All Musical Instruments used in Cover Videos 

2020/08/02

Do you know there are more than 20 instruments used in anime song covers? Different timbres of instruments gives different tastes to the same song, keep reading this post to find out!

hibike_euphonium photo source

When I'm working and need to concentrate, I prefer listening to instrumental covers because human singing voice often distracts me. That's why I spent a lot of time searching for different instrumental cover artists.

As I listen to these instrumental covers, I also found that some anime songs sounds really good with particular instruments! Different timbres add lots of variations into the music, and there is so much fun to explore them! That's why I want to write this article to share this.

This post is an overview of all musical instruments used to cover anime music. I will do a brief introduction on the instruments, recommend a cover, and place links to individual articles that introduce cover artists who play a specific instrument!

Contents

Piano

Piano

Piano is one of the most famous instruments in the world. It is a kind of keyboard instrument with a wide range, which enables performers to play multiple notes & chord at the same time and exhibit a variety of playing techniques.

The name "piano" originates from its Italian name "pianoforte". The Italian name is composed of two term "piano" & "forte", which means "soft" and "loud", because it was an instrument that performers can control the volume of each note.

Before piano was invented, people played an ancient keyboard instrument named harpsichord, which is not able to adjust the loudness. The piano key controls a hammer to hit the strings inside. Pressing the key faster causes the hammer to hit harder and make a louder sound.

Piano is one of the most frequently used instrument in anime covers. It is able to play nearly any piece of music beautifully. If you have no idea what instrument to listen to, piano covers will be the first place to go!

View Artists who play Piano

Guitar

Guitar

Guitar is also one of the most famous instruments. It is frequently used in pop music. Compared to piano, a guitar is very easy to carry and doesn't take up a lot of space.

It is a string instrument, and plucked to produce sound. Performers press the string against the frets (metal strips on guitar neck) to change the string length and vibration frequency in order to control the pitch.

Guitar has a vivid and smooth timbre, making it great for instrumental covers. When played in fingerstyle, artist not only flicks the string but also hammers the guitar body to make precussion. This makes the music sound more vibrant!

Below is a fingerstyle guitar cover on 「TOP」 of Tower of God. It demonstrate multiple playing techniques.

View Artists who play Guitar

Electric Guitar

An electric guitar uses pickups to transform the mechanical vibrations of string into electrical signals. With effect units, electric guitars can produce a variety of timbres, and is frequently used in modern pop music.

Here's a electric guitar cover on 「ANIMA」 of Sword Art Online.

View Artists who play Electric Guitar

Bass

An bass guitar usually has 4 strings, and plays the bass part. It has replaced the usage of double bass in pop music, since it is easier to carry.

Performers pluck or slap the string to make different sounds that adds grooviness to a song. Here's a bass cover on 「Daze」 of Mekakucity Actors that shows multiple bass playing techniques.

View Artists who play Bass

Violin Family

Violin Family

The violin family is also a kind of string instrument. It has 4 strings and usually the sound is produced by friction between strings and the bow, while sometimes performers also pluck the string with finger or hammer it with the wooden side of bow.

Unlike guitars, there are no frets on violin fingerboard. So performers needs to practice more for a better control of the pitch. This also makes the transitions sound smoother, and violins family produces a graceful sound.

Violin

A violin is the smallest and has the highest pitch among violin family. Since its neck is shorter than viola or cello, it allows performers to move their finger more quickly, and play notes faster.

Violin sounds are elegant and brisk, they usually takes the lead in symphony. For instrumental covers, it sounds great on anime songs with fast notes like the intro part of 「God Knows」 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

View Artists who play Violin

Viola

Viola is slightly larger than violin, and so the pitch is lower and deeper. It has also an elegant tone color, and is the middle or alto voice in the violin family and usually plays the accompaniment part in symphonies.

To demonstrate the lower pitch of viola, here's a cover of 「Courage」 of Sword Art Online

View Artists who play Viola

Cello

Compared to violin and viola which are played on the shoulder, a cello is much larger so it is put on the ground and performer sits behind it.

