Sound healing, which has become a popular form of meditative and new-age therapy sessions, has a wide variety of different ways to perform it. That’s why sound healing instruments can range from your typical Tibetan singing bowls to as specific as crystal singing harps. Each sound healing instrument serves a different purpose and frequency, which means while crystal singing pyramids work for one person, another may need something like a kalimba instead.
With that being said, sound healing is a great meditative therapy session. While it may be up in the air on the effectiveness, at the very least it should help you relax. Which is an important part of the healing process.
Check out these 27 different sound healing instruments to see what works best for you.
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1. Tibetan Singing Bowls
Tibetan singing bowls are a type of singing bowl traditionally made of metal. This metal was originally copper but has not evolved to include copper, tin, zinc, iron, lead, silver, and gold. The seven medals listed are used in a seven-metal medley to represent the seven chakras.
Typically, Tibetan singing bowls are used in a spiritual or cultural setting. Singing bowls have been used for sound healing for centuries, dating back as long as 5,000 years ago. Though the ones you see today were originally made back in the 15th century.
When used for sound healing today, Tibetan singing bowls produce a low, almost metallic-sounding noise. It’s said to help cleanse and balance the body’s energies. They can be played in the same room, next to you, or even on you.
2. Crystal Singing Bowl
Crystal singing bowls are a newer style of singing bowls that are almost only used for sound healing. These singing bowls are made up of quartz and are split up into frosted quartz singing bowls and clear quartz singing bowls. The main difference between the two is that clear quartz often produces a clearer and purer sound.
A majority of sound healers will use a wide variety of crystal singing bowls during a sound healing session, sometimes referred to as a sound bath. Because of the wide range in size of these sound bowls, they more closely fit the category of “sound healing instrument” as they play different tones depending on the singing bowl size.
You can also use a crystal singing bowl for singing bowl meditation. The aesthetic and design of a crystal singing bowl make it easy to use while meditating, even for beginners.
3. Tuning Forks
Tuning forks are another common sound-healing instrument you’ll find just about anywhere. Unlike singing bowls, tuning forks almost always come in sets, as they play very specific notes at very specific frequencies.
In sound healing, the specific frequencies from tuning forks are often used to help alleviate energy blockages. These blockages may occur from injury, stress, or lack of sleep.
To further help with cleansing and sound healing, tuning forks are often made up of steel, as it withstands the test of time relatively well. But you may also find tuning forks made up of bronze, which resonates at different frequencies. Bronze tuning forks are often associated with blood circulation.
Kalimbas are both sound healing instruments as well as great little fidget toys for when you’re at your desk. Unlike the previously mentioned sound healing instruments, kalimbas produce a softer and more upbeat tone. They’re somewhat close to a miniature piano, allowing you to play different notes all in one instrument.
Kalimbas will vary in material composition, including but not limited to wood, crystal, and acrylic. Though for the sake of sound healing, we recommend sticking with wood for traditional purposes and crystal for cleansing purposes.
You’ll typically use a kalimba for sounding healing when someone’s in need of some uplifting spirits. This may be from depression, a bad day, or simply a recurring treatment. While kalimbas don’t treat the causes of any, it may help brighten up the day for someone.
5. Shamanic Frame Drums
Shamanic frame drums, sometimes referred to as Native American drums, hand drums, or the “first” drum, are often used in sound therapy sessions to add percussion to the session. Drums are an excellent way to clear up fogginess in the head, as they are an instrument that brings forth awareness.
When used in sound healing, frame drums help focus the mind and bring us front and center to the point of the session. They’re rarely used on their own and you’ll typically find sound healers starting a session with a frame drum to help us connect with ourselves.
Thanks to the simplicity of a sound drum, it’s often pretty easy to use one on your own. So if you’re interested in producing your own sound bath or sound healing session, a frame drum is essential. You can then follow it up with a singing bowl, gong, tuning fork, or chime.
Gongs are one of the most intensive yet effective instruments in the sound healing repertoire. These large bronze or copper discs are struck to help cleanse the body of negative energies.
They’re another type of instrument that can date back to as early as the 500s. Like singing bowls and frame drums, gongs originally started with the intention of spiritual and religious ceremonies.
When used in sound healing, you can use a gong to bring someone straight to alert. Or you can strike it gently to have the sound resonate with the person more, which is meant to reach the deepest parts of someone’s energies for cleansing and balancing.
