Best Instruments for Beginners

Whether you’re a music enthusiast who is tired of sitting in the audience, and dream of one day being on stage, or you’re just looking for a new hobby to enjoy, learning an instrument is an amazing thing. However, it can be intimidating to see just how many options are out there. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best instruments for beginners of all ages. Let’s go through some of the best options for beginner musicians to learn, and help you decide which instrument is right for you!

How to Choose your First Instrument

One thing that’s important to consider when decided on the best instrument for a beginner is your favorite style of music. For example, if you love beachy reggae music, then a banjo probably isn’t the best choice for you. While learning an instrument is a challenge, you should choose an instrument that you the sound of, and one that fits in with the styles of music that you love listening to.

Another important consideration when choosing the best instrument to learn is the level of care that the instrument requires. Most stringed instruments will need to be tuned each time you play, and will need new strings at least every few months. We’ve included instruments that require zero maintenance in this list, so if you don’t like the idea of changing strings or polishing wood, go for one of those!

Last but not least, you’ll want to consider size. Not everyone has room for a grand piano, but there are some instruments that will fit in your pockets. We’ve included instruments of all shapes and sizes to accommodate for just about every living situation!

So, let’s dive in to our list of the best instruments for beginners to learn! We’ll start off with stringed instruments, and then move on to other categories of beginner instruments.

Best Stringed Instruments for Beginners to Learn

When most people think of picking up an instrument, their first thought is to learn guitar! While many beginner musicians start on guitar, there are other stringed instruments that are fun and easy to learn. So let’s go over all the best stringed instruments for beginners!


Ukulele is one of the best instruments for beginners due to its small size and simple chord shapes

The ukulele is an amazing instrument for beginners. For one, it has only four strings, making it more manageable than a six string guitar. Second, it has nylon strings, which are much easier on your fingers than the typical steel strings of a guitar. Third, it’s relatively simple to learn your first few songs on the ukulele.

My favorite brand of beginner ukulele is Kala, because they are the perfect blend of quality and affordability. If you are shopping for your first ever uke, the Kala KA-15S bundle is a great place to start, since it comes with a tuner and case, plus a polishing cloth.

Kala KA-15S Ukulele Satin Mahogany Soprano Bundle with a Ukulele Tote Bag, Tuner, and Lumintrail Polishing Cloth
  • A very traditional Mahogany Soprano Ukulele in a satin finish with a bright, warm, full-bodied tone
  • The KA-15S is great for beginners and is well-suited for classroom use, practicing, and acoustic performance
  • Soprano Ukulele is the most common and smallest size of ukulele, with the shortest scale length and tightest fret spacing – tuned G C E A
  • Bundle includes a Ukulele Tote Bag, Tuner, and Lumintrail Polishing Cloth

When it comes to maintaining a ukulele, the main thing you’ll want to do is keep it clean and dry. The strings on a ukulele will last several months, and there are plenty of resources for learning to change strings online. Obviously, the ukulele is a smaller instrument, so you won’t need an entire room dedicated to storing your uke. It can easily slide under your bed or in a coat closet, making it a great choice for anyone without tons of spare space. Overall, I think the ukulele is a great instrument for beginner musicians looking to dip their toes in the water!

Seagull Merlin Dulcimer

If you’re more into folk music than the tropical vibes, the Seagull Merlin Dulcimer is the best choice for you! I would describe the Merlin as the mainland cousin to the ukulele. It has 4 strings, only 7 frets, and it’s even easier to pick up and play than the ukulele.

Check out this video where I go over the history of the Seagull Merlin, plus a brief introduction on how to play it:

Much like a ukulele, the Merlin is compact and easy to store. However, it does have metal strings, meaning they’ll need to be changed slightly more often than a uke’s. You’ll probably want to grab a clip-on tuner to keep your Merlin in tune as well!

Seagull Merlin Dulcimer 4-String Instrument
  • Diatonic instrument; meaning all notes are in-key
  • Easy to play for beginners, compact and travel friendly, and easy to maintain
  • This instrument has a more folky sound, great for anyone who loves listening to folk, country, or rock music

The Merlin is a great option for anyone looking to learn the basics of strumming, fretting, and playing a stringed instrument without the larger size of an acoustic guitar, and without having to learn all the frets and chord shapes.

