33 Rock Bands Without Guitars

When you don't need a guitar to rock...

Ultimate Guitar
33 Rock Bands Without Guitars

In the modern world of music guitar is undeniably the epitome of the whole "rock" genre. But sometimes you can rock even without a guitar.

So we prepared a special list of 33 bands who play rock or metal music without electric/acoustic guitars.

And before the main list - here are honorable mentions - feel free to check them too because all of these bands are really unique:

  • Add N To (X) [electronic/rock: 3 analogue synths]
  • Alien Knife Fight [experimental rock: bass + drums + moog]
  • Almaailman Vasarat [avant-prog: woodwinds + strings + keyboards + drums]
  • Anima [krautrock: fox horn + percussion + piano]
  • Arphaxat [black metal: drums + bass]
  • Attila [1970's band feat. Billy Joel: organ + drums]
  • Aux Raus [dance punk/hardcore: 2 drum machines]
  • Bangladeafy [math rock: bass + drums]
  • Bass Extremes [2 bass guitars]
  • BBAATBIFFFS [experimental metal: drums + bass]
  • Bestial Mouths [synthpunk/post-punk: 2 synths + drums + vocals]
  • Big Business [stoner metal: bass + drums]
  • Black Pus [noise rock: drums + samples]
  • Black Tar Prophet [sludge metal: bass + drum]
  • Blue Motion [sympho prog: piano + organ + drums]
  • Bootcut [prog rock: synths + drums]
  • Bronze [electronic/post-rock: electronic + drums + vocals]
  • Bunkur [drone metal: 2 basses + drums + keys]
  • Cadaver Eyes [noisecore/grindcore: electronics + drums]
  • Cannabis India [prog rock: organ/vocals + bass + drums]
  • Caveman Shoestore [avant-prog: bass + drums + keys]
  • Circus [prog rock (except last album): bass + drums + keys + woodwinds]
  • Comparative Anatomy [drum'n'bass/grind/noisecore: 2 basses + electronics]
  • Cop Shoot Cop [industrial/noise rock (first two albums): bass + drums + keys]
  • Coppelius [sympho metal: drums + double bass + cello + clarinet]
  • Cowboys From Hell [Swiss jazz rock/jazzcore: sax + bass + drums]
  • Cuban Crimewave [garage rock/noise rock: 2 basses + drums + vocals]
  • Crash Kings [indie rock: keys + drums + bass]
  • Crimony [pop rock/post-punk: keys + bass]
  • Crowd Surfers Must Die [noisecore: bass + drums]
  • Cystgurgle [grindcore: bass + drums]
  • D&V [punk: drums + vocals]
  • Daimonji [avant-prog: keys + bass + drums]
  • Death Grips [experimental hip-hop: vocals + drums + electronic]
  • Death Organ [prog rock: organ + bass + drums + vocals]
  • Death Sentence: Panda! [noisecore: flute + clarinet + drums]
  • Deathless [industrial metal: 2 basses + electronic]
  • Defuntos [depressive black metal: drums + bass]
  • Deja-Vu [sympo prog: keys + bass + drums]
  • Destroy 2 [noise rock/noisecore: vocals + drums]
  • Diebold [noise rock: drums + bass]
  • Diga Rhythm Band [psychedelic rock/jam band feat. ethnic instruments]
  • Don't Stop or We'll Die [comedy rock: piano + bass + drums]
  • Double Dagger [noise rock/post-hardcore: bass + drums + vocals]
  • Dr. Z [prog rock: keys + drums + bass]
  • Drum Circus [krautrock/jazz fusion: 3 drums + bass + woodwinds + organ + vocals]
  • Duotang [indie rock: bass + drums]
  • East Wind Pot [jazz/prog rock: woodwinds + keys + bass + drums]
  • Egg [prog rock: organ + bass/vocals + drums]
  • ElectroChemical [prog rock/electronic: bass + electronic]
  • Enemymine [math rock/noise rock/sludge: 2 basses + drums]
  • Erode and Disappear [post-punk: bass + drums]
  • Eskju Divine [indie rock: piano + bass + drums]
  • Esmerine [post-rock: cello + drums]
  • Exhaust [post-rock/electronic: bass + drums + tapes]
  • Exit International [noise rock: 2 basses + drums]
  • Extinction Level Event [prog metal/djent: 3 basses + drums]
  • Eyehatelucy [sludge metal: bass + drums + vocals]
  • Fitz and The Tantrums [indie pop/neo soul: bass + drums + keys + vocals + sax]
  • FCS North [post-rock/jazz rock: bass + drums + keys + electronic]
  • Fossils [noise rock: bass + drums]
  • Greber [sludge/grind: bass + drums]
