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The 10 Most Popular Instruments In The World



Most Popular Instruments

Choosing one of the most popular instruments in the world could be the start of a journey that leads to a lifelong passion for music.

But just because an instrument is popular across the world doesn’t mean that it’s right for your temperament, creativity, or self-expression.

The world of music offers a multitude of melodic possibilities, and selecting the right instrument is a thrilling challenge – as you’re about to find out.


The 10 Most Popular Instruments In The World

Whether you’re a budding musician embarking on your music journey or looking for the most popular instruments for your child, here’s what you need to know.

We’ve based our ranking of the following musical instruments on the number of people who play them as well as on how difficult they are to learn.

Let’s dive into our list of the ten most popular instruments in the world:


10. Recorder

The recorder is a great instrument, but not what you might expect to find on a list of the most popular musical instruments in the world.

However, it is a member of the woodwind family and is one of the most accessible and popular instruments for children and young musicians.

The recorder is first encountered by most young people at school, as it is one of the easiest instruments to play and learn.

The simple design includes a detachable mouthpiece, making it easy to clean, especially when removing spit that collects inside.

Finger holes on the soprano or descant recorder are ideal for children’s small hands, allowing them to easily cover the holes, creating a clear note.

With a history dating back to medieval times, there is a tremendous amount of music across various genres to keep one’s interest.

Recorders are the ideal instrument for elementary school music programs, offering a versatile and affordable option.

Once the recorder is mastered, musicians can move on to more difficult woodwind instruments or try something completely new.


9. Cello

Yo-Yo Ma is probably one of the world’s most popular and well-known cellists, having started performing at age 5.

His talent and personality have helped elevate the cello as a desirable musical instrument in the public eye, driving its popularity.

The cello is played solo and in classical ensembles with other instruments, providing rich, mellow tones in modern compositions and chamber music.

Producing rich tones that provide the basis for much of the world’s classical music, cellos are slightly larger stringed instruments than violins and violas.

Cellos were initially constructed of wood, but recent developments in electronics have opened up the options for a range of modern electric cellos.

The cello’s deep, resonant tones add emotional depth to compositions, making it a sought-after choice in movie soundtracks and contemporary genres.

Its adaptability spans centuries of musical evolution, enabling cellists to play everything from baroque and romantic to modern musical scores.

If you’re looking for a versatile instrument that allows you to play any genre, from classical to rock, the cello is a perfect choice.


8. Flute

The flute is found across cultures and is, historically, one of the oldest musical instruments, offering musicians an affordable and portable instrument.

It doesn’t take long to master the flute, making it one of the more accessible and popular musical instruments for novice musicians.

Both children and adults find the flute a relaxing and enjoyable instrument to play, offering opportunities for ensemble and solo performances.

It is the perfect entry point for children and adults looking for an alternative beginner instrument to the more traditional recorder.

There are thousands of playlists in a variety of music genres for flute on Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, and other popular music websites.

You’ve got choices from classical music composer Johan Sebastian Bach to the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and even Lizzo playing jazz music on her flute.

Mastering the flute can take years, but even average players can entertain themselves and their families after a few months of practice.

So, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Peter Gabriel, Lizzo, and the 70s band Chicago, go and grab a Yamaha flute and start blowing.


7. Trumpet

Brass bands, jazz bands, marching bands, and orchestras worldwide allow musicians to make music with the trumpet.

The trumpet is relatively easy to learn, and most players are introduced to the instrument in school orchestras and as part of marching bands.

A brass instrument like a trumpet is relatively inexpensive, with secondhand instruments providing excellent value for both the novice and experienced player.

To produce a note, you’ll learn to buzz your lips into the mouthpiece and depress the three valves for the 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

It might sound tricky initially, but after a few weeks of practice, you can play simple songs without too much effort.

The lower notes are much easier to produce than the high ones, which only experienced players can do accurately.

But this doesn’t mean you cannot quickly get the hang of the instrument and create a pleasing, melodic tune.

So don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right – you may be the next Louis Armstrong.


6. Saxophone

Kenny G popularized the saxophone in the mid-1980s with his fourth album, Duotones, creating a sensation that carried through to the 1990s and beyond.

For jazz lovers, though, the saxophone has cemented its place in the heart and soul of every musician with its smooth, velvety tones.

It’s hard to imagine Jazz without the saxophone’s expressive qualities, but these extend to other authentic music genres, providing elegance and emotion to many compositions.

It is recommended by music experts that children wait until they reach about 9 or 10 years old before trying out the saxophone.

Unlike brass instruments, younger children are generally not tall enough to hold the weight and bulk of an alto or soprano saxophone.

Beginner saxophones weigh between 2 and 4 pounds and are about 2 feet long, with the instrument suspended from the player’s neck.

Aside from jazz, saxophones are used in a wide range of music, from classical orchestras and ensembles to marching bands and pop bands.

