The Top 9 Instruments Used in Pop Music

Dancing and singing a catchy song is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about pop music. Pop music is, after all, popular music. But what makes a pop song really catchy and enjoyable to listen to? The answer lies in the instruments used to create the music.

Through the years, pop music has evolved, but some instruments have remained popular and are commonly used in today’s pop songs. Musicians are also experimenting with new and unique sounds to create fresh and original tracks. Pop music may range from love songs to party anthems, but the one thing that ties it all together is the instruments used to create the sound.

Here are the popular instruments used in pop music.

1. Computer

Technology has streamlined everything and made it more accessible in both our daily lives and the music industry. Computers are widely used in pop music, either for composing or editing  the songs.

Selecting a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation is used for a variety of tasks, such as recording, editing, mixing audio, and digitally replicating the sound of instruments.

Many composers or artists use this to create new music or edit existing tracks. Some software like Logic Pro X, Reaper, and FL Studio are used by many professionals in the music industry.

2. Synth

Synthesizers are widely used in pop music to create various sounds and effects. They have been used since the 1970s and have become an essential part of many pop songs.

Although they started as hardware synths, software synthesizers are now the most popular type in use, which can be used with a DAW.

Software synthesizers can be played using a MIDI keyboard or by producing sound directly on the computer. Many VST instruments (Virtual Studio Technology) are available that recreate the sound of real instruments.

These are used to create a variety of sounds, such as basslines, leads, and pads. Famous artists like Michael Jackson and Madonna were known to use synthesizers in their songs.

3. Drums or Drum Machine

Drums are used to provide the beat and rhythm that drive the song. They can be played by a drummer or programmed using a drum machine.

Acoustic drums are usually used in live performances, while electronic drums are typically used when recording in a studio. Drum machines are also used to create beats for pop songs.

The most popular drum machines are the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, which were used in many famous songs, such as, “Yeah! (featuring Lil John & Ludacris)” by Usher, “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye, and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

4. Percussion

Pop music frequently incorporates percussion instruments as well. They are capable of enhancing the song with a range of sounds and textures.

Percussion instruments include drums, cymbals, tambourines, maracas, and shakers. They design the song’s distinctive beat or groove. Percussion instruments are evident in almost all pop songs.

5. Guitar

The guitar is one of the most popular instruments used in pop music. It’s versatile and can be used to create a variety of sounds, from soft and mellow melodies to upbeat and energetic riffs.

Acoustic and electric guitars are both commonly used in pop music. Acoustic guitars are typically used for softer, more mellow songs, while electric guitars are usually used for more upbeat and energetic songs. Fender, Gibson, and Martin are some of the most popular guitar brands.

Famous pop artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Shawn Mendes often use acoustic guitars in their songs. Bruno Mars is only one of the many pop artists that utilize electric guitars.

6. Bass

Another common instrument utilized in pop music is the bass.  It provides the low-end frequencies that help to anchor the song and keep it grounded.

The bass is often used to provide a countermelody to the main melody of the song. It can also be used to create a groove or rhythm that helps to drive the song forward.

Bass guitars can be acoustic or electric, but electric basses are more commonly used in pop music. Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, and Yamaha are some of the most popular bass guitar brands.

7. Keyboard

The keyboard is a versatile instrument that can be used to create a wide range of sounds. It’s commonly used in pop music to add texture and depth to the song.

Pianos, organs, and synthesizers are all types of keyboards that are commonly used in pop music. Yamaha, Roland, and Korg are some of the most popular keyboard brands.

The keyboard can be used to create a variety of sounds, such as, lead melodies, chord progressions, and basslines. It can also be used to add effects, such as, reverb and delay.

In their songs, renowned musicians such as Alicia Keys have utilized the keyboard.

8. Saxophone

The saxophone is a popular wind instrument that is commonly used in pop music. It’s known for its soulful and sensual sound, which can add a lot of emotion to a song.

The saxophone is most commonly used as a solo instrument, but it can also be used to create harmony and countermelodies. The alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, and baritone saxophone are the most common types of saxophones used in pop music.

Some well-known songs that effectively utilize the saxophone are , “Careless Whisper” by George Michael, “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, and “Despacito (featuring Justin Bieber)” by Luis Fonsi.

9. Vocals

Of course, no pop song would be complete without vocals, and the human voice is the most versatile instrument there is! You’d know that the song is great because of the way it is sung. The lead vocalist is the focus of the song and their voice is used to convey the emotion and message of the song.

Backing vocals are also used in pop music to add depth and harmonies to the lead vocal. They can be used to create a wall of sound that can make the song sound bigger and more powerful. Changing the pitch of the vocals is also a common way to create interesting sound effects.


Pop music has come to be defined by the instruments that are used in it. Whether it’s the catchy beat or the enchanting vocals, the instruments used in pop music are what make it so special. Guitars, keyboards, saxophones, and even the bass all have an important role to play.

So next time you’re listening to your favorite pop song, You’ll know exactly which instruments are responsible for producing such awesome tracks.