There are so many options for instruments, which one’s are the best for you and your family? We’ll take a close look at the best instruments for kids and beginners that we’ve found and give you our top recommendations!
Hi, Elias from My Music Workshop here. We’ve been teaching music to kids for almost 15 years, and we’ve tried a lot of instruments in those years. If you’re looking for a great instrument for your child, we can help!
What better gift for a child than an instrument! At least we think so. Let’s dive in and look at the best instruments for kids.
By the way, we are an Amazon affiliate. That means that if you buy anything from Amazon by clicking the links in this article, we receive a small commission. Our reviews are totally unbiased though. We aren’t endorsed by any of these companies, and we truly just want to help parents and kids sort through all the options and find what’s best for them.
These are some of the best types of instruments for kids. If you want to get right to the specific instruments we recommend, click here and you’ll head right to them, or click a category below to be taken there.
As you consider an instrument for your child and then look for lessons, take a look at our on-demand music program for kids, My Music Workshop. You can go to the home page here to have a look around. I think we’re a value at less than $10 a month for our yearly plan and $15.99 for our monthly. But, you get 7-days to try it out for yourself to make sure you and your kids love it. Watch a quick preview of our program below.
Ok, now let’s talk instruments! In our opinion, these are the best types of instruments for kids.
Digital Pianos are great instruments because they are meant to feel and sound like acoustic pianos. Their keys are weighted, which makes playing feel much more natural than with light keys, typically found on a keyboard. If you’ve pressed the keys of a piano, you’ve felt the weight of them. Digital pianos have this weight built in, which makes them great instruments for learning the piano. There are a lot of great brands that make digital pianos including Yamaha, Roland, Casio, Alesis and Donner. You can’t go wrong with most of their products but we’ve narrowed it down to a few to keep things simple. Here are some of the best digital pianos we have found.
Donner DEP-10-View it on Amazon HERE:
This is a nice, 88-key (full size) weighted key, digital piano that won’t break the bank. It’s not cheap but it’s less than a lot of other digital pianos in this category. It’s great for the price, sounds and feels good to play. It’s got great piano sounds but not a lot of other sounds (which is ok to us). You can plug in a phone or MP3 player to listen to play along with music. It also comes with a sustain pedal, which is an essential extra when playing the piano. Here’s an upgraded version of the same piano that comes with a built-in stand. View it on Amazon HERE:
Yamaha P45-View it on Amazon HERE:
This is a fantastic instrument. It’s a full sized, weighted key, digital piano that is not cheap but should last a very long time. I own this digital piano and my family loves playing on it. The feel is great, the sound is awesome and it’s durable, playable and fits nicely into the corner of our living room. There is so much to love about this digital piano. If you have the budget for a higher end instrument, consider the Yamaha P-45
We didn’t cover a ton of digital pianos here. Frankly, because there are so many good ones. If you don’t go with one of the suggestions above, I’d recommend you do a little online shopping to find one from the brands we mentioned above. Find one in your price range with great reviews and you should be good to go.
We need to mention three other important things you’ll need to go with your digital piano. Unless you want to play it while lying on the floor…not recommended 😊
1. A keyboard stand. Some digital pianos come with attached stands. But, if yours doesn’t you’ll need one. The Amazon Basics stand HERE is just fine, or you can find something similar from another brand.
2. A piano bench, or seat. Look for one that is sturdy. When sitting and practicing you don’t want the bench to shake or rock. Spending a few extra dollars to get a better stand is worth it in the long run. This one from RockJam is good. View it on Amazon HERE.
3. Headphones. You will also likely want headphones for your digital piano. You will want to make sure of two important things when buying headphones to use with your piano. The first is that it has wire. Don’t get wireless or Bluetooth headphones. The second is that they are on-ear headphones. It’s better to use something that goes on the ear for kids. The in-ear (earbuds) style aren’t best for kids because they fall out and the kind that go in the ear canal can be unsafe for kids.
I’m not going to recommend any headphones here because the size and age of your child will make a big difference in finding the right product. I would recommend you get something that’s from a name brand if you can. Sony, JBL, Skullcandy, and Beats are all pretty good. Digital pianos will make sound without headphones, so you don’t need them. But they are great when you want your child to play and not disturb others in the house.
