What Instruments Did Elvis Presley Play?

By Shelly Barclay
Elvis Presley has many immitators from all walks of life.

Elvis Presley is a legendary rock star who grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee. He got his sound from the pop, gospel, rhythm and blues and country music that was available in Memphis while he was growing up there. He became a recording artist in 1954. It took only two years for him to become one of the most popular recording artists of his time. He played only two musical instruments professionally. The guitar was his obvious favorite.

Acoustic Guitar

Elvis Presley was rarely on stage without a guitar. He used countless guitars in his career, allegedly doing significant damage to them during his performances. Elvis' on-stage persona was aggressive for the period. He would swing his guitars, break strings with his hard picking and sometimes even throw them. The guitars played by the "King of Rock and Roll" are now worth significant sums of money.

Piano

Elvis Presley was a pianist, though he rarely played piano professionally. He did play the piano live on occasion, notably for "Unchained Melody" in his 1977 tour -- the year of his death. He had a piano at his home in Graceland. Iconic photos of "The King" playing piano are among fan favorites. At least one shows him playing piano for his young daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, and his then wife, Priscilla Presley. He played piano during his U.S. Army years aboard the U.S.S. Randall. A picture of this event shows Elvis in his uniform with his hair coiffed in its usual style.

Accordion

Elvis was not good at playing the accordion. He did not have the same practice with it that he did with the guitar and the piano. There are no public recordings of him playing the accordion. However, there are pictures of him playing, or attempting to play, the instrument.

Bass Guitar

Elvis Presley was not a bass guitar player. However, he did know how to play guitar and did try his hand at the bass guitar on occasion. Like the accordion, Elvis did not play bass guitar for performances or on recordings. Fans know he played the bass guitar from pictures of him picking at them.

About the Author

Shelly Barclay began writing in 1990, focusing on fiction. She has been writing nonfiction articles since 2008. Her work appears on various websites, focusing on topics such as history, cooking, scrapbooking, travel and animals. Before she began writing, Barclay was a line cook for 10 years.