30 Responses

  1. Trek Girl at |

    Oh, great list! I’ve wondered what some of those sounds were. I’ve never heard of the theremin or ocarina. I like flutes so I enjoyed the entry about the ocarina.

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  2. Amrendra at |

    Only guys at TopTenz can come up with such amazing lists day after day. I can predict that in the coming years if this trend goes on TopTenz would rule the internet!!!Yeeehhhhh….

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  3. michaela at |

    The adicts also use the electric violin, give them some credit too…

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  4. kevin at |

    the theremin is also used by tesla in edison’s medicine.

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  5. Peter Boucher at |

    1). Mellotron : A keyboard device that is played like a guitar (electric) and has a neck very much like a guitar has. (Look Up the late 1970′s glam/heavy metal band ANGEL or Greg Giuffria who was the keyboardist for them). 2), Crotales : A percussion instrument in some ways is performed like a xylophone (Look Up, Neil Peart, the drummer for RUSH), 3). Cowbells : Pretty obvious. Just listen to “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by BLUE OYSTER CULT from the 1970′s, 4). Transparent Plexiglass Violin : Two prime users of that instrument are Eddie Jobson of JETHRO TULL and the group U.K. from the 1970′s and Steve Morse, especially when he was with the rock group KANSAS for a short period of time and performing “Dust In The Wind”. 5). An 11 String Guitar (Made by Godin Guitars out of Montreal. The model is aptly named the A11). Look up the guitarist and singer STEVE EARLE or just go to the wikipedia. and 6). # 6 on your list, The Elecrtic Violin. Look up the name MARK WOOD of the TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA or just type in his name. He builds them and plays “Heavy Metal Violin”

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  6. ParusMajor at |

    Depeche Mode also used the Melodica and possibly the Glockenspiel in some of their songs. @Peter Boucher: 3) cowbells aren’t even that rare. Listen to Suzy Q (Dale Hawkins) or Mississippi Queen (Mountain), for example.

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    1. Peter Boucher at |

      @ ParusMajor. Yes, you got me there with the cowbell and again, Neil Peart of RUSH makes pretty damn good use of them himself. But when I hear the word cowbell, all I can think of is “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by BOC. Did you happen upon the episode of Saturday Night Live with Christopher Walken as host and the male cast members were dressed as BOC in the studio playing that song ? And Walken was freaked out because there wasn’t enough cowbell. The one line he says “I’ve got a fever right now, and the only way to cure it for me is MORE COWBELL”. Its on You Tube, FYI

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  7. Repack Rider at |

    The Lovin’ Spoonful used a jackhammer on “Summer in the City.” Sons of Champlin used a vibraphone regularly in performance, notably for the solo on “Get High.” (1968)

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  8. lawn at |

    This list needs more cowbell.

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  9. Art Rock at |

    Dutch rock band Kayak had a top40 hit in Holland with Mammoth in the early seventies. That song featured a Dutch street organ quite prominently.

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  10. Terry Bigham at |

    Ivory Joe Hunter, who produced the Martha and the Vandelas classic “Dancing in the Street”, pounded a crowbar on a concrete floor to give the song an unforgettable backbeat.

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  11. Crystal at |

    Good list, but the dentist’s drill in the song Thieves by Ministry is my personal favorite.

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  12. Discombobd at |

    Good Vibrations actually used a Tannerin, NOT a theremin. See http://www.tompolk.com/Tannerin/Tannerin.html

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  13. thylacine at |

    The ocarina solo in Wild Thing comes a distant second to the sausage dog fighting a lion in the film clip!

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  14. shekkie at |

    The Stranglers also used the Harpsichord on “Golden Brown”.
    Caribbean steel drums are also heard on “Jane Says”.
    Isn’t the drill on “Thieves” by Ministry more of a carpenter type drill than a dentist drill? A Dentist drill has more of a high pitched whine. Just nit picking.

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  15. Barry at |

    I was hoping you’d a saw in this list, but never guessed it would be a chainsaw. Nicely done.

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  16. Stephen at |

    The most famous example of Theremin usage is by Jimmy Page on “Whole Lotta Love.” He also played his guitar with a violin bow. Eddie Van Halen uses an electric drill in key at the beginning of “Pound Cake,”

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    1. Peter Boucher at |

      @ Steven, or you could switch around Jimmy Page using a violin bow on his Gibson ’59 Sunburst Les Paul and do the “This Is Spinal Tap” thing where “Nigel” (Christopher Guest) actually uses a violin itself to play his guitar during his cacophony of a guitar solo. The part that had me busting my gut with laughter is when he’s using the violin, he’s tuning the pegs of the violin as he’s doing the “solo”. That movie has to go down as the most overlooked and underrated comedies of all time. The only problem is, if you’re not up on 1980′s Heavy Metal Music, you might as well forget about watching it.

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      1. Stephen at |

        @ Peter B,

        Although I am a committed Zep fan and recognize not only Page’s composition skills but his innovations in the the studio (or Headley Grange, for that matter), I too find Spinal Tap to be an unrecognized classic. There is just so much detail, from the sustain of the Les Paul to amps: “this one goes to 11.” And the cameos are countless. Thank you for the reply.
        SR

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    2. zach at |

      Lips from Anvil plays guitar solos with a vibrator. That was an interesting thing to see.

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  17. Mars at |

    What about the jug on pretty much every 13th Floor Elevators song? Especially You’re Gonna Miss Me, I have never heard a jug used like that in any other rock song.

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  18. Nikki at |

    the harpsichord can also be heard in “It’s Working” by MGMT

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  19. Gurn Blanston at |

    Electric Harmonica
    J. Geils Band
    Full House Live
    “Whammer Jammer let me hear ya Dickie!”

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  20. Streaming serie at |

    I think that The Maracas are the most exotic instruments used, as for me, they give me a latin feeling. :D

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  21. joe at |

    Coldcut’s protest song Timber also samples a chainsaw to great effect.

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  22. Tom at |

    The Melodica was used first by a 80′s band named “The Hooters” they play it during the “And We Danced” They were actually cited as the first band to use it on a recording.

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  23. erikwithak at |

    The electric violin on Baba O’Riley is only on the studio version, during almost every live show, such as the one you have as an example of the EV, is Daltry on harmonica.

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  24. Kapilbs at |

    Beatles, “Fixing a Hole” uses harpsichord. In fact Sgt. Pepper uses sitar, the harp and the tabla (LZ I also). The xylophone solo in “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck is the Eddie Van Halen eruption on xylophone. Great list and sure there are more instruments that are missed.

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  25. jeff at |

    The band Motograter uses an instrument of the same name made from industrial cable and guitar pieces they invented that creates a unique bass sound on songs like “Down” and “Suffocate”

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  26. Jeff at |

    Since when are Bagpipes weird? The author really needs to expand their musical repertoire since it was unusual to hear bagpipes in rock 30+ years ago but I would say it’s pretty mainstream now since Korn uses them in the intro to Chutes and Ladders and Dropkick Murphy’s have them in pretty much all of their songs since Scruffy Wallace joined the band.

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