12 Essential Instruments in Playing Bluegrass Music

Blog4 - 12 Essential Instruments in Playing Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass music, a form of traditional country music, has multi-influences from Irish, Scottish, and English music. With its unique and diverse sound, it comes with a complex combination of various instruments to create the bluegrass music.

Here are the 12 essential instruments in creating bluegrass music:


Mandolin plays a vital part in a bluegrass band. It serves as a lead and rhythm instrument. Before when drums are not part of a bluegrass band, the mandolin provides the chunk on the second and fourth beat as a compliment to the bass line on the first and third beat.

guitar - 12 Essential Instruments in Playing Bluegrass Music

Acoustic Guitar

An acoustic guitar is a major instrument in the Bluegrass band. It creates sound through conventional strumming techniques. There are also specialized bluegrass guitars available. George Shuffler of the Stanley brothers was one of the first musicians who used a guitar as a major instrument in bluegrass music.


Five-string banjos are the main instrument used in bluegrass music. They come in different styles, including the Scruggs-style. Earl Scruggs and Sonny Osborne are prominent Banjo players. Apart from bluegrass, banjos are great for country, jazz, and folk music.

fiddle - 12 Essential Instruments in Playing Bluegrass Music


Fiddle is like a violin, except that it is specialized for bluegrass, country and other folk styles of music. Fiddles serve as a lead or melodic instrument that provides sound between melodic phrases. Fiddlers can change the setup of the fiddle according to their playing styles.


Dobro or the resonator guitar is an instrument created by Dopyera Brothers. It was introduced into bluegrass by Josh Graves and was used by The Foggy Mountain Boys in their bluegrass music. The Dobro servers as an amplifier.

Upright Bass

Also called a double bass, upright bass is a low-pitched bowed string instrument used in Western classical music and bluegrass. Some of the most renowned upright bass players are Mark Schatz and Jason Heath.


The Appalachian dulcimer is popularly used in the American folk music. Most dulcimers have four strings with two of the strings closely spaced and tuned in. A dulcimer can be a perfect instrument choice for beginners.


An autoharp is a form of a chorded zither and not a harp. It was invented by Oscar Schmidt and usually comes in 15 or 21-chord models. It is used to create sweet sounds. It is very easy for musicians to modify the chord bars to suit their playing style.

Lap Steel

Also known as Hawaiian guitars, lap steels are played through fingerpicking or can be played like a Dobro. It is great in creating bluegrass and country music.

harmonica - 12 Essential Instruments in Playing Bluegrass Music


Harmonicas are not really common in bluegrass music. However, it had been featured by Flatt and Scruggs in their musical presentations. It creates a harmonious sound by blowing air into the reed chamber.


There are various configurations and types of an accordion. Just like harmonicas, they produce different pitches depending on how you play it.


A mini guitar-like instrument called ukulele is gaining popularity in bluegrass music. It has four nylon strings and can be played just like an acoustic guitar.


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