What are the Instruments in a Band? - Musician Authority (2023)

What are the Instruments in a Band? - Musician Authority (1)

Anyone with a passion for playing music should consider starting a band. This arrangement allows you to express your musical abilities while being backed up by other musicians. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’ve already seen many bands perform or record their music.

This guide will examine what instruments are in a band as well as the role they play in different band set ups.

List of Instruments in a Band

1. Guitar

Most, if not all bands feature guitars. This stringed instrument has been reimagined countless times across history and in different cultures. However, most bands today use electric guitars, acoustic guitars, or a combination of the two.

Electric Guitars

The modern electric guitar has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s. Electric guitars are versatile instruments that allow you to convey a wide range of tones and play using different playing styles.

Most bands fit guitarists into one of two categories. These are rhythm guitarists and lead guitarists.

As their name implies, rhythm guitarists offer a rhythmic element to musical performances. These musicians focus on driving songs by strumming chords. This adds structure to songs while also supporting other rhythmic instruments such as bass and drums.

Lead guitarists on the other hand focus on playing individual notes and punctuating songs with melodies. The greatest guitarists of all time such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were the lead guitarists in their respective bands. Such guitarists rarely use chords in their performances, but their melodies may still loosely follow a chord structure.

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This video illustrates the differences between rhythm and lead guitar playing styles.

You might be wondering if there are specific guitars suited for playing rhythm or lead. Most guitars are suitable for both playing styles. If your guitar has multiple pickups, you can switch to the pickup closest to the neck for playing rhythm. Similarly, you can switch to the pickup closest to the bridge for playing lead.

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are the non-electric counterparts to electric guitars. These are typically thicker and feature hollow bodies. Most acoustic guitars feature a “sound hole” near the center of their body portion. This is a resonating chamber that channels the sound from the strings and amplifies it through the guitar’s body.

Many bands also use electric acoustic guitars. These are acoustic guitars that contain a pickup system or built-in microphone so that instrument can be plugged into an amplifier. Electric acoustic guitars are great for live performances where an ordinary acoustic guitar would be drowned out by the sound of other instruments.

2. Bass Guitar

The bass guitar may share many features with electric guitars. However, they are used differently from other guitars. These instruments typically feature four thick nickel-steel strings that produce deep bass-heavy tones when struck. However, many five-string and six-string bass variants also exist.

Bass guitars tend to be longer in length compared to electric guitars. However, both feature electric pickups that amplify the instrument’s sound when plugged into an amplifier.

Bass guitars play a very different role compared to electric guitars in a band. These instruments provide the deep bass-heavy backbone and rhythms that drive songs. They offer a percussive element as well as a melodic one in the mix. This makes them incredibly important and versatile in a band setting.

The rhythm element of bass guitar playing also means bassists must work in tandem with rhythm guitarists and drummers during their performances. For example, many songs feature a bass guitar being plucked in-time with the song’s kick drum.

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3. Pianos

Many bands also feature a piano or keyboard in their setup. Pianos have been around since the 18th century and are a staple in jazz, classical, and pop music. These instruments are incredibly versatile and can be played with one or both hands. Pianists can use them to play rhythm or lead sections. In some cases they may play the rhythm section with their left hand while simultaneously playing the lead section with their right hand.

Pianos can be broken down into two broad categories. Acoustic pianos and digital keyboards.

Acoustic Pianos

Acoustic pianos typically feature 88 keys. These consist of 52 white keys and 36 black keys. A single 12-note octave will contain 7 white keys and 5 black ones.

Acoustic pianos contain dozens of carbon steel strings. The middle notes on an acoustic piano typically use three strings per note while the deeper notes on the left side of the piano use one string per note. Pressing a key on an acoustic piano triggers a small hammer to swing. This hammer strikes the strings and produces that distinct piano sound.

Acoustic pianos also contain pedals that perform different functions. The sustain pedal lifts the damper from the strings, allowing them to ring out freely and adding “sustain” to the note. The “soft” pedal reduces the number of strings the hammer strikes, producing a more muted and darker sound.

Digital Pianos

Digital Pianos are the digital counterpart to the acoustic piano. These instruments do not rely on mechanical components to produce a sound. Instead, they playback pre-recorded sounds whenever a note is pressed.

Digital pianos tend to be smaller and lighter than their acoustic counterparts. This makes them portable and better suited for live performances at different venues

In addition to reproducing the sound of an acoustic piano, digital pianos can also play artificial sounds. This includes organs, pads, percussive sounds, or even drums.

