17 Great Multi-Instrumentalists
Like people who can speak many languages, there’s something pretty awe-inspiring about a good multi-instrumentalist. And it’s not about just picking up an alternative musical tool and having a go, it’s about truly being able to play several instruments really well. The following artists are have genuine skills across a wide range of instruments – and have used them to great effect during their careers. In no particular order…
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, synthesizer, clavinet, drums, percussion, saxophone, harmonica, Linn Drum
The most famous and, arguably, most talented multi-instrumentalist today. On For You, he played and arranged all of the 27 instruments featured on the album.
2. Sufjan Stevens
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, banjo, piano, xylophone, vibraphone, English Horn, oboe, drums, recorder, theremin
Stevens could easily be a one-man orchestra!
3. John Entwistle
Instruments: Bass guitar, french horn, vocals, keyboards, trumpet, double bass, guitar, harmonica, jaw harp, bugle
Entwistle’s initial music training was on trumpet, French horn and piano…then he redefined bass playing!
4. PJ Harvey
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, organ, keyboards, autoharp, saxophone, trumpet, cello, violin, harmonica, percussion
Her songwriting is so good, people often forget just how musically talented she is.
5. Dave Grohl
Instruments: Vocals, drums, guitar, bass, piano, percussion
Grohl’s post Nirvana 15-track demo had everything – except for one guitar part – recorded by himself.
6. Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre)
Instruments: Guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, sitar, tambura, moog synthesizer, mellotron, piano, accordion, organ, drums, cello, koto, samisen, mandolin, lute, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, harmonica, flute
Newcombe is said to be proficient in over 80 different instruments.
7. Mick Harvey
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, organ, synthesizer, xylophone, glockenspiel, harmonica, drums, percussion
Nick Cave’s offsider plays just about anything required.
8. Trent Reznor
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, piano, mellotron, synthesizer, keyboards, bass, saxophone, cello, double bass, drums, tuba, sousaphone, pan flute, harmonium, swarmatron, harpsichord, marimba, sampler, vibraphone, programming
A trend setter who has broken new ground in many areas… including swarmatron playing!
9. Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
Instruments: Guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, piano, synthesiser, viola, drums, percussion, glockenspiel, ondes Martenot, sampler, Mellotron, banjo, organ, celesta, accordion, harmonica, recorder
If you’re playing in Radiohead you’d better be able to turn your hand to anything.
10. Stevie Wonder
Instruments: Vocals, keyboards, harmonica, drums, bass guitar, congas, bongos, keytar, accordion, harpejji
On Superstition he played all instruments except horns and guitar!
Instruments: Bass guitar, trumpet, keyboards, double bass, drum machine, melodica, guitar, vocals
Originally a jazz trumpet player, Flea learned to play bass in high school.
12. Mike Oldfield
Instruments: Guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals, bass guitar, glockenspiel, mandolin, banjo, tubular bells
A multi-instrumental pioneer in the world of one artist recording just about everything on an album.
13. Brian Jones (Rolling Stones)
Instruments: Guitar, harmonica, keyboards, percussion, saxophone, sitar, Appalachian dulcimer, recorder, backing vocals
Jones was one of the first to bring folk instruments into the world of rock.
14. Curtis Mayfield
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, drums
The pioneer of funk played everything a funk band could ever need.
15. Todd Rundgren
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, saxophone, theremin
Rundgren is the multi-instrumentalist’s multi-instrumentalist and was a major influence on another allrounder, Prince.
16. Billie Joe Armstrong
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, piano, drums, percussion, saxophone, harmonica, mandolin, bass, violin
Obviously the guitar as his main instrument, but Armstrong has layed down tracks in the studio with all his various instruments.
17. Ben Moody (Evanescence/solo)
Instruments: Guitar, vocals, bass, piano, drums, percussion
The ultimate collaborator these days with his varied skills.