This large size makes cellos to have a lower pitch and more sonorous. Its tone color is mellow, warm, and smooth, making it sound great on slow lyrical songs like 「History Maker」 of Yuri!!! on Ice.

View Artists who play Cello

There is a even larger violin in the family called double bass. But currently no one covers anime song with a double bass, so I'll just leave a mention here.

Woodwind Family

Woodwind family contains common instruments used in orchestras. They produce sound by the vibration of air. Performers use their mouth to provide the air flow, and their fingers to press keys to control the pitch.

Flute

Flute

Flute is an aerophone instrument, which means it doesn't require a reed and performers produce sound by directly vibrating the air body through an opening. (Similar to a Chinese instrument dizi)

Flute's timber sounds pure, brisk, and delicate. Sometimes it resembles the chirping sound of a bird. I'd say it sounds really good on Ghibli Studio music pieces.

View Artists who play Flute

Piccolo

A piccolo is like a miniature flute. It has a higher pitch, sounds sharper and brighter than flutes. Smaller body make it easier to play quick agile notes in high pitch range.

Although I don't see anyone using piccolo alone for anime song covers, many artists include piccolos in their musical ensemble.

View Artists who play Piccolo

Clarinet

Clarinet uses a single reed on the mouthpiece and has a straight cylindrical tube in the body. The reed vibrates when performer blows air into the instrument and makes the sounds.

Clarinet has a wide range, and its timbre is smooth and distinctive.

View Artists who play Clarinet

Saxophone

Saxophone

Saxophones uses a single reed, and it is quite different from the family. Saxophone are usually fabricated in metal (brass), and it has a curvy body that the bell in the bottom has a U-shaped bow.

Saxophones is kind of in the middle of woodwind and brass family, and sounds laid-back, mellow, and groovy. Check out this cover on 「il vento d'oro (Giorno's Theme)」 of JoJo Golden Wind to find out the grooviness of saxophones!

View Artists who play Saxophone

In the family there are oboe & bassoon, but I haven't discovered any covers yet. So I just leave a mention here!

Accordion

Accordion

Accordions are not really considered a woodwind family, while they also produce sounds with reeds. But unlike in the woodwind family, accordions contains multiple tuned reeds and each reed has a fixed pitch.

On one side of the accordion is a black & white keyboard like piano, and on the other side are multiple buttons. In the middle is the bellow that produce air flow to vibrate the tuned reeds when being compressed or expanded.

Usually performers use the right hand on the keyboard to play individual notes, and use the left hand to press buttons for harmony chords. Worth mentioning, accordions are able to plays chords with a single button, while other instruments need multiple keys/plucks.

The timbre of Accordion makes it a great fit for slow romantic songs. As if you are walking on the street of a river side city in Europe. You will find accordions a perfect fit for songs like 「Fukashigi no Karte」 of Bunny Girl Senpai!

View Artists who play Accordion

Harmonica

Harmonica

Same as accordions, harmonica has a set of tuned reeds that vibrates when performer inhale or exhale on the holes. It is often used in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, and rock.

The timbre of harmonica is a classic component in folk music. I think harmonica fits pretty well on 「Torches」 of Vinland Saga.

View Artists who play Harmonica

Brass Family

Brass family gets the name because they are usually made with brass. Quite similar to the woodwind family, Performers use their mouth to provide the air flow, and their hands to control the pitch.

The different part is that instead of using reeds to vibrate the air, brass instruments' sound comes from vibrating the lips.

Trumpet

Trumpet

Historically trumpets were used for signaling in battles and huntings, while now it is frequently used in classical and jazz music. It generally has 3 valves like pistons to control pitch. Pressing the valve changes the tubing length, and therefore change the pitch.

The tone color of trumpet is bold and powerful. It is a bit like saxophone, but sounds more serious, at least not as laid-back as saxophone, and performs quite good on the covers of anime songs that sound epic, for example 「A Cruel Angel's Thesis」 of Neon Genesis Evagelion.