Chimes, while typically known for their porch decorations, are actually founded on spirituality. Whether it’s wood or metal, traditional chimes are great for bringing in nature during a sound bath.
Unlike other sound healing instruments, you can consider chimes as a form of passive sound healing. You can hang them near a window and have the sounds of nature fill you with healing properties.
Sound bath practitioners may use these in their offices with the windows open or simply play them on their own. Playing chimes as a sound healing instrument is similar to tuning forks, but with more distinct start and endpoints.
8. Energy Chimes
Energy chimes are simply wood or metal chimes attached to a wooden base to play in one’s hand. You’ll usually find the chimes individually or in a set of three. They are then struck with a wooden or rubber mallet, depending on the set.
Sound healing practitioners will use energy chimes when they’re on the go or when conditions don’t allow for a hanging chime set. They also may use them when they’re looking to play a specific note to add to the healing process.
Rattles are a relatively large category as it can encompass everything from shamanic medicine rattles to traditional Egyptian rattles. They’re quite versatile and typically made up of wood, leather, or even sea shells and seed pods.
Using a rattle as a sound healing instrument is decently common as they are used for a wide variety of healing methods. Softer rattles will help relax and soothe someone. Traditional rattles may invoke happy spirits and are a great mood uplifter, while medicinal rattles are powerful and used for cleansing.
While sound healing experts have a wide variety of different rattles to use at any given time, it’s best to start with a simple one such as a shell or egg rattle. To get in the habit of using them first.
Ocarinas are a sound healing instrument often associated with harmonizing and balancing one’s energies. Energies are thought to exist in shapes and waves and when those energies fall out of their natural balance, it’s when people tend to feel as if something’s off about themselves.
Some sound healers will use ocarinas as a filler instrument that can play notes on both the major and minor scales. Because ocarinas are often made of clay, they have a sense of grounding that other instruments might not.
Out of the instruments listed so far, ocarinas are not sound healing instruments you can simply pick up and start playing in a sound bath. They have a learning curve to them and will take some time before you start to notice the effects on your energy.
11. Wood Flutes
Wood flutes are a very broad category that consists of everything from Native American-style flutes to bamboo flutes found in parts of Africa and Asia. Traditional flutes are often made up of wood in the surrounding area and are used for everything from prayer to festivities.
In sound healing, you’ll see bamboo and Native American flutes played for the purpose of connecting with one’s emotions and energies, which is an essential part of the healing process. Depending on the person, they may need different tones, which brings in different types.
Each style of the flute does have a different way of playing, so expect a decently high learning curve for each of them. While the skills may make future flutes easier to learn, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a direct translation of skills.
Didgeridoos offer one of the deepest notes and interesting noises you’ll hear during a sound healing session. Originally used by the Australian Aboriginal peoples, this long pipe is perfect for deep meditation and reflection.
During a sound therapy session, you’ll find the didgeridoo has similar effects to the gong, without the abruptness of the initial strike. So when there are times when you need to deeply cleanse and heal the body but find yourself unable to concentrate from a gong, switch it out for a didgeridoo instead.
Not all didgeridoos are those long 4- to 6-foot pipes though. There are smaller more compact options that twirl and save quite a bit of space. Compared to flutes, these sound healing instruments are a little simpler to learn how to play and make for quite a talking piece.
13. Quenas and Quenachos
Another flute for sound healing, quenas and quenachos are from the Andes in South America. Unlike the previous flutes mentioned and even modern flutes, the quenas and quenachos produce a much lower sound, the quenacho more so than the quena.
Thanks to their low tones, it’s the perfect pair with other flutes that play at higher notes and tones. Consider the Native American style flute as one that helps connect with the mind, while these quenas and quenachos resonate more with the soul. Add in a didgeridoo and you’ll target the body as well.
Sitars, and their tanpura counterparts, are stringed instruments with roots in India. While not as common as most instruments on this list, they still are used for their meditative properties in sound healing sessions by those who are skilled with them.
When used in a sound healing environment, it’s thought that sitars provide the notes necessary for inner peace and positive energy. This may coincide with those who are participating in sound healing to find the motivation or sort out their inner thoughts.
Difficulty-wise, sitars will have by far the largest learning curve of the instruments on this list. If you’ve ever tried to play the guitar, then you’re likely familiar with the difficulty in this aspect. However, it’s a neat skill to have and extremely specialized.
