Music is an art form that has been around for thousands of years, and it continues to evolve and inspire us to this day. From the earliest days of humanity, people have been creating music using whatever materials were available to them, from primitive instruments carved out of wood and bone to more sophisticated instruments like guitars, pianos, and violins.
Despite the incredible advances in musical instrument technology over the centuries, some musicians and instrument makers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. They create instruments that are truly one-of-a-kind, from bizarre and experimental guitars to harmonicas made from unexpected materials.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the most incredible and unique instruments that have been created, and explore the stories behind their creation. From the world’s largest harp to a guitar made out of recycled materials, these instruments are truly a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the human spirit. So come with us on a journey through the world of music and discover the most unusual instruments that have ever been created.
1. Schwartzer Electric Zither, Sn. 1057, 1923
The pickup technology known as “piezo” had its beginnings over 125 years ago, today the use of Piezo pickups in musical instruments is so common that it doesn’t even beg a question. The first serious application of the technology began in 1917 when it was applied to in microphones, speakers, sensors, and phonograph cartridges. It didn’t take long to migrate to musical instruments. By the early 1930s it was marketed as a “Vibration Unit” which could have been attached to any instrument, but seemed to have been targeted toward the stringed instruments market.
2. Sarinda, India
The Sarinda is a stringed musical instrument that is believed to have originated in ancient India. It is a precursor to the modern Indian instrument called the Sitar and is played with a bow. The Sarinda is a long-necked lute with a small, round body and four or five strings. It is said to have been used in religious and courtly music, and it is still occasionally used in traditional music in India and other parts of South Asia. The Sarinda is not as popular as the Sitar, but still being played by some traditional musicians.
3. The Baschet crystal
The Baschet crystal is a type of musical instrument that was invented by the French brothers François and Bernard Baschet in the 1950s. It is a unique instrument that combines the properties of crystals and sound. The instrument is made up of a series of glass or metal rods that are struck or bowed to produce sound. The rods are mounted on a frame and can be played by one or more musicians. The Baschet crystal produces a wide range of sounds, from delicate chimes to percussive strikes, and is often used in experimental and avant-garde music.
4. Trombone with seven bells by Adolphe Sax (1876, Paris)
With his invention of six independent valves in 1852, perfected in 1867, Adolphe Sax attempted to give the trombone a new verve. The instrument had barely changed since its origin in the fifteenth century, and makers of it regarded the slide as old-fashioned and awkward. With this new system, the fundamental note and its series of harmonics could be altered by depressing one of the six valves, rather than using the slide. The instrument was initially received with enthusiasm and a class was even established at the Paris Conservatory for the six-valve trombone. At one point it looked as though the instrument would indeed replace the old slide trombone. However, its complex construction and the new, complex fingering served rapidly to dim its success.
5. Raspjevano drvo
Raspjevano drvo, which translates to “singing tree” in English, is a type of musical instrument that is found in certain regions of Croatia and Bosnia. The instrument is made from a single piece of wood, typically alder, and has a series of thin wooden slats that are held together by strings. The slats are played by rubbing them with a bow, similar to the way a violin or viola is played. The instrument produces a unique, soft, and melodic sound. Raspjevano drvo is a traditional folk instrument and is not widely known outside of Croatia and Bosnia.
6. Piano “Giraffe” – vertical piano
A “Giraffe” piano is a vertical piano that is designed to stand on its end, with the keyboard facing upwards, resembling the shape of a giraffe’s neck. The idea behind this design is to save space and make the piano more visually interesting. The piano is played in the same way as a traditional upright piano, but with the keyboard in a vertical orientation. Such pianos are not common and not produced by any major piano manufacturer. They are considered as a unique creation by some craftsmen, and are not considered a standard instrument.
7. Koto Harp Guitar
The Koto Harp Guitar is a hybrid musical instrument that combines elements of the koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, and the harp guitar, a type of guitar that has extra strings that are not played with the fingers but rather are used for resonance. The Koto Harp guitar typically has a traditional koto body shape and sound hole. The instrument has extra strings that are not fretted and are used to create a harp-like resonance. It is a unique instrument that is not commonly found, typically produced by small luthiers or custom made by musicians.
