Is Guitar Harder than (These 10 Instruments)?

When deciding to learn a musical instrument, choosing which instrument is best for you can be challenging since various unique challenges are associated with each instrument. While the guitar may be one of the most popular instruments globally, especially for beginners, it is worth exploring how difficult/easy it is compared to other popular instruments.

Generally speaking, playing guitar is harder than:

  1. Drums,
  2. Ukulele,
  3. Banjo,
  4. Flute.

However, in general, playing guitar is easier than:

  1. Piano,
  2. Bass,
  3. Violin,
  4. Saxophone,
  5. Trumpet,
  6. Cello.

Although it is tough to determine which instruments are more accessible or more challenging than the guitar since each person has different natural attributes that translate differently when learning to play a musical instrument, it is worth exploring each instrument in comparison to the guitar below:

1. Is Guitar Harder than Piano?

Guitar and piano can produce every note on the chromatic scale, making them transferable and complementary instruments concerning music theory. They are also some of the most popular instruments globally, meaning that either instrument is selected for beginners.

While a guitar only has six strings vs. the 230 strings on a piano (bearing in mind that pianos create music via keys triggering hammers that hit strings to produce sound), guitars have between 19 to 24 frets per string which translate to 49 notes (on a 24-fret guitar) which covers four octaves.

In comparison, an 88-key piano covers seven octaves and a few more notes than a guitar. The reason is that the same notes can be found across different areas in the guitar, with these identical notes known as unison. Meanwhile, notes do not repeat themselves on a piano, whereby the pitch of each note runs from left to right representing lowest to highest.

Therefore, many people believe in terms of understanding of note placement and its translation into music theory that the piano is a more accessible instrument to play and conceptualize visually due to the absence of unisons.

However, many people believe the guitar is easier for beginners to physically play and recreate songs, as knowledge of a few simple chords allows newer guitar players to play a host of songs with confidence. In contrast, the technical skills of the piano and the need for precision make it a more complex instrument for beginners.

Finally, playing guitar at a beginner level involves finding chords with your dominant hand while employing simple strumming technic with your other hand. In comparison, the piano requires both hands to operate independently, requiring a lot of practice and a high degree of coordination.

If you want to know more about what’s easier to learn – guitar vs. piano, please check the article I wrote about that topic.

2. Is Guitar Harder than Bass?

A common misconception is that bass is more accessible to play than guitar because it has fewer strings. There is also a misconception that bass is more accessible to play than the guitar. It usually features a backing instrument in a band, resulting in less creative freedom than guitar (although I’m sure Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers would beg to differ!)

However, although bass guitars only have four strings, a bass player has to differentiate between plucking, fretting, and slapping to produce various sounds with perfect technique and accuracy. In contrast, beginner guitarists can usually rely on a few chords and basic strumming techniques to play multiple songs with a level of proficiency.

Furthermore, the bass is a much heavier instrument that requires a bass player to keep the rhythm and groove of an entire band. The underlying tempo remains consistent; this requires a thorough understanding of all the instruments around the bass player.

In conclusion, while it cannot be said with certainty that bass is more challenging to play than guitar, it certainly isn’t an “easier form of guitar” to play, as is often mistaken at face value.

3. Is Guitar Harder than Violin?

Although dependent on individual ability and aptitudes, the general belief is that the violin is a significantly more complex instrument to learn than the guitar and one of the most complex string instruments.

One of the reasons why the violin is considered harder than the guitar is that the violin is a non-fretted instrument, while the guitar is a fretted instrument. Consequently, frets allow for the precise location of notes, while a violin’s lack of notes requires violin players to memorize their place and play these notes correctly by tuning one’s ear to the correct sound.

Another reason why the violin is more complex than the guitar is the use of the bow, whereby each string needs to be played at a different angle. Guitar players can rely on strumming techniques to play notes without too much difficulty.

4. Is Guitar Harder than Drums?

While some people would argue that learning to play the drums as a beginner is more accessible than learning to play guitar, many people believe that mastering the drums is more demanding than becoming proficient at playing guitar.

The reason people believe learning to play drums is more straightforward than learning to play guitar is that the act of hitting the drums in sequence comes more naturally and is more accessible to people. Playing drums requires full-body motions and kinetic energy instead of fine motor skills and careful strumming.

In comparison, learning to play the guitar requires fine motor skills to locate notes (most of which cannot be found intuitively or without the help of a guitar teacher). Whereafter strumming techniques needs to be used in conjunction with fine motor skills to play music.

Therefore, while a basic rhythm on the drums can be achieved with a few hours of practice, it can take months of training before someone can play a song on the guitar.

However, more advanced drummers consider the drums more challenging than playing guitar, as the drums require full-body motion and keeping time in a band. Unlike playing guitar, a drummer making a small mistake and losing rhythm can cause an entire band’s song to fail!

