Musical Instruments in DnD 5e

DnD Instruments 5e

DnD 5e Instruments
DnD 5e Instruments

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:

InstrumentPrice (GP)Weight (lb.)Description
Bagpipes306A reeded woodwind instrument consisting of several pipes connected to a bladder filled with air. 
Drum63Leather pulled over an open wooden barrel. The size of the barrel and tautness of the leather all greatly affect the pitch and sound.
Dulcimer2510A 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. 
Erhu103Two strings along the handle of what looks like a large mallet. The strings are struck with a bow to produce an ethereal sound.
Flute21A very simple instrument consisting of a wooden, or sometimes metal, tube with holes that are covered to create sounds. Played sideways.
Glaur*32A 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.
Harp2040A very large upright lyre which is played while sitting. 
Horn3-502-20A 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.
Hulusi203Three 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 – Gurdy605A 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.
Lute352A 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 1A long horn is a type of Faerûnian flute that is common in elven communities.
Lyre302A 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.
Maracas51 (.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)122A 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.
Sackbut303A lower-pitched trombone with a telescoping slide, thicker walls, and a narrower bell for a softer tone. 
Shawm21A loud, double-reed woodwind instrument with a conical bore used in dance and ceremonial music.
Songhorn*151Songhorns are wind recorders made of wood, similar to a longhorn but more mellow with a lower range.
Tambourine/Tantan101A 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*6.5A thelarr is a simple wind instrument cut from a reed. It is considered a rustic longhorn.
Tocken*252A wooden xylophone with carved, open-ended oval bells played by hammers or the open hand.
Udu305A 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.
Viol301A 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/gong2015Gongs are disc-shaped percussion instruments struck with a padded hammer to produce a resounding sound. Wargongs are traditionally made from battle shields.
Whistle-Stick*51A 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*402A stringed instrument resembling a lute. Yartings were widespread among bards across Faerûn, and many variations of the instrument existed.
Zulkoon*956A 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.
*DnD Lore
Pipes of the Sewers instrument 5e DnD
Pipes of the Sewers

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.

Instruments of the Bards are Wondrous items. They can all cast Fly, Invisibility, Levitate, and Protection from Evil & Good in addition to their individual spells below. 

Name/RarityPrice (GP)Weight (lb.)Description/Spell
Anstruth harp
Very rare
109,000 3A 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
65,0003An 8-stringed, ancient and magical mandolin. Spells: Cure Wounds (3rd level), Dispel Magic, Protection from Energy (lightning only)
Cli lyre
13,000 3An exquisite and beautiful magical lyre named after the college master who created the design. Spells: Stone Shape, Wall of Fire, Wind Wall
Doss lute
2,600 2A slender pear-shaped lute carved from alder wood with inlaid copper designs. Spells: Animal Friendship, Protection from Energy (fire only), Protection from Poison
Fochlucan bandore
1350 3A 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
Mac-Fuirmidh cittern
10003Pear-shaped cittern similar to a lute. Spells: Barkskin, Cure Wounds, Fog Cloud
Ollamh harp Legendary2,625,0003Masterwork 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.

Musical Weapons

There are times when players can get creative especially bards. There are no official rules for turning musical instruments into weapons. You could of course go full Jim Belushi and smack someone over the head with a guitar, but you can also work with your players to create some weapon/instrument hybrids to create your own homebrewed musical weapons. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your path to making a heavy metal all Bard party.

Instrument Description
DidgeriDon’t Modeled after the didgeridoo wind instrument the DidgeriDon’t has been modified to be stronger and can use the same stats as a staff.
Axe Guitar The Axe Guitar is just as awesome as it sounds. It’s a massive double-headed axe that has magically strengthened strings running down the shaft. It’s a perfect weapon for the Bardbarian. You can shred some sick beats or simply shred your enemies with the axe blade.
Battle Banjo This is a banjo with a metal frame that has sharp points on it. The player can strum the strings to create music, while also using the metal frame to bludgeon enemies.
Blade Trumpet This instrument is a trumpet with a sharp blade attached to the end. The player can play music on the trumpet, while also using the blade to slice at enemies.
Vio-Lence This violin can split apart down the center and become a short bow. It’s the perfect accessory for when a classy evening of music turns into a fight for your life.
Arcane Accordion This is an accordion that has been imbued with magical energy. The player can play music on the accordion to cast spells, while also using the accordion as a blunt weapon.
Battle Bagpipes These bagpipes have metal studs on their exterior, and the pipes are made of a sturdy material that can withstand combat. The player can use the bagpipes to create a loud, disorienting sound that can stagger enemies, while also using the studs to strike at them.
Mauling Mandolin This instrument is a mandolin with sharp metal claws that extend from the fretboard. The player can strum the strings to create music, while also using the claws to slash at enemies.
Spear-lute This is a lute with a long spear attached to the back. The player can use the spear to jab at enemies, while still playing music on the lute.
Buzuq instrument 5e DnD

These are of course just examples of some musical weapons your players and your DM can create. When looking for inspiration first choose what instrument you want to play, and then try and find an equivalent damage type on the weapons list. 

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. 

Music as a Player

If you’re musically inclined it can be really fun to actually sing a little spell or inspiration to your players. It can seem a little silly, but it’s good for setting the mood, especially if you’re a bard. 

Using music to enhance your gaming sessions doesn’t have to just be impromptu karaoke jams though. You can also get quite a lot out of music in-game. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started. 

  • Make some side money while waiting for others.
    Boosting morale before a big fight. 
  • Infiltrating a noble’s house as a musician. 
  • Gaining lodgings for free in exchange for being the entertainment. 
  • Literally singing your own praises. 

Music as a DM

DMs control the majority of what goes on in a DnD game. This is a lot of responsibility, and music is a great way to add a bit of flair into the game both in character and out. 

Setting up some sound clips for some mood music is the easiest way to incorporate music into your game, and if you’re a little more musically inclined you can even use music as part of a dungeon. Playing a certain tune as part of a puzzle is a cool way to incorporate music as a DM. 

If you have player characters that do use music and instruments, talk with them and see what kind of music they envision their character playing and you can bring those elements into the game as well. Giving your players a bit of homework to find sound clips for their characters is also a fun way to add immersion for everyone.

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!

Flute instrument 5e DnD

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!

Most of all, instruments offer innumerable roleplaying opportunities for full immersion! Immerse yourself in more DnD lore by learning about Beholder 5e, Lesser Restoration 5e, or the Mage Slayer 5e.

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