The walls shiver and quake as rain beats against the party’s makeshift tent. They’ve walked days in this wasteland…weeks?
The Ranger looks in his rucksack: empty.
The Druid: a tin of grub pudding.
The Barbarian has the best of the lot: half a leg of day-old mutton.
And then, faintly, sweetly, filling the air: the notes of The Bard’s legendary Lyre, wrapping around their weary hearts…one more day…
Musical Instruments in DnD 5e add a ton of flavor to the universe, earn you silver, and are ripe with roleplaying opportunities! But what instruments are there in DnD? Some rare instruments can even cast powerful magic…
What musical instruments are there in DnD 5e?
DnD 5e Instrument List:
|Instrument||Price (GP)||Weight (lb.)||Description|
|Bagpipes||30||6||A reeded woodwind instrument consisting of several pipes connected to a bladder filled with air.|
|Drum||6||3||Leather pulled over an open wooden barrel. The size of the barrel and tautness of the leather all greatly affect the pitch and sound.|
|Dulcimer||25||10||A hollow wooden slab with strings running along the body, much like a guitar or violin. Instead of being plucked, the strings are hit with small hammers to produce notes.|
|Erhu||10||3||Two strings along the handle of what looks like a large mallet. The strings are struck with a bow to produce an ethereal sound.|
|Flute||2||1||A very simple instrument consisting of a wooden, or sometimes metal, tube with holes that are covered to create sounds. Played sideways.|
|Glaur*||3||2||A glaur is a short curved valved horn that sounds like a trumpet but bold and brash. A variant of the glaur without the valves is called a gloon and has a more mournful sound.|
|Harp||20||40||A very large upright lyre which is played while sitting.|
|Horn||3-50||2-20||A brass tube with a bell-shaped opening on one end and a smaller mouthpiece on the other. The smaller the length of pipe, the higher the pitch of the instrument. Some have valves to change pitch.|
|Hulusi||20||3||Three bamboo pipes running through a hollowed-out gourd. The center pipe has holes to change the pitch while the other pipes drone to create harmony as air is blown through the reeded mouthpiece.|
|Hurdy – Gurdy||60||5||A bulky string instrument that produces sound by a hand-cranked wheel rubbing against the strings. Along the side is a keyboard that changes the tautness of the strings to variate the pitch.|
|Lute||35||2||A plucked string instrument with a deep hollow body made of wood. Some lutes have an opening on the front for sound to come out, but others are closed off for a more eerie and muffled sound.|
|Long Horn*||15-35||1||A long horn is a type of Faerûnian flute that is common in elven communities.|
|Lyre||30||2||A U-shaped stringed musical instrument with two arms and a crossbar, projecting out from and level with the body. The strings run from a tailpiece on the bottom or front of the instrument to the crossbar. Lyres can have any number of strings, but the standard is 7.|
|Maracas||5||1 (.5 each)||A musical rhythm instrument made of a dried gourd with seeds, pebbles, or rice inside and shaken to produce a percussive beat.|
|Pan Flute (aka Birdpipes)||12||2||A mouth organ with a series of five or more pipes of gradually increasing length or girth, joined together side by side. The musician blows through the top, moving from tube to tube to produce different notes.|
|Sackbut||30||3||A lower-pitched trombone with a telescoping slide, thicker walls, and a narrower bell for a softer tone.|
|Shawm||2||1||A loud, double-reed woodwind instrument with a conical bore used in dance and ceremonial music.|
|Songhorn*||15||1||Songhorns are wind recorders made of wood, similar to a longhorn but more mellow with a lower range.|
|Tambourine/Tantan||10||1||A hand-held shallow drum skinned only over one side, with loose metallic disks at the sides to create a jangling sound. Played by shaking or striking. Often used to enhance campfire dances.|
|Thelarr/Whistlecane*||6||.5||A thelarr is a simple wind instrument cut from a reed. It is considered a rustic longhorn.|
|Tocken*||25||2||A wooden xylophone with carved, open-ended oval bells played by hammers or the open hand.|
