15 Cheap Instruments to Learn Music

There are easy and affordable instruments for everyone to try. It can be a great way to add rhythm and sound to any musical composition. There are many different types of easy-to-learn instruments that are also easy to find, purchase, and play.

In this guide, I will be discussing 15 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. As opposed to a guitar which has 6 strings, the ukulele has 4 strings and has a different tuning.

Price and Difficulty Level

Due to being smaller in size and having fewer strings than the guitar, ukuleles are cheaper. The 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.

As far as difficulty, the ukulele is considered an easy instrument to learn, easier than the guitar at least. With fewer strings at your disposal, it would be moderately easy to learn this instrument. The chords are easier to comprehend than on the guitar and that says a lot, considering the number of guitarists in the world.

2. Tin Whistle


The tin whistle is a flute-shaped wind instrument that comprises 6 cylindrical holes and a mouthpiece in which you blow to produce sounds.

Price and Difficulty Level

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, I 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

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument with 6 strings and is the most commonly used instrument in the world. With a rich history and frequent use, the guitar is a well-known instrument that most of us are already familiar with.

Price and Difficulty Level

Guitars come in all sorts of price ranges, starting at a couple of hundred bucks and going up into the thousands. A semi-decent guitar can be found for around $100–150, whereas there are also cheap options for below $100.

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. Start with basic chords and scales and progress accordingly, at a moderate pace.

4. Harmonica

The harmonica is a reed wind instrument used all around the world. Played by blowing through the holes, the harmonica produces very cool and vintage sounds. Among the few good-quality musical instruments you can get, a harmonica is a great option.

Price and Difficulty Level

The reason harmonicas are so cheap is that they can generally be made more easily since they do not undergo a complex manufacturing process. You can find harmonicas for around $50. As far as difficulty, it may seem daunting but with a little practice, any beginner can get the hang of it.

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

The recorder is a woodwind instrument that most likely all of us know already. It has seven holes, three for one hand and four for the other hand. It produces sound by blowing through a mouthpiece and closing different holes to produce different tones.

Price and Difficulty Level

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 (check out our list of easy songs on recorder), 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


When on the topic of wind instruments, the Ocarina is probably one most people aren’t familiar with. It comprises four to twelve holes and a mouthpiece through which using wind you can produce beautiful sounds.

Price and Difficulty Level

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 find decent Ocarinas for under $50, usually $20-30.

For beginning musicians, the ocarina is an ideal instrument since it’s easy to learn and doesn’t cost a lot. You can start with the basic plastic ocarina and then move on to a ceramic one.

7. Keyboards

The compact version of the piano is the Keyboard. Filled with great versatility and fun, the keyboard is a very well-known and highly-used instrument worldwide.

Price and Difficulty Level

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. It’s moderately easy to learn if you start with the basics and slowly move up the ladder.

8. Xylophone

The xylophone is another fun instrument you can try to learn in your free time. The xylophone is a percussion instrument that is played with mallets and produces warm and great-sounding notes. The notes are arranged in a similar fashion to that of the piano.

Price and Difficulty Level

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, I suggest getting a xylophone with 3½ octaves instead of 6. That way you have a much easier time learning the instrument as trying out a larger xylophone is harder and thus will ultimately discourage you. Take it step-by-step and any beginner will have a great time learning it.

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.

Price and Difficulty Level

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.

As far as difficulty, any beginner with a little natural rhythm can get a hang of the bongos within an hour. To truly have a good knowledge of the bongos will require some practice but overall it is a very easy and beginner-friendly instrument to take up.

10. Kalimba

The kalimba is an African idiophone and is one of the cheapest and most fun instruments to learn. With a very small body, this instrument can produce a variety of sounds and can recreate some of the most memorable musical pieces out there with style.

Price and Difficulty Level

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. The kalimba is one of the easiest instruments to learn and the best for individuals who wish to learn soft and light music. Not to mention the fact that there are dozens of tutorial videos on YouTube to help you fill your repertoire.

11. Didgeridoo

The didgeridoo is a cylindrical/conical wind instrument that originated from the aborigines in Australia. It has a long history and a rich one at that. It can range from three to ten feet in length and the longer the didgeridoo the lower its pitch.

Price and Difficulty Level

The price is modest as you can find various didgeridoos on the market even below $50. The price will depend on the length and the material of the instrument. Choosing the right one will be of a personal preference.

The difficulty level is moderately easy as with a regular flute or recorder. You vibrate your lips to produce sound, however, the breathing technique can be difficult at first. The better you are at storing your breath while compressing air at the same time, the longer you can hold a note.

12. Maracas

The maracas are a rattle of sorts of Brazilian descent. They are sometimes called shakers and are very common in Latin music. If you’ve heard a shaking background sound, most likely it was from the maracas as they are very popular.

Price and Difficulty Level

The price is very low for these instruments, depending on the quality of the material, of course. You can find maracas for as low as around $10. With more quality ones that can be around $50. Depending on your needs, I’d say you would not need to buy more expensive ones as there are decent quality maracas for a low price.

The difficulty level of the maracas is incredibly easy if I might say. All you would need is a good sense of rhythm to be able to shake these and keep a solid beat. They are accompanying instruments and, therefore, are very easy to play.

13. Tambourine

The tambourine is a very well-known instrument from the percussion family. It is usually made from wood or plastic. While you might have seen tambourines without a head, the more popular ones do not have a head. Both are with metal jingles incorporated for a shaking and jingling sound.

Price and Difficulty Level

These are extremely cheap instruments with a regular price of around $10. You can easily find them on Amazon in different sizes and shapes. You can find more expensive ones with better material, assuming you need it for more professional use.

The tambourine is quite easy to play, depending on whether or not it has a head, playing it consists of shaking and striking it with the palm of your hand. A good rhythm is all you need in order to play it correctly, and depending on the head, you can hit the rim or the head (if it has one).

14. Melodica

The melodica is a very interesting instrument. It is a free-reed instrument but with a musical keyboard. They are small instruments, very compact, and portable for on-the-go if needed. Their history dates back to the 1950s.

Price and Difficulty Level

There are melodicas for under $100, with the most common beginner ones below $50. It is affordable and makes for an interesting instrument to take up and master. The price will vary, depending on if the melodica is a 32-key or a 37-key one.

The difficulty level is not the easiest as it requires simultaneous blowing through the mouthpiece while pressing the keys on the keyboard to produce a range of sounds. You need good breath control as well as a basic understanding of keyboard playing.

15. Jaw Harp

The Jaw Harp is a lamellophone instrument and the most intriguing one on the list probably. Most people don’t know this instrument so this would be a good way to finish off this list. It is made from a shaped metal/bamboo tongue or a reed attached to a frame.

Price and Difficulty Level

The Jaw Harp is also a very affordable instrument, with prices ranging from $15 to $50. Depending on the metal or the overall construction, the price will vary, but overall it is cheap to acquire.

To play the Jaw Harp, despite its small size, produces a wide variety of sounds. Its melodious nature comes to life by plucking a metal tine while pressing it against your teeth with a slightly opened mouth. An interesting instrument to consider.


There are a variety of instruments available on the market today, at different prices and with different levels of difficulty. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced musician, there is an instrument out there for you. The list provided includes some of the more popular and easy-to-learn instruments.

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

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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