Be sure to check out the piano lessons we offer at My Music Workshop too. You can visit us by clicking HERE. You can also watch a preview of our piano lessons in the video below:
Keyboard and Pianos are not the same. They look very similar, but they serve two different purposes, and they feel different when played. Keyboards are meant to fill the music with a variety of sounds, not just the sound of a piano. Their keys are light, not weighted, and they aren’t the absolute best instruments to learn to play the piano with. Nonetheless, keyboards are great instruments and are super fun for kids to jam on. Here are some good ones.
These are fun starter keyboards for younger kids. They are also fun to just have around the house to play around on when the mood strikes. They are not instruments to learn piano with. But, in the category of entry-level, inexpensive, kids keyboards they are the best. They are one step above the level of toy and are real, playable instruments with lots’ of fun sounds and songs built in. The difference between the SA-46 and SA-76 models is the size. The SA-46 has 32 keys and the SA-76 has 44 keys, half the number of keys of a full size keyboard.
Casio Casiotone CT-S200RD-Buy it on Amazon HERE:
Yes, another Casio, but these guys make great instruments (and awesome old school watches, I might add). This is a larger keyboard than the SA models above. It has full sized keys and great sounds built in. It’s not terribly expensive and is light enough to be portable. Again, it does not have weighted keys (which you can tell I love by now), so it’s not the absolute best instrument to learn the piano on. But, it will get kids started learning the play the piano. It’s just not a great long term solution for piano playing. If you’re going that direction stick with the digital pianos above.
The ukulele has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. There are some good reasons why. They are smaller than guitars, with fewer strings, making them perfect for kids to learn on. They’re easier to learn on, the skills learned on ukulele transfers to the guitar pretty well and ukuleles are very portable. They’re also relatively inexpensive, easier to keep in tune than guitars and you can play tons of songs on a ukulele pretty quickly. Many ukulele chords use just one or two fingers. Ukuleles come in a few different sizes. The soprano is the smallest and the one we’ll recommend here but the concert size is also very common and is fine for slightly bigger and older kids and adults. Here are some great ukes:
ADM Soprano Ukulele-Buy it on Amazon HERE:
This is a nice starter ukulele that we’ve used in our music classes for kids for many years. They are durable, they sound good, and they are not that expensive. They come in a few different colors, making it fun for kids, and the kit we link to also includes a tuner, bag, picks and a few other goodies, making this a really good value for a decent, playable ukulele.
Kala KA 15S-View it on Amazon HERE:
Kala makes really nice ukuleles all around. We chose this one because it has a real wooden body, not a plastic one, and it’s a nice instrument. It will sound beautiful when tuned properly and is perfectly sized for kids. If this isn’t the right price range for you I recommend you search for Kala ukulele and pick your favorite you’ll find something really good in your price range. One note: Their Waterman model is inexpensive but it’s plastic. This is ok if you want something waterproof and good for younger kids, but the sound and feel won’t be as nice as a real wood uke. The choice is yours though, the Waterman is still good.
Cordoba 15CM-E Edge Burst Acoustic/Electric-View it on Amazon HERE:
Ok, so I’m including one higher end uke here. Well, it’s not exactly super high end, but it’s a great instrument by an awesome ukulele maker. We own a Cordoba and love it. This is a Concert sized uke, which means it’s the second size up. This is good for bigger kids, not smaller ones. This ukulele is also an acoustic/electric, which means you can use an instrument cable to plug it into an amplifier. This is great for performing on stage or around the house. Kids love when ukes (and other instruments) plug in and are amplified. They feel like superstars on the big stage! At least my kids do.
Fender Ukulele Tuner-View it on Amazon HERE:
You'll want either a clip on tuner or a tuner mobile app to go with your ukulele to keep your strings in tune. This on by Fender is solid.
If you do end up with a ukulele and are looking for a way to start learning we offer on-demand uke lessons at My Music Workshop. Visit our program’s website HERE.
Guitars are awesome! There’s no doubt about it. Acoustic guitars, electric guitars, I mean who doesn’t love a guitar! There are so many great choices when it comes to guitars that it’s hard to boil it down to only a few but we’ll do our best. If we had to mention any negatives about the guitar its that it’s hard to find quality guitars that are made just for kids, especially smaller kids. Even ¾ sized guitars, which are relatively common, are pretty big for your average 7 or 8 year old.
Frankly, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to guitars because there are so many good ones on the market. We’ll stick to the beginner and entry level categories here though.
