10 Songs That Use Weird Instruments

Nothing spices a tune up like an odd music instrument.

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Rock musicians have always been known as a peculiar bunch prone to experimentation on all fronts. This includes utilizing odd instruments and placing them in surroundings in which they seemingly don't belong. In that spirit, here's a rundown of 10 rock songs that use strange instruments.

The Troggs - "Wild Thing" (Ocarina)

The Troggs were a crucial figure in the birth of garage rock vibe with "Wild Thing," but they used an ancient wind instrument known as ocarina for the solo section. You can check it out at the 1:05 mark below.

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Pixies - "Velouria" (Theremin)

Theremin is a peculiar instrument presented in 1928 by a Russian inventor Leon Theremin. The instrument consists of two control antennas, both of which sense the position of the player's hands and deliver different frequencies and volume based on the hand-antenna distance.

Apart from the Pixies, notable theremin players include Jean Michelle Jarre and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Also, Rob Scallon.

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Phish - "I Didn't Know" (Vacuum cleaner)

Vacuum cleaner is not an instrument? Phish beg to differ!

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Jimi Hendrix - "Crosstown Traffic" (Kazoo)

We recently saw Ghost rock out on kazoo, but the idea that rock and kazoo go together came to Mr. Jimi Hendrix many years before, on his 1968 single "Crosstown Traffic." And it wasn't just any kazoo, but the one Jimi made himself, by using a comb and some tissue paper.

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Simon & Garfunkel - "Cecilia" (Xylophone)

Back in 1970, Simon & Garfunkel utilized a xylophone to spice things up in their staple tune "Cecilia."

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Soundgarden - "Spoonman" (Spoons)

Back in the day, Soundgarden noticed a Seattle street performer called Artis the Spoonman who used spoons to play music. They wrote a tune called "Spoonman" and brought Mr. Artis himself to deliver a spoon solo during the bridge.

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Nirvana - "Drain You" (Rubber Duck)

Once the guitar rings out during the bridge of Nirvana's "Drain You," a peculiar instrument shines through, none-other that a rubber duck. The track was released as a part of the band's monumental 1991 effort "Nevermind."

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Neil Young - "Harvest Moon" (Broom)

If a vacuum cleaner can be an instrument, then why not an old corn broom swept across sandpaper? Check it out around the 1:53 mark.

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Radiohead - "No Surprises" (Glockenspiel)

Back to actual music instruments, we bring you a neat little thing called a glockenspiel. Among other artists, Radiohead have used it on "No Surprises." Jonny Greenwood is credited as the glockenspiel master, check him out doing his thing below.

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Gorillaz - "Clint Eastwood" (Melodica)

Also known as "pianica," "blow-organ" or "key-flute," malodica found its way onto one of the most well-known Gorillaz tracks - "Clint Eastwood."

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Got more to share? Do it in the comments.

