12 Common Instruments Used in Country Music - Music Industry How To (2022)

12 Common Instruments Used in Country Music - Music Industry How To (1)

The country music genre continues to expand, and the instruments that are used in this genre are as varied as the voices of the musicians that propagate the genre. Although there are several instruments used in making country music, some are more popular and iconic than others.

In this post, we will consider some of the instruments that have become part of the genre. They appear in many of the most successful and beautiful country songs. We will explore some of them and see how they make country music different from other music styles.

Contents

Country Music Instruments

Accordion

12 Common Instruments Used in Country Music - Music Industry How To (2)

The first instrument that we will explore is the accordion. The accordion is a reed instrument that boasts of origins in Europe. It is widely believed to have been developed in the early 19th century. It is a unique type of instrument that is worn specially before playing. It is worn like a vest and the keys are similar to what you would find on a piano. There is a pair of keyboards on either hand and these are connected by a bellows.

Producing sound through the accordion is easy and is done by using the bellows to push air through valves controlled by the aforementioned keyboard.

In country music, the accordion finds a major role in cowboy music. There have been several popular and iconic figures in country music that have used the accordion in their music. For example, Clifton Chenier was a pioneer of the instrument and paved the way for many of the modern accordion players. Today, Flaco Jimenez is the most renowned player of the accordion.

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Autoharp

The autoharp is an instrument that isn't found very often in other genres of music. In fact, at first glance, you might not even recognize it. The instrument is from the zither family and is played in a somewhat similar way.

To play the autoharp, you will strum the strings with a hand and use the second hand to control the bar that damps the strings that are not being played.

The autoharp was not always a fixture in country music. It was introduced to the genre in the 1920s by Pop Stoneman. While that was the introduction of the instrument to the country music scene, the autoharp did not catch on until when Sara Carter started using it in performances of the Carter Family.

Today, the autoharp is famously played by Bryan Bowers and some other musicians in the country music scene.

Banjo

The banjo is the definitive country music instrument. It evokes the country feeling with its thin-necked appearance. This instrument is either plucked or strummed. The sounds from a banjo are unique and can be identified anywhere.

The banjo of today comes from a family of lutes that originate in West Africa. It came to the West via the slave trade as the slaves brought memories of the instruments with them.

With mass manufacture and the other forces in play, banjos changed the scene of country music and have defined country music right from its inception. Today, the banjo has evolved to include four-string tenors, plectrums, and six-string guitar-banjos. Either way, each of these produces a unique sound and elevates country music. For most singers and players, the five-string banjo is the most popular type of banjo right now. Five-string banjos are also available in different styles. You might have it as open-back folk, or old-time types. Depending on the style, the strings might be made of gut or steel. Modern banjos are available as resonator-backed options, and these usually favor steel strings.

The banjo is a unique instrument that comes in so many styles. For example, it might be factory-made or handcrafted. There are also electric banjos, fretless banjos, and acoustic banjos.

Right from the first glance, it is easy to identify the banjo, and if you were to engage in a random poll, most folks would agree that the banjo is the definitive country music instrument. The banjo has always played an important part in country music. In its early beginnings, the banjo was used in minstrel shows and country music shows.

Starting in the 1940s, the banjo was made even more popular by Pete Seeger. His five-string banjo was known by all music lovers of the time and this introduced the instrument to folk music and urban listeners. Around that time, bluegrass music started to have a large following, and one of the pioneers of the movement at that time, Earl Scruggs, played the three-string banjo.

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In modern times, this instrument is one of the most popular in the world.

Bass

12 Common Instruments Used in Country Music - Music Industry How To (3)

The bass is another instrument that is often used in country music. Like some of the most popular country music instruments, the bass comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. These range from one-string washtub bass to electric bass, and down to the four-string acoustic bass.

This instrument gives a nice bottom to the melody line of the composition. It is used in most contemporary country music today.

Dobro

The dobro might not be as common as some of the others that we have discussed so far, but it plays an important role in the history of country music. This is one of the ‘youngest' music instruments on this list. The instrument was created by the Dopyera Brothers at the turn of the 20th century. The instrument is inspired by the resonator guitar. It is played with fingerpicks and a metal bar for fretting.

The Dobro is the inspiration for the modern-day steel guitar.