  • Greenslade [prog rock: 2 keys + bass/double bass + drums]
  • Gröûp X [comedy rock/rap rock: bass + drums + keys + vocals]
  • Guapo [avant-prog (some albums): bass + drums + keys]
  • Hangedup [post-rock: viola + drums]
  • Herscher [sludge/drone metal: bass + drums + keys]
  • HighKicks [stoner rock: bass + drums]
  • Ho99o9 [hip-hop/punk: 2 vocalists + drums + samples]
  • Holy Fuck [post-rock/electronic: electronics+ keyboards + bass + drums]
  • Island [prog rock: woodwinds + drums + keys]
  • KAOS Protokoll [avant-jazz/rock: sax + bass + drums]
  • Kroveled (Кровелёд) [black metal/noise rock: bass + drums]
  • La Comune [experimental rock: woodwinds + minimoog/sax + bass + drums + vocals]
  • Mates of State [indie pop: organ + drums]
  • Megachurch [stoner metal: 2 basses + drums]
  • Methadrone [drone/sludge metal: bass]
  • Molten Lava [experimental metal: drums + bass]
  • Mr Marcaille [one man cello punk band: cello + drums]
  • My Own Private Alaska [screamo/experimental: piano + drums + vocals]
  • Necromantia [black metal (some albums): 2 basses + drums]
  • Neoandertals [experimental metal (some albums): drums + bass]
  • Nervous Gender [synth punk: synths + drums]
  • No Anchor [sludge/drone metal: 2 basses + drums + electronic]
  • Oceakyl [prog/jazz rock: 2 basses + drums + electronic]
  • One Day as a Lion [rap rock/hip-hop feat Zack de la Rocha: vocals + drums + keys]
  • Pochakaite Malko [avant-prog: keys + drums + bass + violin]
  • Profanum [black metal: guitars replaced with symphonic instruments]
  • Professor Murder [dance-punk: bass + keyboards + drums]
  • Puerto Rico Flowers [post-punk/synthpop: bass + drums + synth + vocals]
  • Quatermass [prog rock: bass + keys + drums]
  • Rasputina [cello rock: cellos + drums]
  • Refugee [sympho prog: keys + bass + drums]
  • Ride for Revenge [black/death metal (first two albums): bass + drums]
  • Rudess Morgenstein Project [prog rock: keys + drums]
  • Sabot [math/noise rock: bass + drums]
  • Sleaford Mods [electro-punk/post-punk: vocals + electronic]
  • Smoosh [indie pop: keys + drums + bass]
  • Soil & "Pimp" Sessions ["death jazz": keyboards + woodwinds + double bass + drums]
  • Sousvourtre [black metal: bass + drums]
  • Space Blood [math rock: bass + drums]
  • Street Eaters [punk rock: bass + drums]
  • Supersister [prog rock: keys + flute + drums + bass]
  • Talbot [sludge metal: bass + drums]
  • Tempel [sludge metal: bass + drums]
  • The Crazy World of Arthur Brown [psychedelic rock (most of albums): keys + drums + bass]
  • The Dresden Dolls [dark cabaret/alt rock: piano + drums]
  • The Halls of Music [pop/funk: organ + bass + drums]
  • The Inbreds [indie rock: drums + bass]
  • The Screamers [synth punk: synths + drums]
  • The Thing [avant-jazz/jazzcore: sax + double bass + drums]
  • The Tiger Lillies [dark cabaret: accordion/piano + drums + double bass]
  • The United States of America [psychedelic rock: keys + organ + violin + bass + drums]
  • Thrones [drone doom: bass]
  • Tizzy Bac [indie rock: keys + bass + drums]
  • Toast Machine [funk rock/metal: bass + drums]
  • Trace [sympho prog: keys + bass + drums]
  • Trencher [powerviolence/noisecore: bass + drums + keys]
  • Trio Pussit [experimental/funk metal: 2 basses + drums]
  • Unstoppable Death Machines [stoner/noise rock: drums + bass]
  • Vir' (ВИРЬ) [sludge/drone metal: bass + drums]
  • Warren Schoenbright [noise rock/experimental: bass + drums + electronics]
  • Wartime [experimental thrash metal feat. Henry Rollins: bass + vocals]
  • Weather Report [jazz fusion/rock: keys + sax + bass + drums]
  • White Noise [psychedelic rock: electronics + drums + double bass + vocals]
  • Whitey Houston [indie rock: bass + drums + ukulele + cello/rain stick]
  • Wolff and Tuba [drums + tuba]
  • Woodhands [electropop/rock: synth + drums]
  • Zaum [psychedelic doom metal: bass/synth + drums]
  • Zeus! [noise rock/math rock: bass + drums] 
  • zZz [dark electro rock: organ + drums]

