The weirdest musical instrument ever: The Otamatone

A big thank you to Hamee for sending a fun Otamatone Deluxe for us to fall in love with. No monetary compensation was received for this rave review.

I’ve never been a musician. Yes, I can play a little guitar and piano as long as no one is listening, but I’m never going to pack a concert hall. So, imagine my surprise when all three kids took after their dad and joined band early. We’re now 5 years in and I’ve sat in packed concert halls more times than I can count to watch my kids play. In those years, I have seen them play so many crazy instruments, including random hunks of metal {really}, children’s toys, something called a vibraslap and then a güiro {yep, they are real}.  

But, I think I found the craziest instrument of them all: the Otamatone. We got to try out the Otamatone Deluxe this spring, and it was just as wildly fun as I was imagining. And, since it arrived, it’s been in the hands of a dozen musicians who all agree it’s the most fun they’ve ever had playing music. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

What is an Otamatone?

An Otamatone is a best-selling electronic musical instrument from Japan that is shaped like an 8th note. That sounds basic enough, right? Well, that’s where the simple explanation ends. I mean, there’s really no simple description of a musical instrument with a whimsical face. I could tell you that it’s played by pressing or sliding your fingers across the touch-sensitive fingerboard along the neck of the instrument to play different notes.


But, then it gets weird again when I tell you that you do all that while opening and closing the “mouth” of the Otamatone to create a “wah” effect, and that you can also shake the stem to add vibrato. 

The Otamatone Deluxe is a larger and more upgraded version of the Regular Otamatone, and it features both volume and octave controls. It has larger and more responsive stem for easier playing along the fretboard, and includes input/output options for headphones or amplifiers. The original Otamatone has 3 octave settings {low, mid, high} and within each setting, there are 2 to 3 preset octaves, making up to 9 different octaves that can get you ready to compose. The Deluxe Otamatone’s 3 octaves settings also contain roughly four octaves of notes making for a wider variety of songs you can play. Did you catch all of that?

Don’t worry, I was confused at first, too. Videos helped it all make sense, and I recommend you check those out. But, before you go you should also know that the Otamatone comes in so many fun designs and is available in original, deluxe, and special edition releases. Speaking of which, the Otamatone has over 30 colorful designs with characters like Hello Kitty, Kirby, Lucky Cat, and Monchhichi, as well as traditional black or white varieties.


You can also tune your Otamatone with the Otama Tuner app and the Do-Re-Mi stickers you can buy {or you can DIY your own with washi tape}.

Will I be playing songs immediately?

Yes, and no. You will definitely be playing songs straight out of the box {as soon as you get all the cheek squeezing “wah-wahs” out of your system}. But, as with any instrument, the Otamatone will take some practice to master. But, unlike what we found with Zoom-learning trumpet, the learning experience of the Otamatone is actually part of the fun. And, when you finally nail that amazing new tune? The Otamatone can be just as rewarding as it is fun.


So, who’s the Otamatone for?

It’s for anyone that loves anything quirky and silly. It’s especially for quirky/silly musicians. It’s also for those that love music. It’s for kids, and kids-at-heart, and everyone in between. Did I cover everyone yet? It’s also a great gift for someone who seemingly has everything because they probably don’t have an instrument with a face… yet.


Otamatone Deluxe specs:

  • AA Batteries ×3 Operated
  • Touch sensitive fingerboard
  • 17″ product height​
  • Three octave options
  • 3.5 mm stereo jack to connect to headphones, amps, and speakers
  • 3x AA Batteries, 3.5mm Aux Cable, and Otamatone strap included as well as instruction manual

Watch this VIDEO to hear it in action. You can buy one here, on the website.

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