For example: Which (apparently keyboard) instrument is this?

In the help it mentions that instrument identification questions are off-topic. I can't think of a good reason for this - other off-topic specifications are usually something to do with the question being likely to go out-of-date quickly.

ID questions can be useless if they're vague, but can be pretty interesting if they're well specified. Some other sites allow ID questions, but have strong requirements (e.g. EarthScience.SE).

3 Answers 3


I'm of the opinion that the specific one talked about here should be on topic, but questions asking whether something is a 1952 or 1954 Les Paul guitar shouldn't be.

So there's obviously a line there, and to be honest I don't know where it is. This probably is a community that has enough folks with wide ranging experience that we could identify weird, historic, unique/rare instruments, so if we can come up with wording that allows the music history end of these questions, but disallows the common ones that a quick check on the artist's website could answer then I'd be happy.

tl;dr - I'd support reopening this one, but lets work out boundaries

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    Totally agree. I think instrument identification questions should be along the lines of "is this a violin or a theramin" (maybe a bit less obvious), not brand identification. Two hundred questions about wether a violin is a Stradivari or a Monzini won't do any good, especially since it would be almost impossible to tell without the instrument in hands. Mar 31, 2016 at 14:16
  • We also seem to be allowing "is this a real (brand name) or a fake?" Do we want to allow those also? Apr 1, 2016 at 17:46
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    I think it should not be - it can be next to impossible to tell unless you actually have it in your hands, and even then, it may require a skilled expert. Is there a specific one you have in mind?
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Apr 1, 2016 at 18:10
  • Following on from @ToddWilcox 's comment on music.stackexchange.com/questions/84705/… - people seem fine with your interpretation here. In music.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic Could we remove instrument/equipment from "identifying a song, style/genre, instrument/equipment, technique, chord progression, etc." and add a new bullet along the lines of "Identifying specific instrument/equipment brands or models"? May 10, 2019 at 8:29

I think they should be on topic. I understand that chord identification in a music and other questions alike are not. The scores are usually available and this often serves the curiosity of beginners that wish to play some song.

Instrument identification is interesting and has broader reach. If one likes music and plays it's normal that he/she likes instruments and everything around their evolution. In this sense it might be interesting to musicians in the community. This is basically a musicology / etno musicology question. The same might be valid to identifying an odd instrument sound in an audio track.


Generally, the questions that the community wants here are questions that are likely to be helpful to future users and to random people on the internet. Like, if I have some X question about music theory and I Google it, this site will pop up and the random user will visit it etc.

It is not really common for a random user to Google 'What type of keyboard is this?', so that is why this type of questions get closed.

Although, I have to say that I'm not 100% with that rule. Google supports Image Search for quite a while now, so someone might actually Image Search that image and this site will pop up. Ι believe we should allow some questions, like the aforementioned one, which seem nice (I voted to reopen)

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    In addition to lack of usefulness to general readers and strangers, it's also true that instrument identification doesn't fall under what most people would consider "music theory" or "music practice". It's related, but not clearly in one of those categories. Mar 31, 2016 at 13:59

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