And here's the actual list:

33. Wreck and Reference

Wreck and Reference are a heavy experimental/electronic band from Los Angeles, California, mixing influences from sludge metal and noise rock to doom and drone. The duo consists of drummer and electronic musician, who are both vocalists too.

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32. Terminator 2

Sludge metal band from Denton, Texas, Terminator 2 were originally formed as a duo (bass/vocals + drums), but later were joined by the third member, who is responsible for analogue electronics/noise.

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31. I-Scream

Unique Russian band, I-Scream are mixing live drum'n'bass, jazz, trip-hop and more. Originally a duo of bassist/double bassist and drummer, the band also featured several electronic players.

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30. Deadweight

San Francisco-based unique trio consists of violinist/vocalist, cellist, and drummer. And these guys rock really hard: violin signal is split through a wah pedal and distortion, and the cello signal is split with distortion.

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29. Gâtechien

Gâtechien are a French bass/drums duo, who play a raw and melodic math rock/noise rock.

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28. HALO

Australian duo HALO, consisting of bassist/vocalist and drummer, play really extreme and heavy version of sludge metal, combined with some industrial and noise.

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27. The Garden

The Garden, American duo by twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, quickly became known for their fast punk two piece bass and drums songs, however they "consistently defy genre and categorization", creating their own genre called "vada vada" which was described by Wyatt as "an idea that represents pure creative expression, that disregards all previously made genres and ideals."

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26. Cause for Effect

Cause for Effect are a Finnish bass/drums duo, who play their own unique blend of grindcore and jazz fusion.

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25. godheadSilo

American noise rock/post-hardcore duo godheadSilo are known for their loud "wall of sound" live performances were full of raging drums, screaming and a gigantic heavy bass sound.

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24. Child Abuse

Psychedelic noise rock trio from New York City, Child Abuse consist of bassist, drummer and keyboardist.

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23. MoRkObOt

Italian psychedelic/experimental/math/noise/space rock trio MoRkObOt consist of 2 bassists and one drummer.

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22. Trioscapes

Trioscapes is a progressive rock/jazz fusion project formed by Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me), Walter Fancourt (Casual Curious, Brand New Life) and Matt Lynch (Eyris), and actually it's an instrumental trio featuring bass, drums and saxophone.

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21. Botanist

Botanist is originally an experimental one-man black metal project featuring avant-garde instrumentation that utilizes only vocals, drums, and hammered dulcimer (instead of guitars).

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20. Menace Ruine

Menace Ruine are an avant-garde/post-black/drone metal duo who reach their unique sound through synthesizers.

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19. Bassinvaders

Bassinvaders are a heavy/power metal supergroup consisting of 4 famous metal bassists: Markus Grosskopf (Helloween), Peavy Wagner (Rage), Schmier (Destruction) and Tom Angelripper (Sodom).

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18. Ruins

Ruins are a brutal prog/zeuhl/experimental rock duo from Japan, consisting of drummer and bassist.

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17. Zombi

Zombi are a unique duo, playing their own blend of progressive rock, space rock and progressive electronic, using only electric bass, drums, and a collection of analog synthesizers.

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16. Painkiller

Painkiller's style can be described as a mix of avant-garde jazz and grindcore; later albums also incorporated elements of ambient and dub. The three primary members of the band are John Zorn on saxophone, Bill Laswell on electric bass and Mick Harris (formerly of Napalm Death and founding member of Scorn) on drums.

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15. Silver Apples

Formed in 1967, psychedelic rock duo Silver Apples were one of the first bands who invented electronic into rock music. They originally consisted of Simeon Coxe III (who played a custom home-made synthesizer known as the "Simeon") and Danny Taylor (drums). Many electronic music enthusiasts nowadays consider them influential on acts as diverse as Kraftwerk, Stereolab, Laika, and others.