View Artists who play Trumpet

Trombone

The biggest feature of a trombone is its slide. Unlike other brass instruments which use valves to change the length of air column, the slide of trombone directly extend or contract the air column length and change the pitch.

Therefore trombone have smooth transitions. Its timbre is mellow, intense, and penetrating. For trombone cover, I picked 「Welcome to Jaripari Park」 of Kemono Friends!

View Artists who play Trombone

Euphonium

Euphonium

Euphonium is a larger brass instrument, closely similar to a baritone horn. Usaually it has 3 valaves just like trumpets, and its sound is very mellow, warm, and velvety.

View Artists who play Euphonium

I haven't found anime song covers featuring other brass instruments like cornet, flugelhorn, or french horn. So I'll just leave a mention here!

Harpsichord

Harpsichord is an ancient keyboard instrument and is the predecessor of modern piano. Pressing the key triggers a pick to pluck the string and produce sound, and the volume is not controllable.

It was used in Renaissance and Baroque music. Nowadays you usually hear it in historical music or RPG music for a medieval sense.

Chances are you've already heard the sound of a harpsichord, you just didn't know. For example this piece of soundtrack from Konosuba is played with a harpsichord!

View Artists who play Harpsichord

Harp

Harp

Harp is one of string instruments. Performers use their fingers to pluck each string to produce notes. It is an ancient instrument that was developed in various civilizations.

Harp is able to produce an ethereal, pure, smooth timbre, making it suitable for anime songs like 「Brother (Bratja)」 of Fullmetal Alchemist.

View Artists who play Harp

Ukulele

Ukulele

Ukulele is a string instrument that looks like a mini guitar. It has 4 strings usually made in nylon., and was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. In the Hawaiian language "ukulele" means "jumping flea".

The timbre of ukulele sounds happy, laid-back, and relaxing. Perfect choice if you want to stay focused and don't want to be distracted by a strong music. See how relaxing (or less hype?) it becomes with a cover on a cinematic song: 「Brave Shine」 of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.

View Artists who play Ukulele

Kalimba

Kalimba

Kalimba is an African musical instrument, composed of a wooden box and multiple metal keys. Performers pluck the metal keys with thumbs so it vibrates and wooden box amplifies the sound. Kalimba's tone sounds serene and ethereal.

Since this instrument is never designed to play up-temp songs, usually kalimba covers is a slow-down version. It sounds more like ambient music, usually played in bookstores. Calm and make people focus.

Even a super groovy song 「Sugar song to Bitter Step」 of Blood Blockade Battlefront sounds relaxing on Kalimba, making it a great choice when you want to concentrate!

View Artists who play Kalimba

Traditional Chinese Instruments

Chinese Instruments

Here comes a big family of instruments, the Chinese instruments! There are comprehensive sets of traditional Chinese musical instruments, put into 8 categories. And these instruments form the basis of Chinese orchestra.

Since there are too many instruments to mention, I will only select the instruments used to cover anime songs and do an introduction!

As an starter, let's listen to a quartet of erhu, pipa, dizi, and guitar. This band covered 「Yoru wa Nemureru kai?」 of Ajin: Demi-Human (with cosplay)!

Erhu

Erhu is a string instrument. It has a long stick-like neck and a small sound box at the bottom. The mechanism to produce sound is similar to violins, by string friction using a bow.

Erhu has 2 strings, and the bow is put between the them. It produces a smooth elegant tone which is full of delicate variations. Skillful performers can even mimic human singing voice.

The delicate vibrato sound of erhu makes it well-suited on slow lyrical songs with a sad theme. For example, 「Kamado Tanjiro no Uta」 of Demon Slayer.

View Artists who play Erhu

Pipa

Pipa is a string instrument, performers use fingers to pluck the string to produce sounds. It has 4 strings and a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets. It has a long history, and can be found in historical texts and images 2000 years ago.

