Looking for some inspiration on music tattoo ideas? From minimalist to full-on sleeve tattoos, here are some fresh takes on inking audiophiles will love.
Music is a universal language that has the power to bring people from different parts of the world together. So much so that it compels many music lovers and audiophiles alike to give their favorite artists and favorite music a permanent home on their bodies.
Be it inking into their skin a unique interpretation of a specific lyric or making known their preference for a certain musical instrument, there can be many reasons why people get music tattoos marked on their bodies.
If you are one of those people, we’re 100% with you about getting a music tattoo. We understand the thrill around it. But you also probably agree that finding a music-related tattoo to etch into your body is not a light task. Besides, tattoos are mostly permanent and can cost a fortune to remove.
To help you come up with a design idea that you won’t regret, we’ve compiled 45 of the best music-inspired tattoo designs we are sure you’d love. Let’s get right into it.
In This Article
Tiny Music Tattoo Ideas
A full sleeve of tattoos isn’t everyone’s cup of coffee. If you’re looking to experiment with your first tattoo, the idea of getting a bold ink that stands out can be overwhelming. Also, even if you ardently love music, you may still want to have clean aesthetics for your office job.
Minimalist music tattoos are an ideal choice – in the sense that they’re not only delicate and small, but when inked on the right body parts, can add the right amount of spice to your appearance, even as you wish to retain a no-fuss, prim-and-proper look for the outside world.
Rewind, pause, play, fast forward
This media control tattoo has a universal design that caters to all music lovers, regardless of genre preferences. It’s not as common as the clef symbol tattoo that most people have. The wrist placement is wildly popular because it’s a visible body part – which means you get to look at your ink every day.
Music behind your ears
The music symbols behind the ears are poetic tattoos that perfectly illustrate how we enjoy music. This meaningful music note tattoo can be placed in a well-concealed spot – so you can keep your appearance pretty much unchanged. You can also alter the symbols to match the first note of your favorite songs – or any song.
Love music on your wrist
TThe treble and bass clef symbol, when arranged correctly, can come together in the shape of a heart – signifying your love for music. But since bass and treble are opposites, this tattoo design can also symbolize the highs and lows of your life.
A small, understated treble and bass clef tattoo on your wrist is a perfect route to take for the minimalist look.
The pulse of music
If you wish to express gratitude to the force of life, the heartbeat tattoo is a great idea that you can pick and personalize to your preference. It shows a clef symbol followed by spiky lines resembling an Electrocardiogram (EKG) reading or heartbeat pulses.
It’s an excellent design idea for a small tattoo that you can etch practically anywhere on your body.
It’s almost generally accepted that music is a powerful savior that helps us all go through rough times.
Just as a band-aid gives us a quick fix to our wounds, music can help us steer away from our blues with memorable lyrics and groovy tunes that attempt to demystify life.
This musical band-aid tattoo is an absolutely quirky and straightforward tattoo idea that can be a great conversation starter if inked in places where you’d typically get wounds.
Bold Music Tattoo Ideas
Minimalist tattoos may be gaining traction these days but full-back and full-sleeved music tattoos are far from extinct. If you’re looking to turn your body into a living canvas that will express your love for music, big and bold tattoos will do the trick.
These tattoos will help you stand out from the crowd and turn heads – if that’s what you want.
Here’s a list of our best picks in this category:
Deep Shadow Walkman Tattoo
The Walkman and cassette tapes will forever be legendary emblems of the musical revolution that took off in the late 1970s. This tattoo pays homage to the classics through graffiti-style artwork with deep shadows reminiscent of the 80s — the era that the Walkman dominated.
It’s a large tattoo that reaches its full potential when inked on the arms or legs. And is unmissable and makes a bold statement wherever you go!
Heavy-Metal Themed Sleeve Tattoo
Some of the most well-known Rock artists are Slash and Ozzy Osbourne. This tattoo pays tribute to this popular genre using its renowned artists, song lyrics, and related dark- or peculiar- themed symbols.
The heavy metal-themed tattoo is best showcased on the arm as its dark colors and theme are sure to stand out.
Soundwave Back Tattoo
Soundwaves or Acoustic waves are a visual representation of the vibration in the air caused by sound.
