What is an easy instrument to learn?

submitted by LaunchesKayaks

My hand joints are getting better finally and I wanna learn an instrument. The thing is, I'm dumb and have struggled really badly with reading music in the past.

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The Triangle. There’s that joke about the guy going to practice each week, he shows up, plays “ding!”, teacher goes “great work, you’re getting so much better! See you next week!”, and then he leaves.


Piano is way up there, not just because it's mechanically simple to learn and understand (press button, note plays, always same note in same place) but because there are just massive amounts of resources to learn how to play. When I had more time, I had a lot of fun playing songs on a light up keyboard hooked up to a computer using Synthesia. I would download a song I wanted to learn (eg Moonlight Sonata), and the keys I needed to press would light up, so I would play the song bit by bit, building muscle memory. I was able to use a music sheet just to remind me of what my fingers already knew. Is it the "right way" to learn? Probably not but it's fun and easy and that's what I wanted.


Speaking as a guitarist, I have to say guitar is the easiest instrument to pick up and almost immediately make a cool sound with. Also, you can use guitar tab to play songs you're familiar with. Tabs don't really show rhythm, unlike sheet music, but are simple to read.

Hucklebee , edited

As others have stated: you don't necessarily need to read music for it to be fun. And there are different ways of notation. Chords, for example, are a great way to learn music without having to read on a per note basis.

Acoustic guitar is fairly easy to pick up. It will take a few days of pain to get your fingers accustomed to pressing the strings though. Takes quite some pressure from your fingers. But after those first few days, you're golden. It's also easier to change in which "key" you play a song(oversimplified: how high or low the whole song is).

Piano is another pretty easy instrument to learn chords on. The upside of piano is that you won't have pain in the fingers for your first few days. You press and you'll have a sound. It is harder to play in different "keys" though.

Keyboard is an interesting one too: You'll learn chords like with the piano, but you'll have acces to more sounds, backing tracks etc in your keyboard if you'd go that route.

Flutes and such are quite easy to get into, but can be a bit less interesting if you only play on your own.

But in the end, most instruments takes practice and time. Just set your own goals on what you find important.


It will take a few days of pain to get your fingers accustomed to pressing the strings

starting with Classical (nylon) strings is easier on the fingers. Or get a ukulele: fewer strings to press.


The ukulele is pretty easy as far as guitar-like instruments go. The strings are nylon and there are only 4, so it's easier to manage. If you like it, you can eventually learn to play the full guitar. And you only need to learn chords, not sheet music.


Ukulele is easy, cheap and fun. Very great instrument to learn if you want to have fun without investing too much money and time!


I second ukulele if string instruments are on the table!


Triangle. In all honesty piano/keyboard is great. It has basic music theory built in.


The kalimba is super easy to play. Basically anyone can just pick one up and make something that sounds good!


It's also very portable and basic ones are very inexpensive. It's also nice to explicitly see the relationship between music and the notes when you're learning.

LaunchesKayaks [OP]

What kind of kalimba would you recommend? I am dealing with what is probably some kind of auto-immune disease that's attacking my fingers and wrists, so strong instruments would be hard, even now that my hands are getting better with the new medicine I'm on. My fingers are a bit fucked up in shape and I don't have a super good range of motion. A kalimba seems like it'd be good because I can use my thumbs lol


I got a really cheap one off Amazon for about $35 and my dad loves playing with it and is quite capable even with his Parkinson's. Just make sure you get one that comes with a tuning hammer.


I am by no means the right person to ask about music instruments from a critical eye or critical ear perspective.

The one that picked up I got off of AliExpress and it is pretty reasonable for sound and durability. I'm sure there'such better choices for someone who wants to have a nicer one.


Oh! I just played one of those today when I went to pick up some reeds for my clarinet

🇰 🔵 🇱 🇦 🇳 🇦 🇰 ℹ️ , edited

Here's everything I have learned to play because it was easy as shit:

  • Flute (hardest thing is getting the mouth placement down. Once you have that you're on easy street; and I think this is probably true of all woodwinds and brass instruments)
  • Mouth harp (boingy boingy boingy)
  • Ocarina
  • Harmonica
  • Theramin (pretend you're a wizard!)
  • Tambourine
  • Taiko drums
  • Bongos
  • Xylophone
  • Cymbals
  • Cannon

The only instrument I have learned that was difficult and took years to get even semi okay at was piano. And I mostly attribute that to my small hands, because I can play so much better on a MicroKORG than a full size keyboard.