If you want to try the saxophone, start with the soprano or alto sax before moving to the more prominent tenor, baritone, and bass instruments.


5. Clarinet

The clarinet has been one of the most popular musical instruments since it was invented in the early 1700s, proving popular with many musicians.

Students are attracted to its warm, robust tones, unique to woodwind instruments used as solo instruments and in ensembles and orchestras.

Children as young as 10 are encouraged to try the instrument, as its distinctive sound is famous across a range of music genres.

While clarinets can be expensive, plenty of second-hand instruments are available that are affordable and in great condition.

Beginners usually start with the B flat clarinet, also called the soprano clarinet, and progress to larger musical instruments in various keys.

The sound is made by blowing through a reed in the mouthpiece, which vibrates, producing the notes, which is then changed using a combination of keys.

Websites like Deezer, Spotify, and iTunes offer music lovers a wide variety of clarinet music, from well-known classics to modern-day pop music songs.

If you want to join celebrity clarinetists like Julia Roberts, Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria, and Woody Allen, who enjoy this unique instrument, now’s your chance.


4. Violin

Unsurprisingly, we rate the violin in fourth place on our musical instruments lists due in part to its centuries-long popularity.

Violins come in various shapes and sizes, with modern electronic instruments used by stars like Lindsey Stirling to significant effect.

Children are encouraged to try traditional wooden violin from a young age, and once they have a solid foundation, they can move on to electronic versions.

While learning violin is best started with in-person lessons, numerous online violin courses are hosted by some music greats like Itzhak Perlman.

The violin requires excellent talent, which is only accomplished through hours of practice – think simple melodies like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

While children can do this without embarrassment, beginner adults may struggle to suppress their frustration when learning these basic songs.

If you can keep up the practice, you’ll move on to more advanced music and stop sounding like you’re strangling a cat.


3. Drums

Playing the drums in a rock music band is the fantasy of many music fans, especially if they struggle to learn other musical instruments.

However, while it may look easy, drummers need an excellent grasp of rhythm, a keen ear, and good hand-eye coordination.

The major obstacle to learning percussion instruments is sharing your space with family and neighbours – who may not appreciate your efforts.

This problem is now less of an issue with the advent of electric drum kits that provide a quieter alternative to traditional drums and cymbals.

Learning to play drums takes 3 to 4 months for the basics, with 2-3 months of practice before you can play along to the music.

If you aim to play in a band, you’ll need at least three years of practice to master the skills required to accompany other musicians.

But if you don’t want to learn the drums, you could always use beat-making software to provide the rhythm for your songs.


2. Guitar

Our second most popular musical instruments worldwide are electric and acoustic guitars in many styles, formats, and sizes.

The electric guitar enjoys iconic status in the eyes of rock, pop, and jazz lovers, with many fans citing their favorite guitarists as their inspiration.

The acoustic, bass and electric guitars are affordable and accessible to pick up, providing the impetus to embark on your musical journey.

The acoustic guitar is one of the few instruments that you can pick up and learn chords and strumming patterns in as little as a few weeks.

Beginners can learn to play songs quickly, and young children can play recognizable tunes within the first month or two.

Once you’ve learned the basics, you can try a bass guitar, focus on acoustic guitars or learn to play an electric guitar.

Yamaha produces reasonably priced guitars aimed at beginners, while electric guitars manufactured by Kadence and Fender produce great sound.

You’re never too old to learn to play guitar, especially if you’ve always wanted to play musical instruments but never got up the nerve.


1. Piano

Our top spot goes to the most popular musical instrument globally – the piano, with its 88 keys providing a versatile and captivating sound.

The piano is one of the hardest instruments to play and learn, with over 10,000 moving parts and over 12,000 components.

This hasn’t deterred people from trying, and it’s estimated that more than 18 million Americans own or have access to a piano or keyboard.

Children as young as 6 years old are capable of learning to play the piano, and the finger control and skill required provide many benefits.

It takes years of dedicated practice to reach an acceptable level playing classical and jazz music, with graded exams in practice and theory marking the way.

Learning to play this musical instrument well is a lifelong endeavour, with very few musicians ever reaching the heights of professional status.

However, reaching an excellent level sufficient to allow you to play popular music reasonably quickly is possible.

Whether you wish to play music on an electronic keyboard or a bay grand, learning the piano is a fulfilling and enjoyable pastime.



Each of the most popular musical instruments mentioned above holds the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Your choice of instrument will determine which type of music you can create, with the piano being the most versatile and far-reaching.

Music is for everyone, so don’t delay selecting an instrument – try one out, and you may find that you have the key to your musical aspirations.

Have we left out your favorite instrument? Leave a comment below. 

Mike's the guy behind Audio Captain. He's a qualified sound engineer and self-confessed music nut who's passionate about electronic dance music. When he's not writing about music, you'll find him in the gym or working on his next EDM track in Logic Pro.

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