What Type of Instruments are Used in Hip Hop Music?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Hip hop music is typically made with a variety of different instruments, including drums, keyboards, guitars, and bass.


Hip hop music is a genre of music that was developed in the United States in the 1970s. It is a combination of African-American music, such as blues, soul, and jazz, and European-American music, such as rock and roll. Hip hop music is characterized by its use of sampling, as well as by its lyrics, which are often about topics such as poverty, crime, and violence.

The Drums

The drums are the foundation of hip hop music, and usually provide the steadiest beat. Drum machines and samplers are also often used to create beats, and both live and programmed drums can be used. Hip hop drums typically have a strong bass sound, with lots of low end frequencies.

The Sampler

The sampler is a music tool that allows for the easy playback of digital audio files. It can be likened to a DJ turntable, in that it allows the user to create loops and build tracks from scratch. Samplers are often used in hip hop music, as they allow for the easy creation of beats and melodies.

The Turntable

The turntable is by far the most important instrument in hip hop music. It is the centerpiece of the hip hop DJ’s arsenal, and is responsible for many of the genre’s defining characteristics. The turntable allows the DJ to manipulate pre-recorded music in a variety of ways, including scratching, crossfading, and beatmatching. It is also the primary tool used for creating sampled-based music.

The Synthesizer

The synthesizer is a fairly new addition to the world of hip hop music, but it has made a big impact in a short amount of time. This instrument allows producers and rappers to create new sounds and textures that were not possible before. Hip hop music often uses samples of other songs, but the synthesizer gives artists the ability to create their own unique sounds.

The Bass Guitar

The bass guitar is perhaps the most important instrument in hip hop music. The bass provides the low end that gives hip hop its characteristic sound. The bass can be played in a variety of ways, from simple block chords to complex, funk-inspired grooves. Many hip hop basslines are based on classic funk and soul tracks, so it’s important to have a good understanding of these styles when learning to play hip hop bass.

The Electric Guitar

One of the most popular instruments in Hip Hop is the electric guitar. Electric guitars are often used to create the distinctive “wah wah” sound that is often heard in Hip Hop tracks. This sound is created by using a special effects pedal called a “wah pedal”. Wah pedals are often controlled by the guitarist’s foot, and can be used to create a variety of different sounds.

Another popular instrument that is often used in Hip Hop music is the keyboard. Keyboards are often used to create synthesized sounds, and can be used to imitate a wide variety of different instruments. Hip Hop producers often use keyboards to create beats, and many Hip Hop tracks feature keyboard parts that are heavily-produced and heavily-processed.

The Piano

The piano is a popular choice for hip hop producers and performers. Pianos have been used in hip hop since the genre’s early days, and they continue to be a staple in many tracks. If you’re looking for a classic hip hop sound, a piano is a great option.

The Percussion

In hip hop music, the percussion instruments provide the rhythmic backdrop over which the rapper flows. The most common instruments are the drum machine, the drum set, and various handheld percussion devices.

The drum machine is programmed to play a wide variety of beats, and it is often used to generate the primary rhythms in a hip hop track. The beats may be simple or complex, but they are always highly rhythmic.

The drum set is usually played by a live drummer, and it provides a more organic feel to the rhythms. The player may use various techniques to create different sounds, such as using different sized sticks or using electronic pads.

Handheld percussion instruments are often used to add accents and color to the rhythms. These instruments include tambourines, cowbells, and maracas.

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