14 Most Annoying Musical Instruments You Don’t Want To Hear

Written by Robert Jackson
Last updated

How annoying an instrument sounds has a lot to do with who is listening, and more importantly, who is playing it. But, there are several instruments that many people agree can get annoying after a while.

From plastic toys that buzz, to loud banging on the drums, here are some of the most annoying musical instruments of all time.

1. The Kazoo

This plastic instrument is loved by children around the world while also being despised by their parents.

This plastic instrument is actually just a way to modify a singer’s sound.

It causes the voice to take on a buzzing quality that, regardless of how good of a singer someone is, tends to be annoying.

There are probably few things that parents regret more than giving kids kazoos at a birthday party as the rest of the day will be filled with buzzing and spit flying everywhere.

To be fair, some of the greatest musicians ever have incorporated the kazoo into their songs, such as Jimi Hendrix in “Crosstown Traffic.”

But this instrument can get annoying after a while, no matter who is playing it.

2. Didgeridoo

This Australian instrument can be really beautiful. However, the droning sound of the didgeridoo can make people really annoyed after extended periods of time.

At first, many people find the drone pleasant, but after several minutes of oscillating between only a few notes, listening to the didgeridoo can get old.

The instrument is played by buzzing the lips while engaging in circular breathing, which creates an endless droning sound.

The most annoying part might be that a didgeridoo player can literally continue droning on for hours and hours, as they don’t need to stop playing to breathe.

3. The Vuvuzela

There may be no instrument more annoying than the Vuvuzela. This long plastic tube with a horn on the end is blown into to create a sustained monotone note for long periods of time.

It is most often found at South African football matches, where thousands of fans blow into their vuvuzelas all at the same time.

The noise the vuvuzela creates is not pleasant because the instrument itself is made out of plastic, and it sounds like someone is honking a muffled car horn.

One vuvuzela is annoying enough for most people, but when a lot of individuals are blowing into their plastic instruments all at once, it can be brutal.

4. Recorder

One of the first instruments many people learn in school is the recorder. However, as life goes on, people fall out of love with the instrument and start to resent it.

The squeaking of bad notes and the repetitive nature of the songs played on the recorder can drive people crazy.

It is not unheard of that recorders are “accidentally” thrown away after a child plays “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for the hundredth time.

The aspect of the recorder that people find most annoying is the whistling sound that is created when the holes are not covered properly. This high-pitched noise is enough to make dogs go running and people incredibly irritated.

5. The Bagpipes

With the bagpipes, you either love them or hate them. Unfortunately, there are probably a lot more people who hate them. This is most likely because of the endless high-pitched notes the bagpipe pumps out.

These Scottish instruments have been droning on for centuries. What annoys most people is that when bagpipers play together, there is no rest for their ears.

The sounds never stop, and since the notes of the bagpipe don’t seem to descend into the lower registers, your ears need a break after only a short period of time. 

6. Drums

What many people find annoying about the drums isn’t necessarily connected to how good or bad the player is, but that the volume cannot be controlled easily.

While there are lots of different types of drums, there’s one thing they all have in common. They are loud, and there is no volume knob to turn them down.

This means that when parents buy their kid their first drum kit in hopes of them being a percussionist someday, they oftentimes regret it as the banging of the drums fills their house and they are stuck listening to their child practice for hours on end.

Even drumsets played by the most skilled drummers can turn people off just because they are just so loud all of the time. It always seems that, for some reason, if there is a drumset around, someone has to sit down and play it.

7. The Triangle

For many people, there is something really annoying about the triangle. Maybe it is the constant dinging sound that tends to linger long after the instrument is struck.

Some people find the triangle annoying because the initial chime of the metal hurts their ears, while others dislike it because it seems that after listening to someone playing the triangle they can still hear the ringing long after.

Either way, the triangle is an instrument often found in orchestras and the instrument does have its time and place.

But most people will agree that someone endlessly banging on the triangle for no reason can be one of the most annoying things in the world.

