Hardest Instruments to Play

hockeyguy2100

Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

1
Violin
I have been playing the wonderful and amazing violin since I was six. I am seventeen now. And I am nearly not as good as some amazing people out there like my favorite artist of all time. Lindsey Stirling, a girl who is just AMAZING at violin, she plays all of classical, fiddle if you please, and... Dubstep. What more could you ask of an instrument that cool? I love to play the violin, and it is for SURE the most difficult instrument to play. You have to keep the bow strait, tune to the exact, you have to keep your fingers in the right places our you sound like a dying cat that is being attacked by a bear. You have to keep rhythm, you have to sit striate, feet in front of you. To make the notes sound even more extravagant, you have to vibrato, and then shift into positions that are very high. Drones, and fast fingering and bowing and double stops and trillings and playing soft as a butterfly's wings then BAM! Louder than a drum in just seconds. You have to be very talented to play the violin. The violin is beautiful, and something like the guitar is so... Boring. Everybody wants to play the guitar, and then they think they are so cool. The drums? Easy! I played them this summer, they are just banging instruments! The piano was just a bunch of keys, and I didn't have a teacher for two years. The flute is to high a pitch. Plus, the violin was one of the first instruments made! That is special! The violin is unique sounds amazing, and is just... Out of the ordinary. The cello, is also an amazing instrument. It is also hard to play, with the deep sounds and the way you have to hold the bow in order to accentually play! I would sat that violin is #1 then Cello #2 then the flute #3 then the guitar #4 then the piano and so on. Violin is definitely the best, hardest, and most amazing instrument.
I say that string instruments are the hardest to play. There is a lot of technique, especially when you get to the higher levels, and you have to be really careful about many things at the same time (finger placements, correct pitch, left hand shifting techniques, bow hold, bow techniques, good sounding tone, etc... ). I have played violin for 6 years (then left because of bad teacher and moved on to other instruments as violin took me so much time I couldn't really try another instrument along :D

I didn't have a lot of difficulty playing it and beginner level was too easy for me (actually I made first and second grade in one year), but as I moved forward, it got much harder and I had to practice more and more. But it is rewarding and I still sound good now after I started playing again (not professionally, but for myself). I can also play acoustic (both steel strings and classical) and electric guitar, synth, harmonica, recorder and cello.

By the way, I don't really know what flute is doing on that list as some other woodwinds are harder to play. And electric guitar? Well, on the professional level it is difficult to play it, but acoustic/classical tend to be harder, because you don't have any help from the electrical effects and louder sound. There you are by yourself. Try to do what you do on electric on an acoustic, it will be quite hard. Acoustic can seem easy if you only strum chords, but if you want to play good, it can be quite difficult to master all the techniques and speed.

For me the list would be:
1st violin and other string instruments (viola, cello, double bass)
2nd french horn (and some other brass instruments, although I'd rate horn the hardest of them)
3rd organ
4th oboe
5th bagpipes
6th harp
7th piano
8th classical guitar
9th accordion
10th drums

Maybe these instruments sound easy when you learn or anything... But try to really master any of them and you'll see it is damn hard. There could be other added to the list like other woodwinds or instruments with strings (guitar family), but there is only 10 places so I choose these.
It is obvious that this survey is completely biased towards the guitar and piano since it is a common instrument to play and people want to protect their dignity. It is very clear that the violin is the hardest instrument to play and I am not biased because I used to practice with the guitar and the piano. For the piano, every note you press is "correct" while the violin can be slightly sharp or flat. Is there a lot more technical difficulty on the violin? Definitely yes (staccato, harmonics, plucking, greater difficulty playing chords, shifting positions to reach insane notes. ) Yes, the piano can be hard to play, but it does not measure up to the violin. As for the guitar, it is quite difficult to play upon a MASTER level, but most people play it to play mainstream stupid stuff like some jack johnson song. Definitely not hard. However, there are two things that make the violin much harder than the guitar: the position the violin is held and the bow. You would be surprised how hard it is for beginners to get the proper hand position for holding the violin just. The bow, in my opinion, is an art form of its own that is difficult to master. As for the guitar, you just have to strum it and it is much easier to play chords. I do not even want to talk about the flute. What the heck is it doing up here?

OVERALL - This is the order I think it should be:
1. Violin
2. Cello (Seriously, the trumpet is harder than the cello? You people are ignorant. )
3. Piano
4. French Horn
5. Baritone
6. Oboe
7. Accordion
The rest does not matter.
More comments about Violin

2Piano
The pianoforte is indeed the master of all instruments.

At more advanced levels, many factors must be attended to ensure the most precise and eloquent sounding pieces to sound as grand as their orchestral origin, to be able to imitate every instrument played in an ensemble to recreate the piece on one piano is quite a feat. The treble and bass clefs require the pianist to play both hands in conjunction to each other, each individual finger must be controlled and thus playing each key requires a great deal of concentration. The entire body is used to play the piano, not just the hands. The arms, shoulders, torso, legs and feet all control the movement of the piece due to the posture of the pianist, the pedals used to sustain and soften the keys, and the wide range of the piano itself. Learning notes is only the beginning to perfecting a piece on the piano, not only does it require quick thinking on the pianist's part, but the sound of each note being played must be perfected also - the loudness, tempo, tonality, even the movement of the fingers across the piano must be choreographed to provide an enticing visual performance as well as the music itself. When comparing scores, particularly in an ensemble, many will find that it is the pianist that acquires the most amount of sheets with the more complex chords and rhythms - this is where most players feel that they are lacking in the ensemble when the strings, brass, bass, drums, etc. all tend to pick up on the pieces almost immediately despite the scores being of the same level. Each instrument has its difficulties, however the pianoforte is one that most musicians could not do without and is indeed one that requires a lot of skill to master pieces composed by Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Chopin, Bach, to produce the same grandeur created by an entire orchestra on one piano alone.
Hell yes piano is hard. I've played it since I was eight and I still can't do some of the great songs that Mozart or whoever play.
Piano is the hardest.
I play the piano and the flute. Piano for 9 years, flute for five. I'm pretty good at the piano, I play pieces by mendlessohn and mozart and I'm in two piano trios. On the flute I am in the band at my school and I am easily the best, and so I hope I have proved to you all I know what I am talking about (For the cello, violin, flute, and piano).

They each have their own difficulties but the piano is by far the harder of the two. People say that only the violin needs intonation, but not the piano. They are wrong. Each note has to be placed with feeling, and its hard to do that. You really have to pore your heart out for it.

It is easy to get a sound out of the flute. If you really can't do it your are either a fail or you need to get a better instrument. However, what is difficult is getting a nice soft sound that is good.

Piano is the hardest
More comments about Piano

3French Horn
French Horn is definitely the hardest instrument to play. You can play practically every note without any keys down. The Partials are extremely close together. A high F and a high G, notes right next to each other, are the same fingering which means you have to use your mouth to move between them. Which brings in the lip trill, which is awful. My student teacher said it best when he said horn players have to have an ego, if you are the least bit unconfident, you will crack on about every single note. If you have the confidence, you won't crack. You also have to hear the note before you play it or it will be the wrong note/partial. Plus Horn has the tiniest mouth piece ever which are smaller than a bottle's opening. Then horn plays a lot of the wood wind stuff, like trills and running sixteenth notes and thirty second notes, which most of the time has to be tongued by double or triple tonguing. Also, the fingerings for notes in different octaves aren't the same, and we have about seven octaves of range. YOu have to practice for hours on end for years on end to get a good warm sound, but when you do, all the effort is totally worth it, although it becomes very difficult not to overplay and blare since it is a naturally loud instrument. Also the hand in the bell can just get annoying sometimes, although it can also save your butt. It probably also has the most jumping notes, where it's just random high note and then random low note since it's an awkward instrument to put a tune to.
Having played the french horn for four years, I know it's hard. The combination of forming your hand right and putting it in the proper place, making your lips exactly right (if its even a fraction wrong your note is flat or sharp or even a different note), remembering the different fingerings for every octave, and using enough air to push through all of that horn is so hard. It took me hours and weeks of practicing to get the smooth sound the french horn is known for, and some people in my grade and above still haven't gotten that sound. I mean, I can't make a sound out of a clarinet but that's because different mouth types are required for different instruments. But anyone who thinks that finding the right note when they are so close together with such a small mouthpiece and then using enough air to make a warm tone and make it loud is easy are so wrong. There is also slurring, which if you're not careful will come out bumpy and with cracked notes, stacatto can be tongued too hard and make your note crack, jumping from notes is so hard I still can't do it until I've practiced for hours. You also have to know how to tune with what slides how much and just AGH. French horn should be first. Some of these other instruments shouldn't. Children play piano and violin. Middle schoolers have trouble with a scale on this. Just because playing professional pieces is hard on them doesn't make it a hard instrument. Try playing a beginners song on here, let alone a professional one. Just think about how little crap you have to think about next time you play your instrument and be happy.
The Horn is by far one of the harder instruments to play however the hardness of a instrument is only measured by its players preference you put forth the effort it becomes easier you practice sloppy you skimp out on practicing it stays hard and difficult. Though I will give kudos to also the Tubas it takes just as much as even more air to play tuba than Horn.
More comments about French Horn

