Typical Instruments used in Irish Traditional Music

The typical instruments used in Irish Traditional Music include the following: fiddle, wooden flute, tin whistle, Uillean pipes (ill-an pipes), the Irish harp, piano accordion, button accordion, concertina, tenor banjo, Irish bouzouki (bah-zoo-key), guitar, and the bodhrán (bough-rawn). These instruments have all become part of Irish music within the last 100 years. Below is a brief description of these instruments.


Used in folk music around the world, the fiddle is probably the most popular instrument in Irish music (though that really depends on the region). The instrument is readily available, and children have been known to start learning as young as 3 or 4 years old. When asked, I tell people that the difference between a violin and a fiddle is easy to identify: a fiddle is a violin that has had beer spilled on it.

Tin Whistle

The tin whistle is the simplest and least expensive instrument in Irish music, yet capable of producing exceptional music in the hands of a master. The fingering system is straightforward and it is small and portable, making it the perfect instrument for children and beginners. Tin whistles range in size, due to their key. Thus, if one wants to play tunes in many different keys, an assortment of tin whistles is required.