13 Incredible Bands Similar To The Ventures

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Don Wilson and Bob Bogle were on to something when they formed The Ventures in 1958. As they rose to fame with their surf and instrumental rock sound, they also helped popularize the electric guitar and other innovative styles in music.

So it is not surprising that The Ventures inspired countless music artists around the world. In turn, their legacy continued and spread across generations.

While there’s no one quite like them if you love their music and want to find some similar artists, who should you check out? In this post, we’ve put together a list of 13 incredible bands like The Ventures that you’ll be adding to your playlist.. Continue reading to learn who they are!

1. The Shadows

Emerging from the late 1950s as a dominant force in British popular music, we have first the instrumental rock group The Shadows. This band is often compared to The Ventures due to stylistic similarities.

In their heyday, they held their ground in the limelight during the pre-Beatles era, showcasing a distinct sound and instrumental prowess. In 1960, the group made waves with the chart-topping single “Apache.”

This was just the start. Throughout their career, The Shadows dropped several other #1 hits, like “Kon-Tiki,” “Wonderful Land,” and “Dance On!” to name a few.

The Shadows embarked on what was billed as a farewell concert tour in 2004. However, they reunited once again for a final tour that took place in 2009-10 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

2. Dick Dale & The Del-Tones

From Southern California, Dick Dale & the Del-Tones played a significant role in developing the surf rock genre. Alongside The Ventures and The Bel-Airs, they are considered pioneers of this unique musical style.

In 1960, Dick and his band launched surf rock into the mainstream music scene. His innovative guitar techniques captivated audiences and earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar.

Owing to his incredible skillset and distinct sound on tracks such as “Misirlou,” he and the Del-Tones gained notoriety as one of the most groundbreaking musicians of his time.

In pop culture, Dick Dale & The Del-Tones made significant contributions—their music has been featured in several popular films, including Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Pulp Fiction, and You Again.

3. The Surfaris

Formed in 1962 by a group of high school students in Southern California, The Surfaris quickly gained popularity with their surf rock sound that echoes The Ventures’ style.

Known for their hit instrumental song “Wipe Out,” this talented band played an essential role in shaping the music genre that resonated with beach culture and California’s sun-soaked coastlines.

The Surfaris were masters of blending driving drumming rhythms with catchy guitar riffs and grooves that showed off their impressive musicianship. Their energetic performances captivated audiences across generations, turning them into a successful touring band throughout the 1960s and beyond.

Despite forming over five decades ago, The Sulfaris has maintained its presence on-stage even today while staying true to its roots, with a dedicated website keeping fans updated on upcoming shows.

4. The Chantays

Another American surf rock band that captures The Ventures’ sound is The Chantays, which was formed in Orange County, California, in 1961. They are best known for their instrumental hit single “Pipeline,” which became an iconic surf rock anthem.

The aforementioned “Pipeline” was released in 1962 and took the #4 spot on Billboard Hot 100. The song perfectly showcased The Chantays’ distinctive surf rock sound, characterized by twangy guitar melodies, energetic drumming, and a driving rhythm section.

Although The Chantays did not achieve the same level of commercial success as some of their contemporaries, their impact on the surf rock genre is undeniable. They captured the essence of the era with their energetic and melodic instrumentals, leaving a lasting impression on both fans and fellow musicians.

5. The Challengers

Originating in Los Angeles, California, we have next The Challengers, a prominent instrumental surf rock band formed in 1962. The formation of the band represented a growing love for surf music in Southern California during that era.

The band was started by Richard Delvy and Jim Roberts, who were former members of The Bel-Airs.

One of their most notable works includes their album Surfbeat, which is considered surf rock’s foundation and is highly sought after by album collectors. This release helped to establish the basic surf music sound and influenced many other artists in the genre.

Despite a career that lasted only eight years, The Challengers’ works continue to be celebrated and serve as an inspiration for new generations of artists.

6. The Beach Boys

Hailing from the sunny state of California, The Beach Boys emerged onto the music scene in 1961 and quickly became an emblem of the American rock genre.

The Beach Boys was not just a band; they were pioneers, shaping the “California Sound” that would become synonymous with surf, sand, and endless summers.

Their album Pet Sounds, released in 1966, stands as a monument to their musical evolution. This album, rich with sophisticated production techniques and introspective lyrics, is often hailed as one of the greatest of all time.

Decades on, the band’s iconic hits like “Good Vibrations,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Surfin’ USA” are still celebrated. Their harmonious melodies, innovative production, and timeless lyrics continue to echo through the annals of music history.