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4. Drums

Drums are the backbone of any band. The drummer plays the vital role of providing tempo and rhythm for each song.

The average acoustic drum kit consists of many different components. This includes:

  • A snare drum
  • A bass drum operated with a pedal
  • Two or more tom drums
  • Hi-hats
  • Cymbals

Each of the components in a drum set produces a distinct sound. The snare produces that hard metallic “thud” that is prominent in most songs. The bass drum produces that dark and thunderous sound that drives the beat.

The hi-hats produce a sharp, crisp, and muted sound that can drive or interrupt up a beat. Cymbals produce that bright crashing sound that adds energy to the drum beat.

5. Vocals

Vocals are arguably the most important instrument in a band. You can swap out one guitar for another guitar, or one piano for another piano in a performance, but you can’t swap out one vocalist for another without changing the song’s feel dramatically. This is because the vocalist’s voice tends to be the most prominent melody in a song performance.

A singer’s job isn’t easy. They must utilize mental and muscle coordination to ensure they are singing in-key and are hitting the right notes in-time with the other instruments. They must do this while also conveying the emotion of the lyrics they are singing. Consider becoming a vocalist If you want to become the most prominent member of your band.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the average band utilizes a core set of instruments in their performances. So consider looking into each one before choosing to start your own music group.


Eduardo Perez

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Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.


What are the Instruments in a Band? - Musician Authority? ›

Rock bands may include a variety of instruments, but the most common configuration is a 4-part band consisting of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums. The lead vocalist may just sing, or play an instrument as well. The microphones and amps help turn up the volume to make the band loud.

What are all the instruments in a band? ›

Rock bands may include a variety of instruments, but the most common configuration is a 4-part band consisting of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums. The lead vocalist may just sing, or play an instrument as well. The microphones and amps help turn up the volume to make the band loud.

What is the order of instruments in a marching band? ›

There's drums in the front, followed by trumpets and mellophones, then trombones and clarinets, then flutes and low brass.

What is the loudest instrument in a marching band? ›

Percussion: Definitely the loudest, at least to the player. It's hard to play drums for a long time without any kind of ear protection and not feel it. This is most pronounced in cymbals, as they're very easy to play extremely loudly.

What is the most important instrument in marching band? ›

The percussion section,or drum line, of a marching band is critical because it provides the tempo for the entire band. Many people know that the percussion section includes drums and cymbals, but it can also include much more.

What are the positions in a band? ›

Classically, a rock band takes the form of a quartet whose members cover one or more roles, including vocalist, lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer, and often that of keyboard player or other instrumentalist.

What do you call the instrument players in a band? ›

Someone who plays an instrument is generally known as an instrumentalist, or simply a “player”.

What are the hardest instruments to play in marching band? ›

The 11 Hardest Musical Instruments to Learn
  • Bagpipes. ...
  • Accordion. ...
  • Oboe. ...
  • Harp. ...
  • Guitar. ...
  • Piano. ...
  • Cello. The cello belongs to the same musical family as the violin. ...
  • Clarinet. As mentioned earlier, the clarinet is a woodwind instrument in the same musical family as the oboe.

What is the easiest instrument in marching band? ›

1. Flute. We've already covered why the flute is such a good instrument for learners in another post. But in short, it's easy to learn, easy to make a good sound with, lightweight, easily transportable, and gentle in tone.

What's the easiest instrument to learn? ›

The 11 Easiest Musical Instruments to Learn
  • Keyboard. ...
  • Castanets. ...
  • Harmonica. ...
  • DJ Controller. ...
  • The Harp. ...
  • Drums. ...
  • Guitar. ...
  • Ukulele. The ukulele is one of the most popular instruments for people to start with.

What are the weird instruments in marching band? ›

Unusual percussive instruments are sometimes used, including brake drums, empty propane tanks, trashcans, railroad ties, stomping rigs, and other interesting sounds. In modern marching band, there is a use of amplification of the front ensemble to help balance out the wind and drumline sections.

What is the hardest thing to do in marching band? ›

Moving a 6ft pole well marching is hard. Add wind, tosses, and the whole band… Well its really hard. You have to try not to hit people (or yourself), toss and catch a flag, try not to get eaten by it, trip over it, and and spin the flag forever.