Pipa has an elegant timbre, and performers can produce variations of sounds with multiple playing techniques. Among these techniques, the most distinctive one is the lunzhi (輪指) technique. Performer uses all the fingers to pluck the string alternatively and create a tremolo sound.

You will find various pipa techniques in this cover on 「Unravel」 of Tokyo Ghoul.

View Artists who play Pipa

Dizi

Dizi is a wind instrument, usually made with bamboo. It has multiple holes in the body. The first hole is for blowing air into dizi (similar to flute). The second hole is called a "membrane hole", a piece of membrane called "dimo" is glued on this hole and the resonating effect of dimo makes the sound brighter and louder. The rest are finger holes used to change the pitch.

The timbre of dizi is brisk and bright, and is frequently used to create an asian/oriental sense in music. Make it a perfect fit for songs like 「Maware! Setsugetsuka」 of Unbreakable Machine Doll.

View Artists who play Dizi

Suona

Suona is a cone-shaped wind instrument with double reed. It has holes in the body to control pitch. The sound of suona is very distinctive. It is very loud, energetic, and super-penetrating.

Traditionally suona is an essential part of ritual music, especially for funerals. Here's a coffin dance cover that perfectly matches the scenario!

Performers can also do variations in the pitch and timbre with their mouth. This enables suona to make very smooth glissando. You will find it in this cover on 「Affections Touching Across Time」 of Inuyasha.

View Artists who play Suona

Guzheng

Guzheng is a string instrument. It is placed horizontally and performers pluck strings with fingers. Guzheng has movable bridges under each string, and commonly has 16 or 21 strings.

Usually the strings are tuned in pentatonic scale. Performers could press the string on the left side to increase the tension and raise the pitch. They often wear fingerpicks while playing the instrument.

Although 「Senbonzakura」 is not an anime song, this is the most famous cover of this guzheng artist. It also shows how the moving bridges work to change the pitch during performance (near 3:15).

View Artists who play Guzheng

Shakuhachi

Shakuhachi

Shakuhachi is a Japanese wind instrument (originally) made with bamboo. Historically it was introduced from China in the 7th century. It was practiced by monks of the Fuke Zen of Zen Buddhism.

There is no reeds in shakuhachi, performers make sounds by sending air the blowing edge called utaguchi (歌口). Shakuhachi's timbre is ethereal and air-like, giving the audience a zen feeling.

Shakuhachi is frequntly used in the soundtracks of Naruto, which builds up a traditional Japanese theme. So I selected this cover on 「Blue Bird」 of Naruto Shippuden.

View Artists who play Shakuchi

Drums

Drums

Drums, or the percussion family are a crucial component in pop music bands and orchestras. In the percussion family, we have pitched and unpitched percussion.

In most anime song covers the default drums kit is used, which is an unpitched percussion.

View Artists who play Drums

EWI

EWI (pronounced "ee-wee") is the abbreviation of "Electrical Wind Instrument". Just like acoustic guitar and electric guitar, it is the electric counterpart of wind instruments.

EWI has sensors to detect air pressure and bite pressure of the performer, and a synthesizer to produce the sound. Here's an video demonstrating EWI, and listen to this cover on 「Todokanai Koi」 of White Album 2! This is by far the only EWI cover on this site.

Theremin

Theremin is an electronic music iunstrument that performer don't need to physically touch it while performing. Theremin has two antennas, the distance between the antenna and performer's hand controls the pitch and volume respectively. (Actually by varying the capacity between antenna and hand.)

Theremin produce a electronic sound with a magical, fantasy theme, naturallty it makes smooth glissando. Listen to this theremin cover on 「Lillium」 of Elfen Lied to know about this instrument. This is by far the only theremin cover on this site!

Closing Remarks

This is a comprehensive introduction about instruments in anime song covers! Hope this post help you explore different instrumental covers!

If you like this post, follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the next quiz! Feel free to leave a comment!



The images of instruments come from online stock image websites, so I added watermark on them. If you want to reuse the image, please provide me full credit by placing a reference link to this post!