7. The Trashmen

Next up, The Trashmen is one of the most recognizable names in the garage and surf rock music scene. This Minneapolis-based group formed in 1962 and quickly gained a following with their sound combining punk-inspired attitudes with instrumental rock rhythms.

One of The Trashmen’s biggest hits was “Surfin’ Bird,” which reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963. It remains an iconic track for both fans of surf music and those who appreciate good old-fashioned rock-and-roll sound.

While their commercial success was concentrated in the mid-1960s, The Trashmen’s impact on the music scene endured. Their music influenced subsequent generations of garage rock and punk bands, with their raw and aggressive style leaving a lasting impression.

8. The Tornados

The Tornados was one of the most exciting instrumental rock bands to come out of England in the early 1960s. They played a major role in shaping the surf-rock music scene with their catchy tunes and lively performances.

Their music spans genres like Space Age pop and beat music, with their discography offering a rich tapestry of the sounds of the era.

One of their most famous songs is “Telstar,” which topped several charts in Europe and US. The song was also covered by The Ventures, and today, it continues to be celebrated.

If you’re a fan of instrumental rock music or just want to discover some new bands similar to The Ventures, definitely check out The Tornados’ discography!

9. The Marketts

Formed by composer and musician Michael Z. Gordon in 1961, The Marketts became a popular instrumental rock group known for their unique surf rock sound.

They had several hits on the Billboard charts, including “Out of Limits,” which sold over a million copies, and “Surfer’s Stomp.” The band consisted of studio musicians who created catchy tunes that captured the essence of 1960s surf culture.

Despite the passage of time, The Marketts’ distinctive sound continues to resonate with listeners, underscoring the timeless appeal of their songs, which are available on various platforms such as Spotify and YouTube.

10. Los Straitjackets

The Nashville-based band Los Straitjackets specializes in instrumental music, much like The Ventures. What sets them apart is their unique stage presence—the band members perform in wrestling masks and matching suits, complete with silver-sparkle DiPinto guitars.

Formed in 1988, their music primarily revolves around instrumental surf music, a genre characterized by its twangy, surf-centric rock sound. Over the past 20 years, they have built a strong fan base with thousands of followers.

Fans of The Ventures will appreciate Los Straitjackets’ attention to fun and entertaining live performances. Their catchy tunes are guaranteed to get audiences moving and grooving along with their energetic beats.

11. The Astronauts

The year 1960 in Boulder, Colorado, saw the inception of the rock band The Astronauts. They were soon known for their surf rock sound, and despite being landlocked in the Midwest, they are remembered as one of the leading surf groups of the 1960s.

The band experienced lineup changes due to the Vietnam War draft and other departures, but they continued to make music until 1968. After an Asian tour, the remaining members decided to retire the band’s name.

However, the legacy of The Astronauts has endured, with fans still enjoying their hits like “Baja,” “Movin’,” and “Twist and Shout.” They were also inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

12. The Lively Ones

This five-piece instrumental rock-and-roll band emerged from the surf music scene in Southern California during the 1960s. Led by soloists Joel Willenbring and Jim Masoner, The Lively Ones had a unique sound that blended elements of surf, rock, and jazz music.

Their discography includes numerous songs that have left a significant mark on the genre of surf rock. One of their most prominent tracks is “Surf Rider,” which continues to be celebrated to this day.

Moreover, their music has found its way into popular culture. For instance, the above-mentioned track was included in the soundtrack for the iconic film Pulp Fiction. This demonstrates the timeless appeal of The Lively Ones’ music and its enduring impact on the entertainment industry.

13. The Spotnicks

We close this list with the Swedish instrumental rock band The Spotnicks, formed in 1961. They are renowned for their unforgettable “space suit” costumes they wore on stage and their blend of surf rock, country, and space-inspired sounds.

The Spotnicks gained popularity with their hit single “Orange Blossom Special” in 1962, which showcased their virtuosic guitar skills and infectious melodies. The song became an international sensation and established the band as one of the pioneers of instrumental rock music.

Their musical journey wasn’t confined to the late 1950s and early ’60s. Remarkably, The Spotnicks continued to create and perform well into the 1990s, testifying to their enduring appeal and adaptability.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like The Ventures

The world of music is filled with a myriad of bands that have been inspired by or share a similar sound and style to The Ventures. These, from The Shadows to The Spotnicks, are just a few.

We hope that this exploration into the world of surf and instrumental rock has not only rekindled your love for The Ventures but also helped you discover new favorites along the way.

There are likely many more bands out there that we missed. Let us know who so we can add them here. Thank you for reading, and happy listening!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.