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I have heard that the classical Indian musical instrument, the Surbahar, makes the lowest audible note of any musical instrument. I am curious what instrument makes the lowest audible note and what that note is in relation to the lowest note on an 88-key piano.

  • The site darbar.org claims the Surbahar can produce frequencies below 20Hz. Looking at the photos of the instrument, I find that very hard to believe. The basic pitch of the instrument is about a fifth below that of the Sitar – PiedPiper Feb 19 at 13:20
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The lower limit of human hearing is roughly 20Hz.

There are a few instruments that can play even lower notes than that, but you'll almost always hear something because you are hearing the overtones.

The lowest note on a standard grand piano is A 27.5 Hz
Some grand pianos have nine extra keys down to a low C 16.4 Hz (this is below the human hearing range, you only hear the note because you hear the overtones)
There are some large pipe organs that can produce a C one octave below that (non-audible 8.2 Hz. Notes that low are felt rather than heard)

Update: There are two pipe organs in existence with a true acoustic 64 foot stop that can produce that 8.2 Hz lowest C: one in Atlantic City, USA and one in Sydney, Australia

  • I know a Bösendorfer piano has those extra keys. Are there others? I couldn't find a specific pipe organ that goes that low, but I did find a reference that in order to produce an 8.2 Hz note the organ pipe would have to be 64 feet long. Is there any such organ in existence? This page darbar.org/wonders/Surbahar/9 indicates the surbahar is "capable of emitting frequencies of lower than 20 Hz" but it doesn't say how low. Could a string really produce a note lower than a 50-foot organ pipe??? – STEVE-OKEEFE Feb 18 at 16:08
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    I think I might once have seen a Steinway with those extra keys. There are a couple of organs with a 64 foot stop listed here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_stop. You can theoretically get a string to vibrate as slowly as you want, if you make it long and heavy enough – PiedPiper Feb 18 at 22:37

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