This tattoo design shows a large-scale soundwave surrounded by a splattering design. Though the original design has splatters around and behind the soundwave, this can be customized to the soundwave of your favorite song or recording for a more personalized touch.
Because it is a large piece, this tattoo design would look best on large surface areas such as the back or the chest.
Vintage Recording Mic Tattoo
This design includes musical equipment such as a pop filter, a guitar, and a recording microphone, which can usually be seen in a recording studio.
The tattoo is then personalized by adding a name on the bottom of a polaroid.
This well-sized statement piece looks best on parts of the body with a larger surface area, such as the back, the chest, arms, legs, etc.
Botanical Piano Tattoo
There is no doubt that pianos are beautiful and majestic.
This tattoo design emphasizes the femininity and regality of a piano by embellishing the basic piano art with abstract flowers and minimal shadows. Its wide and intricate design will look best when placed on the back.
Music Tattoo Ideas for Partners
Getting matching tattoos can be one of the most romantic ways to express your love for your partner, siblings, or best friends. The primary reason tattoo fanatics get matching tattoos is to impart a sense of togetherness or to commemorate something or someone important for them.
“When a couple gets the same tattoo, or even when an individual gets a tattoo that is a marker of the relationship, they’re essentially saying ‘This is an important relationship for me,’” – Viren Swami, Prof. of Social Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University.
If you’re thinking about getting some matching tattoos with your partner, siblings, or best friends, here are some ideas you can use for inspiration.
Music for two hearts ring tattoo
This is a rather distinctive and creative couple tattoo that shows how much you both love music. If you’re looking at the smiley faces, they’re not actual smiley faces. It’s the smart placement of notes in this tattoo design that makes the tattoos resemble smiley faces.
A couple connected by music tattoo
This tattoo is a perfect choice for a couple who has a favorite romantic song – especially if that favorite song is the Beatles’ All You Need is Love. The song has perfect lyrics for a couple: “All you need is love” and “Love is all you need.”
This tattoo style is also striking since it combines musical notes and lyrics, adding an aesthetic value. You can, of course, use a different song that’s more relatable to you and just keep the idea.
Matching Music Festival Tattoo
If you and your partner happened to meet or had a significant event at a music festival, then this tattoo design is perfect for you. Though the original design has the ACL Music Festival, it is customizable to your specific music festival.
Dated Sound Wave Tattoo
If there’s a special moment or occasion you wish to celebrate as a couple, this tattoo design is the way to go! You can personalize this to use a specific soundwave –perhaps of a favorite song or a sentimental audio clip as well as a specific date.
Its minimalistic and simple design makes the tattoo’s symbolism private enough so that only the couple knows the meaning behind it, unless, of course, they share it with others.
Soundwave Line Art Tattoo
This tattoo is a great way for couples to show their love for each other in a modest way.
Though the original piece was of a woman’s parents saying “I Love You”, this can be customized to a couple and their own phrase. Its minimalistic design is easy to hide and easy to show off (when you want to) and can be placed anywhere on the body.
Instrument Tattoos for Musicians
If you’re a musician who’s in love with a specific instrument, you may want to have it inked on your body as a memento and to express your passion. Here are some fantastic instrument tattoo ideas you can use as inspiration:
Colorful guitar tattoo
The guitar is a powerful instrument that can breathe life and add colors to a song. If you’re a guitar player, this vibrant tattoo can help you express the colors and passion of your soul. The multiple colors used in the tattoo while giving it an electric vibe also represent the many ways you can play guitars.
Hand-poked French horn
The hand-poked French horn design is a pretty tattoo novel idea to express your true love for the instrument deep within your soul. A hand-poked tattoo is done by hands – meaning the artist gets more control and therefore can deliver more detailed results.
It doesn’t have to be a french horn, though. You can use other instruments with the same hand-poked concept to convey a similar meaning. The example above is an ankle tattoo, but it looks good on the forearm and biceps too!
Watercolor drum tattoo
Tattoos mimicking the watercolor art style have been around for a while now but continue to remain a trend even today. So, why not combine this trend with your favorite instrument? One beautiful sample of this is the watercolor drum tattoo from Bink Tattoo Shop.
This tattoo combines the whimsicality of a watercolor tattoo, constellations, and your favorite instrument. And, it can be great on the back, or the arms too!
Body as the guitar
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box tattoo idea, this backpiece is not one to ignore.