Hucklebee , edited

Hmm, I'd say the Theramin is easy to have fun with, but to actually learn to play songs it is up there in difficulty with the violin. It is one of, if not THE most precise instrument there is.

🇰 🔵 🇱 🇦 🇳 🇦 🇰 ℹ️ , edited

A cheap, crappy theramin is harder to play than a really good one. It's pretty easy to play and learn regardless; you just hold your hand in the right spot... It's a lot less complicated than fingering a stringed instrument.

Just like a harmonica; I can play things on one off sheet music, but it's not like I'm capable of busting out Blues Traveler solos. Easy to pick up and learn; but it's not quite as easy to *master.*


practice. Nothing is easy without it. With it even the hardest is possible. So he question is how willing you are to dedicate practice time. Half an hour per day, every day for a few years.

Nemo Wuming

Singing, your throat becomes the instrument


I barely read music. I think guitar or ukulele are the easiest to sound decent on. Strummed instruments just require a lot less technique to get a good sound from. Learn E, A, and Bm7 on a guitar and you can play the blues.


Bongos or cajon are so fun and there are a ton of videos online. Also, uke.


Someone with finger joint issues should probably stay away from cajon - it's a knuckle-rapping simulator.

Curious Canid

Recorder is one of the easiest to learn. If you want something you can use to accompany yourself, guitar is the obvious choice, but it does require some cramped hand positions. If your joints are still recovering you may want to look into keyboards instead.

For what it's worth, I've found leaving to read music for a particular instrument is easier than learning to read it more generally.

Best of luck!

lurch (he/him)


Pan flute


Theremin is about as low impact on the joints as you can get. That's for sure.

Hucklebee , edited

Posted this somewhere else too, but saying Theremin is easy is just crazy. It is one of, if not THE most precise instrument there is.

The pitch can vary per session if you happen to have different CLOTHES on. It is that precise. Carolina Eyck on Youtube has some great videos about the basics. She shows how complicated playing tonally is with a Theremin.

Easy to have fun with though, but playing along with other music is really hard. You need very good ears to succesfully play a Theremin




Jaw harp.

Mouth organ.




You don’t need to learn finger combinations like on most brass and woodwinds, nor chords like piano and other string instruments. Just the 7 positions the slide can be at. Blow a raspberry and the note comes out.

Trumpet is similar but a lot easier to store and transport. Also those three valves are pretty much the same amongst other brass instruments like French horn, baritone, tuba, etc. so you can move between instruments if you choose.


I have to stop you there. Fingering for french horn is different from the other valved brass.


It sorta is. It's also sorta not.

I wouldn't recommend French Horn to most people as a first instrument without a good instructor.


Agreed. There’s a lot more to it, the mouthpiece is small, hand position in the horn, knowing how to deal with what’s directly behind you.


Because of the rotary valves and trigger? Or for some other reason?

If that's the only difference you're calling out, it's worth noting rotary valves and triggers show up on other instruments as well. In particular, tubas often have rotary valves, and it's not uncommon to see trigger valves on trombones.

Having played both piston valves and rotary, the difference is negligible.


The fingerings are different. Playing one just doesn't mean you can automatically switch back and forth.


I think that applies to the others as well, except in some cases when they are tuned to the same fundamental, e.g. Bb Trumpet, BBb Tuba. But tubas commonly come in C, F, and Eb as well (trumpet variants also exist, but are less common).


As someone who could never get used to just kinda eyeballing where a note is supposed to be, I strongly disagree about the trombone.


You could have marked your slide, but also if you can’t hear when a note isn’t right you’re doing music on hard mode.


The problem with hearing when a note isn't right is that by the time you hear it you've already played it...


If it's a short note, it's usually not that dramatic. If it's a long note and you're still playing it, then have no shame in adjusting as soon you hear that it's off.

Generally, though, don't beat yourself up about it while learning. Just make a mental note that you eyeballed too low/high and try to do better next time.


I'm a woodwind person. I have the most fun with flute, but the sax is more accessible in my experience. You could also have fun with a penny whistle, there's a lot of rep for it and you can play bagpipe repertoire on one too.

