how to pick an instrument

How to Pick the Perfect Instrument for You

Choosing a musical instrument can be an exciting and challenging task. Whether you are starting your musical journey or looking to pick up a second instrument, selecting the right one can make all the difference. From understanding your personality and preferences to finding the right learning opportunities, this article will guide you on how to pick the perfect instrument for you.

Assess your Personality and Preferences

The first step to finding the perfect instrument is to assess your personality and preferences. This involves considering various factors before making a final decision. Here are some elements to think about before picking an instrument:

  • Musical taste: Your music preference influences the type of instrument that would best suit you. For instance, if you enjoy classical music, a violin might be the perfect choice, while rock music enthusiasts may consider playing electric guitar.
  • Physical abilities and limitations: Your physical abilities and limitations also play a crucial role in selecting an instrument. For example, playing trumpet or saxophone requires lung capacity, while guitar playing relies on dexterity and hand coordination.
  • Time commitment: Learning an instrument is a time-consuming task that needs dedication and practice. So, choose an option that fits your time constraints.

Understand the Different Types of Instruments

The next step in choosing an instrument is understanding the types available. Musical instruments can be categorized into four sound production methods: stringed instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments, and percussion instruments. Each of them produces unique sounds that attract different individuals.

  • Stringed Instruments: Stringed instruments produce sound by vibrating strings’ length. Examples of stringed instruments include guitar, violin, ukulele, bass, and harp.
  • Woodwind Instruments: Woodwind instruments generate sound by blowing air into a tube with holes. Flute, clarinet, saxophone, and oboe are examples of woodwind instruments.
  • Brass Instruments: Brass instruments create sound by producing vibration within a metal tube through lips’ buzzing. Examples of brass instruments include trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba.
  • Percussion Instruments: Percussion instruments produce sound when struck or shaken. Examples include drums, cymbals, maracas, tambourine, xylophone, and vibraphone.

Try Out the Instrument Before Buying One

Once you have narrowed down the types of instruments that match your personality and preferences, it’s crucial to try them out before making a final purchase decision. Play some notes to determine if the instrument is comfortable for you.

  • Tips for Trying Out an Instrument at a Store: Speak to a salesperson for an introductory lesson or share your preferences with them so they can guide you better. It’s also helpful to select a quiet corner in the store to avoid distractions and common noises.
  • Tips for Borrowing an Instrument: If you get a chance to borrow an instrument from someone or rent one temporarily, practice in your own space to get a feel of the music-making experience.

Decide Whether to Rent or Buy an Instrument

If you’re selecting an instrument for the first time or do not have enough finances to buy one right away, renting might be an ideal option for you. If you have specific preferences, a unique playing style, or intend to play the instrument for a long time, buying an instrument would be appropriate.

  • Advantages of Renting an Instrument: Renting allows you to try out instruments without committing to one while saving money for future purchases. Additionally, rental stores provide regular instrument maintenance, which reduces repair expenses on your part.
  • Advantages of Buying an Instrument: It saves rental expenses in the long run and provides ownership benefits like customizations according to your playing style and taste.

Consider Other Equipment Needed

The cost of purchasing an instrument is not the final expense required in playing it. There are other equipment costs to consider before buying an instrument. These include purchasing accessories such as strings and cases, supplementary tools needed for maintenance, amplifiers, or microphones for some instruments.

Developing Basic Skills

The early stages of learning an instrument can be quite challenging. It could involve overcoming initial difficulties faced in playing basics notes and chords. Creating a practice routine is also necessary to ensure that you hone your musical skills.

  • Common Difficulties Encountered by Beginners: Starting an instrument involves coming to terms with various difficulties like finger pain (for stringed instruments), lip problems (for brass instruments), or coordination challenges (for percussion instruments).
  • Practice Tips: Start small with fundamental notes then gradually progress to more complex tunes. Create a daily practice routine for consistency until you develop your skills adequately.

Determine Learning Opportunities

Learning opportunities vary from person to person. You could either consider self-learning through online resources or books or opt for taking private lessons with an instructor.

