10 Small Instruments That Are Portable and Compact

Small instruments are great for traveling or for those that don’t have much extra space in their home. No matter their size, you can still get a great sound and learning experience even from smaller instruments.

In this guide, we have compiled a list of our favorite small instruments you can get your hands on. Let’s jump right in!

1. Ukulele

types of ukulele

Hearing the sound of a ukulele can instantly make you feel warm inside. We adore them, and they never go out of fashion.

While there are a hundred different things about ukuleles worth obsessing over, we will try to stick to the basic ones.

First of all, they are compact enough to fit almost any travel bag or compartment (if you are looking to get one for your home). Typically, portable ukuleles weigh only around a pound and a half.

With basic chords that are easy to learn but still able to produce more complex sounds, ukuleles are the perfect instrument for both beginners and professionals!

2. Travel Guitars


Most travel guitars come in a ¾-size body, and while that may make them look like a kid’s guitar, don’t let that put you off. A good travel guitar’s sound is typically comparable to a full-sized one, despite its small size.

If you are after quality and portability and do not mind odd shapes, you might want to have a look at the Martin Steel-String Backpacker Travel Guitar.

You can also consider getting carbon fiber guitars as they can be disassembled and folded into a regular bag, which will take up far less space if that is a concern.

3. Harmonica

And how can we forget this underrated pocket-sized instrument?

The one thing we absolutely love about harmonicas (apart from the soulful melody) is their portability. These are some of the few instruments that don’t require any special bags. You can keep them in your pocket just like your wallet.

Furthermore, you can play the harmonica without using your hands at all. So if you’re driving long distances, play the harmonica to make your journey easier!

4. Flute

From mellow classical music to rap tracks, the flute is versatile enough to accompany any genre and take the melody to another level.

When it comes to flutes, you can find them in all sizes. If you are looking for a portable one, there definitely are a lot of options available on the market.

You can expect a flute to weigh approximately 18.09oz, and while it can be easily slipped into any bag, we recommend taking precautions with its storage and buying a special case for it. Most flutes are going to last a long time, but only if you take good care of them.

5. Recorder

Since recorders are simple woodwind instruments, they come in various sizes, and even the smallest will fit into your pocket. A good thing about the recorders is that they do not require frequent maintenance, so they are likely to stand the test of time.

In case you are a frequent traveler, we recommend a smaller-sized recorder because it will be less heavy.

6. Ocarina


Made out of clay, the ocarina is not just fun to play with, but it’s also easy on the eyes—it can also be used as a decorative item in the house!

They come in different shapes and sizes and can have anywhere between 4 to 12 holes. You can expect the weight of the ocarina to be around 150 grams. Depending upon the size, they can easily fit in your backpack. In case you have some free time on your hands, you can also try making one yourself!

7. Kalimba


The kalimba is based on the design of an old African instrument called the mbira.

Designed as a little box-like instrument, it produces very pleasant sounds that are made for listening on bright sunny days.

Kalimbas come in different shapes and sizes, so you can expect the weight to range between 2 ounces to 2.2 pounds. You can choose models with protective cases, but remember that those will add to the overall weight.

8. Pan Flute


The pan flute is another favorite of ours to play by the campfire.

The pan flute is usually made out of bamboo, and since you’re most likely looking for something you can take on the go, we recommend getting a smaller-sized one. The weight of the pan flute depends upon its size.

You can even try to create a DIY pan flute if you are feeling crafty!

9. Concertina

The concertina has an amazingly rich sound, and it is somewhat similar to an accordion. However, it’s difficult to get a high-quality one without paying a decent amount of money. That said, there are some mass-produced ones from some Chinese brands at affordable prices if you do want to get started with one without breaking the bank.

10. Mandolin

A mandolin’s pitch is higher than the guitar’s, making it all the more charming.

Mandolins already have relatively smaller sizes, so a regular-sized one should fit the bill. If you are going to be on the move often, you might want to consider a mandolin case, since you do not want to damage the instrument.


We have reached the end of our guide on the 10 small instruments that are portable and compact! Whether you want to take one on the road, or you just want an instrument that’s not going to take up too much space, we hope this article has helped you learn something new.

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

Concertina image by: ウィキ太郎(Wiki Taro), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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