This unique instrument was first made popular by Brother Oswald of the Grand Ole Opry. After this, it later became a major part of the bluegrass music scene. Some of the artists credited for their mastery of the Dobro include Jerry Douglas and Josh Graves. By using this instrument in their music, these musicians have made the Dobro more popular to the country music audience.

Drums

Believe it or not, drums were not always part of country music. The Grand Ole Opry banned the use of drums in their performances. Many of the early country artists refused to use drums in their music for a variety of reasons. Some thought that drums were simply too loud and disruptive to be used in country music. Others felt it added impurity to the music.

So opposed to the instrument were members of the country music community that even when the Grand Ole Opry allowed the use of drums in performances, the drummer had to be behind curtains. The rise of Rock & Roll and its drums made it even harder to have anyone accept drums into country music.

Fortunately, in the 1960s and beyond, drums were finally accepted into the country music community.

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Piano

12 Common Instruments Used in Country Music - Music Industry How To (4)

The piano is certainly one of the most popular musical instruments in the world. It is found all over the world and is a fixture in the country music genre. The piano comprises of several levers that hammer strings when you play the keys.

Right from the start of country music, this instrument has played quite an integral role. It especially hit its peak as Western music came along the way in the 1930s. It was played by some of the most popular names of the time. For example, it was played by Moon Mullican. After the fading of that aspect of country music at that time, the piano evolved to become yet an important part of other music genres. For example, it was a fixture in R&B music and other genres. You will find the piano as the lead instrument in many of the best records of the age.

As country music made a return, particularly with the Nashville Sound, the piano also came back as one of the most important musical instruments. Many of the best artists of that wave played the piano on most of their hits.

Even today, the piano plays an important part in modern country music. It is not uncommon to find an electric piano or an acoustic piano on the latest country music songs.

Harmonica

It might be a small instrument, at least when compared with the others used in country music, but there is no denying the incredible role played by the harmonica in country music. This is one of the oldest instruments in country music as it has been around since the 18th century. The harmonica is played with the mouth and features chambers that have reeds. As the player blows, inhales, and exhales, the reeds vibrate and will give their sound. Most of the harmonicas come with just one key, but skillful performers can produce a variety of sounds on just one harmonica.

The harmonica has had a rich history in country music, and the first appearance of a harmonica on a record was by DeFord Bailey. He popularized the use of this instrument in country music. The harmonica was also a favorite instrument of country music legend, Bob Dylan.

Today, the harmonica continues to find a place in country music as musicians like Charlie McCoy use it in their musician.

Electric Guitar

Yes, the electric guitar is also an instrument used in country music. The acoustic guitar was more popular and iconic, but the electric guitar also has its place among the best instruments for country music.

The first of this instrument was created in 1932 and many musicians loved the fact that it gave them the chance to use a guitar for large stages and in big bands. The instrument evolved in 1950 when a body of solid wood was used in making an electric guitar. This gave it even better performance as the wood enhanced sustain and sharpened the tone.

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This sound was adopted by many country musicians of the age, including Bill Carson, Don Rich, and Jimmy Bryant.

Acoustic Guitar

12 Common Instruments Used in Country Music - Music Industry How To (5)

After the banjo, this is arguably the most iconic instrument used in country music. If you picture a country singer, aside from the Stetson hat and twangy voice, the acoustic guitar is another fixture in the mind. Country music was the primary music genre that based itself around the guitar, and an early recording of country music shows that it was the preferred instrument of icons in country music.

In the 1930s, the guitar was made even more popular when it became the instrument of choice for legends like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. Since then, this instrument has never waned as the instrument of choice for country musicians. Up until now, it is the primary instrument in country music.

Before its popularity, the guitar was overshadowed by other instruments like the banjo, mandolin, and lute. However, as the 1920s drew to a close, more musicians found that the guitar offered more versatility and was particularly suited for the new wave of country music.

Fiddle

As with the guitar and banjo, the fiddle is arguably the definitive country music instrument. This instrument lies at the heart of several of the biggest and memorable hits in country music. It was introduced to America from the British Isles.

The fiddle is older than country music and has been in the West for up to 300 years before country music became a commercial venture.

Right from the commercialization of country music, this instrument has played a big role. Starting from 1922, the fiddle was used in country recordings. Many of the pioneers of country music played the fiddle in their successful recordings.