Acoustic Guitar

Starting on acoustic guitar has some advantages

Of course, no instrument list would be complete without the guitar. While guitar may be an intimidating instrument for beginners, it’s possible to learn if you put your mind to it! Our suggestion for beginner musicians looking to learn guitar is to start with an acoustic. They’re easier to use, since you can just pick it up and play without an amp, cables, or pedals. This also makes them much more affordable to start with, since you just have to buy the guitar and a tuner. Plus, everything you learn on an acoustic will transfer over seamlessly to the electric once you decide to make that leap!

My favorite Acoustic guitar brand for beginners is YAMAHA, since they are high quality instruments that will last a lifetime. For adults, I suggest the YAMAHA FD01S, and for kids, I suggest the YAMAHA JR1FG!

YAMAHA FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

YAMAHA FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

  • The perfect first guitar; Combining quality woods and outstanding tone at an outstanding value
  • Solid spruce top with Nato (Eastern Mahogany) back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
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Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 Size Acoustic Guitar

  • The FG Junior is a 3/4 sized guitar modeled after the acclaimed Yamaha FG Series
  • The JR1 has a smaller body and shorter neck, perfect for young players or those with smaller hands
  • Great for use as a travel guitar when space is limited
  • Gig bag included for safe storage and easy transport.
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YAMAHA’s FD01S is the perfect blend of value and great tone. Its natural finish looks great as well. This guitar is the perfect example of why YAMAHA is the best brand of acoustic guitar for beginners!

The JR1FG is a 3/4 scale guitar, making it a little easier to play for anyone with smaller hands. There are 1/2 and 1/4 guitars as well, but frankly, I think going below 3/4 scale isn’t usually worth it. If your kiddo is too small for a 3/4 scale, they’re grow into it pretty quickly. In the mean time, you can start them off on the ukulele, which is great because they’ll never outgrow it. A full size uke is small enough for children to play, but a 1/2 scale guitar is not something a teenager or adult would want to play.

Acoustic guitars will need strings every so often, depending on how you play, and you’ll want to keep it clean and dry. Over time, you will want to take some steps to maintain the wood of the guitar, including oiling your fretboard and polishing the body, but that’s pretty simple to handle.

So now that we’ve covered the best stringed instruments for beginners, let’s move on to the next category…

Best Percussion Instruments for Beginners to Learn

When you think percussion, you probably think drum kit. However, there’s a whole work of percussion instruments that you can explore! So let’s dive in to my two favorite percussion instruments for beginners!


Learning bongos is a great way to get jamming quickly!

Bongos are a great choice for anyone looking to learn a percussion instrument! Once you develop a sense of rhythm, it’s easy to jump in and jam with other musicians, making them a great option for someone looking to get started quickly!

My favorite brand of bongos is Meinl! While there are cheaper options out there, Meinl’s bongos are under $100, and they are much higher quality than the more budget options. They also come in lots of fun colors and include a tuning key to boot!

Meinl Percussion Bongos
  • The highest quality bongos for the price
  • Natural drum skins and high quality construction make these a lifelong purchase
  • Includes tuning key
  • Available in lots of fun colors!

The nice thing about bongos is that they’re compact and easy for travel. While a drum kit can fill up your entire car, bongos can fit in your passenger seat or in a suitcase, and they don’t require any setup! Bongos are also easy to maintain! Over time, you may want to change your bongo heads as they wear out, but the included heads will last a very long time.


The djembe is like the big brother of the bongos

Like bongos, the djembe is a fun and easy to learn instrument! The djembe is great for jamming along with acoustic music. It’s more bass-y and boomy than bongos, so they fill more space in a song.

The djembe is like the bongo’s big brother, and while a djembe is only one drum, as opposed to the bongos which come in a pair, you can still get multiple sounds out of a djembe. The middle of the drum is where you’ll get the lower pitch, and the rim of the drum is where you’ll hit for a higher and more percussive sound.

Latin Percussion makes my favorite djembes, and they are available in different sizes and price ranges. Their World Collection Circle Djembe is smaller, more portable, and extremely affordable! This smaller djembe makes a fantastic option for kids or people who don’t want to take up too much space with their new instrument!

