Music Gear News
Top Beginner Instruments
Thinking about learning an instrument? Classical music is the perfect place to start.
Why Classical Music?
Classical music will teach you how to understand music. How to read notation. How to develop your technique and perform with others. Most of all, classical music will give you a solid grounding that you can apply to any other style of music. Beyond music, learning a classical instrument will develop your patience, persistence, and mental agility; skills we’d all like to improve!
Why start with classical music?
Classical music is an incredibly popular starting point for student musicians. This is due to the well-established learning resources. You’ll gradually learn about your instrument and about music in general, at a pace that suits you.
With classical music, every skill you learn will set you up to become a competent musician. In no time at all, you’ll be able to join different ensembles and make music with your friends. String quartets, wind ensembles, orchestras, musical theatre; the sky’s the limit.
Trying out other styles of music
Once you’ve learnt the key skills of your instrument, you’ll also find it much easier picking up other styles of music. Think of the possibilities. Brass players can use their technique and music reading to play jazz, reggae, ska, big band, and more. Sax players will have no problem learning jazz and pop. Guitarists who hone their technique in classical music will find it much easier learning jazz, rock and pop. Percussionists will give themselves the best start for a future stint behind the drum kit.
Classical musicians at Gear4music
If there’s one thing we can definitely help with – it’s creating new musicians. Or helping existing musicians pick up a new instrument. So, if you’re thinking about learning a new instrument, read on and see our top recommendations to get you started. Almost every instrument we sell is available in smaller sizes for younger players, as well as in bundles featuring all the equipment you’ll need to get playing.
One of the most popular instruments for any beginner. Classical guitarists can perform solo, like John Williams or Julian Bream, or they can join other musicians - think of the guitar/violin tango duos of Piazolla or the might of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.
Once you’ve picked up the basics, you’ll be able to move onto fiery flamenco, rock & pop acoustic guitar, jazz, or even the exciting nylon-strung sound of Rodrigo y Gabriela. Many classical players also make an easy transition to electric guitar after they’ve honed their technique and musical understanding.
Classical guitars have the added advantage of being strung with nylon strings. These cause less wear and tear on a new player’s fingers, making the classical guitar a great intro to acoustic and electric guitar playing (both of which feature steel strings).
Shop now | Classical Guitars
A cornerstone of the musical world. The piano is an expansive instrument that straddles all genres of music. In terms of a musical education, there might be no better starting point than the piano. By its nature, the piano is the perfect gateway to learning about music theory and composition.
Piano can be found in almost all sub-genres of classical music, from Bach to Beethoven, Elgar to Einaudi, and beyond. As a piano player, you’ll be in very high demand.
Once you’ve learned the basics of piano, you’ll be able to join almost any ensemble and branch out to any genre of music. Jazz, pop, singer songwriter, country, rock, blues, big band, and more. Jamie Cullum, Jools Holland, Adele… the list goes on and on.
You’ll even be able to transfer your skills to modern music production, where your keyboard ability and harmonic knowledge can be used to maximum effect.
We sell digital pianos that have a hammer-action keyboard feel and the authentic sound of an acoustic piano, as well as keyboards that offer multiple instrument sounds and built-in learning resources.
Shop now | Pianos and Keyboards
Ah, the violin. The leading group of the orchestra. The virtuosity of Paganini. The sensual tango of Piazolla. The slippery jazz of Stephane Grappelli. And even the modern pop sound of Clean Bandit.
The violin is a highly expressive instrument. Once you’ve got your bow under control, there’s a world of repertoire and ensembles available to you as a violin player. You’ll quickly become in-demand for string quartets, orchestras, pop groups, and more.
If you’d like to push the boundaries even further, choose one of our electric violins and explore the world of effects pedals and amps.
Shop now | Violins
Cello and double bass may look similar, but they occupy very different musical realms.
Choose the double bass and you’ll become the foundation of the orchestra. This grand instrument is capable of the lowest notes in the string family, and it is used to dramatic effect in its orchestral section. Once you’ve mastered the basics (pun very much intended!), you’ll have no problem moving beyond classical music; the double bass is a staple of jazz ensembles, big band, musical theatre, bluegrass, blues, and more.
Choose the cello and you’ll enjoy the best of both treble and bass. While capable of reaching the lowest notes in a string quartet, the cello is equally at home playing soaring melodies of the most expressive kind. The cello section is a staple of the orchestra for this versatile range. The cello is also a keen solo instrument; choose the cello and you’ll open up a world of Bach Cello Suites, Beethoven Sonatas (accompanied by piano), and many different concertos for orchestra.
Shop now | Cellos
Shop now | Double Bass
A fantastic starting point. The recorder is a great way to learn the basics of music. It’s the stereotypical school-age instrument, and for very good reason: it’s super quick to get making music! The straight-forward pleasure of being able to create a tune you recognise, in an afternoon, is the thrill of playing music. And you can do that quickest with a recorder.
