Mexican Folk Music Instruments You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Mexican folk music has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. There are a variety of traditional instruments used in Mexican folk music, each with its own unique sound. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular Mexican folk music instruments.

The vihuela

The vihuela is a five-stringed acoustic guitar-like instrument from Mexico with a deep, pear-shaped body. It’s considered to be the national instrument of Mexico, and it’s often used in mariachi music. The vihuela has a soft, melodic sound that can be both upbeat and lively or slow and romantic.

The guitarron

A guitarron is a type of bass guitar that is commonly used in mariachi music. It has a deep, resonant sound that helps to provide the music with a solid foundation. The instrument typically has six strings, although some newer versions have seven or even eight. The guitarron is usually played with a pick, although some players prefer to use their fingers.

The jarana

The jarana is a string instrument from Mexico, most commonly associated with the music of Veracruz. It is a member of the guitar family, but unlike most guitars, it has eight or nine strings in pairs. It is typically played with the fingers rather than a pick, and its small size makes it very portable. The jarana comes in many different shapes and sizes, and each region of Veracruz has its own unique style.

The requinto

The requinto is a small, five-string guitar. It is similar in size and shape to the guitarron, but has only five strings. It is tuned in fourths, like the guitar, with the exception of the highest string, which is tuned to a higher pitch than the others. The requinto is used as a lead instrument in many mariachi bands.

The harp

The harp is a very popular instrument in Mexican folk music, and is often used to provide the main melody in a song. It is a stringed instrument that is played by plucking the strings with the fingers. The harp typically has around 47 strings, and is held vertically on the lap of the player.

The violin

The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the string instrument family. The violin is used extensively in folk music, particularly in fiddle music.

The trumpet

The trumpet is one of the most popular Mexican folk music instruments. It has a powerful, bright sound that can be heard over long distances. Trumpets are often used in mariachi bands and other traditional Mexican music groups.

The trumpet is a brass instrument that is played by blowing air into a mouthpiece. The player presses their lips together and vibrates their lips to create a buzzing sound. The player then uses their tongue and teeth to shape the sound of the note. Trumpets can play notes in both the high and low range of the musical scale.

Trumpets come in different sizes, but all have three valves that the player can press down with their fingers. When the player presses down on one of the valves, it changes the length of the tube that the air travels through. This changes the pitch, or note, that the trumpet plays.

Trumpets are made from brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc. The first trumpets were made from animal horns. Modern trumpets are made from brass tubing that is bent into shape. Trumpets can be plated with gold or silver to give them a shiny finish.

The guitar

The guitar is probably the most important instrument in Mexican folk music. It can be used to play a wide range of styles, from the simple melodies of ranchera music to the complex rhythms of Son Jarocho. The guitar is also hugely versatile, being able to imitate the sound of other instruments such as the jarana (a small eight-string guitar), the vihuela (a five-string guitar-like instrument) and even the violin.

The accordion

The accordion is a popular instrument in Mexican folk music, especially in the northeastern state of Coahuila. It’s a portable, free-reed instrument that is played by pressing the bellows with one hand and operating the keyboard with the other. The resulting sound is a lively, fast-paced music that is perfect for dancing.

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