8. Harp Mandolins
A Harp mandolin is a type of stringed instrument that combines elements of a harp and a mandolin. The harp mandolin has a mandolin-like body with a fretted neck, but it also has a set of additional, unfretted strings that are arranged like those of a harp. These additional strings are used to produce a harp-like resonance, adding a unique sound to the instrument. The harp mandolin can be played with a pick or with the fingers. It is not a common instrument, it is considered a unique creation by some Luthiers.
9. Antique Piano
An antique piano is a piano that is considered to be of significant historical or cultural value and is usually over 100 years old. These pianos are usually made by hand and are constructed of high-quality materials, making them highly sought after by collectors and musicians. Antique pianos may have intricate designs and decorations, and they are often considered works of art as well as musical instruments. They can be found in various types like grand pianos, square pianos, upright pianos, and others. Many antique pianos have been restored to playable condition, while others are preserved as historical artifacts. The value of an antique piano is determined by factors such as its age, condition, rarity, and provenance.
10. Apollo Lyre
The Apollo Lyre, also known as the lyre of Apollo, is a stringed musical instrument that was associated with the Greek god Apollo, who was the god of music, poetry, and prophecy. The lyre of Apollo is a type of harp that is typically depicted in ancient Greek and Roman art as having seven strings. The strings were stretched over a wooden frame, and the instrument was played by plucking the strings with the fingers. In Greek mythology, Apollo is said to have invented the lyre after killing the serpent Python, and it became one of his most associated symbols. The lyre was used in ancient Greece and Rome to accompany song and poetry, and it also played an important role in religious and ceremonial contexts.
11. Dzen Drum
The Dzen drum is a type of drum that is used in traditional music of the Dzen people, an ethnic group in the mountainous regions of China. The drum is cylindrical in shape, and is played with two drum sticks. It is usually made of wood, and the drumhead is typically made from animal skin. The Dzen drum is usually played in ensemble with other instruments such as lute, flute and gong. The drum is also used in ceremonial and religious contexts, and is played to mark important events and festivals.
12. Beautiful Guitar
13. Professional Electric Banjo
An electric banjo is a musical instrument that combines the traditional elements of a banjo with the technology of an electric guitar. It typically has a banjo body and neck with a resonator, but instead of a traditional drum head it has a pickup that converts the vibrations of the strings into an electrical signal that can be amplified through an amplifier. This allows the electric banjo to produce a louder and more versatile sound than a traditional banjo. Electric banjos can be played with a plectrum or fingerstyle, and are sometimes used in genres such as rock, blues, and country music. They have been produced since the 1930s but became more popular in the last decades.
14. Steampunk violin
A Steampunk violin is a type of violin that incorporates the aesthetic and design elements of the Steampunk genre. Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that is set in a world where steam power is still widely used. The Steampunk style is characterized by a mix of Victorian-era industrial and futuristic elements, such as gears, levers, and mechanical parts. A Steampunk violin typically features a unique and elaborate design, incorporating these elements into the instrument’s body and hardware. The sound and playing techniques remain the same as a traditional violin. It is considered a unique creation and not a standard instrument, usually made by luthiers and artists with a Steampunk aesthetic.
15. Whaletone 2023 Collection in Viva Magenta
The Whaletone is a brand of piano that is known for its unique design and sound. These pianos are designed to mimic the sound of a whale’s song. The Whaletone piano uses a special mechanism that produces a sound similar to the songs of humpback whales, which are known for their complex and melodic songs. The mechanism is integrated into the piano’s soundboard and is activated by the piano’s hammers striking the strings. This allows the piano to produce a unique and distinctive sound that is not found in traditional pianos. The Whaletone is not a commonly known brand, and it is considered a unique creation.
16. Hand made Didgeridoo
The didgeridoo (also spelled didjeridu, didgeridu or didge) is a wind instrument that is traditionally used by Indigenous Australians, particularly the Yolngu people from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. The didgeridoo is typically made from a hollowed-out eucalyptus branch, although other materials such as bamboo, PVC pipe or ceramics are also used. The instrument is played by buzzing the lips into the mouthpiece while simultaneously using circular breathing to produce a continuous drone.