The recorder is the perfect gateway to playing other wind instruments, or it can be truly mastered to a professional level. If you do take your recorder playing to advanced levels, you’ll find the genre of early music performance, where great work has been done to revive historical instruments and repertoire.
Shop now | Recorders
The saxophone is one of the younger woodwind instruments (invented in the 1840s), but during its lifetime, it has become an icon of jazz. The saxophone is a highly expressive instrument, capable of great dynamic and tonal range.
While today we see the saxophone most frequently in jazz and big band settings, this instrument has become an accepted addition to the orchestra. Sure, you may not find yourself playing Mozart (he didn’t have a saxophone available during his lifetime to compose for), but more modern composers embrace the tonal colours that this instrument can bring – check out Shostakovich’s Jazz Suites as a great example.
If you choose the saxophone, your first notes could begin in the ‘classical’ genre, in the sense that you’ll be learning to read music and develop your technique. In this genre, the saxophone often features in duos with piano, in saxophone ensembles, or perhaps as a soloist in a concerto.
Carry on playing the saxophone and you’ll quickly find yourself learning jazz tunes. You’ll become an in-demand player for big bands, pop/soul groups, musical theatre, New Orleans brass bands, and more. Saxophone has even been adapted to modern genres of dance/electronic music (search for Too Many Zooz if you don’t believe us).
Shop now | Saxophones
The Clarinet can be a natural progression from the recorder, or it can be a fantastic starting point to playing reeds. The clarinet lends itself perfectly to orchestral playing, where you’ll often be one of a very small selection of musicians in your section.
The clarinet is capable of highly expressive playing, as well as incredible dexterity. It is for this reason that the clarinet replaces the role of the violin in a wind orchestra. The clarinet is also a wonderful solo instrument, accompanied by piano or orchestra (search the Mozart Clarinet Concerto K622).
If you choose to explore other styles beyond classical music, the clarinet is no stranger to pop (Acker Bilk – Stranger on the Shore), and jazz (Artie Shaw being an early jazz musician), as well as big band music.
What’s more, learn the clarinet and you’ll be half way to playing saxophone! Both instruments are played with a reed and have a very similar fingering. You’ll find many players who double on both instruments.
Shop now | Clarinets
The flute is perhaps the nimblest of all wind instruments. If you seek exciting melodies, delicate textures, and a small but key part of the orchestra, look no further! Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un Faune is a prime example of the huge tonal range of the flute.
As well as orchestral settings, the flute is also found in wind bands, smaller ensembles, and as a soloist. The flute has even ventured into rock music (think Jethro Tull or Van Morrison’s Moondance).
Shop now | Flutes
Almost no instrument slides between jazz and classical as easily as the trumpet. Forming the powerful top end of the orchestral brass section, the trumpet frequently shows of its military fanfare background in orchestral and film scores – think Fanfare for the Common Man (of which John Williams based his Superman theme), or the film scores of Ennio Morricone.
The trumpet is equally at home in the jazz genre, being an essential part of any big band and a key soloist in smaller ensembles (Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie). The trumpet is capable of a huge range of effects, making it widely called upon for jazz and latin styles (Strictly Come Dancing), as well as pop (OMI – Cheerleader).
Lower cost options - like the plastic pTrumpet and playLite range - make the trumpet more accessible than ever before. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be ready to buy a selection of mutes which not only attenuate the volume of the instrument, they create a wide range of tonal effects.
Shop now | Trumpets
Another member of the loud and proud brass family. Usually the loudest instrument in an orchestra, the trombone is a crucial part of the brass section. With its unique sliding mechanism, you’ll see the trombone featured in brass bands, marching bands, wind ensembles, and as a soloist. The trombone also crosses genres into pop, soul, funk, Motown, ska, jazz, and much more.
Getting started with the Trombone is made more affordable by the pBone and playLite range. They have the same workings as a brass trombone but are constructed from plastic. This has the benefit of making them weather resistant – perfect for street performance!
Shop now | Trombones
Classical percussion is divided into many different parts. The choice to make as a beginner is whether to go with tuned or untuned percussion.
Tuned percussion instruments are played with beaters and include the xylophone, glockenspiel, and marimba. These instruments form a key part of the orchestra but have a very different skill set to untuned percussion.
Untuned percussion study usually begins with the snare drum. Once you’ve mastered your drumstick control, you’ll open the door to the specialist techniques required for other untuned instruments (cymbals, hand percussion and more). The study of hand percussion instruments allows you to explore many more styles of world music.
The orchestral snare drum is a common second instrument for drum kit players. If you can master the specific drum rudiments required for classical and marching music, your overall drum kit technique will show great improvement. The full drum kit is a staple instrument of modern music in almost every genre, and learning the classical snare drum is a guaranteed way to expand your technique.
Many modern percussionists learn drums alongside tuned percussion. That way, they become highly in-demand for musical theatre productions, as well as session players and in modern pop groups. Drummers can easily adapt their drum kit with electronic tuned percussion instruments, giving them the best of both worlds.
Shop now | Percussion
Shop now | Drums
Find out more
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