Is guitar easier than piano? Is the piano harder than [put your musical instrument]? What an interesting question… Instinctively one would say: They are totally different but you would be mistaken to jump the gun too quickly. I figured it would be interesting to compare the most common musical instruments and try to rate them according to difficulty. Therefore, I wrote this article:
It is much easier to learn a song for the guitar than for the piano. This is because most students can grasp the strum patterns and chord formations on the guitar fairly quickly.
Both guitar and piano are great instruments to start with. They provide music education and enough individual satisfaction that the student continues to want to learn more, but the question for students, parents, and teachers alike is: Which is easier to learn? Well, the answer isn’t the easiest in the world, so let’s break it down a bit to see what we discover.
You may think that comparing learning the piano to learning the guitar is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, and in that, you would be right and wrong.
An interesting fact: the guitar is much older than the piano. In the evolution of musical instruments, the ancestors of the modern guitar go back thousands of years. The piano, on the other hand, was a kind of final evolution of the harp.
Both the piano and the guitar are commonly used as a first introduction to music education, but the type of education the student receives is very different in both cases. For ease of comparison, we’ve pitted each instrument into a few simple categories.
When discussing how easy each instrument is to learn songs, it’s good to define what exactly that means. For this blog, we say that learning a song means learning to play the chords of that song on the guitar or piano. Learn the chords and their arrangement well enough to be able to sing along.
It is much easier to learn a song for the guitar than for the piano. This is because most students can grasp the strum patterns and chord formations on the guitar fairly quickly. So, in theory, it’s perfectly possible to learn a simple strumming pattern and a couple of chords in a few hours and be able to play a song with all of them by the end of the day. Because of the way guitar chords are formed, it’s also much easier to make sure you’re playing the correct notes. Generally, when you have your fingers in the right place on a guitar chord, only the correct notes will be able to make a sound.
In contrast, when you play the piano you have the entire keyboard at your disposal. When learning to play the piano, you can cover some basic chords quickly, but it’s usually best to start with some basic music theory first. If you skip this step, it will be much more difficult to improvise and have fun later. You can also add a second hand to play bass notes or even play some of those high notes that no one could sing (except maybe Ariana Grande).
The piano wins in this case because its design is quite simple. A piano has a series of black and white keys that follow the same pattern. The notes that can be played on a piano are divided into small groups called octaves. Each octave has 7 white notes and 5 black notes. The lowest keys are on the left and the highest keys are on the right.
The layout of a guitar is a bit more complex. Most guitars only have 6 strings, and on each string, there is a small sectioned-off part of the guitar neck known as the fret. By pressing a specific string and placing a finger on a certain fret, you will change the pitch of the string. When a guitar is in a horizontal position, the upper strings are lower and the lower strings are higher. Unfortunately, this is about as linear as you can get when playing guitar.
It might be easier to go from nothing to playing an entire song on the guitar because you only have to learn the finger placements to make the chords, but due to the layout of the guitar, it’s unlikely you’ll know the chords. individual notes you are playing to make that chord.
So, as said before, learning a song is easier on the guitar, but it’s much easier to develop the principles of music theory on a piano.
When you start learning to play an instrument, there is a stage where you are an absolute or early beginner (the first month or two), and then there is the intermediate stage. The experience is always different when comparing a beginner to an intermediate.
In the early beginner stage, the guitar is a bit more complicated. The reason is mainly physical. Each string must be pressed hard enough to form a chord; otherwise, the sound will not be clear. The pressure required for this can be uncomfortable and make your fingers a bit sensitive until calluses form. Additional coordination is also needed because one hand is forming chords while the other is plucking or maintaining a strumming pattern. It’s a bit like the old exercise of patting your head while rubbing your belly.
Throughout my life, I have often heard the phrase the electric bass is the easiest instrument to play or the piano is easier than the guitar, etc. This is false, although like everything in popular wisdom has a more or less irregular basis on which to stand. Bass can be as easy as you like or as challenging as any other instrument. Bass is probably easier to start with than guitar, for example, but each instrument poses different intellectual and physical challenges. It is difficult to quantify the difficulty involved in each one compared to the rest. The type of music also influences the ranking from the most difficult to the easiest, so we will not go into which instrument (within the most widespread instruments) is the most complicated to play.
In general, it is believed that the drums are an easy instrument to learn, perhaps because in a short time you can do the most basic (possibly poorly executed although the student does not appreciate it), this is a mental effect that occurs with most of the apprentices in the different instruments, especially those that sound and tune easily. Drumming requires a specific style to hit the drums that require proper learning. Contrary to what most people think, keeping the beats in sync without them falling out of tempo and hitting with the proper technique is extremely difficult.
Possibly the most popular instrument of the 20th century. More for its evolution and perfect coupling to the development of the music than for being a simple instrument. In the early stages of learning, pain in the fingertips from pressing the strings for the first time is normal, pain in the wrist from having to position yourself to play certain chords, etc. Perhaps a sore hand from having to put the fingers in positions they have never held before. In a few months, one can get hold of the basic rules.
The Piano rewards you very quickly. It’s easy to learn some basics, a very graphic instrument that separates natural notes from sharps and flats. Learning to play the piano itself isn’t too difficult, as long as you’re willing to put in the time. Most modern pop music is quite simple to play, the real difficulty comes in the independence of the hands, the knowledge of harmony, and acquiring speed in the movements. Generally little is taken into account that to acquire all of the above it is important to sit correctly and that the keyboard is at the correct height (something that today with poor quality portable keyboards and kickstands has been left aside a bit).
There is no simple wind instrument to play (with correct tuning). They are instruments connected to the most physical aspect of sound. The one who blows and tunes, rectifying each time, is the musician. They are sometimes close to the human voice and are generally very organic. Wind instruments produce sound by a column of vibrating air, either with a reed or the lips of a musician. It is classified into two groups; woodwinds and brass instruments. The problem with fingerings is that you have 8 or 9 usable fingers (you usually need at least one to hold the instrument) and that must be reconciled with the demands of basic music theory: there are 12 notes chromatic per octave.
The bow and left hand must be set to almost every note and phrase. The violin and viola are unique among stringed instruments in the way they are physically held and played. The instrument is placed on the left shoulder, slightly below the chin, and is played with the left hand, while the right hand operates the bow. This positioning can present early challenges for the young learner. The violin requires you to coordinate your left and right hands, while engaging in completely different roles, each presenting its unique challenges. The left hand is used to play the notes. Unlike the guitar, the violin has no frets to guide the player in finger placement. The intonation of the instrument, or the ability to play in tune, is based on the placement of the fingers of the left hand. Constant practice is required to develop muscle memory to ensure proper finger placement.