Disclaimer: YouTube's term of use already allows sharing videos via embeded player, besides I've sent emails to individual artists to notify and double check if they didn't want their videos being shared here.

All Musical Instruments used in Cover Videos 

2020/08/02

Do you know there are more than 20 instruments used in anime song covers? Different timbres of instruments gives different tastes to the same song, keep reading this post to find out!

hibike_euphonium photo source

When I'm working and need to concentrate, I prefer listening to instrumental covers because human singing voice often distracts me. That's why I spent a lot of time searching for different instrumental cover artists.

As I listen to these instrumental covers, I also found that some anime songs sounds really good with particular instruments! Different timbres add lots of variations into the music, and there is so much fun to explore them! That's why I want to write this article to share this.

This post is an overview of all musical instruments used to cover anime music. I will do a brief introduction on the instruments, recommend a cover, and place links to individual articles that introduce cover artists who play a specific instrument!

Contents

Piano

Piano

Piano is one of the most famous instruments in the world. It is a kind of keyboard instrument with a wide range, which enables performers to play multiple notes & chord at the same time and exhibit a variety of playing techniques.

The name "piano" originates from its Italian name "pianoforte". The Italian name is composed of two term "piano" & "forte", which means "soft" and "loud", because it was an instrument that performers can control the volume of each note.

Before piano was invented, people played an ancient keyboard instrument named harpsichord, which is not able to adjust the loudness. The piano key controls a hammer to hit the strings inside. Pressing the key faster causes the hammer to hit harder and make a louder sound.

Piano is one of the most frequently used instrument in anime covers. It is able to play nearly any piece of music beautifully. If you have no idea what instrument to listen to, piano covers will be the first place to go!

View Artists who play Piano

Guitar

Guitar

Guitar is also one of the most famous instruments. It is frequently used in pop music. Compared to piano, a guitar is very easy to carry and doesn't take up a lot of space.

It is a string instrument, and plucked to produce sound. Performers press the string against the frets (metal strips on guitar neck) to change the string length and vibration frequency in order to control the pitch.

Guitar has a vivid and smooth timbre, making it great for instrumental covers. When played in fingerstyle, artist not only flicks the string but also hammers the guitar body to make precussion. This makes the music sound more vibrant!

Below is a fingerstyle guitar cover on 「TOP」 of Tower of God. It demonstrate multiple playing techniques.

View Artists who play Guitar

Electric Guitar

An electric guitar uses pickups to transform the mechanical vibrations of string into electrical signals. With effect units, electric guitars can produce a variety of timbres, and is frequently used in modern pop music.

Here's a electric guitar cover on 「ANIMA」 of Sword Art Online.

View Artists who play Electric Guitar

Bass

An bass guitar usually has 4 strings, and plays the bass part. It has replaced the usage of double bass in pop music, since it is easier to carry.

Performers pluck or slap the string to make different sounds that adds grooviness to a song. Here's a bass cover on 「Daze」 of Mekakucity Actors that shows multiple bass playing techniques.

View Artists who play Bass

Violin Family

Violin Family

The violin family is also a kind of string instrument. It has 4 strings and usually the sound is produced by friction between strings and the bow, while sometimes performers also pluck the string with finger or hammer it with the wooden side of bow.

Unlike guitars, there are no frets on violin fingerboard. So performers needs to practice more for a better control of the pitch. This also makes the transitions sound smoother, and violins family produces a graceful sound.

Violin

A violin is the smallest and has the highest pitch among violin family. Since its neck is shorter than viola or cello, it allows performers to move their finger more quickly, and play notes faster.

Violin sounds are elegant and brisk, they usually takes the lead in symphony. For instrumental covers, it sounds great on anime songs with fast notes like the intro part of 「God Knows」 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

View Artists who play Violin

Viola

Viola is slightly larger than violin, and so the pitch is lower and deeper. It has also an elegant tone color, and is the middle or alto voice in the violin family and usually plays the accompaniment part in symphonies.

