15 Traditional Mexican Instruments You Should Know

Traditional Mexican Instruments
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Hey folks, hope you are doing well. Are you also the one who is eager to know about Mexican instruments? No need to do any further quests. Here, in this post, we are presenting a list of traditional instruments from Mexico. In fact, some instruments have originated from Mexico while some become an essential part of Mexican music.

As you know, Mexico has a rich and diverse culture of music. It has also been influenced by music from different continents of the world like Africa, Europe, Asia, etc. Some of the prominent traditional Mexican musical forms include Norteno, Mariachi, Banda, Son Jarocho, etc.

Let’s check out the list of 15 Mexican instruments without any further discussion. You will get to know more about these amazing instruments. Let’s go.

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1- Bajo Sexto

Mexican instruments: Bajo Sexto

Bajo Sexto is a string instrument. It has 12 strings in six double courses. Actually, its origin and history are not clear.

Mexican artisans built various instruments in the 17th and 18th centuries but the popularity and quality of Bajo Sexto and Bajo Quinto reached a peak in the 19th century.

The instrument is from the Guitar family. Earlier instruments were larger than the modern ones.

2- The Accordion

The Accordion

The Accordion is one of the most popular Mexican instruments. It belongs to the family of box-shaped instruments or squeezeboxes.

It plays an important role in Mexican music including Norteno, ranchera, mariachi, Tejano, etc.

You know handmade accordions are the most expensive because they produce better sound quality.

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3- Arpa Jarocha

Mexican instruments: Arpa Jarocha

Arpa Jarocha is a large wooden harp. It has a resonator, a wooden frame, and a flat soundboard, along with nylon strings(30-36). It is normally played while standing.

However, earlier Arpas were smaller in size and played while sitting. It is one of the primary instruments in the Mexican folk ensemble “conjunto jarocho”.

This instrument has holes on the back of the soundboard, unlike other Mexican harps.

4- The Vihuela

The Vihuela

Here is another interesting Mexican instrument that has a guitar-like shape and lute-like tuning, The Vihuela. It is actually a fretted plucked string instrument.

In fact, it is called “viola de mão‘ in Portuguese, “viola de mà” in Catalan, and “viola da mano” in Italy.  

Vihuelas are made of gut strings that have a sonority different from metal and produce a sweeter mellow sound.

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5- Ocarina

Mexican instruments: Ocarina

Let’s know about the beautiful wind instrument Ocarina. Ocarina has an enclosed body and a mouthpiece along with four to twelve finger holes.

Various types of materials have been used to make the instrument including ceramic, clay, wood, glass, metal, and bone.

The modern European Ocarina dates back to the 19th century while the oldest one is believed to be from the Neolithic period.

6- Marimba


Marimba has been a famous instrument used throughout Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, America, etc.

Although the instrument was introduced from Africa to Central America while African slaves in Guatemala played it.

It consists of wooden bars/planks mounted on the gourd and produces sound when beaten with two or four mallets.

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7-  Salterio Mexicano

Mexican instruments: Salterio Mexicano

Salterio Mexicano is a string instrument that consists of wooden blocks arranged in a trapezoidal pattern. It looks like a box having the shape of a trapezoid.

The number of strings on the bridges can vary according to their types. There are three types of Salterio including requinto, tenor, and soprano.

The Salterio requinto has ninety strings in three courses while the Salterio tenor has a hundred strings in three-four course order.

8- Trumpet


The trumpet does not belong to Mexican origin. However, it has played an important role in Mexican music like Banda and Mariachi.

It is indeed a brass instrument used in jazz and classical music ensembles. The player can use different techniques like Glissando, Growling, Pedal Tone, Lip-trill, etc.

Trumpets are one of the oldest instruments that are famous for their buzzing sound.

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9- Cantaro

Mexican instruments: Cantaro

Cantaro is one of the famous Mexican instruments. It has been used in different Mexican music forms.

The instrument is made from clay pottery. Water is filled in Cantaro according to the sound that the player wants to produce. It produces sound striking with hands.

Interestingly, it produces different sounds at different positions and water levels.

10- Marímbula


Marímbula is a plucked-box instrument that is also known as Marimbol. It belongs to the family lamellophones.

It generally consists of a wooden box having a sound hole cut. The metal strips are attached at one end to the resonating box. These stripes are tuned to various pitches.

The design of the instrument can vary, it actually depends on the size, number, and arrangements of keys, the material of the resonator, etc.

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11- Friction Drum

Mexican instruments: Friction Drum

A Friction Drum is a percussion instrument that emerged in Europe in the 16th century. There are various forms of instruments found in Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa.

As the name implies, the sound is produced in this drum-like structure because of friction.

The instrument consists of a single membrane stretched over a soundbox, the player vibrates the membrane with a stick, hands, or cloth to produce friction.

12- Pandero Jarocho

Pandero Jarocho

Pandero Jarocho is another Mexican instrument from Veracruz. It is a type of tambourine that has an octagonal shape.

You can play the instruments in two ways. First, tap the skin alternatively with your thumb and forefinger,  jangle the disks, and create a dull beat on the skin.

Second, you can overstretch your thumb over the skin near the perimeter of the frame.

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13- Güiro

Mexican instruments: Güiro

Güiro is also a percussion instrument. It consists of an open-ended hollow gourd having parallel notches cut on one side.

At present times, fiberglass and wood are used to make the instrument. It might be adapted from an instrument originating from Africa or South America.

There have been various sizes and designs of Guiro found in different areas of the world.

14- Violin


The violin is one of the most popular instruments used in Mexican music like the mariachi. But, it originated in Italy, not in Mexico.

It has four strings, tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, and E5. A bow is used to produce the sound striking the strings.

Violins are important instruments in various musical genres including folk, country, jazz, bluegrass music, and the Western classical tradition.

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15- Requinto Guitar

Mexican instruments: Requinto Guitar

Requinto Guitar is a smaller form of classical guitar. It has five strings and a comparatively small neck and body.

It is one of the most popular instruments in Mexican folk music. In Mexico’s requinto guitar, there is a deeper body than the standard classical guitar.

Requinto guitar has a higher pitch that makes it suitable for fast-paced music. Unlike other guitars, it is played with fingers, not with a pick.

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