4Oboe
I've been playing the oboe for almost 5 years and I can say from experience that it is an EXTREMELY difficult instrument to play and especially to master, which I myself have not even done yet. First off, the reed is a constant challenge. It is difficult to go from high to low notes or vice versa because the reed needs to be reed needs to be either more open (low) or closed/pinched (high) to have anything close to the right tone. Also after playing for a while the reed will simply close completely and not make any noise except for some pathetic squeaks. Then there's also a hassle in just keeping the reed moist enough that it produces sound, yet not like slippery from spit, haha. Also because the reed's air hole is so small, there are times where you have to even exhale before inhaling to catch your breath because you don't let enough air out through just playing. Then another reason the oboe should be listed high in the difficulty scale is because the fingerings are completely random, and very awkward to go from note to note at times. This is completely different from string instruments because its not like the next note you just add another finger, you could add a random amount of fingers that are in a random order that can only be figured out through pure memorization for each note, including new fingerings for each sharp/flat. This gets very confusing and makes key changes in songs very difficult, just adding to the already hard instrument. So overall, I think that the oboe should be seen as a very difficult instrument to learn how to play, let alone, and it would be even increasingly difficult to master the oboe and be able to play it perfectly.
I feel like this vote is off and too biased. Not everyone has played all of the instruments listed here and wouldn't know what to judge, they would only pick their own instrument, believing it is the most difficult because it might've been the only instrument they play. I've played, oboe, flute, clarinet, as well as piano. I have been playing oboe for the longest and still currently play it. I have to agree that oboe has been the hardest instrument, and especially the hardest instrument to start out with.

Even after playing for 5 years and practicing daily, it is still very difficult. Reeds are always an issue, and the $12 reeds you buy at your music store don't do justice. Most beginning players don't know and will continue to buy those disgusting reeds at their music store. A few go out, venture online and take a look at the custom made reeds online which was what I did. I tried a few online reed makers, ranging from $15 to $25 usually per reed. I never found any of them to be even decent. They'll make the first few good for you to get your business then turn to crap.

I eventually settled on another reed maker, $35 per reed and I always loved it. That's right, $35 PER reed! And reeds last about 2-3 weeks or about 10 hours of playing time. Reeds are extremely finicky, they change everyday depending on the weather and environment you're in. And the openings are only a few millimeters wide. And when you make them, they're made from thin pieces of special cane. And the cane on reeds are measured in NANOmeters, not millimeters! Nanometers!

I'm not biased, I have met with several band directors on the high school, college and professional levels, a majority have said they agree oboe is the hardest instrument while only 2-3 say French horn. They have also said that they almost never have a good oboe player and they always sound like crap.
The oboe. Where to start. I have been playing for 1.5 years, just got out of the duck phase, am thinking about learning how to make reeds, just had my band teacher tell me to play the notes right, and my reed is broken. Oh and I am not so sure about the out of the duck phase yet part. As my teacher says: if you look at the reed funny, it gets out of tune, if you have a single mistaken fingering, you are lost, if you didn't practice for 2 hours that night everyone knows, and I am pleading with you, give us time to soak our reeds at the beginning of class/rehearsal. I am lost on why we have no low b flat key on beginner oboes ( that is why we bend down sometimes and put the oboe between our knees) and the alternate and forked fingerings, reeds are perfect, awful and don't work well after 2 weeks, so new reeds a lot, and they cost 15-30$ for store bought, but they leak and it is better for handcrafted always, oboes are a random assortment of keys pressed to make a note. We have a key on the bottom hand that makes the instrument higher pitched ( what on earth? ) And it seems like they put up key signatures JUST TO ANNOY YOU! I have no patience for the fact that the piano is harder! Who cares if your fingers move a lot! At least it is in order and everyone plays it! I appreiate good music and think the piano is hard, I think the oboe, strings and French horn are the harder instruments, but why the flute, and drums. I am dissapointed in the human race. -Senorita Oboe
More comments about Oboe

5Flute
I have been playing the flute for over eight years now. I truly believe that the flute has the hardest and most unique embouchure out there. Don't get me wrong I do believe that violins and strings have a lot of work ahead of them, but truthfully they don't have to have the right format for their mouth. Also if on other instruments not all but most if you have the fingering and certain harmonics of the instrument down you can play any of the types.
This isn't true with flutes. Every flute has a different embouchure, because of the size of the head joint and the opening to the head joint.
I should know I had to change my flute four times well mine was getting repaired.
Also that is another thing with flutes you have to make sure you take extra care of everything because if you don't have a good well oiled cork in the right position in the head joint you will cause a natural note to actually sound as if it is a flat. If someone picks up a flute for the fact that they believe that it is "easy" or "simple". Well this person is seriously mistaken.
The flute is a very lyrical instrument, meaning it requires more air than any other woodwind instrument to get a good tone. Assuming you can even produce a note on your first day, you are guaranteed to get light headed until you've spent a good amount of time practicing. You really have to be expressive with your sound (which again, requires a ton of air) to make your playing impressive.
The flute also comes with so many technical difficulties, thanks to the fact that we must play it horizontally; it can get uncomfortable especially if you play for more than an hour. The fingering itself is actually pretty easy, but being able to play lightning fast passages is a quintessential feature of mastering the flute.
In conclusion, the flute demands the best of all aspects of musicality. You must be extremely determined and work hard every day to really stand out as an accomplished musician.
Flute is the hardest, specially to master... Because of correct shape of mouth plus speed of air and accurate fingerings and tonguings.. Although others says that flute fingerings are easy.. When it comes to jumpy notes.. Its really hard cause the further the note to each other the more keys you press. People who say that flute is easy are people who just played the flute for a year and then just played a few EASY piece, then they say ya flute is easy.. Then why not try playing bach sonatas. Let see if flute is easy... In order to be a good flutist, one should master the alteration of mouth shape and speed of air.. Plus solid tones and tonguings.. And one should have a smooth playing... Violin is easy you just master the frets then your finish.. Piano can be easy and hard depending on the piece... Inmy opinion the hardest instrument is flute, the oboe then french horn... Flute rules...
More comments about Flute

6Cello
Yes definitely. I go to a performing arts school double majoring in band and orchestra. I've played viola for seven years, clarinet for six years, flute for four years, tenor sax for two years, and violin last Christmas. I played oboe before clarinet but it didn't suit me. In all honesty, all instruments are hard. No one can just pick up an instrument and play it. They all have their own techniques and tricks to them. I say orchestra instruments (violin, viola, cello, & upright bass) are a greater challenge than that of brass and woodwinds. For those instruments, you have a key/valve to put your fingers down and you can play the note. For orchestra instruments, you have to know where the fingering is on the fingerboard in order to play the desired note. Same with guitar, but it's more difficult having the instrument held horizontally in the air while bowing, or having the instrument held vertical while bowing. For piano, yes that is hard, moving great distances in short time and all the keys look the same, but again, you have a key to press. And orchestra instruments require shifting, which is more difficult. If you're a Clarinetist, you can pick up a sax and start playing. It's easy, I'd know. But sax is hard in its own ways. It's very hard to play low notes on sax versus clarinet it is very easy. Flute took me a while to learn, I was used to a stringed or reeded instrument. What takes a while is being able to play a note in the embrochure. Once you have that down, you advance pretty quickly. Second hardest instrument for me would be Clarinet. It looks easy but it is not. First of all, you have all these keys and side keys, and then when you get past high C the fingerings get whacko. Second of all, no one sees what is going on inside the mouth. You have to have the clarinet at a certain angle, your tongue has to touch a certain spot on the reed, your diaphragm has to be very supportive, your embrochure is VERY important, when in higher octaves your tongue has to be at a certain spot in your mouth otherwise the sound is airy, and in order to avoid squeaking, your embrochure has to be just right. You do feel fatigue in your mouth a lot and tonguing is very difficult. To tongue notes, especially higher notes, smooth, fast, and efficiently, that requires a lot of muscle control from your mouth. But despite these things, orchestra instruments are more complex, and they go out of tune easily, even while playing.
A cello is probably the hardest instrument to play. Mainly because of the increments in the notes are much further apart than other instruments. This requires more shifting, and since the notes are indefinite on a string instrument it is harder to get the correct note. The cello has a very wide range, 5 octaves (approximately, I checked myself a while ago), which gives it a uniqueness to it, which is in fact similar to the male voice. The cello requires you to co-ordinate your bow and fingers together too, and those in themselves need separate co-ordination, like the bow angle, position and speed, as well as a correct bow-hold. You also need to train your fingers to develop a callas on them, so that your fingers are then used to the string and wont develop indents into your finger every time you play. I've played cello for about 6 years now, which have started at primary school learning all the basics. Only a few can use that to progress rapidly and start professionally playing, fewer than instruments such as the violin and piano. Also, the cello is hard to learn, definitely, because it's hard to find a good cello teacher, a specialist, that can teach you what you need to know to progress at a fast rate. There are many more teachers for other instruments, for example the violin, it is the traditional leading instrument of the orchestra, for a few reasons. Firstly, it was the first instrument invented. Then, when there were other instruments available people stuck to the violin because they were familiar with it, plus it was much easier to carry around (imagine carrying a double bass around to concerts everyday! ), and it would also be the proffered instrument because more music was written for it, and more teachers were able to teach it. I think people are starting to realize now the instruments such as cello, and more people are switching to it. Some of the most famous players of the cello such as Yo-Yo Ma, originally played the violin then switched to the cello because of numerous reasons. Cello music is often written in numerous clefs, most of the time, base, tenor or treble, which makes it harder for cello players to learn all those notes, and there corresponding positions on the staff. I reckon cello is by far the best instrument (although many others are awesome to! ), and the hardest, to play. ;-)
Cello, in my humble opinion, is very difficult to play. As someone said before me, the cello has a large fingerboard, and you need to have extreme coordination and muscle memory to find the perfect note. I'm not saying that brass or woodwind instruments aren't hard (they totally are), but they have set places for your fingers to go, and if you place the right amount of pressure while covering the hole, you can make perfect notes (if your instrument is in tune, that is... ) almost every time. For cellos (or any other stringed instrument, for that matter), Every time you place your fingers down, you get a slightly different pitch than when you first played that note. Also, even though we almost never get the melody in a score, that doesn't mean that playing our part is easy. We have to shift every time we want to play a high note that the higher instruments can play with ease, and we have to do a lot of string hopping to get the desired sound. I believe that all instruments are equally difficult, but the cello was, for me, harder (for some reason yet to be uncovered).
More comments about Cello

