The 10 Most Popular Types of Musical Instruments

Although there are countless musical instruments used around the world, some are more popular than others. Apart from the obvious ones like the guitar, piano, drums, and bass, others are widely used and popular.

The 10 instruments listed below are considered the most popular ones by far.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

1. Guitar

The guitar is one of the most played instruments in the world, thanks to its versatility, flexibility, and portability. Moreover, the fact that it can be performed as a solo instrument is both rewarding and fascinating.

Guitars are used as primary instruments in several music genres, including rock, pop, jazz, metal, punk, and many more. Guitars are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and types to suit a range of different styles.

Here are some of the most common types of guitars:

Classical

Classical guitars get their distinct soft sound due to their nylon strings instead of the steel ones. It is also worth mentioning that most classical guitarists pluck their strings with their fingernails.

In addition, a classical guitar meets the needs of first-time users who are looking for an inexpensive and easy-to-carry option. Of course, there is a reason why it’s named ‘Classical’ guitar, with a rich history and deep roots, the instrument is highly used and very popular.

Acoustic

Acoustic guitars may be an ideal choice for anyone who prefers tones that are vibrant and rich. They come with steel strings and can be a bit on the pricier side. Although, many brands produce acoustic guitars, some on the higher-end but some with a more budget-friendly price tag.

The acoustic guitar is a household name for many musicians and hobbyists around the globe, with incredible versatility, it is not limited to any particular kind of genre, and can also be used to play classical music much like its ‘classical’ counterpart.

Electric

Of course, we all know what electric guitars are, and they are used in many different music genres and styles, including rock, pop, country, jazz, and many in between! They have thinner strings, and pickups, and are often used in combination with guitar pedals to provide extra effects.

It is an extremely versatile and great instrument, known worldwide, and has a place in almost every genre out there. It is considered a favorite instrument by many, and for good reason.

2. Piano

Pianos are one of the most widespread instruments around the world. They are often regarded as the mother of all musical instruments because they offer an exceptional range of both scales and frequencies.

The piano produces both higher-sounding notes (treble clef) and lower-sounding notes (bass clef), whereas other common instruments usually focus on only one of these. Pianos and keyboards are an exceptional learning tool for understanding music theory because of their straightforward and clear note layout.

Granted a piano is a bit more pricey to acquire than most keyboards, however, they produce one of the best melodic sounds out there. It’s no secret that the piano is known worldwide and is one of the first instruments used for music education as it necessitates complex cognitive skills like hand-eye coordination.

3. Violin

Although they might seem a bit old school in our digital world, violins are still incredibly popular instruments. I also wouldn’t mind saying that because of their ability to produce melodious sounds that adapt to almost every genre, violins definitely are our personal favorite.

Violins come in different shapes, models, and sizes, so if you are thinking of getting one for yourself, I recommend doing your homework first and maybe selecting some good online violin lessons!

It is by no means an easy instrument to learn, as with most, it takes time and dedication to learn and master. But, through all of that, you get a beautiful melodious sound that will be pleasing to most.

4. Drum Kit

The drums are still incredibly popular. The rise of the drum machine and drum programming are still not making them dwindle in popularity! An acoustic drum set for live performance is still the king of percussion instruments and not many can hold a place in music like the conventional drum kit.

Like many other musical instruments, drums are also not limited to a single type, and some of their most common types include acoustic and electronic drums.

Acoustic drum kits come with drums and cymbals that are played simultaneously. Electric drums are more modern, but many people feel like they don’t give the same experience as acoustic drums.

5. Bass Guitar

While bass guitars might not be a lead instrument, they hold significant importance in music composition for a wide variety of music genres.

The bass guitar can incorporate a lot of different elements, from adding texture to producing a rhythm, and without it, some of the most iconic songs would sound dull.

To simplify, bass guitars produce a resonant and somber sound that gets people up off their seats and dancing! There are several different types of bass guitars available, including electric, double bass, and acoustic bass guitars.

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6. Flute

If there is one instrument that is easy to transport and maintain, then it has to be the flute. As part of the woodwind family of instruments, like the clarinet, it produces beautiful tones.

This might be new to many, but apart from being one of the oldest musical instruments, the flute is also one of the most diverse ones. It is not just used in the orchestra but also jazz music, folk music, and many other genres.

As for our tastes, the flute echoes with the lightest and most poetic tone among all the musical instruments. The kind we would like to listen to it on a rainy, romantic day on the porch.

7. Recorder

Most people assume that recorders and flutes are the same things, but they are not. A recorder produces a smoother and more velvety sound, similar to the manner of a whistle. Additionally, it’s a solo instrument, which means you do not have to rely on other instrument specialists when you’re ready to perform songs on recorder.

It is most commonly used in elementary schools to introduce kids to the world of music and as a way to improve their motor skills. However, if you are an adult getting into the world of musical instruments, then recorders are a good place to start.

Lastly, I would like to mention that recorders come in 5 different types, including tenor, alto, soprano, bass, and sopranino.

8. Saxophone

With its very close relationship to brass instruments and woodwind instruments, the 8th instrument on the list of most popular musical instruments is the saxophone.

The saxophone is very well known in jazz, rock, and pop music. The sax is a very diverse instrument and has an amazing timbre when played well.

In addition to producing one of the coolest sounds in music, giving us some memorable tunes, the sax is widely used even today and that will unlikely change.

9. Cello

I have listed several string instruments above, but if I am to select the most diverse of all, it has to be the cello. Moreover, if you, too, like me, are huge fans of the Game of Thrones series, you must know that the cello is used as the main instrument in the opening theme of GOT!

Compared to other instruments, the cello can produce a range of sounds. Additionally, the cello is an excellent solo instrument that has allowed musicians to create amazing musical pieces.

10. Trumpet

Trumpets are certainly one of the loudest instruments! In addition to the orchestra, you can use them with jazz and pop, and they will provide great support to all other instruments played with them.

There are many shapes, sizes, and types of trumpets. Some examples are the bass trumpet, Bb trumpet, cornet, and more. They are known are even used in modern country music, making them extremely versatile and adaptable.

Conclusion

I hope reading about all the instruments satisfied your curiosity about the most popular musical instruments out there. While some were obvious, others probably not as much. Naturally, people all over the world play lots of different kinds of instruments.

If you are planning on learning any of the musical instruments I mentioned above, I have a little advice for you – patience and consistency goes a long way! Also, there are a lot of online learning platforms out there that can aid in your learning and journey into the world of music.

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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