15. Tingsha Cymbals
Tingsha cymbals are another metallic sound healing instrument meant to bring alertness to what’s happening at the moment. Unlike gongs or didgeridoos, the sound of tingsha cymbals does not last long. Making it less for deep resonation healing and more so for a moment snap back to reality.
They have a much higher-pitched sound compared to Tibetan singing bowls or even chimes for that manner. You can almost consider tingsha cymbals as a sound healing instrument of resistance. For times when you need to learn how to hold your ground.
Thankfully, Tibetan tingsha cymbals are relatively easy to pick up on and are perfect for at-home sound healing sessions or meditation. Thanks to their small size and metal material, they’re also handy for on-the-go or vacation sessions.
16. Jaw Harp
The jaw harp, otherwise known as the mouth harp, is a “hands-free” instrument used in sound healing, typically in conjunction with other sound healing instruments in the background. It’s not really hands-free despite the name, as you still need to hold it in place and use a finger to strike it.
Jaw harps actually make use of your breath and the shape of your mouth to change their tones. Because their vibrations are a little wider, they resonate at a much lower frequency than most other sound healing instruments.
They’re relatively easy to pick up on and easy to take with you as you travel. While you may see plenty of remixes of mouth harps out there, simple notes are used during a sound healing session.
17. Crystal Singing Harp
Despite having the word harp in the name, crystal singing harps are not exactly that. Crystal singing harps are actually long crystal tubes and are played similarly to a xylophone more than any other instrument. Think chime meets crystal singing bowl almost.
You’ll find sound healing experts using crystal singing harps when they need the cleansing power of a crystal singing bowl but with the same high notes as a chime. It’s also used when the root cause of the problem for the person seeking healing is something that the person is mentally stuck up on.
While the crystal singing harp itself isn’t the hardest to master, it’s certainly delicate. Always keep these in a safe spot, as not only do these crystal harps need to be struck carefully to not break them, but they’re also in the air at any given time.
18. Crystal Singing Pyramid
If you’re looking for something a little sturdier than the crystal singing harp but still want those higher notes, consider a crystal singing pyramid instead. These quartz pyramids actually sound almost metallic in nature but tend to have a purer sound to them.
The use of a crystal singing pyramid during sound healing sessions is to ground the person for the session. You typically start off a session with the crystal singing pyramid or use it when you start to notice the person isn’t fully with you and is lost in their own head.
While they’re both crystal-singing “somethings”, crystal-singing pyramids are fundamentally different from crystal-singing bowls and harps. Crystal singing bowls focus on enhancing meditation, crystal singing harps focus on breaking up mental blocks, and crystal singing pyramids focus on grounding someone.
All three of these can be used through a single sound healing session. So long as they meet their intended purpose and you’re not using them simply because they all have the “crystal” mantra.
Rainsticks are a form of rattles that sound almost as if the rain is falling from the sky. In folklore, spirituality, and even religion, rain represents the time of cleansing.
Unfortunately, there are very few times when you can experience rain inside an office or room without there being some serious structural problems. That’s where the rainstick comes into play.
On top of it being potentially one of the most effective methods for cleansing, whether it be mind, body, or sound, it’s also easy to pick one up and experience it for yourself. There’s no real learning curve and it’s as simple as turning the rainstick upside down and listening.
Triangles, not crystal pyramids, are sound healing instruments in themselves. Metallic triangles bring together the alertness of a gong but without deep resonance. However, rather than simply bringing you back to your center as tingsha cymbals will, the triangle note will last much longer.
Triangles themselves often have deep meanings when it comes to spiritualism and all sorts of religions. For those attending a sound healing session for help with spiritual or religious healing, then consider asking about the triangle.
Even if you’re not someone deep into any of the above, the triangle is still an easy instrument to learn and easy to add to a personal sound healing room.
Handpans, otherwise known as the steel drum, are more than just the sound of the Caribbean. These steel sound healing instruments are one of the most prominent you’ll find, as the drum fills the room with positive vibrations, making it perfect for body healing sessions.
Though handpans are not limited to only the potential body healing benefits. The soundwaves associated with these steel drums may also work with our minds to help mental health as well. This is in part because it plays in three separate frequencies at any given time, which makes it simplified for our brains to understand.
While handpans aren’t as easy to pick up as say a frame drum, they’re still quite a blast to use. It’s one of the few higher-learning curved sound healing instruments we recommend you try out right from the get-go.