7Electric Guitar
I agree that violin is tougher than guitar because its fret-less but drums and piano being harder is obsolete. I heard some one say that the electric guitar can be played by anyone without much assistance. Well I too have composed some melodies and arpeggios in piano without any assistance at the first time itself. *BURN*. And its much easier to find the notes of a same key in piano than in an electric guitar. I agree chords are easy in a guitar (although being a guitar teacher for almost 6 months I found out most people have trouble playing them too for a very very long time. I guess I just grasped it fast because of my love for the instrument) but go ahead and start with some crazy legato sessions, big sweep pickings and finger breaking licks and then support your statement. And that's just the easy part. Go way too deep into the theory and you might never come up. Triads, Scales of major, minor and pentatonic and then modes. God help me. Ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian and aeolian. But it's still not over. We still got major 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th, diminished 7th, minor 7b5th, superimposing arpeggios! And these are just the 7th's! This is for all those who think drums are better than guitar. I could play drums better before I even knew what a chord was in a guitar. And on top of that these are all in just one tuning that is the standard tuning. Change the tunings and everything changes. EVERYTHING! And hate to break it but there are many many many tunings. Open tunings ( open G, Open A etc etc), drop tunings (drop C, drop D tec etc) and many more. And STILL, the toughest part is still left. Making a melody all out out of it so that it can touch people's heart. That's the toughest part. I've never heard drums making someone cry.

Don't take me wrong. I don't hate drums, or piano or any other instrument. I play both of them and I like it and don't want to brag but I'm pretty good at 'em too. Not a novice player at all. Some times its good to break out from your own instrument for a while and try others just for the fun of it. But overall GUITAR is what touched me. And it has distortion! Most people are jealous because of the crazy attention a guitarist gets and you should be but I can't help it because distortion is way too good and people love it. Its the only instrument that actually rocks and in the same time can make you cry too.

I couldn't imagine distortion in a piano or a violin or any such instrument all, which made me fall in love with this instrument. Yeah although they've put distortion in those keyboards and all but we're talking about the real deal here. AT the end of the day, it's all about music touching you. Hope you get the message. Signing out.
Widest spread of music to fully master is on a guitar. There are so many different styles of playing which require masterful finger manipulation. These include flamenco, classical, rock solos, progressive metal (arguably solos are as intricate as the most intricate of piano music). Some of the advanced level techniques for electric guitars including pinch harmonics, double picking, as well as just the general ability to pick and press 32nd notes at precisely the same time are quite difficult to master. Anyone who does not see guitar as a difficult instrument to "master" is deluded by the a few reasons: 1, a lot of people pick up guitar as a hobby and can easily sound good at it just by strumming chords in rhythm; 2, A lot of mainstream music that people learn on guitar is very basic, you wouldn't compare the basic music on piano with intricate guitar solos, would you? 3, If you've ever had piano lessons with a classical instrument growing up, you may be scorned by the tedious learning and hard instruction.. All great guitarists go through that as well at some point or other, the problem is that a lot of people don't (never becoming masters at guitar) but still playing basic songs for their friends--hence the "anyone can pick up guitar and play it" stigma. My own experience with piano and guitar are both quite different, both take a lot of work to master (as with any instrument) but I just feel there are far more techniques to master on guitar at higher levels, furthermore, it took me MUCH longer to break into the upper echelons of guitar music than it did with piano.. Just me thoughts! Everyone will always be biased toward the instrument they spent the most time on
While I agree a piano might be one of the hardest, the guitar requires you to manipulate strings to produce notes. A guitar is harder than most strings because it has 6 string where most others have only 4. I don't think hitting notes with precision like on a violin really count as hard to do. Once you get good at any instrument, you should be able to hit a note perfectly without thinking about it. With a guitar it might not be as noticeable when hitting a note slightly off, but anyone that's any good considers this unacceptable. The violin has a small neck making it easier to play faster, so anyone who thinks needing to play fast is a valid argument is wrong. Some of the best guitarist play just as fast and have to move a longer distance across a neck and stretch their fingers farther. Guitars have all the same elements like vibratos. Most of the people who are voting for the violin seem to know nothing about the guitar and just think because it's an instrument they play it should be deemed hardest. I have played a violin before. Picking with a guitar can also be challenging because most of the time your only strumming halfway down the strings and have to stop perfectly in between strings, which if you're strumming right should be pretty difficult because the pick slides almost effortlessly across the notes making it incredibly difficult to stop mid strum. If you had to manipulate the notes on a piano it would be hands down the hardest of instruments to play. I definitely think piano is a very close second if not equivalent.
More comments about Electric Guitar

8Organ
Seperates rhythmical patterns at once, varying not only by hand, but by leg or even fingers. Coordination to where the keys are mastered to pianist level, then adding the feet, then understanding the stops, how to arrange them, the ability to leap out and change them during performance, understand the thumb tabs, and the toe tabs, what the different keyboards do, and how to arrange the different voices. You have several keyboards to manipulate, with both hands and feet, literally dozens to hundreds of voices to order, volumes to maintain. Piano allows for some allowances on hitting keys slightly, try that on an organ and the note will play and ring out through the church, allowing for no error. The keys must be depressed properly or a harsh chopping sound will burst from the pipes. I could go on.
Organ requires hand-eye coordination, as well as being able to know where the feet are respective to the pedals. On top of that, a person playing the Organ has to worry about stops, more than one keyboard (manual) and pistons which change the tone or couple the manuals.

I've been playing Organ for 5 1/2 years now.
You have to do more than multi-task and in most applied circumstances the organ is more than just playing an instrument. The Organ has more than one, more than two Staves to read at once. So you have to play with three (potentially 4) parts of your body, you have to read 3 staves of music and you have to change stops in usually the most awkward places. There are aids to help you but they don't really help!
More comments about Organ

9Drums
No instrument can be mastered. It is just not possible, but drumming us by far the hardest instrument to play. Drums have been around forever, anybody who hits anything in time could basically call themselves a drummer. People have been hitting things to a pulse forever, from all time periods, and from all parts of the world. This makes drumming not only one of the oldest musical forms, it makes it one of the most widely played the most widely played. You don't see some guy in the streets of Dubai, or a tiny village in Ecuador playing the Bassoon. Drumming ranges from very subtle and complexed brush strokes for jazz, and advanced double bass riffs for heavy metal to playing a marching snare drum in the cadets (one of the most widely acclaimed percussion groups in the world), or playing bells in a concert band. That's right bells, if you play bells you're playing piano except with sticks. ( right now piano is the #3 hardest instrument to play on thus list right now making drums at least #2)
Playing the drums is much hard than you think. There is a lot more to it than hitting things. There's a STYLE to things, if you can believe it. And there's also an actually proven and true way to hold drumsticks! Did you know that, everyone who points with their fingers on the stick? And then again, there are multiple kinds of drums. If you're counting keyboard and auxiliary percussion instruments, you've got at least 400 instruments to learn. If you think drums are easy, please take the test my percussion teacher use to give me. Please explain to me what a snare drum is, how to tune it, how it works, and name every part of the drum in thirty seconds. Go! And if you can do that, then I'm impressed. Now get out your rudiment book and play swiss flamdragadiddle inverted cheesy taps with the eighth note at 180. After you've done that, you can say drums are easy. Thank you.
Drums are so hard. I know people who have played every other instrument, but haven't mastered how to the the drums. I can play: drums, guitar, violin, bass, piano, and I sing. And I still find the drums the hardest instrument to play. Playing the piano is following music, every pianist is similar. Where as a drummer develops his own style, a style which nobody else can copy.
More comments about Drums

10Bagpipes
I think it's telling what obscure instruments, such as the bagpipes an oboe end up on this list.