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14. Keane

Keane, an English piano-driven rock band, are comprised of composer, bassist, and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley, lead vocalist Tom Chaplin and drummer Richard Hughes. Since 2011 they also have a fourth member, bassist Jesse Quin.

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13. Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt are a noise rock duo which consists of Brian Chippendale (drums, vocals) and Brian Gibson (bass). Brian Chippendale is also known for many other bands, including his solo project Black Pus. Lightning Bolt are known for their guerrilla-style live performances, where they typically play on the ground rather than a stage, with the crowd gathered around them.

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12. Author & Punisher

Industrial/drone metal one man project by musician and engineer Tristan Shone, Author & Punisher is utilizing primarily custom fabricated machines/controllers and speakers, created and designed by Tristan himself.

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11. Death From Above 1979

Death from Above 1979 are the Toronto-based duo of Jesse F. Keeler (bass, synths) and Sebastien Grainger (vocals, drums). Refusing to employ a lead guitarist, they played loud synth infused dance punk on the drum and bass combination alone.

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10. Van Canto

Van Canto are an "a cappella metal" band from Germany formed in 2006. It is comprised of five singers and a drummer.

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9. Zu

With their original line-up (since 1997) of drums, bass, and saxophone, Italian trio Zu gradually developed into their current form of experimental, metal/math/no-wave/free/noise/punk/jazz inspired work, creating their own unique sound.

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8. Om

Om originally were formed by the members of cult stoner metal band Sleep: Al Cisneros (bass, vocals) and Chris Hakius (drums). And though Chris has left the band in 2009, now it's a trio, consisting of drums, bass and keyboards.

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7. Van Der Graaf Generator

The signature Van der Graaf Generator sound in the 1970s was a combination of Peter Hammill's distinctive and dynamic voice and David Jackson's electronically-treated saxophones, generally playing over thick chordal keyboard parts (such as Hammond organ and/or clavinet). Van der Graaf Generator albums tended to be darker in atmosphere than many of their prog-rock peers, and guitar solos were the rare exception.

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6. Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica, so-called "cello metal" band from Finland, originally was composed of four classically trained cellists. Now the lineup also include a drummer.

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5. Ben Folds Five

Ben Folds Five are a trio formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States in 1994, who are still a mainstay of piano rock. The members of the band are Ben Folds, the lead singer and pianist, who also wrote most of the songs; Robert Sledge on bass; and Darren Jessee on drums.

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4. Suicide

Suicide, American electronic proto-punk musical duo, was originally composed of vocalist Alan Vega and Martin Rev on synthesizers and drum machines. Never widely popular amongst the general public, Suicide are highly influential. They also were the first band to use the term punk to describe themselves, which they had adopted from an article by Lester Bangs. Some of their earliest posters use the terms "punk music" and "punk music mass."

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3. Royal Blood

Formed at the beginning of 2013, Royal Blood are one of the most known ans successful 2-piece bands today, consisting of Mike Kerr (bass/vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums).

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2. Morphine

Morphine's unique guitarless sound relied on an unusual combination of baritone/tenor sax, percussion and a two string slide bass. On July 3, 1999, Mark Sandman, the band's leader, bassist and vocalist, collapsed on stage in Palestrina, Italy. He was pronounced dead of a heart attack at the scene.

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1. Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are one of the most popular and commercially successful progressive rock bands. he band consisted of Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (bass guitar, vocals, guitar) and Carl Palmer (drums, percussion). And though they occasionally use guitars, their sound is undeniably dominated by the Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer of the flamboyant Emerson.

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Know more rock/metal bands without guitars? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

