Many small band programs have limited percussion instrumentation in addition to having limited wind instrumentation. On this page you will find suggestions of possible percussion instrument substitutions. (Instruments are listed in alphabetical order.)

Suggested Substitutions


Original Instrument
Possible Substitutions
Agogo Bells
Two cowbells
Antique Cymbals
Orchestra bells struck with finger cymbals
Anvil
Brake drum, railroad tie, metal pipe
Bongos
High pitched tom-toms
Castanets
Woodblock played with snare drum sticks
Celeste
Orchestra bells with hard rubber mallets
Chimes
Vibraphone in a low register
Orchestra bells in a low register with soft mallets
Conga
Tenor drum with yarn mallet, muted with the hand
Cowbell
Dome of suspended cymbal hit with shank of stick
Croatles
Bells struck with finger cymbals
Field Drum
Marching snare tuned low
Gong
Large suspended cymbals struck with soft mallets
Marimba
Xylophone an octave lower than written with soft mallets
Sandpaper Blocks
Brushes on snare drum head
Slap Stick
Rim shot
Tam-Tam
Large suspended cymbals struck with soft mallets
Temple Blocks
Woodblocks with soft mallets
Tenor Drum
Low pitched snare drum without snares
Medium tom-tom
Thunder Sheet
Plastic drum head, shaken
Timbales
Two snare drums pitched at about a minor third apart
Vibraphone
Orchestra bells in a low register with soft mallets
Whip
Rim shot


Resources for Information


Percussive Arts Society



Sources


Percussion Instrument Substitution: A Practical Necessity by Mario Gaetano
Improving Today's Percussion Section by Lt. Col. Steven Grimo