Best Music Product Reviews

Best World Music Instruments

Discover the top world music instruments that will transport you to different cultures and traditions. From the mesmerizing sounds of the sitar to the rhythmic beats of the djembe, these instruments offer a unique and enchanting musical experience. Explore our list of the best world music instruments and embark on a musical journey like no other.

Looking for the best world music instruments to add a unique touch to your music? Look no further! We’ve curated a list of the most extraordinary instruments from around the globe. These world music instruments will transport you to different cultures and enhance your musical experience. From the enchanting sound of the sitar to the rhythmic beats of the djembe, these instruments offer a diverse range of sounds and textures. Discover the melodic tones of the kora or the haunting melodies of the didgeridoo. Whether you’re a professional musician or just starting out, these best world music instruments will inspire you to explore new musical horizons. So, why wait? Embrace the beauty of world music and let these instruments take your creativity to new heights.

# Instrument Origin Playing Technique Rating
1 Sitar India Plucked 9.5/10
2 Bansuri India Flute 9/10
3 Kora West Africa Plucked 8.8/10
4 Tambura India Plucked 8.5/10
5 Didgeridoo Australia Wind Instrument (Circular Breathing) 8/10
6 Djembe West Africa (Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast) Percussion (Hand Drum) 7.5/10
7 Balalaika Russia Plucked (Three-stringed) 7/10
8 Hang Drum (Hang) Switzerland Percussion (Hand Drum) 6.5/10
9 Ukulele Hawaii Plucked 6/10
10 Bodhran Ireland Percussion (Frame Drum) 5.5/10


  • Australian Aboriginal wind instrument
  • Traditionally made from eucalyptus tree branches
  • Produces a deep, resonant sound
  • Played by vibrating the lips and using circular breathing technique
  • Used in traditional ceremonies and contemporary music

The didgeridoo is an iconic Australian Aboriginal wind instrument. It is traditionally made from hollowed-out eucalyptus tree branches and produces a unique deep, resonant sound. To play the didgeridoo, one must vibrate their lips and use the circular breathing technique, allowing for continuous sound production. This instrument holds great cultural significance and is used in traditional ceremonies as well as contemporary music.

The didgeridoo is believed to have been played by Aboriginal Australians for over 1,500 years and is considered one of the oldest wind instruments in the world.


  • West African drum
  • Shaped like a goblet with a goatskin drumhead
  • Played with bare hands
  • Produces a wide range of tones and dynamics
  • Used in traditional African music and popular in world music genres

The djembe is a West African drum that has gained popularity worldwide. It has a distinctive goblet shape with a goatskin drumhead stretched over the top. The djembe is played with bare hands, allowing the player to produce a wide range of tones and dynamics. Originally used in traditional African music, the djembe has found its place in various world music genres and is known for its energetic rhythms and captivating sound.

The djembe’s unique design allows for versatile playing techniques, making it a favorite among percussionists and drum enthusiasts.


  • Indian classical string instrument
  • Consists of a long neck, resonating gourd, and movable frets
  • Played with a wire plectrum and fingers
  • Produces rich, melodic tones
  • Integral part of Indian classical music and fusion genres

The sitar is a mesmerizing Indian classical string instrument. It features a long neck, a resonating gourd, and movable frets. The sitar is played using a wire plectrum called a mizrab and the player’s fingers to pluck the strings. Its unique construction and playing technique allow for the creation of rich, melodic tones. The sitar holds a significant place in Indian classical music and has also been embraced in fusion genres, adding its distinct sound to various musical compositions.

The sitar’s intricate design and intricate playing techniques make it an instrument that requires years of practice to master.


  • Indian bamboo flute
  • Available in various sizes and pitches
  • Played by covering different finger holes
  • Produces soothing, meditative sounds
  • Used in Indian classical music and devotional practices

The bansuri is a traditional Indian bamboo flute that has been played for centuries. It comes in various sizes and pitches, allowing for a range of musical expressions. The bansuri is played by covering different finger holes along its length, which alters the pitch of the notes produced. Its serene and meditative sounds make it a popular choice for Indian classical music performances as well as devotional practices.

The bansuri’s simplicity in design and ability to evoke emotions through its melodic tunes make it a beloved instrument among musicians and listeners alike.


  • West African harp-lute
  • Consists of a large gourd resonator and a long neck with strings
  • Played by plucking the strings with thumbs and index fingers
  • Produces intricate melodies and rhythmic patterns
  • Used in traditional West African music and global fusion genres

The kora is a captivating West African instrument that combines elements of a harp and a lute. It features a large gourd resonator and a long neck with strings. The player plucks the strings using their thumbs and index fingers, creating intricate melodies and rhythmic patterns. The kora holds deep cultural significance in West African music traditions and has also found its way into global fusion genres, adding its distinct sound to diverse musical compositions.

The kora’s mesmerizing sound and complex playing technique have made it a sought-after instrument for musicians exploring world music genres.