It also played a big role in the bluegrass sound. Mainstream country musicians have also played the fiddle.

Mandolin

The mandolin comes from the lutes of Italy and has endured as one of the most iconic instruments in music. Many of the legendary composers like Mozart used the mandolin.

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The mandolin also found its way to the West and into country music. This instrument was brought into prominence in country music when it was used by Bill Monroe in 1939. It was the introduction of the instrument and the vocal blend of the group that birthed the bluegrass part of country music.

Common Instruments Used in Country Music, Final Thoughts

Country music has a rich history, and these 12 instruments are some of the most common instruments used in country music.

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FAQs

What is the used of instrument in music industry? ›

A musical instrument is used to make musical sounds. Once humans moved from making sounds with their bodies — for example, by clapping—to using objects to create music from sounds, musical instruments were born.

What is the most common key for country music? ›

Most country, pop, blues, rock is oriented around the tuning of guitars and the low open strings on guitars and bass guitars are E and A. G is the generally most common best sounding chord. So the keys of E, A, G are the easiest and most common keys used.

How would you describe the sound of country music? ›

Country music is defined as “a style and genre of largely string-accompanied American popular music having roots in the folk music of the Southeast and cowboy music of the West, usually vocalized, generally simple in form and harmony, and typified by romantic or melancholy ballads accompanied by acoustic or electric ...

What key is every instrument in? ›

Instruments & Transpositions
KeyInstruments
C (treble clef)Accordion Flute, Piccolo Glockenspiel Oboe Piano Violin Xylophone
C (bass clef)Baritone, Euphonium Tuba, Sousaphone Trombone Cello
B flatClarinet, Clarinette basse/Bass Clarinet Soprano and Tenor Saxophones Trumpet, Cornet, Bugle/Flugelhorn
2 more rows

Is there an app that tells you what instrument is playing? ›

With the help of our AI-powered Tune Identifier Pro app you can now find out what exact musical instruments sound and recognize specific ones in any song. By using the neural engine system, the application has the capability to isolate individual instruments within a piece of music.

Which musical instrument can play all songs? ›

The piano is a royal musical instrument. It is also called the king of instruments. Despite being a single instrument, a piano covers the full spectrum of any instrument featured in the orchestra. This adaptability along with the capability to produce a pleasant tune is what gives piano its name.

What are the 5 main types of musical instruments? ›

The principal types of musical instruments are percussion, stringed, keyboard, wind, and electronic.

What are the 3 main types of musical instrument and what are their uses? ›

THE 3 TYPES OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS ARE: STRING INSTRUMENTS: THE INSTRUMENTS THAT PRODUSE SOUND DUE TO THE VIBRATION OF PARTICLES OF STRING. WIND INSTRUMENTS: THE INSTRUMENTS WHICH PRODUCE SOUND DUE TO THE WIND. PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS: THEY MOSTLY HAVE A STRETCHED OUTER MEMBRANE DUE TO WHICH THE SOUND IS PRODUCED.

What musical instrument should I learn? ›

Which Instrument Should I Learn?
Piano/Keyboard
Saxophone
9 years +Easy to play instrument. Heavier that a clarinet, can be loud and overpowering – great for outgoing personalities. Reed instrument, popular in bands. Four types:- Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone. Alto is most popular for beginner.
Trumpet
28 more rows

What is the name of all instruments? ›

List of 60+ Musical Instruments Names
PianoFluteDrums
MridangamViolinTriangle
TrumpetSaxophoneCello
XylophoneClap boxBass guitar
BugleHarpOboe
11 more rows

What are 5 characteristics of country music? ›

Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes (most commonly known as "Honky Tonk music") with generally simple form, folk lyrics, and harmonies often accompanied by string instruments such as electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars (such as pedal steels and dobros), banjos, and fiddles as well as ...

What are the 3 main chords in country music? ›

The most common chords we'll be using in country music are the I, IV and V chords, which are all major chords, which are all major chords. It's not uncommon to throw in a minor VI chord for some texture or even to change the dynamic of a section. For this lesson, we'll talk about the key of C major.

What chords do most country songs use? ›

I, IV, V (C,F,G)

These chords are heavily used in country music. A majority of mainstream country songs will use this chord progression, whether for the verse, chorus, or bridge of their hit songs.

