Whether you’re a child or an adult who has always wanted to learn to play music, you’ll be surprised to discover which are the easiest instruments to learn.
As with any musical instrument, there are varying levels one can aspire to, ranging from at-home novice to full-blown performing professional.
While we hope you discover that you were born to entertain thousands of people, we’ll focus on playing a musical instrument for fun.
Join us as we examine which instruments are the easiest to learn in greater detail.
Table of Contents
Top 10 Easiest Instruments To Learn
We ranked our list of instruments based on how difficult they are to learn, whether you’ll need an instructor and the cost of owning the instrument.
So cue the orchestra and strike up the band as we dive into our list of the top 10 easiest instruments to learn for beginners:
The piano is the most recognizable, readily available, and popular instrument, which makes it one of the easiest to learn.
Another key feature about pianos is that there is one for every budget, even if it means purchasing an inexpensive keyboard.
Upright pianos are the most popular style because they don’t take up much space and are cheaper than grand pianos. However, if you have an unlimited budget and want the best, consider a Bösendorfer grand piano in various sizes.
Unlike most other instruments, a piano is easy to play when creating a note or chord that is in tune and resonates with a good tone. Even if you only use one finger, a beginner can peck out a simple melody the first time.
Lessons will be necessary if you desire to advance into music theory or play some of the most popular music genres, which typically means you’ll need to learn to read sheet music.
A great instructor will be necessary if you’re considering pursuing music professionally or attending college to study music.
Whether your goal is to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or amaze friends with your rendition of a Chopin prelude, the piano or keyboard is a great and easy instrument to learn.
The guitar is another popular instrument in various models, like the six-string acoustic guitar used in folk music, country, pop, and rock.
It is also one of the hardest instruments to learn when considering genres like jazz and classical music that require advanced technique.
Another model is the classical guitar, which looks like an acoustic guitar but has a slightly wider neck and uses nylon strings instead of metal guitar strings. Instead of strumming patterns, players use finger-style techniques to perform classical compositions.
Additionally, there is the flamenco guitar, which is similar to the classical guitar, and the twelve-string guitar. All are used for different music styles and have unique playing techniques and string types.
Last but not least is the electric guitar for those who aspire to be one of the best guitarists of all time, like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, or Jimi Hendrix.
Like the piano, a beginner can pluck a string and successfully play a good tone note. But being able to strum chords or play a Bach composition on a classical guitar will require music lessons, whether with a private instructor or online classes.
Guitars are relatively inexpensive, especially if you consider a used acoustic and electric guitar. Instruments like these are more challenging to play, don’t stay in tune, and are prone to warping.
Whether you decide on a used or new guitar, always go with a reputable manufacturer and not knock-off brands you’ll find in discount stores.
The most challenging aspect of learning to play the guitar will be getting your fingers accustomed to fretting the notes.
Initially, the experience will be painful because you haven’t built up calluses, but continued practice with proper technique will have you on your way to making music.
Whether you want to sing songs around a campfire, write songs, or rock out with some friends in a band, the guitar is a beautiful and relatively easy instrument to learn how to play.
8. Bass Guitar
The electric bass guitar is an ideal instrument for children and adults and, more recently, has become the instrument of choice for many women. With a lot of practice and luck, you may become one of the best bassists of all time, like Carol Kaye or James Jamerson.
When selecting an electric bass guitar, you’ll find a variety of models, like an eight, six, and five-string model, but our focus will be on the four-string type.
Like all stringed instruments with frets, the bass guitar is easy to play initially since a plucked or picked string will create a well-sounding note. One’s expertise on the bass will depend on natural talent, devotion to practice, and learning from seasoned players.
If you’re young or have shorter arms, the standard four-string bass may be too big, so look into shorter-scale versions that will make learning to play more enjoyable.
One of the perks of playing the bass is that every music genre needs a bassist, and since most people play guitar and piano, bands are always looking for a good bass player.
There are only four strings on the bass, which makes the instrument easy to learn, especially for bluegrass, folk, and simple pop songs. Like the guitar, beginners need to build up callouses on their fingertips since pressing down the larger strings takes finesse.
But don’t let the simplicity of the bass lull you into thinking that you can’t play a few simple chords or explore percussion-like slapping techniques. For these advanced skills, you’ll need an instructor or check out online courses.
For all these reasons, the bass guitar is an easy musical instrument for children and adults to learn to play.
The xylophone is a percussion instrument with wooden plates that are struck with a mallet to create a distinctly bright wood tone.
You can hear a xylophone on the song “Under My Thumb,” recorded by one of the best rock bands of the ’60s, The Rolling Stones.
Like all of the easiest instruments to learn, a beginner can instantly produce accurate pitched notes on the xylophone. And since you’re striking the plates with mallets, fingers don’t need callouses like you would playing bass or guitar.
Xylophones are not too expensive, which is also appealing to young and older musicians alike. While taking lessons isn’t necessary when starting, you will need an instructor if you want to take your xylophone playing to the next level.
The xylophone has a variety of uses, ranging from adding percussion notes to a song to being a solo instrument playing chords or a melody.
While finding a used xylophone will be tougher to source than most popular instruments, it is nonetheless easy to learn to play.
One of the least expensive instruments on our list is the harmonica, which was invented in the 19th century.
Also called a “mouth harp,” you make music on a harmonica by blowing out and in through the openings on one side.
More advanced players can add vibrato and slide notes by lightly wiggling the harmonica while sustaining a note.
Harmonicas are manufactured in set musical keys like C or A, so if you plan on performing with a band, purchase one that is in the correct key. Also, manufacturers sell harmonicas in a set of seven to cover the various keys used in blues and rock music.