  • Russian folk string instrument
  • Triangular-shaped body with three strings
  • Played with a pick called a plectrum
  • Produces lively, energetic sounds
  • Used in Russian folk music and popular in Eastern European ensembles

The balalaika is a traditional Russian folk string instrument. It has a distinctive triangular-shaped body and typically features three strings. The balalaika is played using a pick called a plectrum, which allows for quick and precise plucking of the strings. Its lively and energetic sounds make it an essential component of Russian folk music, as well as a popular choice in Eastern European ensembles.

The balalaika’s unique shape and vibrant tones make it instantly recognizable and add a touch of authenticity to any performance or recording.


  • Indian drone instrument
  • Resembles a large lute with four or five strings
  • Played by plucking or strumming the strings
  • Produces a continuous drone sound
  • Used as an accompaniment in Indian classical music

The tambura is an essential drone instrument in Indian classical music. It resembles a large lute and typically has four or five strings. The tambura is played by plucking or strumming the strings, creating a continuous drone sound that serves as a backdrop for melodic improvisations. Its steady and resonant tones provide a harmonic foundation for other instruments and vocalists during Indian classical music performances.

The tambura’s soothing drone sound creates a meditative atmosphere, allowing musicians and listeners to immerse themselves in the beauty of Indian classical music.

Hang Drum

  • Modern handpan instrument
  • Consists of two metal hemispheres fused together
  • Played by striking the different tone fields with hands or fingers
  • Produces ethereal and melodic sounds
  • Used in various genres including world music and meditation music

The hang drum, also known as the handpan, is a relatively modern instrument that has gained popularity for its unique sound. It consists of two metal hemispheres fused together, creating a UFO-like shape. The hang drum is played by striking the different tone fields with hands or fingers, producing ethereal and melodic sounds. Its mesmerizing tones have made it a favorite in various genres, including world music and meditation music.

The hang drum’s enchanting sound and its ability to create a sense of tranquility have made it a beloved instrument for both musicians and individuals seeking relaxation.


  • Hawaiian string instrument
  • Similar to a small guitar with four nylon strings
  • Played by strumming or picking the strings
  • Produces bright and cheerful tones
  • Used in Hawaiian music, folk music, and popular music genres

The ukulele is a charming Hawaiian string instrument that has become popular worldwide. It resembles a small guitar with four nylon strings and is played by strumming or picking the strings. The ukulele produces bright and cheerful tones, instantly evoking a sense of joy. It is widely used in Hawaiian music, folk music, and has found its place in various popular music genres.

The ukulele’s compact size, versatility, and delightful sound make it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced musicians.


  • Irish frame drum
  • Shallow wooden frame with a goatskin drumhead
  • Played with a beater called a tipper or with bare hands
  • Produces rhythmic beats and subtle tones
  • Used in traditional Irish music and Celtic ensembles

The bodhran is an iconic Irish frame drum that adds a distinctive rhythm to traditional Irish music. It has a shallow wooden frame with a goatskin drumhead stretched over one side. The bodhran can be played using a beater called a tipper or with bare hands, allowing for a range of percussive techniques. Its rhythmic beats and subtle tones provide a solid foundation for melodies in traditional Irish music and Celtic ensembles.

The bodhran’s lively rhythms and its ability to create a sense of energy and drive make it an essential instrument in Irish music gatherings and performances.

What are the best world music instruments?

When it comes to world music instruments, there is a wide range of options to choose from. Some of the best instruments include the didgeridoo, a traditional Australian wind instrument known for its deep and resonant sound. The djembe, a West African drum, is another popular choice with its versatile tones and rhythms. The sitar, originating from India, is a stringed instrument that produces unique melodic patterns. Other notable world music instruments include the bansuri (Indian bamboo flute), kora (West African harp-lute), and balalaika (Russian stringed instrument). Each instrument offers a distinct sound and cultural significance, making them valuable additions to any world music ensemble.

What factors should be considered when choosing a world music instrument?

When choosing a world music instrument, several factors should be considered. Firstly, consider your personal musical preferences and the genre of world music you wish to explore. Additionally, consider the level of difficulty in learning and playing the instrument. Some instruments may require more technical skill and practice than others. It’s also important to consider the availability of resources such as teachers or instructional materials for learning the instrument. Lastly, take into account the portability and cost of the instrument, as some may be more suitable for travel or fit within your budget.

How can I learn to play a world music instrument?

Learning to play a world music instrument can be an enriching experience. There are various ways to start your journey. You can seek out local music schools or private instructors who specialize in teaching world music instruments. Online platforms also offer a wide range of tutorials and lessons for different instruments. It’s important to practice regularly and dedicate time to learning the techniques specific to your chosen instrument. Additionally, immersing yourself in the music and culture associated with the instrument can provide valuable insights and inspiration. Remember, learning a world music instrument is a journey that requires patience, dedication, and a genuine passion for exploring diverse musical traditions.

String Instruments

String instruments are an integral part of world music. They produce beautiful melodies and are played by plucking, strumming, or bowing the strings. Some popular string instruments include the guitar, violin, sitar, and kora.

Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments add rhythm and energy to world music. They are played by striking or shaking them. Examples of percussion instruments include drums, tambourines, djembes, and maracas.

Wind Instruments

Wind instruments create soulful sounds in world music. They are played by blowing air into them. Flutes, saxophones, trumpets, and didgeridoos are some of the wind instruments used across different cultures.

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