What Is The Easiest Instrument To Learn: 10 Easy Instruments To Learn Ranked

We’ve all heard someone shred the guitar or play a beautiful melody on the piano and if you’ve ever picked up a violin with no experience, you’ve probably wondered how on earth they can make such incredible music. It takes a lot of practice to learn an instrument, but some are easier than others.

Listed below are the 10 easiest instruments to learn (and we’re not talking about the triangle or maracas) so you can step into the world of making music, without the frustration of mastering the trumpet.

From strings to percussion and everything in between, there’s an instrument out there for everyone.

easiest instument to learn

1. Ukulele

The ukulele may be an adorable instrument you associate with children and Hawaii, but don’t be fooled, the ukulele can create beautiful music and is played by many renowned musicians all around the world.

The ukulele is essentially a small guitar. Having only four strings and a smaller fretboard, learning and maneuvering chords will take a lot less effort than its larger counterpart the guitar.

brown ukulele on a couch
brown ukulele on a couch.

Teaching yourself the ukulele is also a very affordable task. A decent ukulele will cost you around $100 (or less!) and can be completely self-taught. There is an abundance of tutorials online, from fingerpicking to simple chords. Dedicating half an hour a day to your ukulele practice will have you playing like a pro in no time.

We guarantee you’ll be able to play twinkle twinkle little star by the end of your first day messing around on your ukulele, and you’ll only advance from here.

A plus to learning the ukulele is that your newfound skills will transpire to harder instruments such as the guitar, so if you’ve mastered the ukulele and are ready to tackle something a little tricker, you’ve already got a head start.

2. Keyboard

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. The piano/keyboard isn’t easy. Coordinating both hands and creating masterpieces like Beethoven, that takes years of practise?!

While yes, this is true, the keyboard can still be played by many people with little practice. Coordinating both hands is a tricky task, but you can create incredible music by pressing singular keys and simple chords.

A woman playing a keyboard piano
A woman playing a keyboard piano.

Similar to the ukulele, you can purchase a keyboard for an affordable price, and the bonus of the keyboard is many have the ability to plug in headphones, so only you are able to hear your progress, (so if it takes 100 times to get the chord right, no one else will know or hear!)

While learning and switching chords may take a little longer to learn, you’ll be able to key out ‘Happy Birthday’ with no real effort whatsoever.

While you may not become Beethoven overnight the keyboard is great for your coordination and can be learnt by anyone who’s willing to dedicate some time to learn such a beautiful instrument.

Another bonus about the keyboard is it is nowhere near as large as a piano, yet still gives off the same sound effect and will give you all the skills needed to one day upgrade to a piano.

3. Recorder

This instrument is taught in primary schools for a reason. It’s simple and can be played by anyone, but many children take this up from a young age.

While many may associate the recorder as a child’s instrument, it is most definitely not. The recorder is the greatest instrument gateway into more breath controlled instruments.

A wooden recorder instrument
A wooden recorder instrument.

Playing the recorder doesn’t take much breath work and if this can be mastered, moving onto more intense woodwind instruments will be more simple after knowing the basics of the recorder. If you have dreams of playing the saxophone, don’t put the recorder to the back of your mind too soon, it may just help you.

You’ll be able to pick up a recorder and play something nice in no time, as you learn what sounds is created by what holes are being covered by your fingers.

The recorder has been listed as one of the easiest instruments to learn, hence why they have so many young children take it up in school as they can begin their musical journeys.

4. Drums

If you can hold a beat, you can play the drum kit. If you can’t hold a beat., you can learn! The drum kit takes more coordination than the other instruments mentioned as you’re generally working two hands and a foot at once, but as soon as you have that first simple drum beat down, you’ll quickly progress with your drumming skills, the good thing about the drums is it is repetitive.

You only need to learn one beat and it’ll sound great being played over and over again. Although, we would recommend learning more than one as you may just drive your neighbours insane if you don’t.

A black and white drumset.

A beginner drum kit will be a lot less intimidating than those you see when you’re watching your favourite bands live. All you need is a bass drum, a snare, some tom-toms and a high hat and you’re ready to make music magic.

If drums are too loud for where you live, you’re able to get covers to place over the drum skins to make the drums quieter, or you could consider purchasing an electric drumkit where you can choose the volume you want to play (or wear headphones and drum all night long without a worry in the world about waking up your neighbours).

5. Bass guitar

The bass is a similar size to a regular guitar, but it only has four strings, immediately making it more simple to learn than the guitar.

Another bonus of the bass compared to the guitar is the bass doesn’t tend to involve many chords, it is more single notes, making it much more simple for a beginner to learn and memorise than trying to switch chords correctly. You can choose to play the bass with either your fingers or a pick, depending on which you prefer.

A man playing bass guitar
A man playing the bass guitar.

