Wow, are there a lot of weird and wonderful musical instrument out there. We've compiled a great list along with short descriptions. Check it out...
Below you will find a large number of musical instrument descriptions; while making use of these descriptions, please be aware that there are usually many variations and spellings of most of these instruments. We have attempted to cross-referenced many of these, but still, any suggestions or corrections are welcomed!
Note: We do not stock all of the instruments below, many, but not all. The purpose of the list is informational!
A - E
Accordion - Small portable free reed instrument with keyboard or buttons and bellows. Various types include piano and button keyboards with chromatic or diatonic tunings.
Atabal - Cylindrical double, headed bass drum of the Basque region; wider than tall.
Atabaque - General term for a conical single, headed drum of Brazil; usually played in threes, each of different size.
Aud - Egyptian lute (see Oud and Ud).
Autoharp - Zither with a keyboard chord making mechanism which mutes unwanted strings. Strummed or picked. Used primarily for folk music and elementary music education.
Baglama - Long-necked Turkish lute, about 1m, member of the Saz family. Also used in Greece.
Bagpipe - Reed instrument with an air reservoir in an animal skin bag. Common across Europe and Arabic countries. See Uilleann, Northumbrian, Scottish Smallpipes.
Bajo Sexto - Mexican 12-string bass guitar. Tuned 1 octave lower than a standard 12-string
Balafon - West African xylophone: set of three: bass, mid range and high one for soloing.
Balalaika - Triangular shape national instrument of Russia. 3-course, fretted.
Bamboo Xylophone - Pair of large bamboo xylophones erected on ladders, beaten with rubber flip-flops (sandals) or thongs. (Papua New Guinea)
Bandola - Modern lute of Colombia; teardrop shape, flat or concave back. Double courses, fretted.
Bandoneon - Square, built button accordion; used in Argentinean tango.
Bandura - Type of psaltery found in the Ukraine; short neck, oval, flat body; held vertically.
Bandurria - Small 12 string mandolin type instrument with a very short wide neck, popular in Spain.
Banjo - American development of African origins. Found with 4, 5, and 6 strings. The 5 string is currently most popular, Tenor (4 string, 17 or 19 frets), Plectrum (4 string, 22-frets), Banjolele or Banjuke (UkuleleBanjo), Banjolin (Mandolin Banjo).
Bass Viol - Stringed musical instrument of the viol family. Used to play the lowest part.
Bata Drums - Set of three double-headed religious drums used in Cuba. The Iya, Itotele and Okonkolo.
Bata (African) - Set of three drums: the 'iyailu' or "mother drum", a talking drum; the 'emele abo' is the second drum, smaller and higher pitched; the 'omele' is the base of the set and consists of 3 or 4 small drums tied together.
Bayan - Chromatic accordion of Russia and Belorussia, with button keyboard.
Bawoo - Chinese wind instrument; bamboo tube with rectangular hole carved in side near closed end, with reed fastened across; finger and thumb holes.
Berimbau - A bow and arrow type instrument with an attached 1/2 gourd. Played by striking the string with a stick while fretting the string with a rock or coin and holding a shaker. Brazilian.
Biniou - Breton bagpipe with single drone, pitched an octave higher than usual.
Bodhran - Single-headed frame drum of Ireland; membrane of animal skin, usually nailed to frame; hand-held using criss-cross system of cord, wire or sticks over open end. Played with double-ended stick (tipper).
Bombarde - Breton shawm, usually pitched in Bb, sometimes C. Traditionally played as a duet with the Biniou.
Bombo - Large sheepskin drum from Bolivia, Peru.
Bones - A pair of cows ribs rattled together in the hand. Also often made of wood or other bone material. Traditional in Britain and Ireland.
Bouzouki - Greek long necked lute; 3 or 4 double courses of metal strings. Adopted by Irish musicians more recently.
Cabasa - South American rattle. Made from a cylindrical shape with beads woven around it which are rubbed against it. (Related to African gourd rattles with beads)
Caixa - Samba drums from Brazil, usually with metal body approx 12" head. Caixa Tarol is shallowest, Caixa Malacacheta next and the Repinique is the biggest.
Caja - Frame drum, sometimes with snare, of Spain and the New World.
Cajon - Cuban box drum, made from a wooden vox.