Using the body shape as the guitar’s body is creative thinking at its finest. Since this design uses the entire back, it may take several sessions to complete – but its uniqueness is worth it.
Instruments don’t always have to be the ones you hold with your hands. Your voice can also be your instrument of choice.
A microphone tattoo is a terrific way to express your love for your voice – both literally and metaphorically (as a statement to your inner power). Proudly inking a microphone to your body will let people know that you can sing and speak your mind.
As far as music-related tattoos go, inking song lyrics to your body is probably the most personal approach. There may be songs that helped you get through tough times or bring you home to your childhood memories – and it’s fair that you want to get the lyrics etched into your skin.
Here are several lyric tattoo ideas for your inspiration:
Among the many reasons The Scientist became one of Coldplay’s most iconic songs is how relatable the lyrics are. The lyrics to The Scientist tell a story about a person who wishes to go back in time and start things over with someone special.
If you’ve shared the same sentiments, getting this infamous lyric inked on your body is a solid reminder to always be in touch with your loved ones and never to take relationships for granted.
“We can be heroes” is a powerful phrase that has arguably eternalized David Bowie’s inspiring career. It’s a great song for anyone who’s taking on and beating the challenges in their lives. Inking the titular phrase to your body is a great way to keep the message etched in your mind, everytime you feel like giving up.
The unique placement of this tattoo beats the popularity of the song it’s taken from. David Gray’s Shine is an underrated song, but it has a beautiful message behind it. If the lyrics to Shine have gotten you through difficult times, this tattoo is worth considering.
The tattoo above ends with a repeat symbol on the music sheet. It could signify that, whenever you’re in doubt, you can always return to the message: “nothing except love in the end” – always do what makes your heart bloom with joy.
Sung by popular rock band Green Day, Good Riddance is all about accepting life with all of its quirks and perks. If you are someone that struggles to understand where life is taking them, this song is a wonderful reminder to let life take its course and go with the flow.
The lyrics, and the surrounding design, can be a reminder to enjoy life and look at it with hope and color.
Brick by Boring Brick
It is common for people to daydream about what their life could be like or should be like, and set expectations of how far they should reach in life. In this song, Paramore talks about how we sometimes dream of escaping our reality and forgetting certain pressing issues in our lives.
Though escapism can occasionally be helpful, often high expectations (without taking stock of facts) can lead to big disappointments.
The lyrics on the tattoo are thus a good reminder to keep on dreaming while keeping our feet grounded in reality.
Album Art Tattoos
We all have a favorite album for our own reasons — it can be an album that changed your life or an album that you just like listening to. If you really love that album, why not have it inked on your body?
How detailed or basic the tattoo will be is dependent on the album art itself. Album art tattoos are usually inked on the arms or legs. Still, you can also get creative with the placement, depending on the design.
Brand New Eyes
Paramore’s third studio album Brand New Eyes is one of their most popular and intimate albums. It talks about their struggles at the time and how they overcame them. It was named “Brand New Eyes” as an allusion to looking at things from a whole new perspective.
Green day is one of the most famous Punk Rock bands globally, with fast-paced, high-energy tracks like “Jesus of Suburbia” to slow, mellow tracks like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. That being said, in one way or another, Green Day has resonated with its listeners through its music.
This tattoo pays tribute to the band’s famous lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong and one of their most famous albums American Idiot, by the iconic red grenade.
Blink-182’s 7th album, California, is a fan favorite. From the comic-style, colorful album cover to the essence of the songs, this album was praised by fans as the band paid homage to almost everything that made the band what it is today.
Whether or not you are a fan of the band, this tattoo design is a cool way to incorporate some color and personality, from its comic-like image to the use of bright colors. The original art was also separated by the two characters, making it easy to place anywhere.
Dark Side of the Moon
Even if you are not familiar with Pink Floyd, the album cover of Dark Side of the Moon is something you might’ve seen once or twice. It is essentially a concept album that talks about the onset of madness or insanity, which can be correlated to the album art with the ‘Moon’ being our mind.
Aside from its relation to the album, this album cover is still a fantastic piece of art that will look good anywhere and can be given different meanings.
The Black Parade
The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance is a concept album that talks about The Patient’s journey to the afterlife, which he is led to by Death – in the form of a parade.
