Range of Frequency of a Piano

Examining the range of frequency for piano versus human hearing and other instruments, such as guitar and violin.

The piano is the instrument with the widest range of frequency. Well known for spanning 88 keys, it has not always had a standard range of pitches.

With the modern standard piano ranging from 27.5 Hertz (vibrations per second) to 8372.02 Hz, it covers a significant amount of the spectrum of human hearing. Hertz calculations double with each higher octave. With a high end of 20,000 Hz, there’s only a major 10th (10 white keys) left to go on an imaginary keyboard before a pitch becomes a dog whistle.

On the left side of the keyboard, the range of frequency of a piano is even closer to human capacity: just a fifth (five hypothetical white keys) below the low A gets to the limit of people perception.

At the Frederick Piano Collection in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, one 18th century piano has a low G. If tuned to the modern standard of 440 Hz for A4, then the boom comes in at 24.5 Hz, just three white keys from the edge of sub-sonic.


piano, bass, keyboard

By comparison, the fifth string on a standard tuned guitar is 110Hz (look up the history of this frequency, but not near bedtime). The bass gets down to 41.2 Hz and the violin‘s first string starts at 660Hz, so 1320 at the 12th position, and so on.






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