10 Cheap Instruments to Learn Music

In this guide, we will be discussing 10 cheap instruments that can get you started with learning music.

Several instruments discussed below also have a wealth of online tutorials for free via YouTube and are discussed on helpful instructional websites.

1. Ukulele

ukulele beginners guide

The ukulele is very similar to the guitar based on its appearance, but both instruments differ tremendously from one another, with sound being the primary differentiating factor. Due to being smaller in size and having fewer strings than the guitar, ukuleles are cheaper.

Another major reason behind the price of the ukulele being considerably lower than other instruments is that most of them are crafted in Southeast Asia, where the labor is cheap. The material being used in the manufacturing of the ukulele also plays a significant role in the price.

On the market, beginners may find good quality ukuleles between $50 and $100. Since it is both easy and entertaining to play, you are not going to regret your purchase.

2. Tin Whistle


Shaped like a small flute, the tin whistle is an instrument you can get for a price ranging from $10 to $30.

The reason why tin whistles are this cheap is that they are mass-produced. Nevertheless, we recommend using caution when purchasing a tin whistle since they vary in quality quite a lot.

Tin whistles are also relatively easy to learn, so you ought to be able to master them in no time. Try starting with the D whistle, as it will give you the ability to play in D, G, A, B minor, A minor, and all the other important keys that you need (especially for Irish music).

3. Guitar

Other than various shapes and sizes, guitars come in all sorts of price ranges, starting at a couple of hundred bucks and going up into the thousands.

Typically, cheap guitars are made with inexpensive materials and have a much simpler construction.

Now, there are two common misconceptions about cheap guitars—the first is that they indicate low quality, and the other is that they are incapable of producing good quality sound. This is not entirely true.

While you cannot expect yourself to sound like Jimi Hendrix on a cheap guitar, you certainly can do a good job if you know your music. Make yourself efficient in the skill department, and the melody will follow.

A semi-decent guitar can be found for around $100–150, whereas there are also cheap options for below $100.

4. Harmonica

Among the few good-quality musical instruments you can get for under $50, the harmonica is a great option.

The reason harmonicas are so cheap is that they can generally be made more easily since they do not undergo a complex manufacturing process.

One of the interesting aspects of harmonicas is that they can be played using only your mouth without any involvement of your hands. This makes them a suitable option for physically impaired individuals who wish to learn music.

However, before buying a harmonica, make sure that the reeds are responsive, the harmonica is in tune, and that your mouth and lips are comfortable while holding it. Additionally, we recommend starting with a scale in C since most beginners learn it more easily.

5. Recorder

Recorders are typically manufactured from wood and plastic. When starting out, plastic recorders are a great choice since they normally cost between $15 and $20, and you get to learn the basics quickly.

The cheapest options on the market tend to be made from plastic rather than wood or other more expensive materials. Additionally, the composition is a lot simpler, which influences the price.

The recorder is an easy instrument to learn, and the good thing is that after you master the recorder, you can move on to a more advanced instrument like a clarinet or a saxophone.

6. Ocarina


For beginning musicians, the ocarina is an ideal instrument since it’s easy to learn and doesn’t cost a lot.

Different materials are used in ocarinas, and you’ll find the cheapest ones to be made from plastic and have fewer holes. Plastic ocarinas have the advantages of being durable, light, well-tuned, compact, and cheap (since they have a simple composition).

You can start with the basic plastic ocarina and then move onto a ceramic one.

7. Keyboards

Keyboards are a great option to learn a wide variety of music styles as well as music theory in general.

Keyboards also happen to be one of the most mass-produced instruments. Basic electric keyboards tend to be very affordable.

You can get a good beginner’s keyboard for around $100. The reason why beginner keyboards are cheaper is that they do not include any complex functions and are easy to make.

8. Xylophone

The xylophone is another fun instrument you can try to learn in your free time.

It is made of wood, and the type of wood is one of the most crucial features to consider when purchasing a xylophone because it directly affects the sound quality.

In terms of price, it ranges anywhere from $50 to $150 and even higher, depending upon the type of xylophone you choose.

If you are just starting out, we suggest getting a xylophone with 3½ octaves instead of 6.

9. Bongos

This instrument is essentially a pair of drums joined together. These drums look the same at first glance, but they produce different tones—the smaller drum provides a higher tone, while the larger drum provides a lower tone.

You can expect more affordable bongos for beginners to cost anywhere around $40–90. Such bongos are made out of less expensive hardware and shell materials, which is why the price is considerably lower.

10. Kalimba


Last on our list is the kalimba, which is one of the easiest instruments to learn and best for individuals who wish to learn soft and light music.

You will find kalimbas for beginners available for around $10–30 on the market. Affordable kalimbas can be constructed more easily, thus justifying their lower cost.

As kalimbas do not contain dozens of keys and chords, we find them simpler to play and learn.


This brings us to the end of our guide on 10 cheap instruments to learn music. The instruments were explained in detail, so we hope that cleared up any questions and inquiries you may have had. Playing music doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby; you can start out with cheaper instruments and then invest along the way.

We’d love to know if there’s another instrument you think we’ve missed in the guide. Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Tin Whistle image: by Daniel Fernandez / CC BY-SA

Ocarina image by: 0x010C [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Kalimba image by: The original uploader was 132人目 at Japanese Wikipedia.CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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