An age old question when it comes to two of the most popular instruments in the entire world is which one is easier to play than the other. We’re taking a look at piano vs guitar to find out which is the hardest instrument to learn. Overall, we found the guitar to be easier for an adult to learn because the songs are less challenging at a beginner’s level. The piano will be easier for younger people because they don’t have the difficulties of holding onto a guitar and then coordinating both of their hands.
At a more advanced playing level, the piano or guitar allows for amazing musical growth and can give you a fun challenge too. In our article, we are going to give you an in-depth comparison on the levels of difficulty with piano vs guitar. We hope this will help you make the right choice if you are planning on playing either of these instruments.
Ease of Learning Songs
When we talk about learning a song on piano or guitar we mean the process of playing a series of chords that make up a song, which you can then add lyrics to. If you look at learning songs in this format, the guitar is easier to learn. Someone who is a student of the guitar picks up chord progressions and strumming techniques within a lesson or two. Even the most famous pop songs out there in the world today use only a small variety of chords. When you a beginner to the guitar, this simplicity opens you up to a lot of familiar songs.
Another thing when you play guitar is your chord shapes. A guitar shape on the strings, once created, cannot be played wrong. This offers up much more flexibility than playing piano because you can play pretty much any pattern you want. When you look at the piano you have every note available to you all of the time. This makes it harder to play and means you have to rely on your music theory skills to make the correct choice for chords.
Don’t get us wrong, you can still learn chords quickly on the piano and guitar if you wanted to. However, most music teachers start out piano lessons with the fundamentals like learning the names of the notes and playing basic scales. Once you begin to learn piano chords you have to use the progressions and a smooth transition technique. Chord inversions are something else that has to be used when you learn piano otherwise the music sounds terrible.
In this section, we are swayed more to the guitar than the piano for ease of playing. There are fewer barriers to creating great-sounding music on guitar than there are with the piano.
Simplicity of the Layout
When you look at guitar vs piano in terms of the layout, piano wins this war. The keys follow a much simpler pattern than the frets you find on the neck of a guitar. With a piano, you have a pattern of seven white notes and five black ones for every octave. It follows the same exact cluster pattern throughout with clusters of two and three white notes alternating. This simple layout means that learning scales and other piano playing techniques are much easier.
Looking at the layout of a guitar, it becomes a bit more complicated. Even though the piano outdoes the guitar’s six strings with 200+ of its very own, every string on the guitar produces a lot of different pitches. Being able to play scales on the guitar will involve you changing between strings and frets consistently, instead of playing keys in a line up and down a keyboard.
In this section, we would say the piano wins out in the guitar and piano battle. The simplicity of the keys is much easier to get started for a beginner than learning the complicated chord patterns of the guitar.
Easier Techniques for Beginners
The beginning stages of playing any instrument is usually defined by the first month or so that you are playing. In terms of the beginner stage, the piano has an easier technique to learn than the guitar. Both of your hands usually move into the same sort of positions. Playing notes on the piano is easy because it will ring out clearly no matter how you happen to hit it.
At the novice stage, a guitar has a lot more challenging techniques involved. Some things you will need to master to move on to the next level of guitar playing are:
- Making sure you are pressing the string close to the fret, otherwise, they will buzz;
- Developing calluses so that your fingers no longer hurt after prolonged playing;
- Learning coordination techniques to be able to strum and pluck the strings at the same time while using the frets with your other hand.
Past the beginning stages of each instrument, it can be tricky to establish which one is easier. The more advanced you become in playing the guitar or piano, the better your abilities are with this instrument. Any instrument you choose to play from there will be just as difficult at a more advanced ability level.
Instead of trying to pit the guitar and piano against each other here in terms of challenging techniques, let’s take a look at the difficulties. We’ll start out with the guitar:
- Subtleties of sound are harder to control. When you play guitar you are always directly controlling the sound output by either strumming or plucking. In turn, this means that the sound variety is much wider. With a piano, you can’t control the sound like this because of the mechanical system of hammer on strings.
- Gravity can’t help you. The weight that goes behind your arm helps you to press down a piano key easily. With guitars you don’t get this additional help so you have to use your strength more.
- Barre chords. This is where you press down all of the strings and some of your fingers go to forming a chord shape. Being able to place your fingers in the right place, as well as getting your grip strength correct, is a skill that takes a while to learn.
With the piano, the difficulties you could be facing are:
- Larger space to work with. The piano covers a huge width compared to the guitar. Because there’s so much range to work in you may find yourself making huge leaps up and down the keyboards in a song.
- Both hands play independent notes. Both your left hand and right hand could play any key included on a piano. This means that both hands could both be doing difficult finger work at the same time. With the guitar, your hands are co-dependent so they rely on each other to make the right sound.
Suitable for Children
When asking music teachers which they would prefer to teach children, guitar or piano, most would say piano. At the beginning of their learning, a child may be put off by the discomfort that pressing down strings can cause from a guitar. The coordination skills are more challenging too because your hands have to do two completely different tasks. Compared to the piano, there’s no discomfort for the player and most melodies can be played with just one hand.