If you want to splurge and have a bit more room, the Aspire Jamjuree Wood Djembe is a solid option. It’s 3 inches wider and 12 inches taller than the Circle Djembe, so you can get deeper and more bass heavy tones from it.

Both of these djembes are solid choices for anyone looking to pick up their first percussion instrument! A djembe is easy to maintain, and doesn’t take up a ton of space, so it makes an awesome instrument for beginner musicians!

Latin Percussion World Collection Circle Djembe

Latin Percussion World Collection Circle Djembe

  • 7" Diameter x 16" high
  • Affordable and easy to maintain
  • Great for anyone looking to get started with learning djembe
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Latin Percussion Aspire Jamjuree Wood Djembe

Latin Percussion Aspire Jamjuree Wood Djembe

  • 12-1/2" head, 25" height
  • A more premium option for beginners who want to advance quickly
  • Natural head for amazing tone
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However, if percussion isn’t really your thing, let’s take a look at some other options!


Keyboards for beginners have improved greatly over the last few years, making piano a more accessible first instrument

Learning to play the piano can be a daunting task, but with more and more resources available online, it’s not as hard as it used to be. When I was growing up, the only real option was to take lessons or learn from a book, and most digital pianos were expensive, heavy, overly big, and had poor quality speakers.

If you want to learn piano, you will need to dedicate some space to storing your keyboard, but maintaining a keyboard is as simple as it gets. All you need to do is plug it in, turn it on, push the keys, and sounds come out. There are no strings to change, heads to replace, or wood/metal parts to polish!

A great beginner keyboard option is the Pyle 61 Key Bundle! This comes with an included stand, as well as headphones for silent practice! You’ll want to grab a sustain pedal, but other than that, it comes with everything you need to get started.

Pyle 61 Keys Digital Piano

Pyle 61 Keys Digital Piano

  • 61 Keys for a more compact form factor
  • Includes the stand, stool, and headphones
  • Book/tablet stand for your educational materials
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M-Audio SP-2 - Sustain Pedal

M-Audio SP-2 - Sustain Pedal

  • Universal sustain pedal with chrome foot pedal for a natural, realistic pedal action
  • Specially designed rubber pads located on the pedals underside grips the floor and stays put while you play
  • Includes 6 foot cable with 1/4 inch jack
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Piano is a challenging instrument to conquer, but it’s also an amazing accomplishment to play your first song! This 61-key keyboard is more compact than the full size 88-key models, so it takes up less space in your room, and all of the included accessories make it a great value.


The harmonica is one of the simplest instruments to pick up and play. It’s also small enough to fit in just about any bag, requires almost no maintenance, and doesn’t need tuning. That makes it just about the perfect instrument for beginners!. One aspect of the harmonica that most beginners don’t realize is that each harmonica is tuned to a certain key! The “standard” harmonica is in the key of C, but if you just have that one, you can only jam along with songs in that key. Thankfully, HOHNER makes their Bluesband Harmonica in a variety of keys.

HOHNER Piedmont Blues 7 Harmonica Pack with Case, Stainless steel (PBH7)
  • Includes seven sleek black plastic harmonicas in a durable hard case with the Piedmont Blues logo
  • Aimed at beginning players who want to play along to blues and rock songs in a variety of keys
  • Harmonicas come in the keys of A, Bb, C, D, E, F, and G
  • Hohner-quality brass reeds, aluminum plates, precision molded plastic combs, plastic coverplates

If you grab this pack, you’ll be able to play along with almost any song! It features the most common keys, so you’ll be ready to jam with any band!

Final Thoughts on the Best Instruments for Beginners

While learning a new instrument can be challenging, it doesn’t have to be a struggle! Choosing the right instrument will make your journey to becoming a musician much more fun! At the end of the day, playing music should be an enjoyable time, so follow your heart, make the choice that suits your tastes, and just go for it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this breakdown of the best instruments for beginner musicians!

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About the Author: Adam Sliger

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I'm the founder of, and a producer, musician, and songwriter based out of Orlando, FL. I have 10 years experience producing and owning a commercial recording studio. I write and produce music for artists, TV, and for my solo project, Night Winds. When I'm not writing and recording, I'm into food, coffee, and riding rollercoasters!

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