7 uncommon instruments you probably didn’t know existed

We’re celebrating Uncommon Instruments Awareness Day (31 July) by finding seven of the weirdest and wackiest instruments in the world and where you can buy/experience them.

From duduks to AlphaSpheres, there are loads of little-known instruments playing around the world. How many of these have you heard of, let alone heard?


Esty store: Kabui Art

Rubab Rabab Rabab

A traditional folk instrument in Afghanistan, the rubab is a short-necked lute made of wood and goatskin. It has three melody strings, three drone strings and 11-12 sympathetic strings that are typically played with a bow. In Central Asia it is played by plucking the strings.

Buy it handmade from Etsy


Etsy shop: Inmotion


The Armenian duduk (pronounced doo-dook) is a double-reed woodwind flute. Made from apricot wood its unflattened reed and cylindrical shape creates a sound similar to that of a clarinet. Traditionally, duduks are played in pairs with the lead playing the song and the second creating a droning sound.

Buy it handmade from Etsy

Laser Harp

A construct of the ‘70s, the laser harp is a hybrid of electronic musical instrument and laser lighting display.

This instrument consists of several beams of light and is played by moving the hands over laser light sources which block the beams, sending MIDI commands to connected devices like synthesisers and samplers to produce sounds.

Buy it on eBay


This ball is a little bit instrument, a little bit toy, and a lot of fun. Called the AlphaSphere, each circular pad acts like a drum which you play with your fingers.

You have the ability to customise the sound of each ‘drum’ with dedicated software.

Buy it on Amazon here


Simple to make and use, Drawdio is an electronic sound synthesiser built around a graphite pencil and makes sounds/music using the conductive properties of the graphite.

To play, draw a picture using the pencil, varying the thickness of elements to create different degrees of resistance. When you press on the image with the Drawdio, the resistance created by the graphite and you will make music.

Buy the Drawdio from eBay here


Sea Organ

While the Sea Organ isn’t an instrument you can purchase, it is one you can experience in the Croatian town of Zadar. It’s located near the new cruiser port and is made up of 35 pipes of varying lengths that descend into the sea. The motion of the water ‘plays’ these pipes in what is deemed the ‘Orchestra of Nature’ which you can hear from the surface.

Visit Zadar with Expedia


No surprises here: this wacky electronic synth instrument comes straight from Japan and is designed to look like a giant music note.

Sliding your fingers up and down its stem will alter pitch and squeezing the ‘checks’ at the bottom will alter the note’s expression.

Buy it from ThinkGeek here

Happy Uncommon Instruments Day!

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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