Folk Music: What Type of Instrument is Used?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Folk music is a genre of music that typically uses acoustic instruments. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular folk instruments and how they’re used.


Folk music is music passed down orally, by ear, from one generation to another. It often has simple forms and instrumentation. The instruments used in folk music vary widely, but some of the most common are listed below.

The piano is a common instrument in folk music. It is used to provide accompaniment for singing, as well as to play melodies and chord progressions.

The guitar is a very popular instrument in folk music. It can be used to play melody, chords, and even percussive rhythms. Guitars are often played with a pick, but can also be played fingerstyle.

Bass Guitar
The bass guitar is often used to provide low-end support for the guitar and piano in folk music. Bass guitars typically have four strings, which are plucked or strummed with the fingers or a pick.

The mandolin is a stringed instrument that is similar to the guitar. It has eight strings arranged in four pairs that are plucked with the fingers or a pick. The mandolin often plays the melody in folk music while the guitar accompanies with chords.

The banjo is a stringed instrument that has five or more strings and a round body. It is typically plucked with the fingers or strummed with a pick. The banjo originated in Africa and was brought to America by slaves. It became popular in American folk music in the 19th century.

What is folk music?

Folk music is a type of music that is typically passed down from generation to generation. It is usually created by people who have a common culture or tradition. Folk music often reflects the beliefs and values of the people who create it.

Folk music can be created with a variety of different instruments. Some of the most common instruments used in folk music include guitars, banjos, fiddles, and accordions. Folk music can also be sung without any instruments at all.

Folk music is often used to tell stories or to express emotions. It can be happy or sad, fast or slow, loud or soft. There are no rules about what folk music must sound like.

What instruments are used in folk music?

There are many different types of instruments used in folk music around the world. Some of the most common include:

-Guitar: Perhaps the most iconic folk instrument, guitars are used in many different styles of folk music including American folk, blues, and even some rock.
-Banjo: A staple of American folk music, the banjo is a stringed instrument with a unique sound that is often used for rhythm or lead parts.
-Fiddle: Another popular folk instrument, the fiddle is a member of the violin family and is often used for fast-paced or upbeat songs.
-Harp: The harp is a beautiful sounding instrument that is often used in slower, more melancholic folk songs.

These are just a few of the many different instruments that can be found in folk music. In reality, almost any type of instrument can be used depending on the particular style of music.

The fiddle

The fiddle is a bowed string instrument. It is the most popular instrument in folk music, and is used in many different genres, including country, bluegrass, and rock. The fiddle has a wide range of sounds that can be achieved by using different bowing techniques.

The banjo

The banjo is a four-, five- or six-stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator, called the head. The Banjo originated in the 1600s in West Africa and was brought to America by slaves. It is commonly used in bluegrass, old-time, and country music. The banjo is also sometimes used in rock, punk, metal and other styles of music.

The guitar

Guitars are the most popular type of folk music instrument. They come in all shapes and sizes, from acoustic guitars to electric guitars. Guitars can be played solo or in a band. They are versatile and can be used for a variety of different genres, from country to rock.

The mandolin

The mandolin is a small, typically fretted and stringed instrument, played with a plectrum or pick. It has four courses of two strings each, tuned in unison or octaves. The scale length is usually 26 to 28 inches (660 to 710 mm). A course may be noted as being doubled.

The accordion

The accordion is a type of musical instrument that is very popular in folk music. It is a portable, free-reed instrument that is played by pressing the keys on one side while pulling or pushing the other side. This action causes the reeds to vibrate and produce sound. The accordion is most often used in traditional dance music, but it can also be used for other genres of music such as pop, rock, and even jazz.

The harmonica

A harmonica is a free reed wind instrument used worldwide in folk, blues, country, rock, and classical music. There are many types of harmonica, including diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass versions. The word “harmonica” is derived from the Greek word “harmonikos”, meaning “harmonic or musical.

The penny whistle

One of the most popular instruments in folk music is the penny whistle. This small, simple flute is easy to play and Sounds pleasant when played alone or with other instruments. The penny whistle is often used in traditional Irish music, but can be found in other folk genres as well.

The bodhran

The bodhran is a percussion instrument that is commonly used in folk music. It is a frame drum that is played with a stick or beater. The bodhran has a long tradition in Irish music and is also used in other genres of folk music.

The bouzouki

The bouzouki is a Greek lute-like string instrument with a long neck and a pear-shaped body. It has eight strings in four courses, two thick and two thin, tuned in unison or octaves. The bouzouki is played with a plectrum and is used in Greek folk music.

The bagpipes

The bagpipes are a type of musical instrument that has been around for centuries. Though their popularity has waned in recent years, there are still many people who enjoy playing and listening to bagpipes.

Bagpipes are traditionally made out of wood, though some modern versions are made out of plastic. They have a number of pipes, each of which is connected to a small reed. The player inhales through one pipe, called the blowpipe, and then uses their breath to push air through the other pipes. This causes the reeds to vibrate and produce sound.

There are many different types of bagpipes, each with its own distinct sound. The most common type is the Great Highland Bagpipe, which is used in traditional Scottish music. Other popular types include the Irish Uilleann Pipes and the Scottish Smallpipe.

Bagpipes are relatively easy to learn how to play, but takes practice to master. If you’re interested in learning how to play, there are many resources available online and in libraries. You can also find classes taught by experienced players in some cities or towns.

The didgeridoo

The didgeridoo is a wind instrument of the aborigines of northern Australia. It is usually made from a hollow tree trunk about 4 feet long and has a bell-shaped end. The end is covered with beeswax, and the player employs a circular breathing technique to produce a continuous drone. A steady rhythm is maintained by using a stick to hit the side of the instrument.


Folk music varies greatly from region to region, but there are some common instrument types that are used throughout the world. These include the fiddle, accordion, banjo, guitar, harmonica, and penny whistle. Each instrument has its own unique sound that helps to create the distinctive folk music style.

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