I wouldn't say the pipes are the hardest. With good instruction and a the obligatory practice, it is possible to become a very competent piper in a few years. The pipes only have nine notes, and there are not dynamics or rests, so in a way they are a very simple instrument to play.

But the pipes are incredibly hard to break into. They're not like a trumpet, clarinet or a piano where you can play simple beginner tunes full of minims and crotchets. You're straight onto quavers and semi quavers. Even slow tunes like Amazing grace have short notes. This is made worse because pipes don't handle crossed notes well at all. So fingering has to be perfect from the start. Because there are only nine notes, pipe music is decorated with embellishments - groups of up to six grace notes played very rapidly after each other. They require skill and precision to play properly.

Then there is the blowing/air pressure/tuning. The pipes have to be kept at a very constant pressure otherwise they will be out of tune. This requires a lot of lung, lip and arm strength, endurance and coordination. But the pipes are very cantankerous with tuning anyway, individual notes on the chanter fall in and out of tune and have to be adjusted by wrapping tape over the holes, and the drones often need readjusting.

Once you get this stuff sorted, it is easy to play very nice pipe music without mastering the instrument. But few people have the patience and discipline to make it to this point.
Bagpipes are definitely one of the hardest, for reasons stated. I'll say as someone who has only been playing for 2 years on the pipes (3 on practice chanter) that I'm amazed at great pipers-YouTube "gordon duncan" or "stuart liddel" and you will see what I mean. No doubt that any instrument takes years to master it (meaning play it very well); my partner used to play the French horn and yeah-that is very hard instrument to play. For pipes, I'll say that you first have to learn how to play the tune on the practice chanter, then jump and play it on the bagpipes (whole nother instrument) then if you play in a band, have to memorize it again with the band. The goal of a pipe band is to sound like one large bagpipe (sometimes they through harmonies in there too). Put that and have to march in sync and it takes lots of concentration and practice.

Keep in mind that the slightest over blowing or under blowing will put the drones and/or chanter out of tune. Additionally if you don't have enough hemp on the drones they could slide down due to the vibration and then they are out of tune. Other hard instruments: pipe organ, harp.
Nobody on this damn forum has any clue about these musical instruments obviously. Electric guitar is one of the easiest instruments you can learn. The acoustic guitar should be above it too. However as a professional level pipe player in a grade 1 pipe band (means I'm really good) I say Bagpipes are the worlds hardest instrument.

starting with the physical aspect it takes loads and loads of air to keep pipes going, as well as the player must keep the pressure in the bag even so that you don't get fluctuation in the tuning of the 3 drones and the chanter, which adds more concentration.

while maintaining this pressure the actual fingerings are irregular, which must be played for proper tone. Not to mention all the embellishments which make playing so unique.

Not even the harp is in the top 10 this entire list is pathetic. Someone who actually know something about these instruments should be making up this list.
More comments about Bagpipes

The Contenders

11Trumpet
Wow, I'm stunned. I thought trumpet would be up there with #1 being the hardest. I have played and performed on several instruments in my life: accordion, piano, drums, guitar, bass. None of them has been as hard as the trumpet for me which I recently started about 3 months ago (just to see how far I could go on it). Having my musical background I was able to pick up the mandolin and violin and within three to five months I was able to play something for people and entertain in a pro situation (with fiddle tunes, no classical). However, acquiring a usable range and stamina to play something performance worthy (solo) on the trumpet, as far as I can see at this time, is long way off for me -- perhaps years.

I guess I agree that violin and piano is probably the hardest at a advanced classical level. But, the trumpet is the hardest from the get go -- just to produce a pleasing sound! It's NOT an instrument you can pick up and start jamming on within a few months for sure, at least it's not happening for me. It makes sense to me now that they start kids off on trumpet at a early age when they are not as result oriented as we become when we are adults.
I play all the instruments up above and trumpet is far by the hardest I know it. I rock at it but I am pretty good at the guitar but trumpet is so hard it was rated the 2nd hardest instrument to play 1st is violin and oboe tied then trumpet. In the real area where real people judge not just people that just go like I PLAY THIS INSTRUMENT I STRUGGLED A LITTLE AND ITS A LITTLE HARD 1ST HARDEST those little babies
I would say the only brass instrument that is harder than the trumpet is the french horn. The sole reason trumpet is so hard is due to chop maintenance. The unstable muscles in the lips control your range, your sound, your stamina, and etc. Everyone underestimates the trumpet because it only has "three keys" but an infinite number of sounds are possible for each configuration of the valves. In addition, like all brass, trumpets must work hard and actively simply to play certain notes.
More comments about Trumpet

12Piccolo
I say piccolo is the HARDEST to play. I play the piccolo (and flute, of course); it has its similarities and differences. Piccolo is the loudest instrument in the band/orchestra. It is the smallest, yet it takes the most air. The fingerings are the same. I highly recommend you use alternate fingerings for extremely high notes, such as the high Ab. High notes are stupid hard on piccolo. Notes on the piccolo are absolutely nothing compared with flute. You need very good lung power to play piccolo well. If you play with not enough air, you will be flat. If you play with too much air, you will have a sharp tone, so it's hard to find that "in-between" stage. This is all thanks to a different embouchure. It is shrill to the ears, so make sure you have your earplugs handy. I cannot compare flute/piccolo to other instruments, considering the fact that those are the only instruments I play well. Fingers are tightly packed, as well. I guess piccolo is recommended for those with smaller hands and fingers so that they don't awkwardly bump the wrong keys or knock rods out of place. I have been playing flute for 7 years and piccolo for a little over a year. My piccolo playing has improved some, but not where I think it should be.
My advice: DO NOT start with piccolo before flute or any other instrument, for that matter. The notes (especially high ones) are not that easy. If you have trouble with high notes on flute, it will be darn near impossible on piccolo. I would say wait until you have reached a professional level on flute before advancing to the more difficult piccolo. You WILL get used to it with time, but it takes practice, practice, and more practice.
In the end, it is a very rewarding auxiliary instrument to know how to play. There are never enough players. If you have what it takes, GO FOR IT! Don't let it scare you. ;) Then, you can master Stars & Stripes Forever!

~Piccolo rocks!
It takes plenty of air support just to make a simple, decent sound. It is also hard on your fingers as well as hands because they are so cramped together rather than being more spaced apart as a flute.
Since I play the flute, it is pretty easy to play. But different people have different opinions.

13Viola
A viola is possibly the most complicated instrument there is, and it has its own clef proving its superiority. Along with having to pitch the notes like most other string instruments it has to learn its own clef and most others in order to transpose music so it can play a broader range of music, living in the shadows of the other instruments who are recognised.
No one knows about it, and at the same time most instruments require you to read treble or bass clef. Viola is a whole new world and you need to learn how to read alto clef and eventually the tenor clef. Much bigger hands are needed to play this than the violin since it must be played like a violin but the fingers need to be spaced wider.
Violin is difficult but in my opinion viola is more difficult. The instrument is larger and the finger spacings are harder to locate with accuracy. String-crossings require more elbow movement to get the alignment of the left hand into a position where it can play the note correctly, especially on the lowest string. The instrument's response is slower and it requires extra effort with the bow arm.
More comments about Viola