5. Is Guitar Harder than Ukulele?

The ukulele is lighter, smaller, and more portable than the guitar. Furthermore, this four-stringed instrument has soft nylon strings, which are gentler on your fingertips than guitar strings.

Consequently, the ukulele also has a narrower neck compared to the guitar, which makes it easier to form chords and notes, especially for children or people with smaller hands/limited dexterity.

The ukulele and guitar have a transferable scale and chord shapes, meaning that knowledge and practice from each instrument can seamlessly carry over to the other.

In conclusion, while the ukulele requires practice to be proficient, it is considered a more straightforward instrument for beginners. It is a physically and technically less demanding instrument than the guitar.

If you are interested to know more about the differences between a guitar and a ukulele, please check the complete article I wrote about that topic.

6. Is Guitar Harder than Banjo?

Banjos have more variations than guitars, with banjos coming with four, five, or six strings, while standard guitars come with six strings. However, regardless of the chosen banjo variety, banjos typically have narrower necks than guitars, making learning and playing chords easier.

Another interesting fact about banjos is that they are usually tuned to “Open G tuning” while guitars are tuned to “Standard” this means that a banjo will play a pleasant sound once strummed, as it is already set to a chord you want to play.

However, although most people argue that playing guitar is more demanding than playing the banjo, banjos require either the three-pick or clawhammer styles of play. Furthermore, banjos are usually heavier than guitars that need songs to be played at a high tempo.

In conclusion, either instrument’s difficulty depends on one’s natural aptitude.

7. Is Guitar Harder than Flute?

Not to be confused with simple variations such as the recorder, the flute is one of the hardest instruments for beginner musicians to play.

Because the flute is a wind instrument, beginner flute players need to first learn to maintain their posture, breathing, and mouth shapes. Unlike other wind instruments, the flute doesn’t have a reed to offer blowing resistance; therefore, breath control is vitally important.

Although these are complicated techniques to learn and are arguably more complex to understand than the fine motor skills and strumming techniques of a guitar, once a student becomes proficient in them, learning to master the flute is more straightforward than learning to master the guitar.

8. Is Guitar Harder than Saxophone?

Like most wind instruments, the saxophone is difficult for beginners to learn as it requires an understanding of embouchure. Embouchure is the way you hold your lips on the saxophone’s mouthpiece, as having to breathe control over the reed will determine the quality of the tone produced.

Fortunately, while the structure of the saxophone looks chaotic at face value, it has a more straightforward fingering system than other instruments and fewer technical challenges and fine motor skills compared to the various ways one can play guitar.

In conclusion, although they are difficult instruments to compare to each other. It is generally believed that the saxophone is a more challenging instrument for beginners (especially those with no prior wind instrument experience) but is easier to learn than the guitar, given its status as a monophonic instrument.

9. Is Guitar Harder than Trumpet?

As our final wind instrument on this list, the trumpet is also the most unassuming instrument in terms of difficulty! Although it may appear at face value to be simple, due to only having three valves and a simple design, the trumpet requires extensive practice for a player to become proficient at producing music.

One of the reasons the trumpet is so challenging to play is that it is not simply a matter of blowing into the instrument where the valves change the sounds produced; instead, the speed and the amount of air determine the pitch and volume of the sound produced.

Furthermore, you cannot just press down on one of the three valves to produce desired notes. Instead, a trumpet player needs to match the positioning of the valves with the resonance frequencies of the notes being played.

Sustaining notes is also very challenging, often requiring a method of circular breathing to maintain notes throughout a song or rendition. The loudness of a trumpet usually results in mistakes being evident and noticeable.

In comparison, mistakes on a guitar are seldom immediately obvious or significant enough to throw off the rhythm of an entire band or orchestra. Furthermore, various pieces of technology can allow guitars to sustain notes for long periods without further input on behalf of the guitarist.

10. Is Guitar Harder than Cello?

As the final instrument on our list, the cello presents similar challenges to other non-fretted instruments such as the violin (although a cello should not simply be misrepresented as a “large violin”).

Consequently, learning to read sheet music in conjunction with identifying the sounds that notes made by ear is essential for people learning to play the cello. The ability to identify and locate notes intuitively without the assistance of a fretboard makes learning to play the cello harder than learning to play the guitar.

Another challenge with the cello is its size and shape. As one of the biggest instruments available, many people find the full-body physical movements required to play the cello, along with the need for specific bow movements, a serious challenge.

Consequently, unlike the guitar, which focuses on fine motor skills, the cello presents a unique challenge between fine motor skills and full-body movements.

In conclusion, the cello is a more complicated instrument for beginners to learn and requires an individual with an aptitude for advanced full-body movements compared to the guitar.

Conclusion

Although the guitar may be easier to learn and master than some instruments, all musical instruments possess their unique challenges. Therefore, comparing the difficulty of different instruments remains a solely subjective test.

Consequently, the above list should merely serve as a guideline in terms of difficulty, whereby you will need to try each instrument to determine which are easier/harder for you to play.