Eric on sax, Ben on trumpet, Carl on drums

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Hello, everyone!

I have this sentence( it's a part of an article I'm correcting for an internet website):

"It features Jackie performing with Cyrus Chestnut and is backed by some of New York's hottest names in jazz: Eric Alexander on sax, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Carl Allen on drums, Ray Drummond on bass, and on guitar -- Brazilian virtuoso Romero Lubambo."

Somehow I feel it needs to have definite article in front of the musical instruments, like:

"It features Jackie performing with Cyrus Chestnut and is backed by some of New York's hottest names in jazz: Eric Alexander on the sax, Jeremy Pelt on the trumpet, Carl Allen on the drums, Ray Drummond on the bass, and on the guitar -- Brazilian virtuoso Romero Lubambo."

But I'm not 100% sure. I believe definite article should be there, because we're talking about particular instruments ( the ones that Eric, Jeremy, Carl, etc. play)...or maybe because normally we'd say "I took up the guitar when I was six" ?

Could you please help- should there be articles?
Thank you in advance!

  • pink_devil

    Thank you, Copyright!

    So I guess in this case its' the rule that plural countables and uncountables, when talking in general, do NOT take a definite article....

    Thank you again!


    American English
    No, "trumpet," "sax," "bass," and "guitar" are not plurals—they have no "s" at the end. This might be a particular construction for musical instruments, not part of a general rule, but it's the way we say it in English. If we said "Eric Alexander on the sax," etc., we would be referring to a particular saxaphone that has already been mentioned. That might work if the specific instruments mattered. For instance, I think the Guarneri String Quarter is so named because all four players use instruments made by the legendary Cremona, Italy, stringed instrument maker Guarneri. If they loaned their instruments to some other musicians, we might say that "This distinguished pick-up ensemble used the superb instruments of the Guarneri String Quartet, so we had Yoh-Yoh Ma on the cello, Anne-Sophie Mutter on the first violin . . ."

    Saying "Eric Smith on a sax" might make sense, since it means an unnamed, indefinite saxaphone (presumably, it's his, but we don't know that definitely). However, it's become idiomatic in English to omit the indefinite article with a musical instrument after the preposition on. In other constructions, we would use a. For example: "Just for fun, the ensemble proved their versatility by scrambling their instruments for the last set. So we saw Lubambo playing a sax, Drummond playing a guitar, and Smith playing a trumpet, with Pelt on bass and Alexander on drums." (I don't think you "play drums," and you certainly can't "play a drums," and I don't think you can "play a bass" either.)

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I think it's more usual not to use "the" in these cases, but it is far from unknown, and there are plenty of examples of it to be found (I used "Smith" and "Jones" in order to get these examples):
    It features Med Snookes and Alan Smailes on vocals, Doug Turner on the accordion, Dave Smith on the guitar, and John Trevelyan on the bass.
    With Herbert Smith on the guitar and William Aki on the ukulele...
    The band original core of Seth Gilbert on vocals, Tyler Jones on the guitar, Donnie Vizzini originally on bass, and Jeffrey Gilbert on the drums (a mixture here)

    In these, the usage of "the" has nothing to do with particular instruments previously mentioned in the text; I would say that it is used to refer to an instrument as a standard or accepted position or role in a musical group.
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