14Harp
I've been playing the harp ever since I was two years old. It is VERY hard. You have to strike the right chords at the times, read the music, pluck the strings with most of your fingers with both hands AND hold it properly in between your knees and on your shoulder. I think the violin and the hard should be in the top two! I've been learning violin, piano, accordion flute and saxophone ever since I was 2 as well so I've got quite a fair share on which instruments are hard or not :) My harp has 47 strings, so it is VERY heavy to carry around laugh out loud! But is also cost an arm and a leg! It was £40,000! And the good thing about harps is that they don't depreciate in value unless you smash it around :) I've had my 47 string harp since I was 4 and we were about to sell it for a better one last year, and when the harpist came around to look at it, he said he'd pay us £50,000! So really, it appreciates in value
The harp is the hardest. You have one hand doing one thing in a different sequence and bass clef and then the other hand doing something totally different in treble clef. Your hands have to be just so in order to get the right fingering and sound. If you have a pedal harp... Throw your feet into the mix to change key. If you have a lever harp (like me) to change key you reach up in between playing and move the lever. Oy... The harp for sure.
I have just started to play the harp and it is HARD. You have to have very good coordination and focus to work both the bass and treble strings. Don't even get me started on the sheet music!
More comments about Harp

15Bassoon
Bassoons are by far the most difficult instrument to play. Very few people play the bassoon and finding teachers or help at all is almost impossible unless you live near a university or a big city with an orchestra. And unlike other instruments (except oboe and bag pipes) we have to make our own reeds specialized to our instrument! Buying reeds is also expensive ranging from $10-40. The tools to make reeds range to $400! Oh and don't forget that there are many different fingerings for each note! F Sharp has 17 different fingering. You have sensitivity points on the reed depending on whether its a low, middle or high range note. Once you get past second octave G you start using 'Flick Keys" that you play with your left thumb, that's 9 keys for 1 thumb to continually flick for each note. There is no octave key, a bassoonist has to learn specific flick keys, thumb keys and half hole patterns to jump octaves. All bassoons are hand made and there for have different quirks depending on the brand you buy since there is no universal bassoon set and make. All I'm getting at here is that. Bassoons are a beast to play and conquer. I recommend it for all.
This is indeed the hardest instrument to play, let alone master! Bassoonists have to constantly worry about the weather, as this affects the reed and therefore the intonation. It requires a lot of thumb speed and strength as the majority of the keys are oly accesible by either the right or left hand thumb. A strong core and lips are bloody good idea if you want to even think about playing bassoon. A chiropractor wouldn't be a bad idea either
The bassoon is by far a complicated instrument to play! The amount of technique needed to make this instrument sound beautiful is extraordinary! Not ony are the fingerings complex and hard to memorise but also the time and effort taken in to adjust the reed so that the sound is round and full before playing. Unlike some instruments you can not just pick up a bassoon and play but more preparation is needed to make a sound! The reed must be moist and soft so that the sound can vibrate through the reed and through the instrument! It may not be the hardest instrument to play but it does take a lot of practice a dedication for someone to learn the bassoon!
More comments about Bassoon

16Trombone
Buzz the right pitch with your lips, place the slide at the length that best amplifies that pitch and allows it to resonate, make fine adjustments with the slide hand for tuning purposes, and articulate with the tongue... All simultaneously.

Like the orchestral string instruments, the trombone is not a fixed-pitch instrument and requires constant tuning adjustment on the fly. The trombone takes a great deal of air and playing it is a very athletic endeavor indeed. This instrument is incredibly challenging to play both musically and physiologically.
It is a joke. Instruments such as French horn or trombone are much more physical, yet still with great detail to consider, all the time. Think about how hard slurring and legato is. Even the first desk violinist in my orchestra who plays the trombone too admits that the trombone is a lot harder. The trombone should be MUCH higher, at least in the top 10, if not more.
Okay, this list is terribly inaccurate. The electric guitar, flute and bass guitar should not be in the top ten. The trombone is definitely more difficult than all of those instruments and the trumpet, but not as difficult as the french horn and a few other ones (e.G. oboe, acoustic guitar, violin). The trombone should definitely be close to the top five.

Also, where the hell is the harp?!
More comments about Trombone

17Bass Guitar
To start I'm a bass player by profession and I've played for over 15 years. Bass has to be the hardest instrument to play because they are so big and the frets are stretched so far apart. You must either have large hands or very fast hands to play bass, sometimes a combination of both. So in a way some people don't even have the physical prerequisites to play bass, that's not something you can practice to make better. Don't try to say guitar is harder than bass because it has more strings. I own and seldom play an 11 string bass. But yea hockeyguy2100 was right when he says "It's easy to be ok at bass, but it's impossible to master bass". Good thing flea has been my favorite bass player since I was 13 laugh out loud.
I would definitely agree with this. Its easy to be ok at base but its impossible to master bass... Unless you are flea or victor wooten laugh out loud

hockeyguy2100

Bass is the instrument that holds it all together. Its physical and takes a lot of hand strength. The challenges are many from the endurance aspect all the way to getting a proper tone. I don't believe there is a most difficult instrument. They can all be a easy or as challenging as you make them. Its the amount of time and dedication you put into it.
More comments about Bass Guitar

18Classical Guitar
Although I believe the violin is the hardest instrument to learn, as I've witnessed that firsthand the difficulty to master the violin, I voted for classical guitar. I have got experience in abundance with different musical instruments. I have played the clarinet and recorder, but I did not find that all too difficult. I study classical guitar and piano, and I can assert, that by far, that the piano is much easier to play than classical guitar. Playing Bach pieces on the classical guitar is much more difficult than when I endeavour Bach on the piano. It takes much more effort to play, for instance, Variations on a Theme of Handel (op.107, Giuliani) on the guitar, as opposed to the ease of studying the Harmonious Blacksmith on the piano. CLASSICAL guitar is difficult, I'm not talking about popular music, insipid chord-stroke-music stuff. The mistake people making when they assume that the "classical guitar is such an easy instrument to master", is that they think of the guitar used for mere chords and finger-picking pieces. This is a common mistake what with the versatility of the guitar, is easy to make.
The guitar is a miniature orchestra in the right hands. Consequently the bottom musical line along with the top (melodic) line and inside notes (defining the harmonic content of the music) are all played with the fingertips of the left and right hands simultaneously. The tone and volume of each musical element has to be performed in a balanced beautiful manner. Otherwise the music is lost. The slightest imperfection (which there are many when performing on any instrument) can be caused by any mishap (the slightest movement of a single fingertip). Yet the music must be continued in a manner most convincingly. This is what makes mastering the classical guitar so difficult. Most do not know this because they simply play classical music on the guitar. They don't necessarily do just to JS Bach's music.
I don't believe that the classical guitar is the hardest instrument, but it deserves a special mention. Come on guys, why vote electric guitar over the classical guitar? The Classical guitar is the root of all guitars and mastering this guitar will mean mastering every other guitar in a couple of months. In no way is the electric guitar any harder than the classical guitar, if anything it's easier. With the electric guitar, you are restricted to a plectrum, with a classical you hold 4, or 5 depending on your style, being your fingernails, which constantly have to be taken care of.
More comments about Classical Guitar

19Acoustic Guitar
Most instruments are roughly equally difficult. See if you agree with my argument.
(I play violin and guitar. I do not play piano. )

Violin making a note in tune and making it sound good is very hard

Piano playing a note is as easy as banging a tambourine... Or is it?

Guitar playing a note is moderately easy and probably somewhere between a violin and a piano.

But now we play 8 notes on a piano 4 on a guitar and usually one on a violin and things start to even out.

The easier it is to play a note on an instrument then, it seems, the more is "expected" from it.

The guitar is probably hardest to "finger", the violin hardest for tone, the piano hardest to read and play multiple parts simultaneously. The guitar requires strength and is a nightmare of gymnastics. The violin is the least forgiving by way of intonation and a musical ear, and the piano has so little variation in tone that it takes great skill to bring this out as is expected of a great player (I am not a piano player).

That's why it probably takes about the same effort to be a pro at any major orchestral or rock / pop / or jazz band instrument. The piano is "easier" than the violin but the pianist is expected to play 6 to ten notes and the violinist one or 2.

And it all equalizes out. Do you agree?
I think that the acoustic guitar is harder to play then the electric for a few simple factors, one being the gauge of the strings, the string are really thick and hard to press down, and they tear your flesh of your fingers a lot quicker then that of an electric, also the distance between the fretboard and the strings is a lot greater so makes it harder to play chords and stuff, the electric is easier to press down strings, easier to hold, has thiner string and is so much easier to play higher notes!
Okay, everyone here is saying that "mastering" a guitar means learning some chords and then learning a few riffs. No! Gosh, to learn flamenco or classical or really good bluegrass guitar... That's DIFFICULT. Most people couldn't self-teach that.

I remember when I was twelve or so and I got my first acoustic guitar. I would play for hours and my fingers would bleed sometimes. Building the strength to avoid buzzing/muted/ringing strings was tricky at first, too.

