When it comes to EQ’ing keys, there is a big difference between what you will do for electronic keys/synthesizers and acoustic pianos. So, let’s go through both.

Keys & Synthesizers

Electronic keys don’t often need a lot of EQ, but you can fine-tune the sound by adjusting a few fundamental frequency ranges.

Tip: Clean up the mudiness.

Keys and synths can get a bit muddy in the 400-600Hz range. Use a peaking filter with a Q value around 4 in this area to clean up the sound, especially when it is layered with other instruments.

Tip: Help the keys ‘cut through’ the mix.

If you need the sound to cut through the mix, try boosting slightly in the 1-2 kHz range. Or, you may even need to cut this area to make room for other instruments.

The 3-4kHz range is where the the primary presence and clarity can be found. Boost this area a little if necessary. Or, you can cut this area to make the tone a bit darker.

Acoustic Pianos

Regarding pianos, there are many different types and sizes that will have a range of tonal properties, so these tips will depend on size, playing style and miking techniques.

Tip: Cut the boominess.

Pianos can tend to be really boomy in the 100-200Hz range. The best way to fix this problem is with a low shelf filter at about 200Hz and cut 3-6dB.

This can also help reduce feedback or other low end resonance from drums or nearby instruments on stage.

Tip: Brighten the tone of the piano.

You can brighten the tone and help the piano cut through the mix by using a peaking filter in the 3kHz range with a Q value around 4 and applying a slight boost.

Keep in mind, too much emphasis in this range can exaggerate distracting elements like damper and string noise.

Experiment with the Q value.

When you are dialing in EQ, don’t forget to experiment with the Q value. A lower Q value will give you a smoother frequency response and blended tone, whereas a higher Q value will give you greater control over the frequencies that you do and don’t want to cut.

It just takes a bit of time and close listening to find the sweet spot.

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About the Author

James Wasem

James Wasem is the author of Great Church Sound: A Guide for the Volunteer. James has been designing, installing, and operating sound systems for 20+ years and he has a passion for helping church sound team volunteers deliver great sound.