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Banjos, resonators, ukuleles, and more

Folk Instruments

Get back to your roots with these classic instruments

Folk music features a number of classic instruments, each with their own rich history and unique sound. By playing any one of these legendary folk instruments, you are participating in a rich tradition of creating and enjoying music just as our ancestors did long ago.


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The twangy and percussive sound of the banjo can be heard in many styles of folk music -- and with five strings and a slim neck, it's easy for the casual player or beginner to pick up the basics of a stringed instrument.


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The chiming and resonant tone of the mandolin has been rounding out folk ensembles for hundreds of years. The mando's strong melodic ability makes it a great lead instrument.

Electric Violins

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The romantic and powerful sound of the violin is great for adding intensity and melody to recordings and performances. These electric violins take the classic design of the violin and improve it for the modern musician, adding electronic pickups and EQ in a lightweight body with authentic playability.


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The ukulele has become a favorite of folk instrumentalists, thanks to its tiny size and sweet voice. Play in a group? Acoustic-electric ukuleles offer quality construction and playability, with electronics and pickups added to translate their unique sound accurately in any live setting.

Lap Steel Guitars

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The vocal-like portamento of the lap steel is one of the most recognizable sounds in folk music. Played by fretting a steel bar across the neck and moving it between the frets when strings are plucked, the lap steel's many unique chord and melodic combinations make it a favorite to play -- and essential to the characteristic sound of many styles of folk music.

Dobros and Resonator Guitars

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Dobros and resonator guitars owe their brilliant tone to a unique design that's made to sound huge, with or without amplification. Outfitted with resonating devices and steel bodies, these guitars boom with sound as big and bold as the wide open country.


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No folk song is complete without the freight-train moan of the harmonica. Available in several keys and styles, the harmonica is simple to learn and fun to play. Pro tip: Have harmonicas in several keys on hand, and you'll be prepared to play in a variety of styles with a variety of instruments.


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Combining elements of the keyboard and harmonica, but with a tone all its own, the melodica is one of the few keyboard instruments that requires no electricity at all. Lightweight and portable, it's powered by your breath -- but unlike most wind instruments, it's polyphonic. Finally, keyboardists have an instrument to bring to the campfire!
History of Folk