66 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Himynameisben95
    I'm not convinced that a Glockenspiel or a Xylophone should be featured on the same "weird instrument" list as a broom or a vacuum cleaner. I've heard plenty of artists use a glockenspiel from metal to indie, it just doesn't seem that weird to me
    N7Crazy
    If they had to include Radiohead, they missed a huge one - The Ondes Martenot. Their guitarist (Jonny Greenwood) is one of the handful of people in the world who own one and know how to play it, and they used it extensively throughout their discography. A good example would be "How to disappear completely", where it gives a spectral sound to the song.
    #t=4772 Just jump to 1:200 to hear it in the context of the song, or if you're lazy jump to the end of the video where a loop of it closes the concert.
    Krieger91
    One of the two should be replaced by Incubus' amazing Aqueous Transmission. How many western songs feature a pipa? Einziger plays the hell out of it live. So underrated.
    XcessFiber
    David Gilmour has used the xylophone in a few songs too..i agree, they are not something unheard of
    StrongLikeBull
    I think there are only a handful of Jethro Tull songs that don't use a Glockenspiel or Xylophone.
    Alucard33592
    Meh,most people have heard of this stuff....try eluvetie most of the songs they wrote involve a hurdygurdy
    mp8andrade
    Can't believe it wasn't featured here. I didn't even know what a hurdy gurdy was before listening to them.
    Emperor's Child
    Muse's Origin of Symmetry experimented with a number of instruments including a balafon, animal bones and even a fly zip. I'm a little surprised that none of those made the list.
    mada1990
    Sunn O))) used a bullwhip for one track off their collaboration with Scott Walker and Agalloch used a deer skull for one track on The Mantle. Also, Wardruna doesn't use ANY traditional instruments. Then there's various electro-acoustic bands that use kids' toys. This list sucks.
    TheMattGusta
    What about Limp Bizkit using the Speak and Spell during the bridge of their Behind Blue Eyes cover? I wouldn't call it good or bad, but it is weird.
    LazerMoose420
    What about the Marxophone used on The Doors version of Whiskey bar?... I wondered for years what that sound was!
    Humr
    I know it's not rock, but Igorrr used vacuum cleaner, chicken and there's a picture of him recording carrots, but I haven't heard that.
    vrrocker
    What about whatever John Paul Jones is playing on Nobody Loves Me And Neither Do I?
    DeafPolka
    It's a ten string lap steel made by Manson I believe. QOTSA and TCV could both be in this list for using Lap Steels in heavier music because you don't hear them much but I guess they're not weird instruments per se. Maybe vibraphone in QOTSA's Lost Art of Keeping a Secret or Better Living
    XcessFiber
    Paul Gilbert plays guitar with a Makita cordless drill
    N7Crazy
    We heard you the first time.
    jerebear1
    dude he posted at the same time so it was most likely an accident. cuz the man some slack
    N7Crazy
    I know, I'm only messing with him Seriously though, UG's comment section is bugged as hell, and it's rather annoying that almost nothing gets done about it.
    jhorsager
    Blues musicians did it all the time, and without affectation. Just one example... Fanny Davis - comb
    AcSlem12
    a song by a band called Dance Electric uses a fisher price toy ( i forget which toy)
    breadfan82
    The Hooters used the melodica on their song "And We Danced" some 15 or so years before the Gorillaz were even a thing. Not hating on anyone, just pointing that out.
    rockerbrony
    If I ever have to hear Coheed & Cambria scrape a feedbacking guitar against a theremin again, I will rip my own ears off.
    Freunleven
    How about the glass harmonica used by Korn in the acoustic performance of Falling Away From Me?
    TheLiberation
    Theremin also appears on: Green Carnation - "Maybe?" (even more prominently on the live version, which is even more beautiful than on the album) Riverside - "Hybrid Times" - only briefly towards the end, but the whole track is such a progressive metal masterpiece it's worth listening to anyway.
    Himynameisben95
    Sting was a fairly mad bloke, playing the double bass in rock songs (fretless wasn't enough I guess) and playing the pan flute on Walking In Your Footsteps.Copeland used some odd percussion too, like a gong (revolutionary i know) and all those tiny cymbals, and he also used delay effects on his drums etc
    edit: Sting also used that god awful MIDI bass pedal - the pedal itself is an alright idea but the sound it made in the 80s was just awful
    Himynameisben95
    BledGhostWhite
    There's a live video of The Aristocrats playing Erotic Cakes, and they do a section with their iPhone, followed by rubber chickens. Also, there's an aerosol can spraying in the aforementioned section in Drain You.
    xwf
    Missed the chainsaw solo From Jackyl
    AkisIsHere
    Eluvietie could be here.
    floyd616
    First of all, how the heck can you include theremin and not even mention Brian Wilson??? Hello, "Good Vibrations" much? Secondly, how in the world is Pink Floyd not on this list? They scrapped the idea of making a whole album with random household objects, but they did record bits and pieces with some of them and use them for other things (for example the wine glasses in Shine On You Crazy Diamond). Finally, here's a neat one you probably didn't know: That loud "CRACK" in the Simon and Garfunkel song "The Boxer" that comes right after the words "By the light" is not actually a rim shot on a snare drum like you might think, it's actually a large metal chain being slammed on a cement floor! By the way, did anybody else read the first entry and instantly wonder if anyone has played that solo in Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time?