Monochords are the basis for the sound healing sessions referred to as sonic massages. Created with the purpose of linking mathematics with music, monochords are used in sound healing as a way to target as many frequencies as possible.
The idea behind these “single-stringed” instruments (though many monochords are made of many strings) is that by adjusting the monochord’s frequency, the sound healer can better target the person’s problem at hand.
You’ll find monochords are best used with the human voice when it comes to sound healing meditation. While monochords are simple in nature, they are not necessarily the easiest to play. Starting with a small one to learn how monochord meditation works may be best.
23. Lyre Harp
Lyre harps are a smaller, alternative version of an actual harp. But rather than the strings attacked through the middle and stroked on each side, lyre harps are attached from the bottom to the top on one side with an opening typically at top of the harp underneath the strings.
What’s unusual about lyre harps is the fact lyre harps almost always require direct contact with the body for sound healing. This can be done on the back, chest, or even the head for maximum sound healing potential.
The lyre harp is ideally played by someone else when used for sound healing to fully maximize its potential. But you can still use it yourself and receive the same benefits. It simply requires a change in playing position and direct contact with your body, typically your chest.
24. Ocean Drum
Ocean drums are an in-between of frame drums and rattles. Rather than leaving the bottom of the drum open like frame drums, ocean drums fill the other side with beads to provide the maximum sound healing potential possible.
The sound of an ocean drum sounds exactly like that of an ocean wave crashing upon the shore. It brings together a sense of tranquility, which is an important part of a sound healing session.
If you’re looking to use sound healing for cleansing and tranquility, consider picking up an ocean drum for yourself. They don’t require much if any learning to maximize their usage and they’re perfect for use throughout the day when you need some peace of mind.
Probably the versatile sound healing instrument is the voice. Chanting, humming, singing, yodeling, or simply hitting specific notes with your voice are all ways you can participate in sound healing without ever spending a dime.
With that being said, the human voice is still limited to the individual. Not everyone will have the same vocal range, so it’s not possible for you to hit every note. For those in need of specific frequencies and notes, you’re likely going to need to contact a specialized sound healer.
Tibetan and Peruvian bells are excellent creative and compassionate sound healing instruments. Like triangles, chimes, and gongs, bells resonate for long periods of time but gradually go from sharp to soft tones.
When in need of a creative boost, clarity of judgment, or the need to feel compassionate again, try out bells during a sound healing session. Peruvian bells are the best sound healing option for clarity while Tibetan bells take the cake for compassion and creativity.
Clapsticks also reign from the Australian Aboriginal instruments category and go hand in hand with vocals during a sound healing session. The sound of a clapstick helps keep you alert to the noise so as to not get lost in your own thoughts.
If you find it hard to keep rhythm during an at-home sound healing session, pick up some clap sticks and watch some videos about rhythm. With that being said, sound healing isn’t always about rhythm, so don’t feel constrained if this isn’t simply for you.
These clappers can also be of use when it comes to making a rattle noise. Depending on the shape, these rattles can almost feel like a strike to negative energies sitting deep in the body.
What are the instruments needed for a sound healer?
Sound healers will vary greatly and there’s no set number of instruments needed to get started with sound healing. But there are relatively common ones, such as:
- Tibetan singing bowls
- Crystal singing bowls
- Crystal singing pyramids
- Ocean drums
- Energy chimes
But this isn’t to say you’ll find these at every sound healer’s location. It’s best to find the sound healing instrument that resonates best with you and start from there.
What instruments are used in a sound bath?
Sound baths are another name for sound healing. So any of the above mentioned throughout the article would qualify as an instrument for a sound bath. Common ones include:
- Singing bowls
- Lyre Harp
- Crystal singing pyramid
What is the difference between sound healing and sound therapy?
Sound healing and sound therapy are two sides of the same coin. Both are meant to help heal, but different aspects. Sound healing is said to help with the healing of the body, while sound therapy is said to help with the healing of the mind.
What are the best sound healing practices?
When participating in sound healing, keep these best practices in mind.
- Don’t play instruments directly next to the ear.
- Discontinue sound healing if you experience ear pain, headaches, or are otherwise uncomfortable.
- Sound healing does not take the place of physical and mental needs. Always seek help from qualified medical and health professionals.
- If you’re using sound healing instruments on people and the instruments touch the person, always make sure to sanitize the instrument afterward.
- Many sound healing instruments are fragile, so don’t carelessly lug them around.