Amazing Musical Instruments : Unique, Unusual, Odd, Strange Mind Expanding Musical Instruments

Amazing and unusual musical instruments

A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the beginnings of human culture. The academic study of musical instruments is called organology.

The date and origin of the first device of disputed status as a musical instrument dates back as far as 67,000 years old; artifacts commonly accepted to be early flutes date back as far as about 37,000 years old. However, most historians believe determining a specific time of musical instrument invention to be impossible due to the subjectivity of the definition.

Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations resulted in the rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin. By the Middle Ages, instruments from Mesopotamia could be found in Maritime Southeast Asia and Europeans were playing instruments from North Africa. Development in the Americas occurred at a slower pace, but cultures of North, Central, and South America shared musical instruments.

Have a look at some most amazing and unusual musical instruments:

An easy to play melodic steel tongue drum, inspired by the Hang Drum, The unique tone of the HAPI Drum, available at is created by a tuned vibrating tongue of steel. The concept is similar to a wooden tongue drum. When a tongue is quickly and lightly struck with the finger or mallet, it vibrates creating sound waves.

Watch a video demo of the HAPI Drum:

Aeolian Wind Harp
Played by the wind; free of the touch of human hands, Sometimes called Harmonic Harps, wind harps originated in ancient Greece (circa 6 BC) and flourised throughout the Renaissance era. Aeolian Harps are rare, beautiful instruments designed to be played by the wind; free of the touch of human hands.

Amazing Pencilina
Collision of dulcimer, bass, koto, slide guitar. Bradford Reed fights and tames the idiosyncrasies of the pencilina, an original instrument of his own design and construction.The pencilina is an electric board zither played primarily by striking the strings with sticks; also by plucking and bowing.

Watch a video of Braford playing the Pencilina


29 hanging pot lids, a gong tree with a wide sonic palette. he first version of the Aquaggaswack, built in 1996, only had about 18 pot lids and was narrower (It didn't have the outer sections). This second version, revamped in 1998, has 29 pot lids representing a majority of the notes in an octave, plus some quarter-tones. The center lids have mostly "bell"-like tones and the outer sets have a more "gong"-like tone. All the lids were obtained from thrift stores and friends.

Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall Organ

World's largest and loudest musical instrument, 150 tons and 33,112 pipes. The Convention Hall Auditorium Organ is the pipe organ in the Main Auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, built by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company. The great hall itself is also part of the world's largest pipe organ and was formerly known as the Atlantic City Convention Hall, which can seat 41,000 people in the main auditorium.
The massive organ has 33,112 pipes in 455 ranks, including a full-length 64 foot Diaphone Profunda, ten 32 foot ranks, and manual and pedal reeds that are under 100 inches of wind pressure, while most organs never exceed 10 inches of pressure. In total, there are 4 stops on 100 inches of wind pressure, and there are 10 stops on 50 inches of wind pressure, ear burtsing stuff, but all in order to fill the giant room with sound. The electric blowers that power the organ approach 1,000 horsepower, the kind of power needed to fill a hall larger than 15 million cubic feet. A tour of the entire organ takes 4 1/2 hours.

3-string folk instrument from Russia and the Ukraine. The Balalaika family includes, from the highest-pitched to the lowest, the prima, sekunda, alto, bass and contrabass balalaika. All have three-sided bodies, spruce or fir tops and backs made of from three to nine wooden sections, and all have three strings. The most common solo instrument is the prima, tuned E-E-A (the two lower strings being tuned to the same pitch). The piccolo, prima, and secunda balalaikas are ideally strung with gut (or, today, usually nylon) strings on the lower pegs and a wire string on the top peg.

Bamboo Saxophones
Sax's crafted by Ángel Sampedro del Rio. Carefully electronically tuned, Ángel Sampedro del Rio's Bamboo saxophones consist of segments of bamboo successively larger in diameter.
This progression has now been demonstrated by acoustical studies as the most harmonically effective. 

Ukrainian Bandura by Dwight Newton. Ukrainian bandura -- 36 strings, walnut/spruce, original modified bracing pattern. The invention of an instrument combining the elements of lute and psaltery itself is currently creditable to Francesco Landini, an Italian lutenist-composer of trecento. Filippo Villani writes in "Liber de civitatis Florentiae": "...(Landini) invented a new sort of instrument, a cross between lute and psaltery, which he called the serena serenarum, an instrument that produces an exquisite sound when its strings are struck." 

Glass Armonica

Invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin, the Glass Armonica was one of his favorite inventions. The word "Armonica" is the Italian word for "Harmony". It is played on the same principle of rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wineglass. The glass bowls are individually tuned, so that they do not need to be filled with water, though the players fingers do need to be moistened with water. The glass bowls are tuned by size, mounted one inside each other with cork on a metal spindle. The glasses are made to spin with a flywheel attached to a foot pedal. The composer Mozart, being into Oddmusic himself, composed two of his works specifically for the Glass Armonica.

Watch a video of playing the Glass Armonica


If you're ever in Toulouse, France, look out for pianist Philippe Bataille and his Synphonium. A year in the making, powered by a car battery, it contains 2 synthesizers, and other goodies too secret to be disclosed.


While adjusting his Hurdy Gurdy one day, Jon Jones of Southeast Missouri thought it would be nice to be able to select which string came into contact with the wheel, and also have lots and lots of strings!

After about a year and a half of working out the idea in his head, he found out about the Geigenwerk, which is very similar in principal, though the construction is quite a bit different. Jon stuck with his original design, because of all the planning he put into it, and like most creative experimenters, he just HAD to see if it worked. 

The Javanese Bonang

The Javanese Bonang has a wooden frame on which brass gongs are strung together. The brass heads are struck with padded sticks to create the desired sound and tone.


Kalimbas, also called thumb pianos, come from a family of instruments with a wide variety of names, Mbira is probably the most well known. They have their origin in many parts of Africa. These "Made in Oregon" Kalimbas are handcrafted from homegrown gourds and a variety of hardwood tops. Each is carefully tuned with two rows of keys tuned an octave apart. The lowest note is in the center. To walk up the scale the thumbs alternate left-right, left-right etc. To care for the instrument keep it dry and protected from long exposure to hot sun.