Electronic Instruments

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11471

How can you play an instrument without actually playing an instrument? Electronic instruments can sound, and not sound, like other instruments and are played the same, but not the same! Check it out!


Physical Science

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


What is the difference between these guitars?


Throughout the Related Lessons in this Sound and Music series, found in the right-hand sidebar, you have been learning about the different families of musical instruments.

Can you remember how instruments are grouped? Tell a teacher or parent.

Musical instruments are categorized by the sound they make and how they produce that sound. So far, you have learned about percussion instruments, stringed instruments, and wind instruments.

In this lesson, you will learn about a newer family of musical instruments that has just emerged within the past 300 years. Were you able to tell the difference between the two guitars? Tell your teacher or parent the difference(s) you noticed.

You should have observed that one guitar is electric and the other is not. Even though guitars are stringed instruments, the electronic guitar is a part of the electronic instruments family because its sound is produced using electrical circuits within the instrument.

To learn about the history of electronic instruments and see examples of electronic instruments, read Electronic instrument (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.). When you are finished reading, discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent:

  • What is an electronic instrument?
  • How do electronic instruments produce sound?
  • When was the first electronic instrument made?
  • Why are electronic instruments used today?
  • What are some examples of electronic instruments?

Today, almost any instrument can be made into an electronic instrument. Some electronic instruments are even completely digital. Watch North Point's iBand (North Point Ministries) to see an example of an entirely digital band:


What did you think of the song? Could you even tell that real instruments were not actually being played? Discuss your observations with a teacher or parent.

Move on to the Got It? section to compare and contrast sounds made by acoustic instruments — instruments that are not electrically amplified to produce a sound — and sounds made by electronic instruments.

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