THE BEST Musical Instruments

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

With help from the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, musician Rob Scallon got to check out how a pipe organ works, and noticed that the one they have is capable of outputting MIDI signals. After a bit of experimenting, he figured out its keyboard and pedals can also be controlled via the digital music protocol.

Making a Literal Steel Guitar

Making a Literal Steel Guitar

There’s a musical instrument called a steel guitar, but it’s named for its metal slide, and not the material it’s made from. But metalsmith Paul Pinto decided to actually make a guitar out of the weighty metal. Watch as he cuts, welds, forges, and grinds a steel plate into a beautiful chrome-plated instrument. Now how does it sound?

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Making a Sword Lap Guitar

Making a Sword Lap Guitar

Scrap wood City wanted to make a sword out of wood. But rather than just build a weapon, he created a funky musical instrument instead. The three-stringed electric lap guitar features brass and copper hardware, and can be played with a slide like a steel guitar.

LEGO Microtonal Guitar

LEGO Microtonal Guitar

Musician Tolgahan Çoğulu shows off a unique instrument he put together after his son Atlas gave him the idea. The acoustic guitar uses LEGO studs all along its neck, allowing for microtonal positions throughout the fretboard. The trick was to build a custom 3D printed baseplate for the LEGO bricks to click onto.

Jamstik 7 Guitar Trainer

This high-tech training tool helps anyone learn to play guitar. The digital instrument features real guitar strings, and works with a companion app to play sounds and provide feedback on your performance. Available in righty and lefty versions. Save an extra 15% with code HAPPYHOLIDAYS (exp. 12/25/19 at 11:59pm PST)

Light-up Banjo Ukuleles

Light-up Banjo Ukuleles

Colorful, see-through Little Gem banjo ukuleles are fun to play and super fun to look at, especially the new light-up model with three LED settings, including sound-activated. It’s plastic but it’s a serious instrument, well-built with a maple neck, sealed tuners and USB charging cable. A NAMM “Best in Show” winner.

BOSS SY-1000 Guitar Synth

BOSS SY-1000 Guitar Synth

This amazing gadget for guitarists takes the analog sounds of your instrument and layers them with thick synthesized enhancements. The Boss Synth SY-1000 pedalboard gives guitars a whole new range of capability, with its sophisticated sound engine, and the ability to produce a mix of rich acoustic and electric tones.

The Anarchestra Revisited

The Anarchestra Revisited

A few years back, we learned about musician and artist Andy Thurlow’s collection of unique musical instruments, known as The Anarchestra. Documentarian Daniel Wolverton of Special Head returns to visit with Andy and check out some of the strange and wonderful noise makers he’s built in the past few years.

Orba Musical Instrument

Orba Musical Instrument

Artiphon’s Orba is a unique instrument that is sort of the musical equivalent of a fidget spinner. It combines a synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller all in one, and is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. It’s great for tinkering around with all kinds of sounds whether you’re bored or working on your next great composition.

Expressive E Osmose Keyboard

Expressive E Osmose Keyboard

Expressive E’s keyboard gives musicians an incredible amount of expressiveness, with each key capturing subtle movements that influence pitch, loudness, and many other attributes. It works in concert with a robust sound engine by Haken Audio to produce amazingly warm and enveloping sounds. It also works as a MIDI controller.

36-String Bass Solo

36-String Bass Solo

A while back, musician Davie504 performed a solo on a crazy 24-string bass guitar. Now, he’s back to blow up his prior record with an even more insane instrument – a bass with 36 strings. You’re gonna need some extra fingers next time, Davie.

Zoom V6 Vocal Processor

Zoom V6 Vocal Processor

Are you a singer? Zoom’s foot pedal gadget offers up a ton of useful performance features, including a variety of vocal effects, from tweaking octaves, to adding harmonies, to pitch correction, to reverb, chorus, and a formant pedal for adjusting vocal texture, It’s also got a built-in looper for up to 3:30 of recording.