What is the hardest position to fill in a band? ›

Bass player. There are lots of ex-guitarists who maintain that they play bass, but real, died-in-the-wool, 'bass is what I play and nothing else' players are hard to come by. There are always singers on the hunt for a band. There are more guitarists than there are bands to go round.

Who is usually the leader in a band? ›

A bandleader is the leader of a music group such as a rock or pop band or jazz quartet. The term is most commonly used with a group that plays popular music as a small combo or a big band, such as one which plays jazz, blues, rhythm and blues or rock and roll music.

What's the leader of a marching band called? ›

Essentially, a drum major is the leader who keeps the tempo with the use of a baton or other forms of time-keeping, such as conducting. The drum major often holds the responsibility to keep the band organized and structured.

What is a group of 5 musicians called? ›

When five people do something together, you can refer to them as a quintet. If only there were that fifth Beatle, then they would have been considered a quintet. Sigh. The most common kind of quintet is a five-person musical group.

What is it called when 2 songs are sung at the same time? ›

polyphony (noun; polyphonic = adjective): two or more parts sung or played simultaneously. sometimes in folk music.

What is the slang word for musician? ›

A muso is a musician. [informal]

What is the least hardest instrument to play? ›

Banjo. Another easiest instrument to learn to play is the banjo. It's similar to the guitar, with not quite as many strings as a guitar but more than a ukulele. You can pick up a few simple chords and master all kinds of easy songs as a beginner.

Which instrument requires the most air? ›

The tuba, along with the flute, is at the top of the list for instruments that take the most air to play. To put it in a brass context, tuba uses air three times faster than the trumpet or French horn, and the lower you play within the tuba's range, the more air it takes.

What is the hardest instrument to sing with? ›

The hardest instrument to play while singing is the violin. Violins are very difficult to hold and control, and they require a lot of practice to be able to play well. Violins are very loud, which can be difficult to deal with when singing in a public setting. What is the easiest way to learn singing with a guitar?

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  • The Kazoo.
  • Didgeridoo.
  • The Vuvuzela.
  • Recorder.
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  • The Triangle.
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  • The Saxophone.
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What is the most powerful musical instrument? ›

The carillon is a musical instrument usually housed in the bell tower of a church. The instrument is comprised of a minimum of 23 bronze bells, which are played by striking a keyboard to form a melody, or rung simultaneously to sound a chord.

What does playing an instrument do to your brain? ›

Playing a musical instrument has been shown to increase cognitive ability through enhanced neuronal communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, resulting in positive effects on learning, memory, fine motor skills, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning, resulting in an overall more capable ...

Which musician in a marching band provides the rhythmic beat? ›

Musical roles

The drums and bass both supply a rhythmic pulse for the music, and the bass instrument supplies a harmonic foundation with a bassline.

How do you memorize marching band music? ›

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  2. #2. Use sight reading tips. ...
  3. #3. Play it through. ...
  4. #4. Use your other senses. ...
  5. #5. Visualize the music. ...
  6. #6. Watch your hands. ...
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Jul 20, 2017

What band instrument has the most range? ›

A piano and its 88 keys, for example, has the broadest pitch range of all instruments. Its highest note vibrates at 4,186Hz (4.1KHz) and its lowest at 27.5Hz.

Which instrument has the nicest sound? ›

The Violin is the most widely known because it usually has the melody in classical pieces, but the best and most beautiful instrument is the Cello. If you really want to see for yourself, look up Prelude to Bach's First Cello Suite. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music in the history of music.

What is the most portable instrument? ›

Nothing says travel like a ukulele. Super easy to play and compact enough to fit in almost any bag, the uke is the ultimate go-anywhere acoustic instrument.

What is the hardest basic instrument to learn? ›

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  3. French horn. ...
  4. Piano. ...
  5. Hammond organ. ...
  6. Drums. ...
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Dec 11, 2020

What is the easiest instrument to learn for seniors? ›

The Piano

One of the simplest musical instruments that seniors can easily learn is the classical piano. An instrument that requires practice as well as hand-eye co-ordination is the ideal choice for individuals above the age of 50.

What is the most versatile musical instrument? ›

The piano is possibly the most versatile of all instruments because it is played in almost every genre and can be accompanied or played solo.

What is the girl with the stick in marching band? ›

A majorette is a baton twirler whose twirling performance is often accompanied by dance, movement, or gymnastics. Majorettes are primarily associated with marching bands during parades.

