SoundFonts and SFZ files

Updated 4 months ago

    MuseScore 4.0's Sound and playback support:

    • SoundFont (.sf2/.sf3): supported directly, no need to click load in the synthesizer anymore. Setup per instrument in the Mixer. Cannot select preset/bank in the mixer directly (yet). See SoundFonts.
    • SFZ (.sfz): supported indirectly through 3rd party VST. See SoundFonts.
    • VST, VSTi: supported VST3, some VSTs are reported not working properly. See Working with VSTi
    • MuseSounds: free high quality proprietary sounds from MuseGroup, installable thru MuseHub.

    The following describes MuseScore 3:

    To export a MIDI or audio file, visit Open/Save/Export/Print.
    Jump to a curated list of free soundfonts downloadable, feel free to add to the list.


    Audio playback is created by Synthesizer using virtual instruments, MuseScore supports virtual instruments in two formats:

    • SoundFont (.sf2/.sf3): A single file containing one or more virtual instruments.
    • SFZ (.sfz): A set of audio and definition files containing one or more virtual instruments.


    MuseScore comes with MuseScore_General.sf3, it contains over 128 instruments, sound effects and various drum/percussion kits, its program / preset numbering follows GM (General MIDI) convention.

    Install a SoundFont

    After finding and decompressing a SoundFont (see →below), double-click to open it. In most cases, the SoundFont file type will already be associated with MuseScore, and MuseScore will start and a dialog will appear asking if you want to install the SoundFont. Occasionally an application other than MuseScore will be associated with the SoundFont file type; if this is the case, you will need to right-click or Ctrl-click on the file, so as to display a menu from which you can choose to open the file in MuseScore. In either case, when the dialog appears asking if you want to install the SoundFont, click "Yes" to place a copy of the SoundFont file in MuseScore's SoundFonts directory. This directory can be viewed or changed in MuseScore's Preferences, but the default location is:

    • Windows: %HOMEPATH%\Documents\MuseScore3\Soundfonts
    • macOS and Linux: ~/Documents/MuseScore3/Soundfonts

    In contrast to user-added SoundFonts, the initial default SoundFont installed with MuseScore is located in a system directory, meant only for that purpose, which should not be modified. This directory and its default SoundFont file is:

    • Windows x86 (32-bit) / MuseScore x86: %ProgramFiles%\MuseScore 3\sound\MuseScore_General.sf3
    • Windows x64 (64-bit) / MuseScore x86: %ProgramFiles(x86)%\MuseScore 3\sound\MuseScore_General.sf3
    • Windows x64 (64-bit) / MuseScore x86_64: %ProgramFiles%\MuseScore 3\sound\MuseScore_General.sf3
    • macOS: /Applications/MuseScore
    • Linux (Ubuntu): /usr/share/mscore-xxx/sounds/MuseScore_General.sf3 (with xxx being the MuseScore version)

    After it is installed, setup Musescore and then use it on a score


    To uninstall a SoundFont, simply open the folder where its file is installed and delete it.


    An SFZ is a collection of files and directories, an SFZ file and a bunch of actual sound files in WAV or FLAC format, with the SFZ file being a text file that basically describes what sound file is located where and to be used for what instrument and pitch range.

    Install an SFZ

    After downloading an SFZ (see →below), you need to manually extract all the files that belong to the SFZ (the SFZ file(s) and all the sub-directories and other files) into the directory listed above. Leave the sub-directories and their contents as they are. Note, however, that on occasion, an SFZ file in its folder may seek the actual WAV sound files inside the SFZ sub-directory itself, usually in a folder labeled "Libs". If the SFZ zip file you download has a Libs folder in it, move it into the main SFZ sub-directory.

    After it is installed, setup Musescore and then use it on a score


    To uninstall an SFZ, simply open the folder where its files are installed (see above) and delete them all.

    Setup Musescore to use a custom SoundFont or SFZ

    Once a SoundFont has been installed on your system, it also needs to be loaded into the Synthesizer.

    Use a custom sound on a score

    Pick and add an instrument that use a staff style similar to one your sound would use, then change its sound in the Mixer.
    To use custom sound more easily, config instruments.xml to create a custom instrument in the "Choose Instruments" menu. This link also provide info on how to make a soundfont more compatible with MuseScore 3 such as adding sound change text (eg pizz.) support, adding MIDI CC response etc.

    List of downloadable soundfonts

    GM SoundFonts

    The following sound libraries conform to GM (General MIDI) program / preset numbering standard that Musescore use. If you remove the build-in soundfont from the Fluid tab in Synthesizer and setup the new one as 1st ordered item , staffs will create correct playback without further tweaking and picking in the Mixer.

    Orchestral soundfonts

    Piano soundfonts

    SF2 Pianos
    SFZ Pianos
    • Salamander Grand Piano
      Downloads: version 2 | version 3
      Description: Yamaha C5, 48kHz, 24bit, 16 velocity layers, between 80 MB and 1.9 GB uncompressed
      License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
      Courtesy of Alexander Holm
    • Detuned Piano (244 MB uncompressed)
      License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
    • Plucked Piano Strings
      Description: 44.1kHz, 16bit, stereo, 168 MB uncompressed
      License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
    • The City Piano
      Description: Baldwin Baby Grand, 4 velocity layers, 696 MB uncompressed
      License: Public domain
      Courtesy of Big Cat Instruments
    • Kawai Upright Piano, release 2017-01-28
      Description: 68 samples, 44KHz, 24bit, stereo, 2 velocity layers, 58 MB uncompressed
      License: GNU General Public License version 3 or later, with a special exception
      Courtesy of Gonzalo and Roberto

    Unzipping downloaded soundfonts

    Since soundfonts are large, they are often zipped (compressed) into a variety of formats, including .zip, .sfArk, and .tar.gz. You need to unzip (decompress) these files before they can be used.

    • ZIP is standard compression format supported by most operating systems.

    • sfArk is a compression format designed especially for compressing SoundFont files. To decompress it, use Polyphone (cross-platform software); or this online service:

    • .tar.gz is a popular compression format for Linux. Windows users can use 7-Zip; Mac users can use The Unarchiver, or macOS' built-in Archive Utility. Note that if using 7-Zip, you will need to apply decompression twice—once for GZip and once for TAR.


    If the toolbar play panel is greyed out, or not visible, follow the instructions below to get your sound working again:

    1. Right-click on the menu bar and make sure there is a check mark next to the Playback Controls menu item. If this step does not solve your problem, go to Step 2.
    2. If the play panel disappears after changing the SoundFont, go to EditPreferences...I/O tab and click OK without making any changes. After restarting MuseScore, the play panel should reappear.

    If you are setting up a SoundFont for the first time, please use one of the recommended SoundFonts listed above.

    If playback stutters, then your computer may not be able to handle the SoundFont being used. The following advice may help:

    • Reduce the amount of RAM (memory) used by MuseScore by using a smaller SoundFont. See the list above for suggestions.
    • Increase the amount of RAM available for MuseScore by quitting all applications except MuseScore. If you still have problems and a large SoundFont is important to you, consider more RAM for your computer.

    Drum notation and Unpitched layout sound requires MIDI Bank number set to 128

    See also

    Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.