If you have a child who is interested in learning the guitar, try them out with a ukulele instead. This is a much more comfortable instrument for children to play thanks to the size and softer strings.
So many people want to know which would be easier to teach themselves. In this instance between piano and guitar, the guitar wins out. You only need to learn basic strumming patterns and a few of the common chords to be able to play some of the easier, but recognizable, songs. Trying to teach yourself the piano will be a long and drawn-out process because of the music theory. It’ll be much easier to learn with the help of a teacher in this case.
Sharing with Others
While the piano is easier to play for other people because of its volume, the guitar is better to share your music because you can take it wherever you want to. Because the guitar is a much quieter instrument than the piano it can also be played in the background at parties or in a group setting.
Trying to share the music while you are playing the piano presents us with a bit more of a challenge. The instrument itself is large so it immediately draws your attention and keeps it there. It’s difficult to pull out a piano in the middle of a conversation or group and start playing a song in the background. The piano is very much an instrument that commands attention so to play for others, we think the guitar wins the race.
A guitar is much easier to maintain than a piano will be. Piano’s have highly advanced mechanics that involve strings and hammers and many different devices to make them work. Guitars don’t have anything like this.
Some regular maintenance that has to be carried out for a piano is tuning. It can cost upwards of $100 to have a piano tuned properly which is a fair sum of money to be forking out every few months. By choosing the guitar you will be able to tune your instrument in seconds by turning the pegs attached to the neck.
Another piece of maintenance you may need for the piano and guitar is restringing. For a guitar you can do it yourself and even taking it to a pro won’t cost you any more than $50. Trying to restring a piano could end up costing you thousands so the maintenance expenses are far better with a guitar.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which instrument is going to be easier to play. Your choice should completely be based on your preference. Loving the choice that you make will give you more gratification as you are learning to play. This will boost your confidence and will encourage you to carry on learning your musical theory.
Both the guitar and the piano are able to teach you the fundamentals of music that other instruments such as the drums or singing won’t be able to give you. Both of these choices are brilliant for beginners and, while they may be on different paths, eventually you will reach the same goal. This goal is that you want to enjoy playing music and maybe even reach a professional level at some point in the future.
Looking at every point we’ve made throughout this article we would definitely say that the guitar is easier to play than the piano. It’s portable, you can teach yourself and learning familiar songs is a quick process. This is more true in the beginner stages of learning.
If you are someone who isn’t interested in having a social instrument or you enjoy classical music then piano is easier. The layout and overall technique are easier to deal with than they are when playing the guitar.
Remember that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one instrument. Just because you are learning piano now doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a classical guitar later on down the line. You may also want to learn how to sing as well because singing is a wonderful accompaniment to both guitars and pianos.
We hope you found our article helpful and that this can help you make a decision on whether the guitar or piano is the easier choice for you.
Should I learn piano or guitar first?
Usually, you will be better off learning the piano first because it gives you a solid base understanding of what music is and how music theory works. After you learn the piano it will be a lot easier to pick up a guitar. This works the other way round too. If you’re trying to learn both instruments and don’t know whether to choose piano or guitar first, we would suggest going for the guitar if you want to play casually or stick to the pop music genre.
Is it easier to learn guitar if you play piano?
Yes, it will be much easier for you to learn how to play the guitar if you already know how to play the piano. This is because you will already have the basic music theory knowledge you need to understand chords and harmonies from your piano playing.
Which is the easiest instrument to learn?
Many people would consider the piano to be the easiest instrument to learn because of how many resources there are available to you. Other instruments such as the harmonica and recorder are also very simple to learn.
Is keyboard easier to learn than guitar?
The keyboard is easier to learn to begin with because it’s much simpler to pick up the basics of music theory on the piano. When it comes to the piano vs guitar, knowing how to play piano first can help you learn guitar in the future.
Can I learn the piano and the guitar at the same time?
Learning a new instrument takes a lot of practice, no matter how easy or hard it may be. When you first start out learning you need to set aside that time to practice your music. If you don’t have a spare 45 minutes every day to put in some practice on two instruments, we wouldn’t suggest you learn these at the same time. It will put too much of a challenge on you to make the right progress in both instruments if you are having to split your time up. If you do have the time and your willing to put the practice in that it can actually be beneficial to learn musical theory from two different perspectives at one time.
Is piano the hardest instrument to play?
No, the piano is nowhere near the hardest instrument out there that you can play. There are instruments such as bagpipes that take a lot more work than the piano. The way that piano is taught in traditional lesson style can make it an instrument that feels hard. Having to dedicate a lot of time to practice may also turn you off, but this has to be done with every instrument. Sheet music is introduced very early on with the piano which some people find daunting. Plus the musical theory gets more complicated as you carry on learning. But it’s a very rewarding instrument and once you get the basics down, it doesn’t feel so hard.