What words describe country music? ›

synonyms for country music
  • C & W.
  • country and western.
  • hillbilly music.
  • old-time country rock.
  • western swing.

What are the types of country music? ›

List of country genres
  • Alternative country. Americana. Cowpunk/Country-punk. Gothic country. ...
  • Australian country music. Bush band.
  • Bakersfield sound.
  • Bluegrass. Old-time bluegrass/Appalachian bluegrass. Traditional bluegrass/Neo-Traditional bluegrass. ...
  • Bro-country.
  • Canadian country music.
  • Christian country music.
  • Classic country.

What makes country music so special? ›

Aside from just being uplifting and positive, a lot of country songs celebrate life in the USA. It makes sense given the all-American history of the genre. While there are some similar genres in other countries, for the most part country music is an American thing, and we like it that way!

What are all the 12 keys in music? ›

Western music typically uses 12 notes – C, D, E, F, G, A and B, plus five flats and equivalent sharps in between, which are: C sharp/D flat (they're the same note, just named differently depending on what key signature is being used), D sharp/E flat, F sharp/G flat, G sharp/A flat and A sharp/B flat.

What are 12 Major keys? ›

There are 12 possible keys any particular song can be played in. This is because of the 12 notes on the piano keyboard, A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, and G#/Ab. A song can be played so that any one of these twelve notes will be the tonal center or home base.

What key can everyone sing? ›

To Find the Key, First Find the Range

But the idea is the same. He said that most people—all voices—can sing fairly comfortably in the range from middle C to the C' above (for men, it's the full octave lower, of course).

Is there an app to guess a sound? ›

Guess The Sound Trivia Earo on the App Store.

Is there an app that identifies musical notes? ›

Find the Note Pitch Detector uses your device's mic to identify musical notes. The frequency and current musical note are displayed on your screen. Simple and easy to use. Use the frequency and pitch bar to tune any instrument!

What instrument should I learn first? ›

The instruments that we typically notice the quickest progress on are drums and piano (since you eliminate the factor of having to support/hold them) followed by guitar, bass and ukulele. For band and orchestra instruments, it can take significant time to learn basics.

What instrument is easy to learn? ›

HARMONICA

One of the easiest instruments you can take up, which is also very popular in a variety of styles, is the harmonica. The great thing about harmonicas is that no matter what note you play, it will be in key, which means even complete beginners can sound good.

What instrument is hardest to learn? ›

The 11 Hardest Musical Instruments to Learn
  • Violin. The violin is a wooden stringed instrument that's part of a larger family of similar instruments. ...
  • The French Horn. ...
  • The Organ. ...
  • Bagpipes. ...
  • Accordion. ...
  • Oboe. ...
  • Harp. ...
  • Guitar.

What is the top 10 easiest instrument to play? ›

Here then are our best picks of the 10 easiest instruments to learn late in life and why they made it into our review:
  • Bass guitar.
  • Bongos. ...
  • Tambourine. ...
  • Ukulele. ...
  • Harmonica. ...
  • Fiddle. ...
  • Drums. ...
  • Recorder. ...
12 Aug 2020

What instrument plays most notes? ›

What Are the Highest-Pitched Instruments?
  • The highest-pitched orchestral instrument is the piccolo, but there are some other impressive musical instruments that can reach high ranges. ...
  • Flutes are a member of the woodwind family that is perhaps the most well-known instrument for producing high pitches.
6 Aug 2021

What are the 6 main musical instruments? ›

Advanced Search. The great majority of musical instruments fall readily into one of six major categories: bowed strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, and the guitar family, the first four of which form the basis of the modern symphony orchestra.

What are the 4 traditional musical instruments? ›

In music, we divide instruments into different categories according to the way they play and the features they have. For Instance, there are four categories: percussion instruments, wind instruments, key instruments, and string instruments.

How many types of instruments are there give examples? ›

There are five types of musical instruments: percussion, string, brass, woodwind, and keyboard.

What are the 4 types of instruments with examples? ›

Instruments of the Orchestra
  • Strings. Learn about the string instruments: violin, viola, cello, double bass, and harp! ...
  • Woodwinds. Learn about the woodwind instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon! ...
  • Brass. Learn about the brass instruments: trumpet, french horn, trombone, and tuba! ...
  • Percussion.