Be aware though that the bass consists of much thicker strings than the guitar, so it will take more physical effort to press down and pluck the strings.

While it may not be much, you’ll probably notice it when you first start playing with a blister or two or some sore fingers. This will pass the more you play and your fingers grow stronger.

6. The Lyre Harp

The lyre harp is smaller than the regular harp and has nowhere near as many strings. The lyre harp generally only has 7-10 strings as well as being small and portable (a lot less daunting than a regular harp!).

A lyre harp cover of a famous piano piece, “river flows in you.”

Playing the harp consists of a lot of plucking, so while you may not need to remember chords you will need fast-moving fingers to keep the magical sound flowing.

The harp creates a beautiful, tender sound and will be soothing to anyone who chooses to listen. While many people have a guitar sitting in their home, not many have a lyre harp, giving you the opportunity to play for friends and family as they listen to the beauty of your harp.

7. Tambourine

Don’t be fooled by the tambourine, despite being something you hold with one hand and hit with the other, it takes a lot of coordination to get sounding good. Moving your hand at the right speed to get the metal jingles sounding how you want them to as well as hitting the skin of the tambourine to create that percussion sound is going to take some practice to master.

While the act of playing the tambourine is simple and easy to learn, staying in rhythm is a little more tricky. If you fall a second behind or shake one too many times, it will mess up the beat.

A woman playing a blue tambourine.
A woman playing a blue tambourine.

The tambourine comes in different forms, some have skin that you can also hit while others are just the metal jingles that are shaken with precision. Both require the same level of learning involved, so which you choose to play is up to you.

8. The guitar

Now I know we’ve mentioned the guitar as being tricker than other instruments (such as the ukulele and the bass) but it can also be simple to learn. While you’re not going to be a guitar wizard overnight you can learn some musical tricks so you can impress whenever you pick up a guitar.

The guitar can be played in a picking motion similar to the bass or you can learn basic chords. While the guitar is going to take quite a while to master, you should be able to pick up some basic skills with a few online tutorials and not too much effort. Chances are you’ll be able to play the intro to ‘smoke on the water’ within a matter of days.

A guitar on a concert stage
A guitar on a concert stage.

The guitar is a universally loved instrument, and there is an abundance of videos online teaching you exactly how to play. It wouldn’t take much searching to find a teacher in your area if you learn better this way.

You also have the choice between acoustic and electric guitars. We would recommend an acoustic guitar for beginners as the sound travels nicer on its own than an electric guitar Although if you’re looking to turn up the volume, the electric guitar may be for you.

9. The harmonica

Chances are if you pick up a harmonica and blow into it, it will sound decent. You don’t need much skill to make this instrument do its thing, but knowing the right way to move your breath and your hands will definitely help you wow your friends and family.

A woman is going to blow on her harmonica
A woman is going to blow on her harmonica.

One of the pros of the harmonica is its size. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, unlike a keyboard or a drum kit travelling with your harmonica is not going to be a challenge at all.

Wind instruments always bring about a different type of tricky than a hand played instrument, as you need to have your breathing under control, and needing to yawn halfway through playing might sound a little weird coming out of your harmonica!

10. The Bongos

The bongos are the drums but simplified further. Consisting of two drum heads of different sizes (to create different sounds) they’re hit with the hands to create a beat.

A performer playing a bongo in the street
A performer playing the bongo in the street.

If you can play a simple beat or find yourself tapping your pen at your desk you’ll be able to hit out a rhythm on the bongo drums. Bongo drums are also incredibly accessible, it won’t take you long to find some to buy to take home and start practising.

If you’re interested in percussion, the bongo drums are a great place to start as you build up your rhythm.

There is a wide variety of instruments out there, and something to suit everyone. Whether you choose to play a string instrument with your hands, a woodwind instrument with your breath or pick up a pair of sticks and create a delicious beat, there’s something in this list for you. Pick what stands out to you. and get practising. Everyone is capable of creating music, no matter your skill level.

Most instruments are able to learn to be played, although there is a big difference between being able to play basic chords on a guitar and shredding out a 20-minute solo.

If you’re dedicated enough you’ll be able to pick up an instrument and learn the basics, which may eventually turn into great skills.

While the 10 above mentioned instruments will have you feeling gratification sooner as the basics are easy to learn, if you choose to pick up a cello, enough hard work and dedication will have you playing beautifully.

Thankfully we live in an internet heavy world where we have access to everything. Whether you’re after free tutorials on YouTube or looking to book the best teacher in your town, find the way that helps you learn best.

Learning an instrument is a great hobby to have as it challenges your coordination and memory, all while getting to enjoy the sounds you’re creating.

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About Jayden Buckley

Hi, my name is Jayden and I am author/editor for PlayTheTunes. I remember the first time I hopped on the drums, I was hooked. Music has played an enormous part of my life, and I'm honored I get to share my experiences with you!