but don’t sacrifice the top end of the body and warmth of your tracks, namely your acoustic guitar, to get there.

But as my acoustic guitar EQ guide shows, a small cut around 300Hz or so can help to create a little clarity.

600Hz-2kHz (Presence and Overtone Character)

Like the electric guitar, the character of the acoustic guitar really asserts itself in those mids and upper mids between 600Hz-2kHz.

I typically like to leave this area alone save for a small bump.

Generally don’t want to cut anything here because the guitar will sound very hollow as soon as you do.

Boosting too much leaves this area sounding wonky and unnatural, but a small boost can add a little character to the tone. It’s definitely an area to experiment with a small boost to see how it sounds with your specific acoustic guitar tone.

2k-5k (Presence Frequencies)

We can add some presence to our acoustic guitar with a small boost or high shelf to bring out some richness to the high frequencies which can sound good in cleaning up or adding a little brightness to a dark leaning acoustic guitar tone.

Try a small boost in the 3.5kHz region to add that brightness to shift the tone in a darker, muddier sounding acoustic guitar tone:

acoustic guitar clarity

You don’t want to go overboard here, either, as it will thin things out, but you’ll find you don’t need to worry about harshness like you do on say the distortion of an electric guitar in this range which can be grating on the ear.

5k-10k (String Character/Sparkle)

Also different from electric guitar, you get a lot more of the transient percussive bite of the strings themselves on the acoustic guitar in that 5k-10k range.

High shelving here is effective when you mostly want the acoustic guitar for that thin, percussive lightness of the strings themselves rather than the body and identity of the chords.

If the acoustic guitar is more of an accenting piece in the background of a denser mix rather than a key player, boosting or better said favoring the high end works well.

This is oftentimes genre specific as I’ll tuck an acoustic guitar just off center (see my audio panning guide) in a lot of pop mixes just to add a little candy to the overall sound. If you weren’t listening for it you’d miss it, but you get the pleasant strumming sound to add some subtle rhythm.

Still, if you simply want the acoustic guitar to poke through the mix a little better, try a small boost to bring out those transients.

10k+ (Diminishing String Percussiveness)

There’s very little tone in the acoustic guitar above 10k. In fact all you’ll get here is the top end of that string percussiveness, albeit at a diminishing rate.

acoustic guitar string sounds

If you want a bit more of that on the top end you can do a small boost here ahead of rolling off the inaudible territory the closer you progress into the highest frequencies.

Where you low pass on acoustic guitar is up to you as it’s a matter of what you’re hearing and how much you want. I generally aim very conservatively as you could see from my acoustic guitar EQ guide going as high as 20kHz, but it’s really mix dependent and what else you’ve got going on.

Again, if the acoustic guitar is one of the key players as in singer songwriter or folk genres, I’ll keep a full frequency range intact.

Now that we’ve covered the entire acoustic guitar frequency range and broken down each section, make sure you know how to use compress acoustic guitar.

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