What instruments are in a concert band?

Concert bands include instruments from the woodwind, brass and percussion families. For example:

  • Popular woodwind instruments include the flute, clarinet, oboe and saxophone. There tend to be a lot of flutes and clarinets because of their popularity.
  • Common brass instruments are the trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba and euphonium.
  • Percussion instruments include different types of drums, chimes and the xylophone. There’s a whole variety of percussion instruments used to create amazing sound effects.
Band standing in Wimborne Minster

At BDCB we have around 65 musicians. Here we are standing up after a concert at Wimborne Minster

Full list of concert band instruments

There are many types of instruments in a concert band and some have more than one musical part. That’s a lot of musicians playing different scores at the same time! Here’s a list of the concert band instruments in a full band, along with the number of parts where relevant:

Woodwind instruments Brass instruments Percussion instruments
Flutes 1, 2
Piccolos
Bass clarinet
Clarinets in Bb 1, 2, 3
Oboe 1, 2
Bassoon
Alto saxophone 1,2
Baritone saxophone
Tenor saxophone
Clarinet in Eb (occasional)
Alto clarinet (rare)
Contra alto/contra bass clarinet (very rare)
Contra bassoon (rare)
Alto flute (very rare)
Bass saxophone (very rare)
Soprano saxophone (rare)
Cor Anglais (English horn – occasional)
Tenor trombone
Bass trombone
Trumpet/cornet in Bb
Alto tenor horn in Eb
Horn
Euphonium/Baritone horn
Tuba
Flugel horn (rare)
Alto trombone (very rare)
Snare drum
Bass drum
Tenor drum
Cymbals
Bongos
Congas
Drum set
Tambourine
Timpani
Timbales
Tom-toms
Tam-tam
Xylophone
Marimba
Crotales
Vibraphone
Glockenspiel
Chimes
Wind chimes
Triangle
Wood blocks/temple blocks
Maracas
Claves
Anvil
Vibraslap
Rain stick
Whip
Guiro
Finger cymbals
Slide whistle
Sleigh bells

Concert band vs orchestra

What’s the difference between a concert band and an orchestra? This is a very common question and the main difference is that concert bands don’t typically have string instruments, whereas orchestras do. Orchestras have a large string section but you won’t find a violin, viola, or cello in a concert band. Saying this, there are a couple of exceptions: concert bands do often have a string bass or bass guitar part to strengthen the bass line.

What does a concert band layout look like?

As the conductor faces the band, the percussion is at the back. The brass instruments sit in a semi-circle in front of the percussionists and the woodwind instruments sit towards the front of the band.
Here’s what a typical concert band layout looks like:

Band of the HM Royal Marines

Image credit: Band of HM Royal Marines. Here they are performing as a full concert band

So as you can see, there can be a lot of instruments in a concert band. The Conductor has a tough job listening out for all the different parts coming together!

Check out our massed bands concert to see how we managed to fit three bands together in a local hall.

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