it would be nice to have something that i could just plug into my pc and decently record almost any instrument; electric, bass, acoustic, bongo, egg shakers etc. is there anything on the cheap side ($50 max) that could do that?
at $50 max, you won't get much. I think for a quality recording you'll be proud of, you need an $80 max.

I recommend this. http://www.alesis.com/io2express

They run about $80 new and get rather nice results.

This is what I use. http://www.google.com/products/catalog?pq=alesis+io2+express&hl=en&sugexp=pfwl&tok=oGEBHNG9Cn-wrQjtaWzG6Q&cp=9&gs_id=17&xhr=t&q=peavey+pv6&safe=off&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&ix=hca&biw=1440&bih=781&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=421995863152918656&sa=X&ei=pj0kT6XAIsbb0QH1vdTeCA&sqi=2&ved=0CIoBEPMCMAE

It get extremely nice quality for such a cheap little box, although you would want to invest in the USB version, which is what I have. it's $120 new, but if, and most importantly IF, you find one used, it may be around $90.

Both of these can run XLR or 1/4" jacks.

Once again, $50 won't get you anything worth having. trust me, I spent weeks upon weeks researching for mine and I'm proud of every recording.

Also, egg shakers? That's a new one.