I wouldn't say that English prefers the definite article: this sentence wotks equally well with or without the. Thanks for the clarification though - it is helpful to know that Swedish does not like to use it.
I think we can safely say that it's actually incorrect to use the definite article in Swedish sentences like this one. If you're playing a specific instrument, we'd always want to add a preposition: Han spelar på trummorna works. (not as a translation here of course)