7 Easiest Instruments to Learn – Start Playing Right Away!

Updated on by Gavin Whitner | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

The easiest instruments to learn can mean a lot of things, so let’s look at it from a very specific point of view. What are the instruments that you’ll have an easy time learning at any age, the instruments that you don’t have to master to be able to play popular songs on, and which ones are less frustrating, expensive, and even less embarrassing to learn?

With each of the following instruments, you can dedicate a few hours of your week and be able to learn complete songs from start to finish, whether for yourself or to impress your friends.

Ukulele

The ukulele has an iconic sound and a widely recognizable body. It’s also one of the cheapest instruments you can get, whether you’re getting it for yourself or your kid.

Because it’s small, it’s very beginner-friendly. Hand size doesn’t matter, nor does body strength. On top of that, the instrument has just four strings, the classic ukulele that is, and fewer frets than a standard guitar.

That means that there isn’t a lot to memorize. Besides, if you’re looking to play some songs and you don’t fancy music theory, it’s not hard to visually memorize a few chords on a ukulele and start strumming.

In all honesty, it shouldn’t take you more than a few weeks to learn a whole bunch of your favorite songs. Of course, the availability of tablatures and online lessons may make things even easier.

If you don’t want much of a challenge, then the ukulele is probably one of the safest instruments you can pick. And, it’s not without its fair share of complexities should you start to like it and want to explore it more.

Bongos

Yes, mastering bongos won’t happen overnight. But take a moment to compare bongos to acoustic drum kits or even professional cajons. Those instruments require you to play with your whole body, memorize different positions, learn a range of techniques for different parts of your body, and so on.

With the bongos, you can use your hands, feel the rhythm, and slap away. It’s something many of us do while fidgeting at work, or when listening to a song while waiting at a red light.

It’s something that comes naturally. So, what better way to start playing an instrument than to pick one that only needs from you, something you naturally do multiple times a day.

The only thing you’ll have to learn is how hard or soft to tap the bongos and how to reproduce certain beats correctly. But there’s little to no music theory involved, very few additional expenses, and pretty much no genre limitations if we’re honest about it.

In the same sphere as bongos, you’ll also find congas. There aren’t many differences between them since you play both with your hands.

However, the congas are considerably larger. Yet, just as easy to learn since it’s all about feeling and understanding the rhythm and not playing to certain notes or odd signature requirements. You can choose the latter if you think that bongos aren’t loud enough for you.

Bass Guitar

What is a bass guitar? In its most traditional form, the bass guitar is just like a guitar only longer, heavier, and with fewer strings, typically four.

So why is it an easy instrument to learn? Well, unlike the guitar, it has just four strings. There’s a lot less to worry about in terms of melody and notes. For reference, the simplest and most recognizable bass lines probably have ten times fewer notes than their guitar riff counterparts.

Another reason why learning the bass is easy? Because it’s very fun. There are certain techniques that bass players use, such as slapping and popping, which give the bass a very punchy and unique tone.

These techniques are less used on guitars. By comparison, to have fun on a guitar, you need to learn how to play solos, how to shred, if you will. That’s something that takes years of practice to do right, let alone master.

On a bass guitar, on the other hand, you can do more with less. Hence it’s less frustrating to get started on and easier to master, up to a certain point.

Harmonica

The harmonica is an iconic blues and country instrument. Also known as the Blues Harp, it’s a known go-to first instrument for many adults. Why? Because many things that you need to worry about with other instruments are already a given with the harmonica.

Case in point, the harmonica will never need tuning. All harmonica notes are in key. So that’s one big load off your chest right there. Another great thing? You can practice anytime, anywhere, because it’s a pocket-sized instrument.

What about coordination? Well, there are some mouth, lips, and blowing techniques you have to learn. But those are easy in comparison to what a drummer, French Horn player, guitarist, or a violinist have to go through.

You also don’t have to do anything special with your feet, unless you think you’re ready to put on a wah-wah or a distortion pedal to the test. At the end of the day, as long as you have a decent lung capacity, the harmonica is a no-brainer for someone with no music experience.

Recorder

Some people say that woodwind instruments and brass instruments are among the hardest to play. That may very well be so, but when it comes to the recorder, it’s really not that hard.

Have you ever wondered why so many afterschool music programs feature recorder lessons? It’s something that even very young kids can quickly pick up and master. Here are some of the reasons why.

First of all, the recorder is much smaller than a flute, much lighter than a sax, and much more comfortable to play. Secondly, it doesn’t require any advanced breathing and blowing techniques because it just doesn’t have sufficient tonal range and depth as its more complex counterparts.

Furthermore, a recorder doesn’t have any keys. It just has holes that you need to cover or leave uncovered to get your notes. For this reason, there’s less to learn in the coordination department.

You don’t have to worry about how hard you’re blowing or how hard or soft to press one or more keys. Again, you don’t have to engage your lower body to play a recorder, which is a big plus.

It may not be the most interesting instrument in the world, but it also doesn’t take long to associate a few finger positions and holes to all the important notes. I should also mention that if you’re looking for cheap instruments to learn, few are as cheap as recorders while still sounding decent.

Maracas

Here’s something you probably didn’t see coming. What are maracas? They’re those beefed up or adult-sized baby rattles. You keep one in each hand and rattle along to the drums beat.

You don’t need sheet music, as there are no notes to learn. There are only certain movements that sound better than others and some maracas that are made better than others.

Like with anything else, some maracas virtuosos would tell you otherwise. But remember, you’re looking for instruments that you can learn fast and use your quickly-acquired skills to play correctly to certain beats and tunes.

The beauty of the maracas is that you can adapt them to any pop song, Latino song, and so on, even without studying any special patterns beforehand, or the song for that matter. As long as you can feel the beat, dance to the rhythm, you can use the maracas to follow and complement the song.

Tambourine

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man! Bet you didn’t know that this is one of the least intimidating instruments, did you? It’s quite rudimentary in terms of construction and technique, but that’s not to say that it can’t be fun and complementary to many melodies.

The tambourine is a shallow wooden instrument with various bells attached. The way you use it is quite similar to that of maracas. Not a lot of music theory behind it just some basic understanding of rhythm, and knowing when to engage and when to sit back.

It’s easy to learn and easy to use, as long as you also learn how not to overdo it. The tambourine is not supposed to be on the same level as the lead guitar, piano, violin, or even the bass for that matter. It’s a complementary instrument, not a head-turner.

What’s more, many rock singers have used or still use tambourine. The most notable examples include Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, and Robert Pant. Even some drummers have tambourine on their kits.

Feeling Confident Yet?

So here you have it. A list of the easiest instruments to learn, some a bit more rewarding than others, but all of which can offer you satisfaction in a matter of days or weeks at the most.

If you ever feel like you’re missing out by not pursuing a career as a musician or because you don’t understand what goes into composing a melody, picking up even the most rudimentary of instruments can give you a better understanding of how things work.

Gavin Whitner

About Gavin Whitner

A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

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