|Udu||30||5||A clay pot with an additional hole, played by tapping one’s fingers on the sides, and sweeping one’s hands over and away from the hole. The method of tapping and sweeping produces a wide variety of sounds.|
|Viol||30||1||A six-stringed instrument of the violin family with a deep body, a flat back, sloping shoulders, a fretted fingerboard, and a low-arched bridge.|
|War Gong/gong||20||15||Gongs are disc-shaped percussion instruments struck with a padded hammer to produce a resounding sound. Wargongs are traditionally made from battle shields.|
|Whistle-Stick*||5||1||A poor man’s flute, this instrument is made from wood and has different pitches when air is blown through it. Can be tied with a length of cord and swung overhead to create a unique sound with air flows.|
|Yarting*||40||2||A stringed instrument resembling a lute. Yartings were widespread among bards across Faerûn, and many variations of the instrument existed.|
|Zulkoon*||95||6||A wind musical instrument that functions like a portable pump organ. Air is pumped through its organ pipes using a foot pump, creating an ominous droning sound as the constant flow of air passes over other notes.|
Rare DnD 5e Instruments: Instruments of the Bards
Instruments of the Bards use an action to play and cast a spell. After doing so, you can’t do so again until the next dawn. The spells use your spellcasting ability and spell save DC, and require attunement before use. Without attunement, you must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or take 2d4 psychic damage.
|Name/Rarity||Price (GP)||Weight (lb.)||Description/Spell|
|Anstruth harp |
|109,000||3||A magical masterwork harp with strings of silver. Graceful, light, and carved of teak wood with engravings of waves and fog. Spells: Control Weather, Cure Wounds (5th level), Wall of Thorns|
|Canaith mandolin |
|65,000||3||An 8-stringed, ancient and magical mandolin. Spells: Cure Wounds (3rd level), Dispel Magic, Protection from Energy (lightning only)|
|Cli lyre |
|13,000||3||An exquisite and beautiful magical lyre named after the college master who created the design. Spells: Stone Shape, Wall of Fire, Wind Wall|
|2,600||2||A slender pear-shaped lute carved from alder wood with inlaid copper designs. Spells: Animal Friendship, Protection from Energy (fire only), Protection from Poison|
|1350||3||A 3-stringed instrument similar to a lute. Fashioned from striated maple wood and inset with tiger’s eye stones. Spells: Entangle, Faerie Fire, Shillelagh, Speak with Animals|
|1000||3||Pear-shaped cittern similar to a lute. Spells: Barkskin, Cure Wounds, Fog Cloud|
|Ollamh harp Legendary||2,625,000||3||Masterwork magic harp that is the most powerful of the Instruments of the Bards. Spells: Confusion, Control Weather, Fire Storm|
The Instruments of the Bards pack a powerful punch. Ask your DM if you can have one (try serenading them!), or if you’ll encounter them in your campaign.
Are musical instruments tools in 5e?
Technically, yes. Instruments in DnD are considered tools, or items that help you do something you couldn’t otherwise do.
Can any class play instruments in 5e?
Yes, but most classes won’t be proficient. Bards can choose three instrument proficiencies, and start the game with one of the three.
Purpose of Musical Instruments in 5e
Instruments can be used for Spellcasting Focus, which is based on the Bard’s Charisma.
If you are proficient in an instrument, you can also add your proficiency bonus to your Performance skill checks. Performance lets you pass scenarios by dancing, singing, and generally charming the pants off of onlookers.
Performance is not just for singing, though! You can distract guards, busk for money, serenade potential allies, weave an amazing tale to persuade the lord of the land to help you…it’s up to your imagination!
If you take Entertainer as your Bard background, you can choose another tool/instrument to be proficient in, and another starting instrument. Choose a starting instrument you are already proficient in to possess two instruments you’re proficient in right off the bat!
Entertainer also gives you the feature By Popular Demand, which lets you “always find a place to perform.” Improvise to find an audience and improve your chances in a pinch, boost your crew’s morale, or just secure lodging for the night!