In this conservative age, the worship team tends to be limited to the usual acoustic, electric, bass and drum.  I've known of teams that didn't know what to do with a flute or a baritone horn.

But there are others who have more imagination.  In my own time, I've had a few worshippers on the team, and out of the box:

  • Saw  (played like a cello -- sounds something like a theramin, very sweet, but by its nature about a measure behind the melody)
  • Marimba -- not that unusual, but the lady that played it was named Carmen.
  • Vibraharp - downright gorgeous instrument for worship - a metal xylophone with tubes like a marimba, but also with rotating baffles in the tubes to make a Leslie vibrato.
  • Tuba - amazing room-filling effect, except that the tubist took his style cues from the 30's and it was really hard to cure him of the chromatic runs.

Good, bad or indifferent -- what experiences have you had with out-of-the-routine instruments (or, for that reason, out-of-the-routine vocalists)?

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I've personally found the standard praise team (Drums, Bass, acoustic & electric guitars, and maybe keys) boring since they became standard. (I also find that kind of secular music boring too).

The trouble is, the bands that make eclectic instrumentation really work require a lot of musical chops that are pretty rare amongst volunteer worship teams.I saw one once with a flute, violin, oboe and saxophone along with the standard contemporary worship team instruments, all playing their hearts out, and it was.... to put it bluntly, unbearable. Think The Grinch... "Oh the noise! Noise! Noise!"

If you have out of the box instrumentation I think it's best to find a band (that kind of sounds like what you're going for) with that instrumentation to model from. Generally I find secular bands do a better job of this. I mean, Florence + The Machine managed to make the pipe organ sound amazing in a contemporary setting, and now I want it back! lol

In my previous congregation (Beth Messiah Gaithersburg MD) I was in a home group led by the piano player. (classically trained)  His 2 young boys Yonaton and Zach were up and coming musicians in their own right as middle/early high schoolers. The oldest son Yonaton is now the worship leader and his band (all 20 somethings now) are definitely an eclectic group.

He leads from a string bass. His wife plays keys.  There is also an acoustic guitar and a trumpet/percussionist and a background singer. (that is the whole band) Clearly they have a very jazz feel/sound that borders at times on klezmer.

They do mostly their own original stuff and they absolutely ROCKED the Saturday morning set at last summer's UMJC conference. They need to record.  They would have sold hundreds of CDs if they had them.

I was blessed enough to have talented team with regards to instruments. Moreso that we have one genre we liked to listen to, jazz and gospel. We experiment and explore the music as much as we can and always tried not to sound" generic" and not to fancy for the congregation. Here's one of the vds we made for an offertory recently.

I think having different instrumentalists in the team provides color and variation in the music. As long as everyone knows the feel or groove the team is going, all will be god..

God bless...

Hi everyone, I'm new to this site. Looking forward to learning and sharing. This isn't completely out-of-the-box, but I just picked up a Taylor 416ce Baritone guitar and have been playing it the past 3 Sunday mornings with my worship team. If you're not familiar with them, baritone guitars are turned B-E-A-D-F#-B, so they're a 4th below standard guitars. It's added alot from what I can tell, with different chord voicings and being lower it fills in the mix really well. You can pick up a decent baritone for around $500, with the higher end ones starting around $1000-$1500. I'll try and mix down a live recording from one of these recent Sunday mornings so you can hear how it sounds.

I've never heard one, but I can imagine the richness such an instrument would bring, as well as provide some contrast to the constant thump thump thump of the bass.

Have used an American Indian Rain Stick in worship, depends on the song.

We used a rain stick yesterday in O The Blood.

Rain sticks are just cool, that is all there is to it.  I just saw a non-Indian "Monsoon Rainmaker" for 72 bucks in the WWBW catalog that can sustain tropical-strength rain sound for up to 25 seconds, but its exterior doesn't have the ethos of the ones made from a cactus.  Wikipedia tells me the traditional manufacture is to pull the spines of a narrow cactus, then drive them in like nails (thus impeding the progress of pebbles or other noisy objects sealed into the stick).

I always considered rain sticks to be commonly used. I am surprised to read here that they are not.

Greg, the marimba is a cool instrument for exuberant praise, or should I say marimbas, because here in Zim we employ the full spectrum of them.  (Modern congregations seem to shun them as not cool and they do take up space if you having the whole lot from tenor to base).  Need a really gifted person that can interpret them into worship and then again, depends on the song. We have a very soulful pensive sounding instrument called a mariba - but whoa, careful who you talk to about using that one for worship as it is traditionally associated with ancestral worship and other ceremonies of the nether regions.  A bit how many traditional churches viewed electric guitars.  An awesome instrument, great in praise and in certain aspects of worship is the traditional African drum.

heck ya !!!!.....

how about accapella vocals w/ LOTS of reverb or slap back echo, so you could self harmonize on the delay !!!

ive also had good results w/ looping pedals, drumming on my guitar, sampling too.... no limits, except if you arent worshiping !!!.... oh yeah... ive also drummed on an empty water. cooler bottle( they sound soooo good !!! ) 

Hey Greg, I also get tired of the guitar, bass, drum, combo.  There are a lot of other instruments out there.  Throwing in a trumpet on a majestic song makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. 

I have played my flute in worship services quite often and I always hear from people who love it.  The flute can be very worshipful and it can add a different sound for the rockin' songs.  Remember Ian Anderson in the Jethro Tull group?  He was incredible. 

Other instruments I have played is the rain stick, maraca, clave's, spoons, washboard, and mandolin.  These can add a lot as long as they are not overdone.

I bought my rain stick at the pawn shop and I went to the thrift store and tried every spoon they had till I found the right sound.  Yes, they do sound different depending on the size and type of metal they are made from.

We have also had some Christian Native Americans come and play the big drum that they all sit around and play.  I'm not sure what it's called.  Our church is on the Ute Indian Reservation, so we have also had some of them play the Native American flutes. 

I just think it's good to mix it up a little.  It is very worshipful and I have seen the Holy Spirit move with all kinds of music.


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