To demonstrate the lower pitch of viola, here's a cover of 「Courage」 of Sword Art Online

View Artists who play Viola

Cello

Compared to violin and viola which are played on the shoulder, a cello is much larger so it is put on the ground and performer sits behind it.

This large size makes cellos to have a lower pitch and more sonorous. Its tone color is mellow, warm, and smooth, making it sound great on slow lyrical songs like 「History Maker」 of Yuri!!! on Ice.

View Artists who play Cello

There is a even larger violin in the family called double bass. But currently no one covers anime song with a double bass, so I'll just leave a mention here.

Woodwind Family

Woodwind family contains common instruments used in orchestras. They produce sound by the vibration of air. Performers use their mouth to provide the air flow, and their fingers to press keys to control the pitch.

Flute

Flute

Flute is an aerophone instrument, which means it doesn't require a reed and performers produce sound by directly vibrating the air body through an opening. (Similar to a Chinese instrument dizi)

Flute's timber sounds pure, brisk, and delicate. Sometimes it resembles the chirping sound of a bird. I'd say it sounds really good on Ghibli Studio music pieces.

View Artists who play Flute

Piccolo

A piccolo is like a miniature flute. It has a higher pitch, sounds sharper and brighter than flutes. Smaller body make it easier to play quick agile notes in high pitch range.

Although I don't see anyone using piccolo alone for anime song covers, many artists include piccolos in their musical ensemble.

View Artists who play Piccolo

Clarinet

Clarinet uses a single reed on the mouthpiece and has a straight cylindrical tube in the body. The reed vibrates when performer blows air into the instrument and makes the sounds.

Clarinet has a wide range, and its timbre is smooth and distinctive.

View Artists who play Clarinet

Saxophone

Saxophone

Saxophones uses a single reed, and it is quite different from the family. Saxophone are usually fabricated in metal (brass), and it has a curvy body that the bell in the bottom has a U-shaped bow.

Saxophones is kind of in the middle of woodwind and brass family, and sounds laid-back, mellow, and groovy. Check out this cover on 「il vento d'oro (Giorno's Theme)」 of JoJo Golden Wind to find out the grooviness of saxophones!

View Artists who play Saxophone

In the family there are oboe & bassoon, but I haven't discovered any covers yet. So I just leave a mention here!

Accordion

Accordion

Accordions are not really considered a woodwind family, while they also produce sounds with reeds. But unlike in the woodwind family, accordions contains multiple tuned reeds and each reed has a fixed pitch.

On one side of the accordion is a black & white keyboard like piano, and on the other side are multiple buttons. In the middle is the bellow that produce air flow to vibrate the tuned reeds when being compressed or expanded.

Usually performers use the right hand on the keyboard to play individual notes, and use the left hand to press buttons for harmony chords. Worth mentioning, accordions are able to plays chords with a single button, while other instruments need multiple keys/plucks.

The timbre of Accordion makes it a great fit for slow romantic songs. As if you are walking on the street of a river side city in Europe. You will find accordions a perfect fit for songs like 「Fukashigi no Karte」 of Bunny Girl Senpai!

View Artists who play Accordion

Harmonica

Harmonica

Same as accordions, harmonica has a set of tuned reeds that vibrates when performer inhale or exhale on the holes. It is often used in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, and rock.

The timbre of harmonica is a classic component in folk music. I think harmonica fits pretty well on 「Torches」 of Vinland Saga.

View Artists who play Harmonica

Brass Family

Brass family gets the name because they are usually made with brass. Quite similar to the woodwind family, Performers use their mouth to provide the air flow, and their hands to control the pitch.

The different part is that instead of using reeds to vibrate the air, brass instruments' sound comes from vibrating the lips.

Trumpet

Trumpet

Historically trumpets were used for signaling in battles and huntings, while now it is frequently used in classical and jazz music. It generally has 3 valves like pistons to control pitch. Pressing the valve changes the tubing length, and therefore change the pitch.