8. The Banjo

The banjo sometimes gets a bad rap, but it takes a lot of skill to be proficient at this instrument. Unfortunately, the twanging sound of the strings is not for everybody.

It actually seems not to be for most people, as when a banjo starts playing, some people tend to move away from the sound.

This may have to do with the dislike of the type of music banjos are associated with, but some people get annoyed with the instrument because they say it sounds “too happy.” Apparently, too much happiness can get annoying after a while.

9. The Saxophone

The annoyance of the saxophone may come from how difficult it is to play. One wrong blow and this woodwind can screech.

It takes a lot of practice to position the mouth just right on the reed to get the sax to sound right. When not positioned correctly, there can be a lot of squeaking and squawking from the instrument.

A lot of people may be turned off by this sound from attending school concerts, but there are also people who just find the sound of the saxophone too overwhelming to listen to. In these cases, this reed instrument is more of an annoyance than anything else.

10. The Flute

People probably find the flute annoying due to its high-pitched sound.

The instrument can be used to create beautiful melodies, but if someone isn’t a fan of the high notes, this instrument can become an annoyance.

Take Mozart, for instance. This musical genius often wrote in letters to other musicians how he could not write flute parts because of his dislike for the instrument. It should come as no surprise that if Mozart found the flute annoying, many other people do as well.

11. The Trumpet

Unless you enjoy jazz and blues music, the trumpet probably isn’t for you.

It can be found in the brass section of many orchestras and in marching bands as well, but that is because it is really good at being loud. This may be where people begin to get annoyed by the instrument.

Fortunately, there are mutes that can dampen the sound, but they aren’t often used outside of blues and jazz.

This means when people listen to the trumpet, they are accustomed to being blasted in the face with the loud, brassy sound. And it is for this reason that the trumpet makes it onto the list of the most annoying instruments.

12. Electric Guitar

Everyone loves a good guitar solo. But when you walk into a music shop, and eight different people are playing the opening lick to Sweet Child O’ Mine or Stairway to Heaven badly, it can get old real fast.

You have to feel bad for the people who work in music shops.

But it’s not just the repetitive guitar licks that people find annoying about this instrument, it is that guitar players have a tendency to turn their amplifiers up too loud just to get that perfect distortion sound.

That being said, if you are stuck in a room with a young guitar player wailing on their ax with feedback coming through the amplifier, it can be pretty annoying.

13. Violin

The most annoying thing about the violin happens in the early stages of learning the instrument.

Aspiring fiddle players need to put in hours of practice before they can successfully play a series of notes without scraping the bow the wrong way across the strings.

When this happens, the instrument makes a shrieking sound that really hurts the ears.

The problem is that someone has to commit many hours to learn the violin before they are proficient enough to play even the most basic song without causing the instrument to screech.

When this happens, it is like nails being drawn across the blackboard, making the violin one of the most painful and annoying instruments to learn and listen to.

14. Theremin

This may be a more obscure instrument, but it is one that people can find extremely annoying. The theremin is an electronic device played by a musician placing their hands between two antennae.

The motherboard then detects the position of the musician’s hands to determine what note should be created. It basically sounds like an old computer trying to sing.

It is not the most pleasurable sound, but some musicians have made it work.

You can hear the theremin in The Bach Boys song “Good Vibrations” and “Please Go Home” by the Rolling Stones.

This instrument isn’t for everyone, however, as many people find the electronic noise annoying to listen to even when played well.

Summary of the Most Annoying Instruments

Some of the instruments on this list you may love the sound of, but they’re not for everyone.

When it comes to the sounds that different instruments make, there is something for everyone.

However, there will also be that one instrument that drives someone crazy. Oftentimes, this has more to do with past experiences or the person playing it than the instrument itself.

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Robert is a professional pianist and writer who's been playing the piano for over 20 years. He studied music education at college and now works as a full time musician and piano teacher all over the country.