Fender Squier Mini Statocaster-View it on Amazon HERE:
Fender Squier is a world-renowned name in quality entry level electric guitars and basses. Surprisingly the Fender Squire Mini isn’t that well known. The reason is that it’s a kids sized instrument. But, its built with Fender quality, making it an AWESOME kids instrument. It has amazing features and plays and sounds like a full-sized electric guitar. Keep in mind you’ll need an amplifier and cable to get that rock guitar sound. Electric guitars aren’t that exciting to play when they aren’t plugged into an amp.
That said. Here’s a good little amp to go with the Fender Mini…
Fender Mini Tone Master Amp-View it on Amazon HERE:
This is a really small and super cool amp. Grab this to go with your electric guitar and let your kids rock out for hours. It’s simple to use and give you a classic Fender sound.
Another way to go is to get a Guitar Headphone Amplifier like this one HERE. It plugs right into the guitar, then you plug headphones into it and it gives you that electric guitar sound, right in the headphones, no other amp required.
Make sure you also grab an instrument cable like this one so you can plug the guitar into the amp. View instrument cable on Amazon HERE:
You’ll probably want a guitar strap too so your child can stand up when they play the guitar. This Amazon Basics version is good, click HERE.
Don’t forget the picks! Grab a bundle of picks to go with your guitar like these HERE:
Lastly, you will want some sort of tuner. You have two options. One is to get a dedicated tuner like this Fender tuner HERE. The other option is to download an app on your phone. There are many free guitar tuner apps out there. Tuning a guitar can be a daunting task for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience but when you get the hang of it, it isn’t so bad, when using a tuner. It is important to keep the guitar in tune though.
Let’s move to acoustic guitars. With acoustic guitars you won’t need an amplifier. The body on them is a little larger than an electric guitar but who doesn’t love an acoustic guitar.
Ibanez ¾ Mini Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar-View it on Amazon HERE:
Ibanez is another heavyweight in guitars. They make amazing instruments that go all the way up to the highest professional level. This is a nice acoustic guitar with really high-quality features and it’s smaller than a full sized acoustic guitar. I have to warn you that even at ¾ sized it can be a little big for smaller children.
Make sure you pick up a strap, tuner and picks for your acoustic guitar too (see the recommended ones above).
Wooooohooooo, the drums! Wait…please keep reading, the drums are awesome!!! The drums are such a unique, albeit loud, instrument. They are so great for teaching rhythm and coordination. Some kids are just drawn to the drums and that connection should be nurtured in my opinion. There are many great drum sets out there for kids.
But, before we get into the best drum sets, let’s talk about one major distinction between types of drum sets.
There are acoustic drum sets: These are your typical, loud drums that have round wooden (or metal) shells, drum heads on those shells, metal cymbals and are fairly large and pretty loud.
There are also electronic drum sets. These are more expensive than acoustic drums but they are much quieter because the sound of the drums can be heard by just the drummer through headphones (but they can also be amplified if you choose). They don’t have to be tuned like acoustic drums, and you can change the sound of each drum and cymbal on the set, which makes them really fun to play. It’s also easy to connect a phone or music player to them making it simple to play along with music through the headphones.
Acoustic drums are the original, they’re the real deal and are the best for the pro or gigging drummer. But electric drums are a great option for at home practice when you’d like to stay friends with your neighbors.
Note: if you go with acoustic drums get your kids some sound reducing headphones, like these HERE. I'd put these in the category of mandatory, if you're planning to get your child an acoustic drum set.
Here are some great acoustic and electronic drum options.
Mendini Kids Drum Set-View it on Amazon HERE:
I’ll start by saying this is a drum set (often referred to as a drum kit), for younger kids. It doesn’t have all the same pieces as a full drum kit. It’s missing hi-hats for example. But, for the price and for younger kids it’s easy to set up, it has quality drum shells and drum heads, it comes with a drum pedal, seat, a cymbal and sticks (although I’d replace these for any child above 4 years of age). If you child is serious about drum lessons I DO NOT recommend this drum set for them. This is a kit to get your young child started and to see if they take to the drums. If they do take to the drums you’ll need something a little better by the time they are about 5 or 6.
Ludwig Questlove Pocket 4-Piece Drum Set-View it on Amazon HERE:
Ludwig is a great drum company. If you remember the famous Beatles drum set, it was a Ludwig. The reason we like this drum set is because the drums are smaller than full sized but still sound great. The thing about drums is that adults can play sets that have smaller drums, but it can be hard for kids to play drum sets with bigger drums. This Ludwig set also comes with a few other things you’ll need like cymbals, cymbal stands, a seat and a pedal. You need all of these things and it’s a lot easier to by it in a package vs. getting each thing individually.