87 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Linkin Park, circa 2017
    And the number 1 slot goes to.....drum roll please.....a rock band that uses a guitar!
    But they use guitars VERY rarely - it's like instrumental band doing one or two tracks with vocals - but they're still an instrumental band. Also, it's hard to deny that ELP is one of the most famous "rock bands without guitars".
    Royal Blood over Death From Above 1979? Get the fuck out of here.
    While DFA are louder, I feel Royal Blood have a better drummer. Maybe cuz DFA drummer gotta sing aswell. 
    Really hope you realize DFA was around for 12 years before Royal Blood (though inactive for some of those years). Royal Blood took DFA's sound, commercialized it and are making a fortune off it.
    I'm glad to see Van Canto get some attention. Not only are their covers great, but so is their original material! 
    I like seeing Death Grips get a small mention. They aren't rock by any technical definition but some of their records embody the punk sound and spirit as well as anything guitar based from the last 10 years
    All these obscure bands, but what about soft machine?
    Hm, but Soft Machine had guitars in almost all of their incarnations.
    Ah I'm being a twat. They didn't have guitar for the first few albums, never realised they used it for later stuff.
    Tha Funkinator
    SOFT MACHINE WITHOUT WYATT ISN'T REAL SOFT MACHINE Oops. I mean, I can see why you would say that.
    Nice to see Fossils among the hounourable mentions - their instrumental noice is awesome
    Glad to see Morphine on the list, Mark Sandman created such a unique sound. They're so underrated, I'm glad I discovered them a couple of years ago
    zZz a Dutch band from Amsterdam
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    You'd think touring with St Vincent and Tame impala, having members of QOTSA and Last Shadow Puppets and having a song with Brian Wilson would get Mini Mansions in this list. 
    But... they use a guitar.
    there's one guitar live, it's used on death is a girl for about half a verse and a gimmick, 99% of the show is cocktail drums, bass and keys. Even the guitar solo from Creeps is played on the bass live ! They don't even play the acoustic songs like Heart Of Stone etc during their "normal" live shows
    No new Red Hot Chilli Peppers?
    According to a million articles, I was of the impression that they definitely have a new guitar player. He is not John Frusciante, but he is certainly willing to tell you about how much, and in which ways, he is not John Frusciante. I may be mistaken, but I do believe that he had a hard time replacing John Frusciante. You can find his single interview spread through months worths of news on this website.
    Dude.. Have you seen those live concerts? Josh rocks as hell! If there is anyone to blame for not giving him creative freedom then it's producers or maybe a stuck-up Kiedis in studio...
    Judging from his interviews I just don't think he's that happy in the band. It may be linked to his initial apparent lack of confidence (I personally think he's happier drumming than being the guitar god) and shows in quieter parts on the albums. Also, his style seems to be a bit more ambient, minimalist and chilled which makes it more noticeable following Frusciante.
    Such a damn shame because this guy is capable of awesome stuff. I know some of his other projects and I heard him on the Frusciante solo stuff and Josh seems like a talented guy. Maybe he just does not bloom with so much ego around. 
    Agreed. Ataxia, Dot Hacker, and his drumming on Frusciante albums are all great. Bicycle Thief is pretty cool too, though I'm not a fan of Bob Forrest's lyrics (or attitude tbh)
    You ever see a band so weird it's cool? The Garden is that band lol I'll have to listen to more of them!
    Great list, but DFA should have gotten higher ranked vs. Royal Blood...that's just fucking crazy...
    Little surprised not to see the Dresden Dolls on here anywhere. I would've thought they'd make an honorable mention slot on a list that big.
    Look again at the honorable mentions list: The Dresden Dolls [dark cabaret/alt rock: piano + drums]
    This one time, i made a car but it had no wheels. So it was still a car but complete shit at the same time. 
    the only ones that i knew were Botanist, Van Canto and ELP. some interesting bands in this list, others are pure garbage. great list anyway.
    As great as Weather Report were, they shouldn't be on the list. Joe Zawinul, John Schofield, Steve Khan, Omar Hakim and Mino Cinélu have all played guitar in Weather Report.
    But that was occasionally - mostly they are guitarless band, especially live:
    I thought I posted on the 'bands that rock without guitars' list. Sorry if I posted this on the 'bands that sometimes rocked with or without guitars' list :p:
    Weybl Himself
    I swear some musicians spend more time coming up with the genre name than making actual music these days.
    This guy rocks a double bass drum and upright bass harder than I have ever seen. This is punk as fuck.
    Virtually only, she appears in a lot of videos playing the guitar when the song doesn't even have one, e.g. Clint Eastwood and Rock the House Gorillaz use guitars very rarely, but most of their songs lack them, and most of their material is still considered rock
    I really like Botanist, but they are some of the worst stage outfits ever.
    Emerson Lake and Palmer shouldn't be on the list if they have guitar sometimes. And Crash Kings should have actually made the list since they are bigger than a lot of these other bands on the list. I haven't even heard of most of them.