The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments


Second Edition
Edited by Laurence Libin

The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2nd edition, published in 2014, is the largest, most comprehensive reference publication on worldwide musical instruments. Thirty years ago, the three volumes of the first edition of the dictionary were produced to wide acclaim in the musical community. This second edition reflects the last three decades' tremendous growth in scope and sophistication of the field of organology (the systematic study of the history, design and technology, and functions of musical instruments of all times and places). At five volumes, it provides greatly expanded coverage, particularly of electronic and experimental instruments, history and techniques of instrument design and manufacture, issues of practical concern, the human body as instrument, and people whose work has shaped the modern understanding of instruments.

The dictionary aims to present basic information about the most important instruments worldwide and a broad, representative selection of lesser-known ones of particular significance. Along with instruments and their makers, it discusses subjects of related interest in order to provide a fuller picture of the cultural role of instruments throughout the world. By addressing salient issues of contemporary organology, the dictionary seeks also to map the directions in which this field is growing in the 21st century, and to encourage further investigation.

Senior Editorial Board

Anne Beetem Acker
Carolyn Bryant
James B. Kopp
J. Richard Haefer
Jeremy Montagu

Bibliographer and Production Assistant

Jessica Wood

We are currently in the process of putting all of the more than 8,000 entries online, but that project is not yet complete. View a complete list of all entries added to Grove Music Online from the second edition of The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, or click on a link below to see which articles were added in a particular update. Click here to view the dictionary’s preface. 

For more information on the 5-volume print set, click here. 

Read an interview with Editor in Chief Laurence Libin here.


The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments was recognized as “a remarkable achievement” by Library Journal on its list of Best Print Reference publications of 2014.