The tone color of trumpet is bold and powerful. It is a bit like saxophone, but sounds more serious, at least not as laid-back as saxophone, and performs quite good on the covers of anime songs that sound epic, for example 「A Cruel Angel's Thesis」 of Neon Genesis Evagelion.

View Artists who play Trumpet

Trombone

The biggest feature of a trombone is its slide. Unlike other brass instruments which use valves to change the length of air column, the slide of trombone directly extend or contract the air column length and change the pitch.

Therefore trombone have smooth transitions. Its timbre is mellow, intense, and penetrating. For trombone cover, I picked 「Welcome to Jaripari Park」 of Kemono Friends!

View Artists who play Trombone

Euphonium

Euphonium

Euphonium is a larger brass instrument, closely similar to a baritone horn. Usaually it has 3 valaves just like trumpets, and its sound is very mellow, warm, and velvety.

View Artists who play Euphonium

I haven't found anime song covers featuring other brass instruments like cornet, flugelhorn, or french horn. So I'll just leave a mention here!

Harpsichord

Harpsichord is an ancient keyboard instrument and is the predecessor of modern piano. Pressing the key triggers a pick to pluck the string and produce sound, and the volume is not controllable.

It was used in Renaissance and Baroque music. Nowadays you usually hear it in historical music or RPG music for a medieval sense.

Chances are you've already heard the sound of a harpsichord, you just didn't know. For example this piece of soundtrack from Konosuba is played with a harpsichord!

View Artists who play Harpsichord

Harp

Harp

Harp is one of string instruments. Performers use their fingers to pluck each string to produce notes. It is an ancient instrument that was developed in various civilizations.

Harp is able to produce an ethereal, pure, smooth timbre, making it suitable for anime songs like 「Brother (Bratja)」 of Fullmetal Alchemist.

View Artists who play Harp

Ukulele

Ukulele

Ukulele is a string instrument that looks like a mini guitar. It has 4 strings usually made in nylon., and was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. In the Hawaiian language "ukulele" means "jumping flea".

The timbre of ukulele sounds happy, laid-back, and relaxing. Perfect choice if you want to stay focused and don't want to be distracted by a strong music. See how relaxing (or less hype?) it becomes with a cover on a cinematic song: 「Brave Shine」 of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works.

View Artists who play Ukulele

Kalimba

Kalimba

Kalimba is an African musical instrument, composed of a wooden box and multiple metal keys. Performers pluck the metal keys with thumbs so it vibrates and wooden box amplifies the sound. Kalimba's tone sounds serene and ethereal.

Since this instrument is never designed to play up-temp songs, usually kalimba covers is a slow-down version. It sounds more like ambient music, usually played in bookstores. Calm and make people focus.

Even a super groovy song 「Sugar song to Bitter Step」 of Blood Blockade Battlefront sounds relaxing on Kalimba, making it a great choice when you want to concentrate!

View Artists who play Kalimba

Traditional Chinese Instruments

Chinese Instruments

Here comes a big family of instruments, the Chinese instruments! There are comprehensive sets of traditional Chinese musical instruments, put into 8 categories. And these instruments form the basis of Chinese orchestra.

Since there are too many instruments to mention, I will only select the instruments used to cover anime songs and do an introduction!

As an starter, let's listen to a quartet of erhu, pipa, dizi, and guitar. This band covered 「Yoru wa Nemureru kai?」 of Ajin: Demi-Human (with cosplay)!

Erhu

Erhu is a string instrument. It has a long stick-like neck and a small sound box at the bottom. The mechanism to produce sound is similar to violins, by string friction using a bow.

Erhu has 2 strings, and the bow is put between the them. It produces a smooth elegant tone which is full of delicate variations. Skillful performers can even mimic human singing voice.

The delicate vibrato sound of erhu makes it well-suited on slow lyrical songs with a sad theme. For example, 「Kamado Tanjiro no Uta」 of Demon Slayer.