I think that every instrument is equally difficult to learn, depending on how far you're willing to go with it. Acoustic guitar isn't easy, though. So this instrument gets my vote.
More comments about Acoustic Guitar

20Sitar
Extremely complicated... It takes mire than 50 years of practice to be a really really good player...much tougher than other string instruments... Tuning is just too complicated and you have to learn a whole new Indian musical theory and music reading to learn it effectively...
Its quite difficult to tune and play as the number of adjustments are too many
Beautiful classical instrument but extremely difficult to learn and play
More comments about Sitar

21Accordion
Playing accordion is like having to play two instrument at once, and not being able to see properly what either of your hands are doing so having to play by touch. In the right hand you have the keyboard, which is fine enough coming from a piano background, but in the right hand you have a shed-load of tiny bass buttons which each do something different. Having to pump the bellows adds an extra degree of difficulty. I've been playing piano for 9 years, I also sing, play guitar, bass, drums, a bit of sax, and some classical strings, and I've also tried organ and harpsichord, but accordion is without a doubt the most difficult
I recently took up the button accordion and I have to say of all the instruments I have experienced, this is by far the most difficult. The button accordion in my opinion is far more difficult to lay that the piano accordion. Each button on the button accordion plays two different notes depending on if you're pushing or pulling on the bellows. It plays much like a harmonica. I have the Hohner Panther which is a 3 row button accordion, and it has 12 bass keys. It's tricky to learn but very rewarding.
I've been a musician my whole life. I play violin, bass, piano, guitar, and accordion. Without a doubt accordion is the most difficult instrument to play at a high level. Whether it is piano or button-style, the difficulty level is extremely high
More comments about Accordion

22Didgeridoo
I tried the didgeridoo when I was in Australia in 2000. I could get a sound out of it easily, but I couldn't for the life of me do the circular breathing. I also couldn't get it to sound anything as funky as the locals were doing.

The instruments I play to a certain degree:
PIANO: My main instrument. I got to Grade VI standard in less than a year when I was 18. Therefore I consider it a fairly easy instrument to learn.
FLUTE: As I could already play the recorder from when I was a kid, my sister (who's an expert flautist) said the fingering was more or less the same. I could sight-read Grade IV pieces the first time I picked up her flute - including dynamics. Therefore, I consider it a very easy instrument to learn. Embouchure was incredibly easy.
DRUMS: I could sight-read a Grade IV piece within a week of taking up the drums. The main trouble I had were demi-semi-quaver beats and fast triplet groups. Otherwise, it's a fairly easy instrument to pick up. If you can drive, you can play the drums.
GUITAR: The first song I attempted to fingerpick was "Yesterday" (the original transcription). I learned it in about two hours, having never taken lessons - a friend taught me to read tab, and it seemed easy enough. I'd say guitar is about on a par with the drums for difficulty.
BASS GUITAR: Bass guitar is a little trickier than guitar for the very reason that the neck of the bass is longer than that of the guitar - so the jumps can be quite hard. Sure, people go on about the bass having "just four strings" - but hey, the violin has "just four strings", and I'm pretty sure that doesn't make it easy. You might as well say the er-hu is even easier as it has just two strings.
SAXOPHONE: If you can get a sound out of a reeded instrument AND you know the fingering of the recorder (or flute! ), then you're already halfway with your sax playing. I could play simple tunes on the sax when I first tried, having never played one before. Easy to learn - but I'm sure it's hard to master.
MBIRA: I learned mbira at the School of Oriental and African Studies. It took me five months of daily playing to finally "feel the groove" - the main pulse is on the second beat of each triplet group in a 24/8 time signature. The mbira makes the guitar look like child's play. You have to master both the kushaura and the kutsinira - kind of like a 'melody' and 'accompaniment', the melody played in 8/4 and the accompaniment in 24/8. Since the mbira tradition requires the musician to play the instrument, sing AND dance - I'd say the mbira should be on this list. I don't understand why guitar is on this list when I know so many guitarists, all of whom are excellent.
I learned how to play the didgeridoo last year and can still barely play it. You have to blow out threw your mouth and in threw your nose at the same time. Ah It is so hard but not as yard as the violin or piano which I also know how to play.
No buttons, strings, holes, or anything else. Gotta be hard.
More comments about Didgeridoo

23Percussion
I am a percussionist in my high school and I just started playing 6 months ago and every time we get a new piece there is always some other instrument we have to master. Most of the instruments are not difficult to learn just hard to master and when you start to do well in a piece, its time to learn a new one.
Try learning and mastering hundreds of instruments.

24Tenor Saxophone
Any Saxaphone is the same amount of difficulty than the other. Believe me I play Alto... but, imagine Godless amounts of keys and sever combos for said keys.

fireinside96

Tenor sax should go up higher. It takes up a lot of breathe with far apart keys. Still love it
Everything else is easy but fingering because all the fingers are involved.
More comments about Tenor Saxophone

25Alto Sax
I'm going to be completely honest. Saxophone is HARD! Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about. Coming from a classical background, saxophone is not only a difficult instrument to master, but due to its poor reputation as a classical instrument, that puts extreme pressure on Saxophonists to be perfect. Best example is in a Symphony Orchestra setting. Saxophonist rarely get called to play in an orchestra, but when they do, there is already a level of bias put on them, as if they don't belong. Therefore not only does the player need to have mastery of the instrument, but they need to represent the entire community of saxophones out there. You wouldn't believe the amount of bias some directors have on Saxophone. Even Band directors. What makes Saxophone hard is not necessarily the instrument itself (even though it is hard when you include ALL necessary extended techniques needed to graduate college now) but you need to push though an incredible amount of bias. Jazz may be different, but classical saxophone is probably the hardest instrument you will ever find
Alto Sax is by far the hardest instrument to play. There are so many skills related to playing the saxaphone. When you play sax you have to co-ordinate your fingers with the blowing, and you also have to control how much pressure you are using on the reed.
Extremely easy to learn the basics, after trying to get more advanced it starts to become by far one of the hardest to master.
More comments about Alto Sax

26Clarinet
I think its quite hard as there's the reed to worry about and then the keys, and then the right blowing. You also have to get the blowing and mouth position right. As well as that, the air that goes through actually makes a sound slightly AFTER you blow, so you have to be good at time and stuff. No need to brag, but I'm quite good at the clarinet but when I first started it took me 3 weeks to learn how to blow the clarinet without squeaking or getting sensitive teeth fits.
Pros:
• beautiful sound
• high AND low notes
• each consecutive note is usually played by lifting one finger
• most important instrument in band

Cons:
• squeaks for many reasons
• many parts
• have to buy reeds
• may be allergic to reeds
• wooden clarinets are more delicate and cannot be played outside
• wooden clarinets need to oiled
• uses a lot of air
I think that playing the clarinet requires fast moving fingers, lots of air, proper embouchure, and great patience. The clarinet tends to squeak if you have poor embouchure, which is really hard to correct because it tires up your lips. Then there's holding the clarinet, I've played the clarinet for a long time and now my right thumb is freakishly deformed from carrying it. So yes I think the clarinet is a rather challenging instrument to play.
More comments about Clarinet

27Euphonium
A euphonium doesn't have to have 4 valves, the difference between a baritone and euphonium is the shape of their bells. One is shaped more like a cone, and the other is shaped more like a cylinder.
Agree with the last comment. I have a Euphonium and it only has three valves. Very similar to th Baritone horn, but the baritone is cylindrical, and the Euphonium is conical (cone-shaped). This instrument takes LOTS of air to reach higher notes which is especially difficult for someone with athsma like me. laugh out loud The bigger mouthpiece size means you have to move you lips more than you would a trumpet or French horn. Not only do people hardly know what this instrument is, but they also underestimate its power. Low notes have a tendency to sound "blatty" if you're not careful. You also have the issue of it being able to play in either bass or treble clef. Very confusing since I started out playing clarinet and ended up playing euphonium in bass clef. Each of these instruments can have a different appearance, feel, tone, and you may have to hold or position the fingers differently where the valves are. Sometimes has a 4th valve which is one more valve to worry about and it can be easy to forget that it's even there considering most people start out playing with only three valves. Not impossible to play, but once you start out it just gets more and more complex from there.
It's like the baritones twin except with 4 valves which makes it easier and harder! 4 valves = more in tune but more fingering combos. Plus it's cool cause no ones ever heard of it. So if you haven't go look it up

28Bass Clarinet
If people think the clarinet is hard, wait until they SEE a bass version. A meter long,2X big mouthpiece, And even more notes. Plus, takes much more air to power.
Same as clarinet. You need good embouchore or else it sound terrible. There are many different keys that make this instrument unique, but most of the time the keys are the same.
It is difficult to play and you squeak way more easily than almost any instrument unless your embouchure is correct.
More comments about Bass Clarinet

