Are There Any Non-Electronic Instruments?

June 16th, 2007

Ok, so the story, as we know it, is:

Benjamin Franklin flies a kite, and discovers electricity. He patents it, and Gibson pays him a licensing fee to use it in their new Lightning Guitar (later renamed Electric Guitar because Lightning Guitar was a trademarked nickname used by Yngwie Malmsteem). Electricity was then used to grant the possibility of death-by-electrocution to previously safe instruments like the bass, the violin, and the drums.

Which is pretty much where I thought it stood, until I saw an advertisement for this:

Electric Accordion

An electric accordion.

I made a joke about this the other day to a musician, who said, “Oh, yeah, that’s a pretty nice accordion. Blahblahblah uses that.” (where “blahblahblah” was the name of some musician I don’t know, and hence don’t remember)

Ok, I thought, I need to readjust my concept of “normal” when it comes to applying electricity to instruments. After all, it makes sense: a keyboard has keys, and there are electronic keyboards, so why wouldn’t an accordion, which also has keys? I mean, it’s not like it’s a wind instrument or anything.

Electric Trumpet

Oh. Ok. So there are apparently electronic trumpets as well. And probably saxamaphones, too.

So I decided to google around and find some more electronic instruments. My favorite is probably this:

Electric Kazoo

The electric kazoo. Ok, now we’ve just reached “awesome”.

So I’m curious: are there any instruments that haven’t been made electric?

Postscript: I thought I reached the apex of awesome when I found the “Rad Monkey VLC800 Electric Cowbell”, but that turns out to have been a hoax.

2 Responses to “Are There Any Non-Electronic Instruments?”

  1. jeff Says:

    i’m not positive, but it looks like the sound-producing part of that kazoo is actually acoustic, and it only has a pickup or something for amplification. in my mind, that’s really different than the trumpet thing, which appears to not have any real acoustic parts. even electric guitars have real strings that vibrate.

    and for what it’s worth: i sometimes play electric bass clarinet. sometimes it’s just a built-in microphone going through a guitar amplifier. but other times it’s like ‘no-input bass clarinet’ where i just use the keys to manipulate the feedback between the amp and the mic.

  2. bugbread Says:

    Yeah. I suppose it doesn’t really count. Even an electric guitar is different than a mic’ed acoustic, in that it has no sound chamber, has a whammy bar, has tone controls, etc. This is more like taping a mic to a kick drum.

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