  • Self-Learning: Online resources and books offer numerous tutorials, classes, and exercise routines on playing different instruments. They allow you to learn at your pace at any time convenient for you.
  • Private Lessons: Private lessons are ideal if you want a one-on-one learning experience with an expert. It also provides the opportunity for quick feedback, which helps in correcting mistakes fast. Private lessons could either be in-person or remote, depending on the preference of the instructor.

Consider Joining a Band or Ensemble

The final step in your journey is joining a band or ensemble once you have honed your skills adequately. Joining musical groups like bands and ensembles provide considerable benefits, including community building and exposure to compositions outside your regular music style.

  • Benefits of Joining a Musical Group: These groups provide opportunities to meet and play with other musicians, which enhances teamwork skills. Engaging with different musical styles outside your comfort zone expands your music knowledge.


Picking the perfect instrument can significantly influence your musical journey’s enjoyment and fulfillment. It requires assessing your personality, understanding the various types of instruments available, trying them out before buying them, considering additional instrument equipment needed, developing adequate basic skills and determining adequate learning opportunities, deciding whether to rent or buy an instrument, and finally, joining a band or ensemble. Follow these guidelines to pick the perfect instrument for you and begin playing beautiful music today!

7 FAQs About How to Pick an Instrument

1. What are the most important factors to consider when choosing an instrument?

When picking an instrument, you should consider your personal taste, natural abilities, and the tone quality of the instrument. Additionally, you should consider the availability of lessons, the cost of purchasing and maintaining an instrument, and whether or not you plan to perform in a group setting.

2. Should I pick an instrument that is popular or trendy?

No! While popularity might make certain instruments more feasible to learn due to availability of resources, it is important for you to choose an instrument that speaks to you and that you enjoy playing. Trendy instruments may not be the right match for your natural abilities or style. It takes sustained practice and dedication to become proficient at playing an instrument; it’s essential to select one that resonates with you.

3. Is it important to try out an instrument before buying it?

Absolutely! Trying out instruments is important because each one feels and plays differently. You want to ensure that you’re comfortable playing it before committing financially. A variety of factors will influence your comfort level, including size, weight, and feel.

4. Are there any instruments that are easier for beginners?

Yes! Some instruments are considered easier for beginners because they have fewer parts or steps in their playing process. Ukuleles, recorders, harmonicas and some percussion instruments like tambourines are generally good starting points for absolute beginners.

5. Can I learn an instrument on my own?

You can indeed learn how to play some musical instruments on your own if you have access to online tutorials or instructional books, but if you really want to learn the full-depth of the instrument, it is highly recommended that you take formal or private lessons. An instructor offers personalized feedback, advice and guidance through your learning process.

6. How long will it take me to start playing a musical instrument?

The timeline for playing an instrument varies depending on which one you choose and how much time you dedicate to learning. Generally beginners take approximately one year to comfortably play songs with correct fundamentals and technique.

7. Is it necessary to buy a high-end instrument to start playing?

No! While high-end instruments have better tone quality and craft than beginners’ instruments, they are not essential for starting on your musical journey. There are plenty of beginner-level or used instruments that serve as suitable entry points in terms of affordability without compromising utility and longevity.

keys takeaways

4 Keys Takeaways for How to Pick an Instrument

  1. Start with your interests. Consider which genres of music you enjoy and what instruments are commonly played in those styles. This will help you narrow down your options.
  2. Consider practical factors. Think about logistics such as size, weight, and cost of the instrument, as well as whether or not you’ll have access to a teacher or group to practice with.
  3. Try before you buy. Make sure to test out the instrument before making a purchase. This can be done by renting or borrowing an instrument and playing around with it for a few weeks.
  4. Don’t be afraid to switch things up. If you find that the instrument you initially chose isn’t the right fit for you, it’s okay to try something else. Some people even play multiple instruments!

Overall, picking an instrument can be a fun and rewarding process. By taking these key factors into consideration, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect fit for you!