5 Musical Instruments You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

The sound of the modern band often consists of drums, bass, guitar, and sometimes piano or keyboard instruments. However, there are a variety of other instruments from around the world that are not often heard on the chart-topping hits.

This article showcases a small sampling of such instruments. Many of these instruments have a rich history, though they may not necessarily have grown to prominence in their own time. Here are five musical instruments you probably haven’t heard of.


ZitherThe zither is a multi-stringed instrument with a thin, flat body that serves as its sound box. Most zithers have at least 12 strings, though some have over 50. It is said to have originated in China around 433 BC, but it is most commonly found in Europe.

The zither is played by strumming or plucking its strings with your fingers or with a pick. The autoharp is a contemporary form of the fretless zither. You may have seen June Carter Cash, Billy Corgan, Sheryl Crow, Steve Hackett, and Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell or other famous musicians playing an autoharp before.


TablaWith the increased popularity of Eastern religions, the tabla is becoming a more known instrument in North America.

It is classified as a membranophone (an instrument whose sound is produced by a vibrating stretched membrane) percussion instrument.

The tabla is played with the fingers and palms to create a variety of different sounds. It is said to have been invented by musician and Indian Sufi poet Amir Khusro in the 13th century.

Glass Harmonica

Glass HarmonicaThe glass harmonica uses a series of glass bowls or goblets of different sizes. It is played by placing your fingers on the rotating or spinning glass discs. Its sound is not unlike that of a high-pitched organ.

Richard Pockrich is usually credited as the first musician to play an instrument consisting of glass vessels by rubbing his fingers on the rims to produce musical tones. The instrument continued to be developed by others, and has evolved into its current form.


RackettThe rackett is a small double reed wind instrument with a wooden chamber. Its fingering patterns are somewhat unusual, making it a difficult instrument to play.

The rackett was first mentioned in Wurttemberg inventories in 1576, but its inventor is unknown. The instrument has a fairly soft sound, but in the hands of a skilled musician, its bass parts are pleasing to the ear.

Hurdy Gurdy

Hurdy GurdyThe hurdy gurdy is a crank-turned stringed instrument. Its sound is produced by a rosined wheel rubbing against its strings, and the wheel’s function could be compared to that of a violin bow.

The instrument also features a keyboard, and these keys are used to alter the pitch of notes. Most hurdy gurdies have one or more drone strings that produce a constant pitch. This makes it similar to bagpipes, though it sounds more like a violin.

The hurdy gurdy is said to have originated in Western Europe or the Middle East before the 11th century, but its exact back story is not known.