View Artists who play Erhu

Pipa

Pipa is a string instrument, performers use fingers to pluck the string to produce sounds. It has 4 strings and a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets. It has a long history, and can be found in historical texts and images 2000 years ago.

Pipa has an elegant timbre, and performers can produce variations of sounds with multiple playing techniques. Among these techniques, the most distinctive one is the lunzhi (輪指) technique. Performer uses all the fingers to pluck the string alternatively and create a tremolo sound.

You will find various pipa techniques in this cover on 「Unravel」 of Tokyo Ghoul.

View Artists who play Pipa

Dizi

Dizi is a wind instrument, usually made with bamboo. It has multiple holes in the body. The first hole is for blowing air into dizi (similar to flute). The second hole is called a "membrane hole", a piece of membrane called "dimo" is glued on this hole and the resonating effect of dimo makes the sound brighter and louder. The rest are finger holes used to change the pitch.

The timbre of dizi is brisk and bright, and is frequently used to create an asian/oriental sense in music. Make it a perfect fit for songs like 「Maware! Setsugetsuka」 of Unbreakable Machine Doll.

View Artists who play Dizi

Suona

Suona is a cone-shaped wind instrument with double reed. It has holes in the body to control pitch. The sound of suona is very distinctive. It is very loud, energetic, and super-penetrating.

Traditionally suona is an essential part of ritual music, especially for funerals. Here's a coffin dance cover that perfectly matches the scenario!

Performers can also do variations in the pitch and timbre with their mouth. This enables suona to make very smooth glissando. You will find it in this cover on 「Affections Touching Across Time」 of Inuyasha.

View Artists who play Suona

Guzheng

Guzheng is a string instrument. It is placed horizontally and performers pluck strings with fingers. Guzheng has movable bridges under each string, and commonly has 16 or 21 strings.

Usually the strings are tuned in pentatonic scale. Performers could press the string on the left side to increase the tension and raise the pitch. They often wear fingerpicks while playing the instrument.

Although 「Senbonzakura」 is not an anime song, this is the most famous cover of this guzheng artist. It also shows how the moving bridges work to change the pitch during performance (near 3:15).

View Artists who play Guzheng

Shakuhachi

Shakuhachi

Shakuhachi is a Japanese wind instrument (originally) made with bamboo. Historically it was introduced from China in the 7th century. It was practiced by monks of the Fuke Zen of Zen Buddhism.

There is no reeds in shakuhachi, performers make sounds by sending air the blowing edge called utaguchi (歌口). Shakuhachi's timbre is ethereal and air-like, giving the audience a zen feeling.

Shakuhachi is frequntly used in the soundtracks of Naruto, which builds up a traditional Japanese theme. So I selected this cover on 「Blue Bird」 of Naruto Shippuden.

View Artists who play Shakuchi

Drums

Drums

Drums, or the percussion family are a crucial component in pop music bands and orchestras. In the percussion family, we have pitched and unpitched percussion.

In most anime song covers the default drums kit is used, which is an unpitched percussion.

View Artists who play Drums

EWI

EWI (pronounced "ee-wee") is the abbreviation of "Electrical Wind Instrument". Just like acoustic guitar and electric guitar, it is the electric counterpart of wind instruments.

EWI has sensors to detect air pressure and bite pressure of the performer, and a synthesizer to produce the sound. Here's an video demonstrating EWI, and listen to this cover on 「Todokanai Koi」 of White Album 2! This is by far the only EWI cover on this site.

Theremin

Theremin is an electronic music iunstrument that performer don't need to physically touch it while performing. Theremin has two antennas, the distance between the antenna and performer's hand controls the pitch and volume respectively. (Actually by varying the capacity between antenna and hand.)

Theremin produce a electronic sound with a magical, fantasy theme, naturallty it makes smooth glissando. Listen to this theremin cover on 「Lillium」 of Elfen Lied to know about this instrument. This is by far the only theremin cover on this site!

Closing Remarks

This is a comprehensive introduction about instruments in anime song covers! Hope this post help you explore different instrumental covers!

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