The biggest thing is to practice and respect the instrument. There's a lifetime of mastery ahead of you, and approach it with patience and hard work.

Also, have fun!

Call me Lenny/Leni



Trombone, full stop. If you have hand issues, the trombone is definitely the instrument to start with. There are other instruments of course, but for your particular predicament that's what I would recommend.



The Stoned Hacker

The bass is a great instrument as it's easy to pick up and be able to use decently but it also has a super high skill ceiling.


I don't know about easy to be expert, but you can have a lot of fun learning and playing simplified versions of pop songs on a basic guitar. IMHO, every household should have one.


Lap Harp


Guitar and ukelele are relatively easy to learn and don't require reading music. Ukelele would probably be a bit easier on your joints though.


Absolutely. Guitar is quite a strain on many things in the hands, joints included. Piano is quite gentle on hands as well.

All things considered, any instrument can give you more pain than necessary if you develop bad habits. So consider having a teacher lesson perhaps once a month.


Whatever you pick checkout Yousician if they have it. It's great for learning.


I have no personal experience but I've heard people say that a saxophone is rather quick to learn to play at a level that it sounds good.


If your issue is mainly about reading sheet music maybe a Veeh Harp would be for you.

It is a string plugged instrument played from note stencils, which are pushed between the strings and the resonance body and enable playing from sight.






tal , edited

I don't play an instrument -- only one in my family who doesn't -- so I'm not coming from a position of any expertise. But, I'd think that it'd depend an awful lot on your specific situation.

  • Do you want an instrument that's portable? Do you want it to be something that you can easily carry around with you, something to use at home, or something that can easily move in a vehicle? I mean, a harmonica and a grand piano are pretty different beasts.

  • How loud? Practicing an instrument can be kinda noticeable for people in the area, and some are a lot louder than others. If you're living alone at a farmhouse, that has a different impact than if you're in an apartment building.

  • I'd probably play something that you like to listen to. I don't know what instruments you like to listen to.

  • I have no idea how much you want to spend. There's a pretty big price range.

If I were going to learn to play an instrument, I suspect that I'd learn the keyboard so that I could hook a MIDI keyboard up to a computer and take advantage of that. I could just put on headphones and play it essentially silently WRT everyone else, whenever I wanted. And it'd let me drive a lot of synthesizer software. But those characteristics may be of no interest to you.


The easiest to learn is the kazoo in my experience.

More serious: reading music isn't nessecary to learn how to play an instrument. For instance, guitar can be played using tabs or even chord progressions.


Harmonica or accordion.


I've heard it said that anyone can play guitar.


I play guitar. You've heard right.


skin flute

oessessnex , edited

The recorder. It's easy to get started, there is a lot of good information online (look up Sarah Jeffery), and professional plastic instruments are very cheap. It also requires no special care and doesn't need maintenance, since it has no moving parts.

The downside is that in order to play larger recorders your hands need to stretch a bit, so I'm no sure if that is a problem if you have joint issues.

The other option is a hand ocarina, but it is very hard to even make a sound, even harder to make it clear and consistent. Also you need to play entirety by ear. It's a fun challenge, though.


There are some very simple, affordable little drum machines out there that are a blast to just sit and bang around on. It's a good way to lightly start getting into rhythm and timing. It's also something that won't demand a lot of dexterity. It's an unconventional answer, but it's also something that can get you rolling on music without needing to read sheet.

Or if guitar seems up your alley but chording seems intimidating, bass guitar is a great intro to that world. You can learn all the fundamentals of guitar, and if it becomes natural for you, switching over to guitar is almost seamless.


Banjo has light action.


Damn, I got down voted for telling the truth. Banjo uses light strings, and if set up well has low action. Also since only 4 strings are fingered, chords are not the pretzels guitar chords are. Y'all know every instrument can be used to play any kind of music, right? What's with the banjo hate?


Banjo's got a general bad rap from it's portrayal in many movies and shows. It is also a very different sound than guitar which a good number of people find discordant (it's also easier to make it be loud and discordant, which happens with new players).

Well done banjo is just fine, but there's a knee jerk negative response to its name.


It's a shame. It's a super fun instrument. Mine has spoiled me. My guitars feel huge after playing it


I hear you. I'm a ukulele player at times, so we're in the same weight class.