29Banjo
Banjo is the top number one hardest instrument to play. You have to learn how to play a chord different ways for each key. You have to learn many rolls, really get down your timing (which takes forever, but the person how has timing down the most in the world might be Earl Scruggs), and you have to learn a song different for each key. The most important is... Your fingers can't all be doing the same thing at once. Two have to be on the body while three are on the strings. The technique is impossble and you sometimes have to go the opposite of what people clap (the beat). All in all, the banjo is the hardest instrument in the world to play!
The 5 string Banjo will not redeem you, any glitch is immediately noticeable, the short crisp notes do not overlap {guitar} This instrument is very specialised, requires total dedication and above all, God given talent. It is extremely powerful/beautiful when played correctly like Bela Fleck does so well.
The 5-string banjo should up there higher in the list than guitar, for sure in my opinion. The speed and timing is so important. And with many hammer on and pull offs required in playing one song is staggering. And having to memorise all these things and nail the timing, takes immense skill
More comments about Banjo

30Glockenspiel
I'm a mallet percussionist in my high school band as well and I always get crap from pretty much every other instrument group in there. The flutes and clarinets say that,"No your parts so easy I would know because we all have your part." that also go's for flutes and since it's just me and my friend in there on mallets all the other percussionists say that our parts are nothing compared to ours. lets see you come over here and play straight 16th notes with two hands and if you make a wrong note everyone can here it it's out of place. Yet if you play a snare drum the only thing that you have to worry about is staying on beat. We get the most crap and the most unappreciation. it kind of sucks in a way and this instrument is definitely the worst of them all to play.
The thing with the glockenspiel is that it is pretty easy to learn. It only took me about a moth or two to know where all of the notes are (and I didn't know how to read sheet music). The hard part is mastering it. Unlike some other instruments where you can "feel" the next note, on the glockenspiel you have to solely use your eyes to know where the note is. There's also a whole lot of pressure because EVERYONE can hear if you screw up. The thing that sucks in my experience is that my school groups all the percussionist together so I have to learn this and a whole lot of different instruments at the same time.
As a mallet percussionist, while there may be pretty tough instruments, I'd say the glockenspiel is one of the easiest to learn, but hardest to master, by far. I've been playing for a couple of years now, and the amount of techniques you have to be able to do is rather overlooked. It can take months of constant practice to perfect just a single-stroke roll. Then you have double-stroke rolls, and everything else.
More comments about Glockenspiel

31Double Bass
Fretted instruments do not compare to classical string instruments at all in difficulty, the string bass requires years to master and the amount of shifting necessary to play melodies is many times that of other string instruments. The finger must be placed in exactly the right spot and even the slightest roll will make the note out of tune. Bass players must also have shifted to the correct location in order to place their fingers accurately and must balance the instrument (if they are standing). The bow must also be accounted for as the location of it on the string, the pressure angle and speed can all drastically change the sound.
The double bass is always underrepresented. It's difficulty makes even simple songs tedious; constantly having to shift and worry about intonation (arguably harder than violin, because bad intonation is harder to hear, and therefore harder to fix. Not to say that bad intonation isn't noticeable, it just feels wrong, rather than sounding distantly wrong). Tremendous finger strength is required too, and even with all this, all the difficulties of electric bass are still present.
It's heavy, the strings are thick (I've been playing the double bass for years, my fingers once bleed), it's expensive, and because the fingerboard is so long, it's painful just to go from 1st position to 4th posotion, not to mention other positions. But it's totally worth it. You'd still love it.
More comments about Double Bass

32Comb and Paper Kazoo
Man, I've been playing the Cozombaper (as us pro CPers like to refer to our incredible instrument) for over 25 years, and there are STILL new things to learn all the time. Like if there's a hair on the comb does it affect the sound? You bet it does. How it does so is something that takes YEARS to master. Ugh... I just don't understand why this isn't #1.
The intricacies of this instrument are infinite. Its simplicity belies an incredible potential in musicality. THIS is an instrument with soul and power! Definitely the hardest to master!
This is definitely hardest to learn and play
More comments about Comb and Paper Kazoo

33Theremin
Incredibly hard, as correct notes are 100% contingent on memorizing where you place your hands in the air. The instrument is played by guiding your hands around a metal rod, which affects pitch and frequency. Even one centimeter off will ruin a note.
No keys. No frets. No strings, for crying out loud. Just your fingers, dancing -- one hopes, incredibly precisely -- in the air. You have to stand stock still (or your body will affect the tone). And you have to fiddle with the tuning, almost like an oboist works constantly on her reed. Like the previous writer said, Clara Rockmore!
Theremin is the hardest instrument to master as you are literally required to pull the notes, volume, vibrato, rhythm - EVERYTHING out of thin air. Clara Rockmore! Any musician that would disagree with this has obviously never tried to play a theremin.
More comments about Theremin

34English Horn

35Tabla
Tabla is way harder than most instrumentson this list. It is literalyl 2 different drums, the right hand uses finger movements, and positions to create different types of harmonic notes, which are tuned to a key, and also percussive slaps, and taps. While the left hand plays Bass, which can also be modulated in pitch by pressing down on the skin with the palm, and also slaps on the left hand as well.
This is by far the hardest instrument to master. It take anywhere to 20 years to fully learn. A player needs fingers that are strong and all the sounds are based on letters.

36Fife

37Steel Guitar
The pedal steel guitar is the most difficult string instrument-period. A steel bar that you are supposed to place directly over lines instead of frets with the left hand, picking and blocking strings at the same time with the right hand, up to 10 foot pedals for the left foot and 12 knee levers for both knees, controlling the volume with the right foot. There is no other instrument that has that much going on all the time. Sorry there, classical snobs, but it IS a legitimate musical instrument-your violins as far as difficulty in playing are second fiddle to the pedal steel!
Hands down the most difficult instrument I have ever played. I own one, and it's very difficult. You have to use both knees, both feet, three fingers on your right hand, and a steel bar in your left, all while using precise technique. Much more difficult than violin. I believe it's not at the top just because not enough people have actually tried it.
None of these folks have watched a pedal steel player. It is by far the most difficult instrument in the world. That's why there are so very few good players. Violinists are a dime a dozen compared to pedal steel players.
More comments about Steel Guitar

38Marimba
The Marimba is cool c:

39Mandolin
The Mandolin should be much, MUCH higher. Not necessarily in the ranks of the violin or french horn, but not at #40 either!

I've been playing it for 7 years, and it's still very challenging to master some pieces. Entry level players suffer in the beginning. Each string comes in pairs of two, leaving you with eight strings to work with. You have to be sure to apply loads of pressure to the strings against the fret board or you'll get buzzing notes and uneven chords if you're not touching both strings in one pair. Not to mention, the strings are so close together, and have to be replaced every month at most in order to get a clean sound.
What a joke. How is the guitar above the mandolin? Compared to the guitar, the mandolin needs a wanton amount of pressure applied to the strings in order to get a clean sound. Chops take time to master well, and fingering the fret board can be very difficult due to the close proximity of the strings and the fact that they come in pairs!
What? Mandolin should be higher. At least above the guitar, for crying out loud!
More comments about Mandolin

40Baritone
Baritone is, frankly, a very easy instrument to play, but difficult to master and perfect one's tone quality on it. By relativity, though, it is a very easy instrument considering that fact that most baritone players in a concert band often play simpler parts.
Baritone is easy to start with but at the end it is hard to master and to get the high notes

41Ukulele
No it's not it's one of the easiest instruments I've ever played! Look I didn't even take lessons I got lessons of the Internet and my parents were very impressed I was already picking and my dad plays guitar and FYI almost all the instuments in the world are on this list
Ukulele is super easy. If you can play violin pizzicato, you can play uku.

42Baritone Sax
It is hard to learn and the case is big
Bari sax is hard but awesome it is the king

43Santoor
Where's it? It should be definitely on the top 10 list. Piano is not that much hard. I want it to be on the top. It is super hard

44Synthesizer
I can imagine this would be a nightmare to perfect. But those who play them are massively talented.

PositronWildhawk

Why is this so low? Sure its not hard to PLAY, but Good GOD is it hard to get the sound you want. There are so many knobs and stuff on it.

45Electric Trumpet
I tried to learn this but electrocuted my lips in the process.
I just think this is hilarious

46Marching Baritone

47Shakuhachi
I have been playing the shakuhachi for a year and a half now.
all though I have not been practicing regularly, I still think that it is easily one of the hardest instruments ever.
the reason it is so difficult is because it goes out of tune if you do not play it precisely at the right angle and with the right amount of air.
End blown Japanese Flute, VERY hard to even get a constant sound out of it.

48Soprano Sax
Number 1 hardest instrument

49Bass Trombone

Similar to a tuba but in trombone form requires a lot of air to play, trying to play low (really low) and working the slide mechanism can be very difficult to do


50Contrabassoon
Pitched a semitone higher than a pianos lowest note, reeds cost a fortune, huge etc

51Contrabass Clarinet
When your instrument looks like a giant paperclip, plays so low that it shakes the person playing it, that instrument is at least really cool. Also the hardest things about it are that it takes a lot air, when it needs repaired it not only takes forever to become repaired but it takes a long time to find someone to repair it because its so uncommon, on some you have to stand to play, on the paperclip model its a challenge to even read sheet music with that giant instrument right in front of you, also high notes are really hard to play, because of how much air it takes its very hard to develop good dynamics.

52Bajo Sexto
I have been playing the bajosexto for 1 year and its easy to play for me but I have seen a lot of people struggle

53Veena
Played by Saraswati mataji... this is the hardest instrument...

54Cowbell
You have to learn how to play a different part than anyone else. And also you have to be able to play the part loud. I played the cowbell in a song that I had a solo in and I had to play it as loud and fast as possible. And then no one was playing at all at the same time as me. You have to be able to go with the rythym and play it loud as possible.
Everyone always needs more of it!

maclancaster

WE NEED MORE COWBELL!

55Melodica
This instrument is sort of a mixture of a harmonica and an accordion. It can get very difficult, especially since it is similar to an accordion, which is also difficult to play. But unlike an accordion, you have to blow into it and play it like a harmonica. A harmonica can get difficult also. A mixture of two difficult instruments is very hard indeed,

56Khlui Phiang Aw

57Electric Violin
Well actually the electric violin is as difficult as an acoustic violin so it needs to be up in the top ten.
There are endless finger patterns and when you get higher up in shifting it's really hard I get in tune as your half steps and whole steps virtually disappear.
Never played, but I do play violin. Electric violin shouldn't be in the top ten, that would mean an instrument that is even more different from violin would not be listed there.
I like the electric violin, although I have never played.

58Koto

59Venezuelan Cuatro
I have been playing the cuatro for a number of years and it is very challenging. The speed with which the strums are played in conjunction with the different strum techniques and replacing strums with knocking on the wood is overwhelming. If you can imagine that when mastering soloist songs, each individual strum in a bar of 6 strums plays a different chord in a different position on the neck, then precision comes into play, and missing the position of one finger can ruin the piece. Also, it is a clandistine instrument where no official notes have ever been written for. Before the internet the only way to learn how to play would be from teachers (which are scarse) and counting on the people in your neighborhood to learn how to plan new songs. Give it a try, and listen to some cuatro soloist music from Cheo Hurtado, Jorge Glem or Carlos Camacho and you will know exactly what I am talking about. Enjoy music!

60Lute
The lute should be up with classical guitar at 3 maybe even 2. The lute is like having the classical guitar but with 8 courses (a course is 2 strings with the highest being 1 so 15 strings). Not only that but chord structures are much much harder to get a hang of than in classical guitar. Getting used to picking 2strings not just one with nails by itself is harder than many instruments in here. I started with acoustic guitar and learned over the hills and far away by ear in 20 minutes. It took me 2 weeks to learn el noi de la mare which is relatively simple in classical guitar (been playing almost a year) and it's a known fact that playing the lute at the same level a classical guitar is much more difficult. The lute deserves a wayy higher place on this list.

61Uilleann Pipes
I can't imagine how in the world anybody could play this instrument.

62Ocarina
Although the 6 hole ocarina is very easy to learn, It's the 12 hole that's hard. I tried to play on my brother's 12 hole Ocarina of Time replica, but it turns it was really hard to figure out the fingering.

63Double Subcontrabass Trombone

64Pan Flute

65Zither

66Thai Oboe

67Tar (Lute)

68Claves

69Vuvuzela

70Dangubica

71Contrabass Saxophone

72Marriba

73Snare Drums

74Xylophone

75Saxhorn

76Tenor Horn

77Contrabass Flute
This instrument is very difficult to achive a nice sound in, let alone its enormus!

78Goblet Drum
Logicaly saying: if you bring 2 piano/violin/drums players Who have been playing for 10 years.. 10 hours of practice each day, The only difference between these players would be the style of playing... Or if you bring an instrument played wih sticks... It would be the same sound but different style... Unlike percussion players that plays with there fingers, if you take 2 darbuka players, or riq players... Or whatever percussion instrument, and both plays for 10 years, 10 hours each day... The difference wouldn't only be the style, but it would be also the sound of the slap... Because my fingers are different than the other player... No one has the same agility/strenght fingers... Also no has the same smoothed fingers...

79Kecapi

80Flamenco Guitar
This should definitely be in the top 10 at least.

81Alphorn
The alp horn is a lot like the French horn it has the same mouth piece and same sound. The alp horn however has no buttons what so ever and the only thing you have to control the notes is your embouchure.

82Tuba
People are saying that some of the top 10 are the hardest. Please. Tuba is harder then guitar. I even learned to beat box on my tuba and circular breath yet a guitar you don't need to breath to make a note. After 15 years of tuba and 2 years of guitar I would say tuba is harder then guitars. Its not the hardest but it needs a lot of air and has notes way under the staff and above the staff. Even a trumpet which is higher then tuba don't have this issues. Tuba should be higher then 80.
It's not the hardest, but it definitely shouldn't be #78. Especially with the low notes, it takes a lot of air, it's the hardest instrument to tongue on, fast passages are more difficult than on other instruments, and you are expected to have a larger range than other brass instruments.
I play tuba not as easy as it look because when you have to tongue fast your tongue has farther to move then most instruments
More comments about Tuba

83Harmonica
First of all I agree partially with many people that think The harmonica is the easiest instrument because you can easily produce a good (well, not bad) note on it. It's fun to play the harmonica, trust me you will enjoy it because whereever, whenever you want to play music, you can get it from your pocket and play it instantly. The tricks are you should be able to breath sufficiently to play, you should know when to blow and when to draw in the right holes. If you play the chromatic you should also master the button.

There are so many techniques in chroms. They are: bending, slide jab, vibrato, chord playing, toungue blocking, octave blocking, etc. Playing a long draw note and playing many draw notes are very hard on harmonica. I think playing a good music with dynamics and all aspects of music is very hard (but can be done of course) on harmonica. You can try the harmonica especially the chromatic one and learn to play the classical pieces (watch on youtube: classical chromatic harmonica) Then you will understand what I meant. So I vote for the chromatic harmonica being the hardest instrument to play.
Harmonica is the hardest of all the instruments I play. I play piano, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, bass and drums and harmonica beats them by miles. Bending is hard, playing with people is hard. Just because you can play a solid note doesn't mean it sounds good. To make a harmonica sound good is (in my opinion) one of the hardest things to do. 82nd place a load of bull, put it at like tenth
Its hard kinda a bit cause you need to get the right notes at the right time and its not as easy as people think it is

84Triangle
I used to go to triangle lessons - I started when I was six years old, but unfortunately ended up quitting my lessons aged 15 because it is such a difficult instrument and it was taking up a lot of my school time and was eating into my social life. Maybe in a few years when I don't have so much going on I may start music lessons again. I hope one day I will finally master the ability to play such a beautiful and complex instrument.
Are you kidding, hardest instrument no doubt
Triangles are NOT very hard.
More comments about Triangle

85Recorder
Good tonality on a recorder is difficult to achieve. A player must blow at a constant pressure in order to achieve a reasonable pitch. Also, to achieve satisfactory dynamics a user must know his/her instrument very well as a fluctuation in strength of blowing, the pitch can change. It takes a lot of skill to play a recorder well.

I know the recorder gets a lot of bad press, but any plastic instrument played by children under the age of 10 would sound terrible.
This was hands down the absolute easiest instrument I've ever played in my life time!
I have to play it in school and let me say this it is hard! Plus the songs they're teaching us are totally lame. Hot Cross Buns and Gently sleep are a couple examples. I CAN'NT BELIEVE that the Recorder is number 61. Seeing that I am the first one to vote for this, I hope that you acknowledge my paragraph. If you agree vote and like!

86Tin Whistle
I play it for 2 years. Fingering is easy, but is hard to master and play ornaments correctly.

87Jug
Dang. I thought that mastering the violin was hard, until I tried master the jug. I ended up quitting and have vowed ever since to never play the jug again. I recently broke the commitment because of the beautiful sound produced from the jug, but even after years of practice, I'm no where close to mastering the great instrument
, you people think the violin Is hard I've been playing since last year and its so easy, and no I'm not Chinese! (not trying to be racist) the jug takes a while, a real long good ole while to master
I've been playing thejug since I was 4 months old. I am 27 years old now and still haven't mastered it. My jug is worth 40,000,000 dollars. It's real nice, but y'all have no idea how hard it is. It's super har d to master like the other guy said
More comments about Jug

88Bass Drums

Comments About This List

Featured Lists
Popular Lists
New Lists

Top Remixes of This List

Posts About This List

List Info

This list was created 4 years, 13 days ago and has been voted on over 3,000 times. This top ten list has been remixed 16 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Wednesday, July 30, 2014


List Error Reporting

See an item on this list that's misspelled, duplicated, or doesn't belong? Let us know. