Being able to play an instrument can be incredibly rewarding but some are more difficult than others to play. Instead of taking on the age old piano vs guitar argument, we’re going to look the hardest to the easiest instruments to play, ranked. While it’s challenging to learn any instrument such as oboe, guitar and piano, some are going to be harder than others.
1. Violin – The Hardest to Learn
The violin is the hardest instrument to play. While some people would think that it would be the guitar and piano, the violin absolutely takes the top of our list. Unlike the guitar, with the violin you don’t have any frets to guide you on where the different pitches are. There aren’t any keys to help you here either like you get with a piano. The strings are much closer together than when you play guitar too. This presents a challenge for many beginners as it can be tricky to learn to bow just one string at a time.
Music theory is a huge part of learning the violin too. Similar to playing piano, there’s a lot of different theories and techniques you have to understand to become a great violinist. Hand-eye coordination is a huge part of learning the violin, but the same could be said for piano and guitar. It usually takes a person years to develop all of the music theory and techniques to actually make a violin sound good.
2. French Horn
The French horn isn’t a very popular instrument like some of the others we will list here, but it is a brass instrument included in many bands and orchestras. It is an instrument that features second on our piano vs guitar list because of how long it takes to master. If you want something easier to play like the guitar or piano, this won’t be the instrument for you.
There are a few different valves on the French horn, but it’s all about the movement of the lips that makes it so difficult. It’s this technique that takes so long to perfect. Even when you do master these skills, unlike the piano and guitar your playing on this horn still has to be perfect to be able to fit into an orchestra.
An organ is a bit like the piano in that it uses music theory and keyboards to play. Many people know these instruments from church services. Piano is easier than the organ because with the organ, you have to balance a few things all at once. There are two levels of keyboards which is different from when you learn piano. You also have to think about the different buttons and foot pedals involved. The organ takes a lot of patience to learn, much like playing guitar, but it can take decades to get right.
Harps are a truly beautiful instrument that is going to appear next in our piano vs guitar list. Similar to the strings of the guitar, a harp has 47 strings in total and every single one has to be played right. The actual playing experience is different from when you play guitar. A harpist has to have skills such as endurance and flexibility in order to reach all those strings.
Knowing which strings to play at the right time as well as memorizing complicated melodies are what make this instrument so hard to learn. Teachers are hard to come by as well, unlike looking for piano lessons or tutorials on guitar playing. Once you have been learning to play for a few years, you may be able to produce nice music out of the harp.
The accordion is a really fun one to play but it is a bit of challenge at the same time. Many people compare actually playing the accordion to playing the piano and then adding in the bagpipes at the same time. You have to use both your arms and fingers at the same time to work the accordion properly. Your fingers are needed for the side of the accordion where you play the piano keys and push any necessary buttons.
Accordions are fun, much like the guitar, but the learning process can be frustrating. It can be a bit clunky for beginners and it’s not a common instrument so finding a teacher may be difficult. The accordion is definitely not easier than guitar or piano so if you want something a little simpler, look somewhere else.
If you’re not sure what a bassoon is and have never seen one before, don’t worry. They’re a fairly common instrument used in orchestral setups but otherwise don’t crop up that often in modern music. The bassoon is hard to play because of their sheer size and the double reed. It’s hard to find a great bassoon player who hasn’t already given it up and moved on to the much easier oboe.
Bassoons are tricky instruments because of their size. It usually means that someone who wants to play this will need to be tall or extremely deterous to be able to navigate all those 28 keys. The double reed is similar to that of an oboe and it takes dexterity of both your lips and tongue to master this part of the bassoon. It’s something that takes years of practice and definitely shouldn’t be one that you pick as your first ever instrument.
Oboe is not an instrument we would give to a beginner. If oboe is something you are interested in but you have no musical theory knowledge, we would suggest you learn guitar or the piano first instead. It’s common for oboe players to learn a different instrument first before taking on this. The reason the oboe is so difficult is because you have to use more counter-intuitive techniques. There are also issues such as reeds and other materials you have to purchase to go along with the oboe. Mastering the proper breathing techniques as well as long music passages is also a tricky part of the oboe.