What is a 9 instrument musical group called? ›

Classical chamber ensembles of six (sextet), seven (septet), or eight musicians (octet) are fairly common; use of latinate terms for larger groups is rare, except for the nonet (nine musicians). In most cases, a larger classical group is referred to as an orchestra of some type or a concert band.

What are 9 musical instruments? ›

In This Article:
  • The Xylophone.
  • Hand Percussion.
  • Piano.
  • Ukulele.
  • Drums.
  • Recorder.
  • Violin.
  • Guitar.
11 Mar 2020

What is an instrument with 8 letters? ›

Musical Instruments - 8 letters
ResultsInstant Lookup
CimbalomW O D
ClarinetW O D
CrumhornW O D
DulcimerW O D
44 more rows

What are the main instruments in a song? ›

If we apply the seven instrument cut off point to the most common instruments used we see that Drums, Bass, Electric Guitar, Synth, Strings, Vocals and Backing Vocals are determined to be the most common instruments used in a Number 1 hit.

What are musical instruments and examples? ›

Families of Musical Instruments
  • Brass instruments include trumpet, trombone, tuba, French horn, cornet, and bugle.
  • Percussion instruments include drums, cymbals, triangle, chimes, tam-tam, glockenspiel, timpani, bells, and xylophone.
  • Stringed instruments include the violin, viola, cello, bass, harp, and dulcimer.

What is the best way to teach yourself an instrument? ›

The ideal method to learn an instrument is to play something every day. It is better to practice every day for half an hour than two days a week for 2 hours! If you separate your practice hours into short daily training, it can make your progress more rewarding.

What instrument takes the most skill? ›

The piano has the highest skill floor of all the instruments, meaning anyone can make a nice sound on it, but the complexity and difficulty of music written for piano simply continues long after all the other instruments have reached their most difficult pieces.

What is the king of all instruments? ›

If you ask a pianist or composer why the piano is called the King of Instruments, there's a good chance they'll tell you its because of its incredible tonal range and versatility. The piano covers the full spectrum of tones and notes found in all other orchestra instruments.

How many music instruments are there 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.

How many instruments are in music? ›

There are more than 1500 known instruments around the world, with many different ways to categorize them. The traditional western approach classes them as string, woodwind, brass, keyboard, and percussion instruments.

What are the traditional instruments of early country music? ›

In general, string instruments, like banjos, acoustic and electric guitars, dobros, fiddles, and harmonicas accompanied simple harmonies with rhythmic precision. The earliest country musicians rejected drums, believing they were too brash and loud.

What is the key ingredient of country music? ›

One key feature of Country Music is the use of a story on which to build a song. The narrative is extremely important in nearly every type of Country Music and it provides a strong and compelling element that binds the genre together.

What are the 3 cowboy chords? ›

While that's one theory, it's also true that a vast number of campfire and early western songs (the precursor to country music) are three-chord songs (I-IV-V) played solely with open position aka cowboy chords. This was typified by western movie stars of the 1940s, none more so than the singing cowboy Gene Autry.

What are the 4 magic chords? ›

It turns out that the four magical chords are E, B, C# minor and A. But with so many chords to choose from, why did dozens of hit songs end up with the same four chords? At first glance, it seems strange that so many songs should have the same chords.

What is a country instrument? ›

Today, country music instruments include; Dobros/Resonator/Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo/Banjitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums, Fiddle.

What instrument families are used in country? ›

In the case of country music, the most used one is the strings family, which includes dobro, banjo, or autoharp. Similarly, rock also belongs to the strings family, such as bass and guitars. However, jazz mostly utilizes brass instruments, which include trombones, clarinets, and trumpets.

What type of guitar is used for country music? ›

Since its beginning, the acoustic guitar has been the main instrument defining the country music sound, although electric guitars have become equally significant in today's country music.

What are the 5 main classes of instruments? ›

Instruments are classified using 5 different categories depending on the manner in which the instrument creates the sound: Idiophones, Membranophones, Chordophones, Aerophones, & Electrophones.

What do all country songs have in common? ›

At the heart of country music are simple chord progressions and catchy riffs. Many of the best country songs of all time have this type of structure. These are enhanced by the vocal harmonies, and of course, the bridge and chorus.

What mode is used in country music? ›

One of the most commonly used sounds besides pentatonic and blues when soloing in a country style is the Mixolydian mode.

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