What instrument did Dolly Parton play in marching band? ›

5) A lifelong musician, Dolly attended Sevier County High School and played drums in the marching band.

What is bigger than a tuba? ›

The sizes: the sousaphone is basically a circular version of the tuba; although it looks bigger because of the sousaphone's oversized bell reaching up to 32 inches. The weight is carried on the player's shoulder, with most sousaphone being pitched in BBb with tubing of 18 foot.

What is the most common injury in marching band? ›

Some common injuries and symptoms of marching are: Back Pain. Hip Flexor/Groin Strain or Pain. Shin Splints.

What are the negative effects of marching band? ›

This study suggests that these added stresses may increase the risk for musculoskeletal, audiological, and mental health problems among music majors. Health issues such as these can be detrimental to a musician's career and the influence of marching band is grossly understudied.

How stressful is marching band? ›

Additionally, marching band members' physical stress is high simply because they are marching. “The risk of developing MSDs among marching band players in college settings is high,” said Zhu, a former OSU College of Engineering faculty member and now an independent ergonomics consultant.

How many band instruments are there in total? ›

It is estimated that there are over 1500 different musical instruments in the world. These instruments are segregated into different categories that include woodwind, percussion, brass, keyboard, and the guitar family.

What instruments are in a 7 piece band? ›

Toronto Jazz Collectives 7 piece Toronto Wedding Band consists of a lead female vocalist, trumpet, saxophone, keyboards, guitar/back up vocals, bass and drums. This band is all you need in terms of size and instrumentation and can sound like a 10 piece band playing all of your favorite songs.

What are the 5 band instruments? ›

Band Instruments
  • Flute.
  • Oboe.
  • Clarinet.
  • Saxophone.
  • Bassoon.
  • Trumpet.
  • French Horn.
  • Trombone.

What instruments are in a 9 piece band? ›

Spectrum Band's most popular option features lead male and female vocals, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, and a full rhythm section of guitar, piano, bass (upright and electric), and drums. As a 9-piece band, our full song list is available and provides the fullest sound possible.

What is the easiest band instrument to play? ›

A drum set you may see in a rock band may be too challenging to start with, but percussion instruments are good when looking for easy instruments to learn. Bongos, congas, or snare drums are all great options for learning how to keep a steady beat and create rhythmic patterns.

What is a group of 12 musicians called? ›

In music, a duodecet—sometimes duodectet, or duodecimette—is a composition which requires twelve musicians for a performance, or a musical group that consists of twelve people.

What is the most uncommon band instrument? ›

10 Unusual Musical Instruments From Around the World
  • Ðàn Tre. ...
  • Tenor cornett. ...
  • Mayuri. ...
  • Chime bells. ...
  • Copper serpent. ...
  • Russian Bassoon. ...
  • Zurna. ...
  • Haegeum.

What is a group of 10 musicians called? ›

In music, a decet—sometimes dectet, decimette, or even tentet—is a composition which requires ten musicians for a performance, or a musical group that consists of ten people.

What are the 4 major groups of instruments? ›

These characteristics ultimately divide instruments into four families: woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings. Play the four instrument family tracks below while students refer to Instrument Family Portraits (PDF).

What is the hardest instrument to play in marching band? ›

Those would be Snares, Quads (Tenors), Cymbals or Basses. They all require different things from a rhythmic perspective as well as a physical stand point. Snares: Considered the most difficult, you are the front man of the percussion ensemble. Quads: You have fast and difficult parts, but very exciting.

What are the three main instrument families in band? ›

Scroll down the page to see all of the instruments.
  • Woodwind Family - Woodwind instruments produce a sound by blowing into a mouthpiece. ...
  • Brass Family - Brass instruments are played by 'buzzing' the lips into the mouthpiece.
  • String Family - You will find more String instruments than any other type in the orchestra.

What is a 10 piece band? ›

For that Roaring 20s feel, go with a 10-piece band or more consisting of Male vocals + 2 Female vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard, bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and lead guitar (many of our vocalists can double up on an instrument!)

What is an 8 piece band called? ›

5 letter answer(s) to eight-piece band

OCTET. a musical composition written for eight performers.

What is a 6 piece band called? ›

A sextet (or hexad) is a formation containing exactly six members. The former term is commonly associated with vocal ensembles (e.g. The King's Singers, Affabre Concinui) or musical instrument groups, but can be applied to any situation where six similar or related objects are considered a single unit.


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