Calabash - Dried hollow shell of a gourd, used as a rattle.
Castanets - Pairs of cupped wood blocks used primarily by flamenco dancers.
Caval - Bulgarian wind instrument of some antiquity, varies from 50 to 80cm long. Used especially in Thrace and Dobrudja. Also Kaval
Cello - Stringed musical instrument of the violin family. It has four strings, tuned in fifths, tuned CGDA. 3rd in line within the "string" instrument family.
Charango - Small ten string, guitar type instrument made from the shell of an armadillo or carved wood. From Bolivia or Andean region.
Cheng - 1) Half tube plucked zither of the Han chinese;
2) Chinese gong.
Choquella - Predecessor of the kena, but bigger.
Chordophone - Class of instruments comprising strings stretched between fixed points, including: zithers, lute types (lute, violin, guitar, etc), harp types.
Cittern - Small flat backed wire-strung plucked instrument; played with a plectrum; popular from renaissance to baroque times. Modern citterns are much bigger, and more like mandolins in shape. Usually with 10 strings in 5 courses. Related to Portuguese Guitarra.
Cimpoi - Romanian Bagpipe, usually with a single drone.
Clarsach - Scottish folk harp, 25 to 34 strings usually.
Claves - Short, hardwood sticks tapped together.
Clavichord - Similar to a piano, except the string is struck or touched by a tangent of brass.
Cobza - Short-necked lute of Romania; pear-shaped with 8 to 12 strings, 5-7 sectioned resonator.
Concertina - Small free reed accordion from England, usually hexagonal in shape. There are three common keyboard layouts, each completely different to play on. Anglo, English and Duet (McCann, Crane, Jeffries and Hayden are all types of duet).
Cornemuse - French mouth blown bagpipe with chanter and small drone in one stock, and a separate large drone.
Cuatro - Of the guitar family; found in South America and the West Indies. The Venezuelan Cuatro has 4 strings, looks like a ukulele. The Puerto Rican Cuatro has 5-double courses and looks more like a Cuban Tres.
Cuica - Brazilian friction drum with a remarkable pitch range.
Cura - Smallest of the saz family, about 75cm.
Cymbalom - Large box zither of Hungary, related to earlier hammered folk zithers, see Hammered Dulcimer.
Daduk - Bulgarian fipple flute.
Daire - Round, single-headed drum of south-eastern Europe, Asia etc.
Darabuka - One-sided hourglass shaped drum; Northern Africa, Middle East
Def - A Mazhar but without the cymbals. Also known as Dafe in Egypt. Also Duf.
Dholak (or Dhol) - Double ended drum traditionally used in weddings across the Indian subcontinent.
Di (or Dey) - Transverse flute of the Chinese.
Didjeridoo - Traditionally used by aborigines of Australia; an end-blown, straight, natural trumpet, without separate mouthpiece, made from termite hollowed eucalyptus branch, stripped of its outer bark, with beeswax at mouth end.
Divan - Largest member of the saz family, about 140cm.
Djembe - One-sided mushroom-shaped drum from west coast of Africa.
Dobro - Guitar with one or more metal cones for sound production. Dobro is a brand-name which is commonly used to describe all Resonator Guitars.
Dohollah - The brass Tabla.
Doumbeck - Hour glass, shaped drum similar to darabuka. (or Dumbegor Dumbeck)
Dudelsack - German Bagpipe
Duduk - Flute of Bulgaria; 20,100cm long; 6 finger holes.
Dulcimer - Name applied to certain musical instruments of the box zither type. Includes Hammered Dulcimer and Appalachian or Mountain Dulcimer.
Dumbra - Lute of the Tartar people.
Dundun - African; set of 4 drums, the 'iyailu' member is shaped like an hour glass and has a skin on each side, linked by tension strings (by pressing these, up to 2 octaves can be played); but only played one-sided.
Dvoyanka - Bulgarian double fipple flute.
Emele Abo - See Bata
English Guitar - A cittern popular in the 18th century, 5-double courses, fan tuners, curved fingerboard. Almost identical to the Portuguese Guitar.
Epinette des Vosges - French instrument of the dulcimer family, oblong often with 7 strings, 3 of which are fretted.
Erhu - Chinese fiddle with the bow passing between two strings.