The tattoo design actually derives inspiration from the Vinyl edition of the album, which has a more pronounced image of the marching man. It is a discreet tattoo that doesn’t necessarily give away the album but is apparent to those that know it.
Unique Audiophile Tattoos
If none of the design ideas shared above strikes the right chord with you, you may be into something more uncommon. If that’s the case, take a look at these sophisticated audiophile tattoos:
Spotify Code Tattoo
Ever thought you could use a Spotify code for more than sharing Spotify songs, artists, and playlists?
We’re here to tell you that you can! Inking a Spotify code as a tattoo is an exciting way of integrating the music world and the digital world.
Because a Spotify code is essentially a QR code, it can be scanned by a phone camera and direct you to a specific Spotify playlist. This is a simple and minimal soundwave-like tattoo design that can be easily placed anywhere.
Geometric treble clef
This tattoo design is a dramatic iteration of the ever-so-popular treble clef tattoo. It’s a perfect blend between the cursive shape of a treble clef and straight lines often found in geometric shapes. Aside from the aesthetics, there can be different interpretations, such as how music is everywhere or simply going where the music takes you.
The soundwave tattoo design combines three elements: audio wave, geometric shapes, and gradation. You can use the sound wave of your favorite song to add a personal meaning behind the ink.
Vinyl and sound wave
Vinyl is the single most iconic item that virtually any audiophile will relate to – and getting a tattoo of vinyl is a no-brainer if your life revolves around music. But since vinyl tattoos are already everywhere, the addition of sound waves is a brilliant take to add to this already prominent design.
Depending on which one you like best, you can also replace the vinyl with a cassette or gramophone.
Tribal Mandala Treble Clef
The Treble Clef is a tool used musicians use to notate in music sheets pitches above middle C. It is also known as the G clef because it starts on the note G of the staff.
This tattoo design, however, has incorporated the G clef not in a staff, but in a tribal-inspired mandala.
Talk about a heady fusion of musical notes and ancient spiritual tradition! What’s not to like about it?
Headphone Tattoo Ideas
As one of the universal symbols of music, headphones are common subjects of music tattoos. These can appear in many shapes and sizes and add a distinctive edge to your tattoo.
Headphones can also be easily paired with texts or other objects such as skulls and hearts. You can even ask the artist to ink your favorite pair of headphones.
Worn by truly eccentric and bold tattoo enthusiasts, the geometric tattoo is a trinity of symmetry, power, and cohesiveness.
This geometric headphone tattoo design uses multiple art styles, from geometric to line art to realism, and most importantly, headphones as the main component.
To top it off, the splashes of blue and other minute details truly bring attention to the various elements melded together.
There is no doubt that good headphones change your experience with music. This tattoo design emphasizes a headphone’s importance in a music lover’s musical journey – all by the use of a calligraphy quote. It is a relatively simple design that would go well on the arms or legs.
Trash Art Headphones
This music tattoo design is focused solely on the headphones, but is made unique with the eccentric art style and bold red color. Its slashed and splattered design almost makes it seem like wounds around the headphones. Quite a theatrical tattoo design and fit for those who don’t mind being the center of attention!
Headphones on Skull
This design of a skull wearing headphones is perfect for those who are not scared of dark themes and want a gothic tattoo. The headphones and the skull are inked in a hyper-realistic style for a more serious feel.
The tattoo is then finished with splats of black and red as well as silhouettes of crows for an ominous effect.
A Listening Heart
The heart wants what it wants, and if your heart wants music — this tattoo fully depicts that – loud and clear. The tattoo features a prominently etched red heart with headphones on. Also, you’ll notice that the headphones are plugged into your wrist, which is a minute but cool detail.
Colorful Music Tattoo Ideas
There is beauty in the diversity of music — it can be dark and gloomy, but it can also be colorful and cheerful.
Colorful tattoos emphasize the vibrant side of music by celebrating the industry’s most colorful personalities like Freddie Mercury and Elton John. A lot of color can also be found in albums such as The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and Maroon 5’s Overexposed.
These tattoos will undoubtedly pop in vibrance, so have them inked in a place where people would be able to spot them, such as your neck, arms, or legs.
Here’s a list of our best picks for this category:
Neon Contrast Tattoos
Unlike regular colored inks, neon colors tend to bring a brash and showy sense of life and excitement. And might we say, a dash of rebelliousness as well- against a tattoo palette of primarily blacks, blues, and reds.