Make sure you grab drum sticks like these HERE. I recommend size 7a for kids. The larger the number the thinner the stick. So, a 2a is much thicker and heavier than a 7a. These stick pack is a good start for kids. Remember, sticks get lost (or taken by little sisters), so having a few on hand is usually a good idea, rather than just one pair.
Alesis Nitro Mesh Kit-View it on Amazon HERE:
This is such a good instrument for the price. I can’t believe that you can get a mesh head kit (mesh refers to the mesh on the playing surface of the drum. It’s a huge upgrade over rubber, which a lot of the entry level kits use. It feels much more realistic and is way more fun to play on) for under $400 (at the time I’m writing this). The cool thing about this, and other electronic kits, is that you can set the drums low, for kids, and raise them up as your child grows. You’ll still need a seat and sticks with this set, but you get a pedal, which is really nice.
Roland TD-1DMK-View it on Amazon HERE:
This costs twice as much as the Alesis above. Is it worth it? That’s debatable. It’s better because it feels better to play on, the sounds are more realistic (in my opinion) and I believe Roland to be the absolute best maker of electronic drum sets (by far, although the gap is closing a little). You would be just fine with the Alesis Nitro above, but if it’s in your budget, and you know your child is going to be playing the drums for a while, this Roland is a winner, even at the price! You will need a pedal, sticks and a seat with this set.
Drum Pedal-View it on Amazon HERE:
This is a pedal is by a brand I’m not familiar with. And, when it comes to instruments, I usually like to stick with name brands (because their stuff is just better in most cases). But, we’ve tested this pedal (my son actually has one), and we like it. Especially for the price. Top of the line drum pedals can approach $1,000. Yes, I’m being serious. So, for under $50 this pedal has some really good features. I’m impressed with it.
Vangoa Drum Throne-View it on Amazon HERE:
Yes, drum seats are called drum thrones! This one is durable, has double braced legs, which makes it sturdy. One of the main things to look for in a drum throne is threaded height adjustment. This will make the throne so much sturdier than other options. This throne isn’t exactly cheap but if you spend much less than this the quality goes down pretty quickly. Name brand thrones usually start at around $100.
Check out the drum lessons we offer at My Music Workshop too. You can visit us by clicking HERE. You can also watch a preview of our drum lessons in the video below:
Instruments for younger kids.
I am a HUGE proponent of keeping lots of instruments around the house for your kids to play when they feel like it. This is definitely true for younger kids, not just those who are ready to take instrument lessons. I recommend having at least a ukulele, bongos and a keyboard at home for your kids age 5 and under. You could also add a xylophone, drum with sticks, and more. I generally recommend against instruments that are plaid with the mouth for young kids, for obvious reasons. The key when you purchase instruments for your younger kids is to make sure they’re decent instruments, not just toys. Here are some recommendations to point you in the right direction.
Hape Kid’s Wooden Toy Ukulele-View it on Amazon HERE:
This is a toy. But, it’s a nice quality toy uke that’s made small for little ones. It’s a good little string instrument to have around the house.
Remo KD-5400 Bongos-View it on Amazon HERE:
These are awesome little starter bongos for kids. They look cool, sound good and will provide lots of fun jamming for the family. Heck, I like to jam out on these bongos. Just make sure not to hit them with sticks, otherwise the bongo heads will get destroyed and they can’t be replaced.
Casio SA-46 keyboard-View it on Amazon HERE:
We talked about this keyboard in the keyboard section above but it’s a good one for younger kids too. I don’t like any of the toy keyboards that are available. This is a category of instrument that really falls off if you get anything less than this Casio. This is a real instrument that’s also relatively inexpensive. It’s worth a little extra to get this over something cheaper, in my opinion.
I hope this helps you and your family decide on an instrument that’s best for your child. Remember childhood is about exploring. Kids can start out on one instrument then move to another when their taste changes or they see a friend play another instrument. In my opinion this is great. I understand that instruments are not cheap but I think this is one area worth splurging on. If your child ends up loving music and learning the play an instrument, it’s a lifelong journey that is sooo worth it.
Thanks and remember to check out our music program, My Music Workshop. We offer high quality music lessons for kids at an affordable price. Visit us below and get the music started!
Here are a few more resources that you might find helpful as your child starts getting ready to head down a musical path.