12 Wonderful & Weird Musical Instruments!

Learning an instrument can be an amazing lifelong hobby. If you consider yourself an eccentric, you may want to learn something a bit less mainstream.

Check out our list of weird musical instruments and you may find your next favorite hobby!

Playing a musical instrument is one of the most fulfilling hobbies a person can have. Learning to play an instrument will engage your mind, increase your creativity and can be a lifelong pursuit.

1. Banjolele

Our first “weird” musical instrument is the banjolele.

A banjolele is exactly what it sounds like; the perfect combination of a banjo and a ukulele.

The percussive drum body is taken from the banjo, while the size and tuning of the instrument is adopted from the ukulele.

Check out this Goodtime Banjolele available from Amazon here…

banjolele close up of instrument

2. Jaw Harp

The jaw harp is a weird little instrument with an interesting sound.

The jaw harp player hums through the mouth piece while flicking a small rod with various techniques to achieve unique sounds and tones.

This creates a beautiful twangy, buzzing and melodic sound.

Check out our full hobby post about the jaw harp here.

weird musical instrument jaw harp, played by bearded man

3. Pyrophone

Our next weird musical instrument is the Pyrophone. This is the perfect instrument for all of you musical pyromaniacs out there.

The pyrophone works similar to a pipe organ, except that the sound is created by “small explosions”. Bursts of flame produce sound rather than by air like a typical organ. Pretty cool!

The pyrophone has an oscillator system that creates a unique warm and deep organ type sound.

pyrophone, explosion organ in a room by a window. Next to a red wall

4. Theramin

The theramin is one of the weirdest instruments around, given that it’s spooky and melodic sounds are produced without ever touching the instrument!

Sound is achieved by manipulating the electric current that flows through the instrument. The player changes the pitch and the volume of the theramin by moving their hands in various ways.

Interested in purchasing a theramin? Check out MusiciansFriend.com here for their full lineup of several theramin’s to compare and chose from…

To hear the beautiful, unique sounds of the theramin, check out this rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…

5. Ocarina

An ocarina is a small-handheld wind instrument, and no it’s not just for Zelda fans. The ocarina is a real instrument that has been around for thousands of years.

Ocarinas have been noted in many South and Central American areas dating back to the Inca, Mayan, and Aztec cultures.

Ocarinas typically have between four and twelve sound holes to achieve various notes and chords.

These small instruments are surprisingly affordable and easy to play.

Check out a few of the many ocarina models available from Amazon Prime here!

6. Musical/Singing Saw

The musical or singing saw is a unique instrument in that it takes a tool otherwise used for cutting wood and makes music out of if.

Popularized by American Folk and Bluegrass music, the musical saw has largely become a staple of “mountain music”.

A musical saw player achieves eerie, melodic sounds by using a violin bow and bending the saw in various shapes.

7. Whirly Tube

The whirly tube is of our favorite weird musical instruments!

It is incredibly easy to play and affordable to buy. We love this instrument for kids to play with and enjoy. Also, it makes an interesting accompaniment to live acoustic performances.

The whirly tube is played by “whirling” a plastic tube in a circle.

The sound that it makes is achieved by air traveling through the tube, and varies by whirling at different speeds.

Pick up a variety pack of whirly tubes from Amazon for surprisingly cheap!

Whirly Tubes 18pk available from Amazon Prime here…

8. Hang (Handpan Drum)

The handpan drum or “hang” is a steel turtle-shell looking instrument that is played with both hands while set in the players lap.

The hang consists of two steel bowls tuned and glued together. The hang is tuned to a diatonic scale individually by a hammer, which can be a slow arduous process.

Hangs are largely hand-made instruments and are a fairly new design. Due to the intricate tuning process and materials the hang is actually fairly expensive and can cost upwards of several thousand dollars.

The hang was created in Switzerland, but has slowly been gaining popularity worldwide due to its unique and peaceful sound.

Check out various keys of the popular Handpan Drums and accessories available from Musician’s Friend here…

9. Melodica

The melodica is a free-reed instrument similar to the harmonica. The player blows through a mouthpiece (often connected to a straw) while pressing the keys on the keyboard to achieve various notes and chords.

The melodica is often played as an accompaniment during live acoustic performances, but can be utilized in a variety of music genres.

melodica musical instrument
Check out this Melodica available from Amazon Prime here….

10. Suitcase Drum

The suitcase drum is a one-man-band essential and a truly unique piece of art in itself.

Built for the musician on the go, the suitcase drum is exactly what it sounds like. A drum build into a suitcase, often played by singer-songwriters to add a beat and some flair to their live performances.

Check out One Man Band Drum Company for their full line of unique suitcase drums.

Here is a video of the suitcase drum in all of its glory:

Artist: Shakey Graves

11. Stylophone

The stylophone is an awesome little “pocket synth” that sounds like it came straight out of the 80’s.

This unique little instrument consists of a metal keyboard circuit and the player makes sound by manipulating it with a small stylus.

While the stylophone first hit the market in 1968, is has recently been revived with fresher models available for any synth enthusiast.

Pick up a STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer from Amazon here…

stylophone, weird musical instrument, against plain background
Stylophone, available from Amazon for $24.95

12. Theorbo

The last of our weird musical instruments collection is the theorbo. The theorbo is an enormous lute type instrument that first showed up in Italy in the late 1500’s.

With its extended neck and impressive amount of strings, this lute is truly a sight to behold.

While the instrument fell out of popularity long ago, the theorbo has a dedicated following of enthusiasts keeping its music alive and well today.

Which of these weird musical instruments have you played before? Which one do you think you’ll try? Let us know in the comments!

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Recommended Links:

  • MusicalSaws.com (Resource for musical saws including history, shop and more)
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