For instance, in the picture, the neutral black-and-grey tone of the cassette tape seems to stand out more because of the neon contrast underneath.
Most neon tattoos are made using this method i.e. by pairing primary and secondary colors with neon colors to achieve the illusion of ‘glow’ — which is, often, the main reason why people get these tattoos in the first place.
But if you’re looking to get a glow-in-the-dark tattoo that especially dazzles under a blacklight and gives off a true neon effect, you need to find a tattoo artist who specializes in that kind of tattoo art.
You can pick different colors for the contrast but having neon ink is a great idea. And truly contemporary!
Icons of Rock
Queen, AC/DC, and La Quinta Estacio are some of the greatest bands of all time. This colorful tattoo pays tribute to these legends by infusing elements like thunder and a playing card to represent the bands. All the icons are huddled around a blue electric guitar that symbolizes the spirit of rock and roll.
The Colors of Freddie Mercury
I Want to Break Free is a powerful song about breaking stereotypes and gaining freedom from oppression. This revolutionary song is personified by this tattoo’s design.
It features the artwork of Freddie Mercury in the same attire he used for the song’s music video. And encircling the Queen frontman are the words “I want to break free”.
The Beatles in Color
The original boy band that took the world by storm in the 60s and 70s, the Beatles is iconic in the music industry like no other! Given that they’re a product of the vintage era, you’d find most of their pictures together in black and white.
By using deep blacks and aggressive shadows, this tattoo gives the effect of the image being in greyscale. On the other hand, the tattoo’s colors are gentler and inked in a watercolor style.
Notes bring music to life. This tattoo depicts three bars of a music sheet that you can even customize to feature the notes to your favorite music. The watercolor- style splats at the back of the staff add much-needed color and spontaneity to the design.
Ideal Spots for a Musical Tattoo
There’s no one-spot-fits-all solution for your music tattoo. It all depends on the size, design, and, ultimately, your preference. Not to mention, the amount of potential pain involved as well, depending on the body part you wish to get a tattoo on.
That being said, there are ideal spots for various tattoo sizes and shapes, and here are some of them:
Back of the arm
The back of the arm is a solid place to ink a larger statement tattoo that you want to show off to everyone.
It may not always be visible to you. Still, the ink on the back of your arm will always be visible to others – which is a great personal statement to make when you’re out and about.
The neck is a solid spot for a small and minimalistic tattoo. It’s a subtle yet visible spot suitable for a personal and meaningful ink that you always want to remember.
Behind the ears
Inking small music-inspired tattoos behind your ears can be a great way to express your love for music – especially if you’re otherwise shy and not very vocal about your taste in music.
Also, it’s the body part that we use to enjoy music – it only makes sense to have tattoos around it.
Music tattoos on the wrists are probably the most prominent spot for inks that serve as personal reminders, images, or phrases you want to always remember. The best part is that your wrists are always visible to you, even as you go about your days.
If you want to get a thin and long tattoo, the upper back can be a great spot to enhance the aesthetics. Granted, you won’t be able to see your tattoos that much (unless you’re trying to take a sneak peek in the mirror) – but an upper back tattoo can make you look stunning from behind.
The thighs can make excellent spots for tattoos that you want to keep to yourself or people close to you. It’s also easy to conceal if you ever need to hide your tattoos for any reason.
Your biceps are often the most muscular body parts that you use to carry all sorts of weight. They symbolize a place of strength and reliability. Inking your tattoos on your biceps could add strength to the message you want to convey.
Ultimately, where you want to get a musical tattoo will depend on the design of the tattoo itself, the intention/story behind it, and your threshold for pain.
Having musical tattoos can help you express and let other people know about your passion for music. It is also a lasting way of keeping close to your heart (and skin, literally) things and people that have shaped you throughout life.
Whether you’re a musician, a casual music lover, or a devoted audiophile, music tattoos can be an excellent outlet to eternalize your love for songs, instruments, song lyrics, or anything in between. So, if you’ve been mulling over whether you should get one, don’t overthink it, just go ahead and get one!
Are you planning to get tattoos about music inked on your body? Did you like any of the ideas we shared in this article? Or is there a different design you have in mind? Let us know in the comments.