A bunch of instruments

10 Fun and Inexpensive Instruments

Music is a wonderful gift to give people of all ages and ability levels. There are more and more scientific studies coming out about how music has a positive affect on our health, both mental and physical. But in order to get the benefits you have to have an instrument!

Among those studies, quite a few are specifically about the experience of playing an instrument, and I think many people understand this subconsciously. So many people have said to me, “I wish I could play a musical instrument.” My response is always, “It’s not too late too start!”

Sometimes we place limitations on ourselves without even realizing it, and when it comes to playing a musical instrument, this seems to be the case for a lot of people. Wouldn’t you love to be the one who helps them overcome those limitations so they can finally experience the thrill of making music?

Note: This article may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of these links I may receive monetary compensation. However, I only ever include links to products I truly believe in and recommend!

What About The Cost

Money

When most people think of the prospect of buying a musical instrument, their first thought is that it sounds expensive. It’s true, many musical instruments are quite expensive, especially if you want them to be top quality.

However, those are not the types of instruments we’re discussing in this article. There are a lot of instruments that can make wonderful music and are not very pricey at all.

Who Are These Instruments For

Two human silhouettes, one with a question mark over their face
Image by Merio from Pixabay

All of the instruments in this list are fit for all levels, including complete beginners. Sometimes it just takes a small, simple instrument to scratch that musical itch. Other times it can open a gateway to the world of music and musical instruments, where the possibilities are endless!

But what if the person you’re giving this gift to already has an instrument? They don’t need another one, do they? Most musicians I know would say, “YES!!”.

Once you’ve caught the music bug, one of the most fun things to do is try out various other instruments. There are a lot of fun, inexpensive instruments that most musicians would love to get their hands on, especially if they are composers or songwriters.

Where To Shop

Woman holding shopping bags
Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Whenever I go to a yard sale or second-hand shop, I always keep an eye out for instruments. I know that even if I don’t want it, I probably know someone else who does. One exception: Organs. Almost nobody wants an organ, unfortunately.

It’s commonly thought that when shopping for a musical instrument, you have to try it out before purchasing. Although this is true with many instruments, that’s again not the kind of instrument I’m including on this list. With most of these instruments, buying online is perfectly fine. Just do your best to read reviews to make sure you’re getting a quality product.

The List

All of the instruments in this list have several options regarding quality and price points. The prices I’ve written next to each item are what I’ve found to be the average price range of a decent quality instrument. You may be able to find one cheaper, and you can definitely find plenty that are more expensive!

1. Melodica: ($20-$80)

These are so fun and there’s a wide variety in price and quality. The link is to the one I personally have, and can therefore vouch for, but my guess is plenty of the less expensive options are just as good.

2. Thumb Harp: ($20-$40)

These are quite simple, but it’s fun to pick out little melodies with them, and they often have a very cool sound. Another fun aspect of these is you can get them with all kinds of different designs on them, which you can pick out to match the tastes of the person you’re gifting it to. The link I included has a cute butterfly!

3. Ukulele: ($30-$70)

It’s like a guitar, but more portable and easier to play! This is a great gift for someone who’s interested in learning guitar eventually but currently finds it too challenging. It’s also much easier for young children to play a ukulele than a guitar, so is a great starter instrument for them as well.

4. Ocarina: ($15-$50)

This is another awesome and inexpensive option. I imagine myself playing one of these on a remote, grassy hill somewhere. You’ll get bonus points if the gift recipient is also into the Nintendo game Zelda.

5. Djembe Drum: ($35-$100)

Sometimes nothing feels better than to beat a rhythm and feel the deep resonance of a drum. Drumming can be very therapeutic, and of course is a great way to practice difficult rhythms without having to worry about which notes to play.

6. Xylophone: ($12-$70)

The classic children’s instrument, this is still equally fun to play as an adult. Note that some of them are chromatic, and some are not. If your gift recipient is knowledgeable about music, they’ll most likely enjoy the chromatic version much more. Of course, the chromatic ones are also the more expensive ones.

7. Otamatone: ($20-$65)

If you haven’t already heard of these, a quick Youtube search is probably in order. Some people have gotten really crazy about them, and as you’ll see from the videos, they’re having a lot of fun! There are also a lot of color and design options.

8. Harmonica ($10-$30)

Harmonicas are easy to make sound okay right out of the box. That said, an advanced musician who’s not already familiar with it will have a lot of fun working on technique to make them sound great. This is probably one of the noisier instruments on this list, so take that into account when purchasing for children; Especially ones you live with!

9. Steel Tongue Drum: ($16-$200)

Steel Tongue Drum

With a huge price range, these instruments are really cool! They are super fun to improvise on, and sound awesome. This is on my personal “instruments to buy” list.

10. Piano

Of course, since this is primarily a piano blog, I have to mention my favorite instrument! If you want a super special gift for a household with young kids, there’s just about nothing better than a piano (except maybe a puppy!). They will grow up experimenting with that piano and adding so much more music to their lives, just by having the instrument in their daily living space.

Obviously, such a huge gift (both literally and potentially monetarily) takes quite a bit of consideration. If a piano is on your potential gifting horizon, I’d recommend checking out my post on How to Pick a Piano.

As you’ll learn if you read the above article, it’s actually possible to acquire an acoustic piano quite inexpensively. On a personal note, I may not have ever played piano at all if my parents hadn’t bought one when I was just three years old. I’ll be forever grateful that they had the foresight (or perhaps sheer luck) to do so!

I hope this list has given you some great gift ideas! If you have additional ideas I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Heidi has been involved in music in one way or another for most of her life. She studied music composition in college, has taught piano, voice, composition, ear training, and guitar, and has worked as a piano tuner and technician. Before the pandemic she loved playing concerts at retirement communities, bringing the joy of music to those populations. She is currently working on learning more about the connection between music and healing.

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