Playing instruments is a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience for people of all ages. But many of them cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars! The average person simply cannot so much of their income towards buying instruments.
But there are many cheaper options to consider. While they are inexpensive, that does not make them any less fun or fulfilling to play.
Today, we’ll be looking at just a couple of inexepensive musical instruments that won’t break the bank.
The recorder is a member of the woodwind family of instruments. It’s a narrow and light instrument that features a mouthpiece and seven finger holes. There is also a lone hole on the bottom which is used by the thumb.
There are multiple types of recorders that play within different musical ranges. Here’s a short list (ordered from deepest to highest):
The recorder first appeared in the Middle Ages in Europe. It continued to be used throughout the baroque and renaissance periods and is played and appeciated by many fans to this day. With such a rich and long lasting legacy, how can you go wrong?
The recorder isn’t just a great choice for its price, but it’s also a great introductory instrument for anyone who has never played an instrument before. They are compact and require little maintenance.
Beginner recorders are priced at as low as a couple of dollars. For those with even a slight interest in this instrument, there isn’t much to lose financially.
The melodica looks very similar to a keyboard but is unique in that it requires air to be blown through a mouthpiece in order for notes to be played. And it sounds more like an accordion or harmonica than a piano. It’s a unique instrument for sure.
Early forms of the melodica existed in Italy back in the 19th century. The modern version was created in the 1950s by German manufacturer Hohner.
Famous musicians who have used the melodica in their music include:
- Augustus Pablo
- Damon Albarn
- Ben Folds
- Mike Patton
Melodicas are not very difficult to learn to play at a basic level. Anyone who plays piano will have an edge up on playing melodica because they share the same notes and chord shapes.
Melodica prices start at around $20. That is a small price to pay to experience such a unique instrument.
The ocarina is a woodwind instrument that features multiple finger holes (usually 10 or 12) and a protruding mouthpiece for blowing. The finger hole layoud and overall look of this instrument is
The ocarina is known to have existed for over 10,000 years. It’s earliest use is traced back to ancient Mesoamerica as well as ancient China. Talk about lasting appeal!
This instrument gained a large boost in popularity due to it being featured in the Nintendo 64 videogame The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of TIme. In the game, the main character Link plays songs on his ocarina that allow him to teleport within the game world and overcome various puzzles.
Ocarinas are very compact and easy to maintain as well, making it another great choice to consider when buying a new instrument.
A basic ocarina costs around $20-$30.
Kazoos are tiny instruments that are played by humming into them. The tone at which you hum is the tone that the kazoo plays. That’s all there is to it. When it comes to being inexpensive and easy to play, nothing beats the kazoo.
The kazoo was first invented in the late 19th century by Warren Herbert Frost. Since then, kazoos have been enjoyed around the world typically as an eccentric and playful toy instrument.
Kazoos have been used in studio recordings and live performances by professional bands and musicians. Some of these bands/artists include:
- The Grateful Dead
- Frank Zappa
- Tame Impala
Kazoos sell individually for a couple of dollars. They can even be bought in bulk!
The harmonica is a free reed instrument that is played using the mouth. Different notes are played depending on which area of the harmonica you’re mouth is located and wether you are blowing air out or sucking air in. It’s an instrument that is easy to understand but hard to master.
The earliest harmonicas were invented in the 1820s in Europe. By the 1860s, they had made their way into the United States.
The harmonica has had a huge impact on the musical landscape. It has appeared in popular songs across many genres, including blues, folk, country, rock, and jazz. This instrument has a large fanbase of not just players but enthusiasts all around the world.
You can buy a harmonica for as low as $10. This is convenient because you will need multiple harmonicas since most harmonicas are diatonic. This means that they can only be played within a single musical key.
The ukelele is a stringed instrument that is synonymous with Hawaiian culture. Hearing a ukelele in action may make you fantasize about tropical beaches and beautiful, sunny weather.
Portugese immigrants brought a stringed instrument similar to the ukelele called the machete into Hawaii in the 18th century. Not long after did the Hawaiians create the ukelele, which was their own version of that instrument.
Beginner ukeleles are available for as low as $30. For a stringed instrument, that’s a steal!
The otomatone is a Japanese instrument that has a face. That’s right, it has an eyes and mouth. One hand manipulates the “head” of the otamatone to control volume, vibrato, and wah-wah effects and the other hand uses the neck to determine which note is played.
This bizarre instrument was created in 1998 as a collaboration between a toy company called CUBE Works and Maywa Denki design firm. This makes it a relatively recent instrument compared to anything else on this list.
The otamatone is essentially a handheld synthesizer. Most otamatones are monophonic, meaning that they can only produce a single note at a time. They come in different colors as well as different versions that have some unique features between them.
Otamatones start at around $30. This eccentric instrument is definitely worth it at that price!
Forget Those Expensive Instruments!
These inexpensive musical instruments we’ve looked into today make for great personal purchases or as gifts for any friends or loved ones with any interest in playing instruments. They provide countless hours of fun through learning, experimentation, and collaboration with other musicians.
Do you feel inspired to explore any of these instruments? Are there any other excellent, cheap instruments that were left out of this article? Feel free to let me know in the comments section down below.
And don’t forget to have an excellent day!