While many harmonica players enjoy playing in solitude, the instrument has been featured by some of the best musicians of all time, like The Beatles, on their hit song, “Love Me Do.”
Another reason the harmonica is an easy instrument to learn is beginners can instantly make a musical note by blowing through the instrument. The harmonica is limited to one note, unlike the piano, guitar, and bass, where you can play a chord.
If you want to advance and play blues or jazz like Toots Thielemans, you’ll need lessons from an experienced player. While there may not be a local teacher, there are plenty of tips and classes you can find online that will help.
With its soulful sound, low price, and ability to play in many music genres, the harmonica is one of the best musical instruments that is easy to learn.
The ukulele, also called a Uke, is a four-string instrument that the Portuguese introduced to Hawaii and made popular.
Its smaller size is perfect for children or adults with shorter arms, and the nylon strings aren’t as rough on fingers as acoustic guitar steel strings.
While you can play single-note melodies, most ukulele players strum and play chords. An excellent example of this is one of the best happy songs of all time, “Hey, Soul Sister,” which features the ukulele playing the chords instead of a guitar or keyboard.
Another advantage of learning to play the ukulele is that the chords and scales translate to the guitar, making it a great stepping-stone to other musical genres.
The Uke’s most appealing aspect is its warm tone, making you and your audience smile as you strum happy-go-lucky songs.
Like the other stringed instruments we have discussed, prices for a ukulele vary but keep in mind that cheaper instruments are more difficult to stay in tune than a higher-priced musical instrument.
The ukulele has regained popularity because it has been featured on many pop hits, is not too expensive, and is an easy instrument to learn to play.
The recorder is a wind instrument you play like a clarinet with drilled holes on its top that you cover or uncover with fingers to create notes. The cheapest models are made of plastic, while the more versatile and pricey instruments are made of wood.
Recorders come in different sizes, like the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, and each sound notes in different musical registers. Many elementary schools introduce children to music with a plastic soprano recorder because it is an easy instrument to learn.
While the plastic recorder is inexpensive, it also has a shrill tone than a wooden recorder. Many recorder musicians suggest that beginners start with a plastic alto instrument because it has a mellower tone.
Wooden recorders jump significantly in price, but the payoff is that the tone is superior to that of a plastic model.
A prime example of such tonality can be found on one of the best-selling albums of all time, Led Zeppelin IV, where the wooden recorder shines with beauty on their iconic hit, “Stairway to Heaven.”
Although it will take time to learn how to create different notes on a recorder, it is an easy instrument that children and adults can learn quickly.
3. Bongo Drums
Bongo drums are small Afro-Cuban percussion instruments held between your knees or mounted on a stand.
Players strike the top of the open-bottom drum heads with their fingers and hands to add an accent in music that is distinct and unique in tone.
During the 50s, bongo drums were used by Beatniks when reciting anti-materialism poems. Marvin Gaye, one of the best singers of all time, used bongo drums on his song “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).”
While bongo drums are not as expensive as pianos and guitars, the price may deter some aspiring musicians. And because it’s not as popular an instrument, it may be challenging to find used bongos.
Children and adults will be thrilled to play along to one of their favorite songs and tap out rhythms on their bongo drums.
Like all percussion instruments, beginners can make music immediately and with no training, which is why bongo drums are one of our top picks for the easiest musical instruments to learn.
Tambourines are round, made of wood, have a drum head, and feature metal jingles. Other models are plastic, have a grip for easier handling, and don’t have a covered head.
In Latin, jazz, rock, pop, and symphonic music, the tambourine is used worldwide for its unique sounds and ability to add accents to embellish the music.
A great example is an interlude in music when the musician showcases the tambourine’s diverse sounds and stylistic grooves.
Unlike other instruments, beginners can make drum-like sounds on the tambourine by tapping the covered head or shaking it to make the jingles, well, jingle.
For these reasons, preschool and kindergarten music teachers use the tambourine to teach students how to keep steady beats and add accents to a song.
If you’re an aspiring musician who aims to play in a concert or symphonic band, you’ll need lessons to master complex techniques.
Tambourines are an easy instrument to learn, inexpensive, and used in many styles of music worldwide, making them appealing to aspiring musicians, young and old.
The autoharp was invented in 1882 and is more akin to zither instruments than to the harp used in symphonic and classical music.
The autoharp can be held in one arm and strummed with the free arm, making this instrument ideal for children or adults who want to play music immediately.
Players use strumming patterns over the strings with a pick or fingers while the other hand presses buttons that form chords.
School teachers with little music background often use the autoharp to teach children songs, and it has been used on studio albums by some of the best bands of all time, like The Rolling Stones.
The instrument is also popular in bluegrass and folk music and is much easier to play because it has buttons to press to create instant chords, unlike the zither.
The autoharp isn’t the most popular instrument, so finding a used model may be challenging, but even a new instrument is relatively inexpensive compared to other musical instruments.
One challenge of owning an autoharp is tuning and replacing the 36 strings yourself or having a professional service the instrument. But since strings can last anywhere from one to three years, this shouldn’t deter playing this instrument.
Despite this challenge, we have chosen the autoharp as the easiest instrument to learn because anyone can immediately make music by playing a few simple chords.
Learning to play a musical instrument is something that children and adults can do, and with our list to pick from, you’ll find an instrument that best suits your needs.
You may prefer the tambourine because it’s inexpensive and easy to play, or perhaps you’ll want a keyboard with built-in sounds and drum beats.
Whether your musical goal is to pursue a professional career or enjoy music for pleasure, playing an instrument is fun, easy to learn, and rewarding.
What’s the easiest instrument to learn, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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