Jew’s Harp Orchestra

Jew’s Harp Orchestra

With its twangy mouth sounds, Jew’s harp (aka “jaw harp”) is one of the stranger instruments out there. For the most part, it’s an instrument that’s played by one musician at a time, but this ensemble of 30 or so harp players in Russia occasionally gets together to perform as a group, and the layered sound they make is wild.

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Sansula Master

Sansula Master

Percussionist Conny Sommer is an expert at playing a variety of instruments, including the kalimba and the sansula, both of which are playing by plucking metal keys with the fingertips. We’re amazed by the finesse he’s able to get out of such a simple instrument.

How Zildjian Cymbals Are Made

How Zildjian Cymbals Are Made

Go on a fascinating journey through Zildjian’s Norwell, MA factory, home of the world’s most sought after cymbals. Watch as metal castings are flattened, trimmed, hammered, milled, and gradually worked into the ideal shape for producing the perfect sound. We love that they didn’t cover up the factory sounds with music.

Lekholm DM48 MIDI Harmonica

Lekholm DM48 MIDI Harmonica

Like a real harmonica, Lekholm’s musical tech senses its player’s breathing both in and out, but it outputs those modulations as MIDI signals for controlling synthesizers. The example performance is Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to, using a Yamaha VL70-m acoustic sound module.

The Smash-Proof Guitar

The Smash-Proof Guitar

Sandvik created what it believes is a nearly indestructible guitar. Its body was 3D printed out of titanium, while its neck, fretboard and hub were milled from stainless steel. They let prolific axe wrecker Yngwie Malsmsteen put it to the test.

Musical Toothbrushes

Musical Toothbrushes

Device Orchestra previously amused audiences with music played on credit card terminals. Now, they’ve figured out a way to make electric toothbrushes into musical instruments. Sit back and enjoy a buzzy rendition of Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia Hymn, a popular composition in the nation the band calls home.

Marble Machine X Plays Drums

Marble Machine X Plays Drums

From the looks of things, musician, and instrument designer Wintergatan has nearly completed the build of his long-in-progress follow up to his original marble machine. After showing us the amazing marble elevator, he’s ready to play some percussion with the intricate contraption.

Roli Lumi Keyboard

Roli Lumi Keyboard

Roli’s nifty portable keyboard is designed to help anyone learn to play piano. It features light-up RGB, pressure sensitive keys with 92% of the travel of an actual grand piano and can connect to other Lumi keyboards and Roli blocks. It works with a companion mobile app for learning.

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Playing Other Instruments on a Violin

Playing Other Instruments on a Violin

You’d think that a violin could only sound like a violin, but OddViolin proves that wrong by making his sound like a flute, harmonica, cello, and even bagpipes. Previously, he convinced the string instrument to sound like animals and make various sound effects.

Senspad Drum Kit

Senspad Drum Kit

Redison Music’s Senspad is an electronic drum kit that weighs less than 1.5lb and is nearly as thin as a practice pad. It has three programmable strike zones and lasts up to 12h per charge. You can connect it to mobile devices or PCs via USB or Bluetooth.

Headrush Looperboard

Headrush Looperboard

A droolworthy tool for any musician’s arsenal, Headrush’s looper pedal on steroids features a 7″ touchscreen UI, an onboard mixer and effects, and up to 9 hours of internal recording time. It offers numerous inputs and outputs, and comes pre-loaded with 300 percussion loops.

Making an Organ from Paper

Making an Organ from Paper

(Loud) Aliaksei Zholner decided to see if he could make a working reed pipe organ entirely out of paper and cardboard, with bellows powered by the weight of a book. The resulting sounds are a little silly, but it’s a cool bit of papercraft engineering.

Axe Heaven Miniature Guitars

Axe Heaven Miniature Guitars

Axe Heaven creates handmade 1/4-scale (~10″ tall) replicas of acoustic and electric guitars. Their Fender collection is officially licensed and includes replicas of famous musicians’ axes. They also make drum sets and amps. They accept small batch custom orders.

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