Which brass wind instrument has the widest range?

I mean, which one has more notes between playable lowest note and playable highest note?

  • What's brass wind - a saxophone? Apr 22, 2020 at 16:21
  • @OldBrixtonian Saxophones are considered to be woodwind instruments.
    – PiedPiper
    Apr 22, 2020 at 16:55
  • @OldBrixtonian - I guess any horn - whether actually made of bras, or whatever - Sousaphones are now mostly fibreglass..., but any blown instrument must surely come under 'wind' - even bagpipes..?
    – Tim
    Apr 22, 2020 at 17:19
  • 1
    "Brasswind" is an alternate term for "brass instrument", referring to the instruments played by buzzing the lips into a bowl-shaped mouthpiece, regardless of the material the instrument is made of.
    – MattPutnam
    Apr 22, 2020 at 21:46
  • 1
    See "Maynard Ferguson." There is no strict upper limit for any brass instrument, other than how well you can control the airstream and your lips at 10^K Hz Apr 23, 2020 at 14:23

3 Answers 3


The range of any brass instrument depends on the player. There are trombone players who can play six octaves. Whether the extreme notes are musically useful is a matter of opinion.


In general, the larger and lower instruments in each family tend to have the widest range. As you make an instrument larger, it gains range on the bottom faster than it loses range on the top.

The tuba has a range of about four octaves. For reference, Wikipedia lists ranges for all instruments (Here's the tuba page), although these tend to go to the absolute extremes, beyond typical idiomatic writing. Those lowest notes are very indistinct and can't be used melodically, and the notes above the bass clef staff are rarely used outside of solo works.

The horn (a.k.a. French horn) also has a total range of about four octaves. Despite being thought of as a higher instrument (between the trumpet and trombone) it actually has the tubing length of an F tuba and thus the potential to play very low. However, most players aren't capable of playing well across the full range, so the effective range is somewhat less.


As Carl Witthoft comments on your question: theoretically there is no limit for overtones blowing in any tube.

All Brass instruments have the same range: it is usually the series of the overtones: 2 octaves + the 6 semitones below the root tone reached by the valves 123 (notated F#) and ca. a 5th up the notated high C, but these tones are depending like the other answer says from the individual abilities and technique of the brass player.

Now there are some instruments with an additional valve (Euphonium, Eb-Bass, certain Trombones) with a fourth valve that enlarges the pitch range by 4th. These instruments are the range record breakers.


My answer concerns the practice of the brass instruments: that means I am excluding the pedal tone that is rarely used (maybe as joke - as I didn't, for demonstrations and eventually futuristic compositions). To the pedal tone we can also count downward the 2,1,1&2,1&3,1&2&3 valves like we do from the 1st octave, that is considered as the root tone of a brass instrument!) However this doesn't change the fact that the practical range - for all instruments - the 2 octaves and for special artists the 3rd above the second octave (e''' sounding d''') optional final tone of a virtuos solo. A fourth or a fifth valve is enlarging this range and theoretically you can enlarge a) every instrument with by 1 or 2 (and even more valves, if you want). Also you could enlarge the length of the air wave by the trigger or the tuning slide. But it would be wrong and ridiculous to say this is influencing the pitch range of an instrument.)

  • 2
    And some tubas with a fifth valve to fill out some further pitches!
    – Richard
    Apr 22, 2020 at 20:32
  • 1
    C'est ne pas vrai. See other answers & comments. Apr 23, 2020 at 14:24
  • @Carl: With all respect, I know what I'm talking about as I have been playing brass instruments for 60 years, teaching, composing and conducting brass bands. Nevertheless I haven't heard about a tuba with a 5th valve, as there is one there may be also other special constructions of small instruments with an additional valve. However my answer is correct .The shown video is absurde, it doesn't make sense to demonstrate one single trombonist who plays more than 3 octaves and a 5th (including the pedal tone). Btw. I can also produce tones of 4 octaves on one of my 3 Euphoniums ;) Apr 24, 2020 at 8:40

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