Music instruments made from recycled items


Did you know that you can go green even with your musical instruments? In case you didn’t, then now you know. If you are a budding musician, you can opt for music instruments made from recycled items. Inhabitants of various places make instruments with resources naturally available to them. Using resources easily available, they could be fashioned into instruments of music. Similarly, objects could be recycled and reused, paving way for their transformation into musical instruments. Moreover, these instruments aren’t restricted only to mainstream items like guitar, etc. These also include many off-beat instruments that might give the unique sound you might be looking for while also reducing your carbon footprint.

Following are the list of some music instruments made from recycled materials:

16 – Music instruments made from recycled items

1. Cajon Drum


This is basically a box drum made from shipping boxes or drums. In many places, this drum is square in shape, namely the Peru Coast and other Latin America countries. In olden times, it was made of dresser drawers or the boxes used for shipping by slaves. It is similar to any normal drum and can be played with bare hands, stick, or fingers. It has a lovely vibrant sound of its own. You can make it at home by using cardboard or wood.

2. Didgeridoo

il_570xN.302041716This instrument has a very funny and strange story of its creation. Originally from Australia, it is said that some Australian ancestors were spending their night in an open cold forest once. As the night grew, it became colder. One of those ancestors went to find wood to burn fire. He came across a hollow stick, which he took for throwing in the fire. However, he saw white ants on it. In order to remove those harmless creatures, he thought of blowing some air in it. A musical sound came out when he blew the stick. Thus the didgeridoo got created.

The original didgeridoo is made of tree branch; however, you can make it using wrapping paper, pvc pipings, and similar materials.

3. String thing

nsstick1This is a simple instrument with strings attached that once struck play harmonic music. Making a guitar or violin needs special tools and symmetry, however, string thing is an easy to make the instrument. The things needed to make string thing are sturdy containers and different sizes of rubber bands. Containers can be anything from cigar boxes to shoe boxes.

4. Washboard

DublHandi8Washboard is a origination from United States’ Cajun province. It is also colloquially called scrub boards or rub board. It can be made using used washboards or cardboards. These instruments can still be found in flea markets.

5. Shekere


Originally from Africa, the Shekere is made of a hollow gourd with netting to hold beads. These make wonderful rattling sounds. It can be made using used milk jugs or similar plastic containers. To make the bead strings you can use simple objects like sand and birdseed. Basically, anything that can make a rattling sound is invited.

6. Aquaggaswack

AquaggaswackWhile it may be difficult to spell, Aquaggaswack is the name of a real musical instrument that looks a bit different from other types of musical instruments. Made by Curtis Settino in 1996, this interesting instrument is made of some old household instruments that were recycled and arranged in a medley form. The complete structure can be hanged on a metallic frame that is made out of plumbing pipes. However, it is easy to disassemble this frame and transport the instrument. The complete instrument has 29 pot lids that represent octave notes. While sharper tones are created using center lids, louder tones come out of outer lids. This unique instrument can be played with brushes and sticks.

7. Michael Bingham’s sound sculpture

Michael Bingham’s sound sculpture

Michael Bingham is an art teacher who has used his knowledge of music and love of nature to combine in a special musical instrument that has been made of junk materials. Michael collected junk items like plastic ware, damaged tables, kitchen bowls and broken umbrella parts. Then, he recycled and reused these materials in his special melodious instrument. Michael intends to protect nature by reducing pollution and recycling waste materials. You can play his instrument by hands as well as drumsticks.

8. Recycled Orchestra of Cateura


Some slum residents in Cateura, South America have literally turned garbage into gold. They picked up waste materials from a huge dumping site and created the whole orchestra out of these materials. They grabbed everything ranging from drainpipes and assorted castoffs to oilcans and wood pieces. Now, their green orchestra only plays hopeful music for this slum community.

9. Bash the Trash

Bash the Trash by Bertles

A band based in New York City has all recycled instruments to create music. This band, led by Bertles, has developed musical instruments like bang cello, French Hose, string gong and drums from recycled wood. The band not only wants their music to spread to a wider audience, but also intends to protect the environment through its efforts.

10. Residual Gurus band

Residual Gurus band Based in Barcelona

Another band that has adopted the idea of making their musical instruments using recycled materials. Based in Barcelona, this band has created fine spiritual music using rubbish. They have improvised some elements from meditation in order to play classical music of its own kind.

11. Band made from rubbish

There is a band that has performed at various places in Shanghai, China. This band has the specialty of creating all their musical instruments from rubbish. They used a variety of waste materials, such as car tires, steering wheels, rims, etc. Their idea of recycling waste auto parts led to the creation of melodious instruments that also look stylish and innovative.


12. Castanets


All you need is a piece of cardboard with bottle caps placed on the two ends of the cardboard. You’ll need good quality glue though that ensures your caps still stick while you’re busy banging the two ends. Another variation would be taking a pair of old gloves and sticking bottle caps or beads to the ends of the gloves. Now you can on the table with your gloves on or open and close your hands to get the desired rhythm. In case you’re interested in tap dancing and don’t have the dancing shoes an interesting tweak would be to stick pennies at the bottom of your normal shoes with tin at the top of the shoes.

13. Drums

All you need to get your set of drums together is to find empty tin cans of different shapes and size in the house and to keep them as it is or replace their top with plastic lid or balloon rubber. Usually the bigger cans make more loud sound while the smaller ones can help you get more specific tones. Your choice of drumstick though is as important as your drums themselves. You can utilize used chopsticks, pencils to broken hangers. You can mount rubber or wine corks on the edges of your drumsticks to experiments with the sounds.

14. Bottlecap tambourines

All you need is a set of metal bottle caps and a strong thread to keep them together. Tie them together with a nail and shake them to get the music on.

15. Guiro


Take any water bottle with ridges and decorate their outside with stickers. You can use pebbles or beads inside of the bottle and chopsticks or hair picks as the guiro scrapers.

16. Sand bucket Chime

If you have a dysfunctional sand bucket at home all you need to do is hang it upside down and attach old silverware, marbles, and seashells to the handle of the bucket to give you set up the chiming effect.


At times when people are becoming more aware of greener practices, we can also find a variety of musical instruments being made out of recycled materials. This is another positive step toward reducing our carbon footprint.

Musical instruments don’t necessarily require a high degree of precision and workmanship. You can make several fitting and melodious instruments by recycling or reusing materials.

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