Drums can either be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult depending on the type of music that you want to play. If all you want to do is play simple rock beats then they’re not going to be too tricky. However, if you want to be a solo drummer then you’ll have a harder time with the drums. Music genres such as punk and rock usually have an easier beat to follow, so these are great styles to begin with.
You can spend years learning how to play the drums and never reach the level of being a master drummer. But knowing your craft will make you a great band member if you choose to play with others.
Finally our guitar appears on our list. The guitar is an incredibly popular instrument and it’s used in almost every style of music out there. It’s a pretty easy instrument to learn but it can be hard to master. A lot of musicians will pick it up and want to learn guitar because they see their favorite musicians playing the guitar in band. When you look at this instrument vs piano, you get a lot more range and diversity with the guitar.
The frets of the guitar make it easier to play the notes accuractly. It’s mastering the other skills you need for playing the guitar such as rhythm and timing that can make it tricky. Chords are one of the biggest challenges for new musicians because it takes time to move on from playing single notes. This is the reason that so many guitar players but in a lot of practice.
The piano is the next up on our list because we think it’s easier to learn the guitar. You press a key and music comes out – pretty simple right? There is a wide abundance of resources available such as piano lessons and free online tutorials as well which makes this instrument easier to learn than the others.
The piano is th number one instrument at the top of the list for popularity, overtaking guitar. So many people begin learning piano and then move on to guitar or vice versa. This is a brilliant technique to learn to read music and it can help you start playing and learning music in other areas too.
Much the same as the French horn and the violin, the trumpet offers you limited guidance on making the right sound. Accurately playing the right notes or chords involves different valve keys that allow you to move within octaves. Changing the valve means that you change an octave which opens up huge range of pitches for you to play. Many beginners find that they blow the trumpet but struggle to get any sort of sound.
12. Ukulele – The Easiest to Learn
While some instruments are incredibly difficult to learn, there are some out there that are easy. The ukulele is probably the easiest proper instrument you can learn. It’s become extremely popular over recent years, now selling over a million of these every single year. The setup is almost exactly the same as the guitar but you have four strings instead of the standard classical guitar six strings. It’s a very lightweight model which makes it ideal for younger learners. The presence of frets also makes playing notes and chords simpler without having to have too much music knowledge.
Once you have learned the ukulele you can take a step up and begin learning other stringed instruments such as the guitar. Having the basic knowledge of the strings and different chord patterns will make the transfer a lot easier than if you jumped straight in to learning the guitar.
Learning to play music is a great pursuit and it’s something that is enjoyed by a lot of people. You can learn on your own or invest in lessons to make your journey easier. It’s important to remember that some instruments will come to you a lot more naturally than others. You may have a natural rhtyhm or already have great hand-eye coordination that makes things like guitar or dums much easier to play. The ranking system we have used is based on a generalization of what students and players experience on their learning journey. You should always form your own opinion on what instruments you find easy or hard.
We hope you enjoyed our list and that you may have found a new instrument to play. Remember to take a look at our other articles if you are a piano or guitar player to find out tips and tricks to use in your playing.
Is piano or guitar harder?
Looking at both instruments from a technical standpoint at the most basic level, the piano would be the easier instrument to play. However, at the very beginning of your musical journey, the guitar will be easier because of the basic theory needed to learn.
Should I learn piano or guitar first?
Piano is the better instrument to learn first for a number of different reasons. The main reason why we would suggest learning the piano first is that it will teach you the very basics of musical theory. This knowledge can translate to pretty much any instrument you want and knowing this can make playing other instruments easier.
Why is guitar so much harder than piano?
The guitar requires many more techniques than the piano and there is a lot more room for error. With the piano, you hit one key and it plays that note. With the guitar you can mix up your notes and pitches easily if you don’t understand the frets.
Which is the most difficult instrument to play?
As we featured at the top of our list, we would say that the violin is the most difficult instrument to play. We didn’t go with the typical guitar or piano because, quite frankly, the violin is much harder. It can take years to find out where all of the notes are and the strings are incredibly close together which makes it tricky for beginners.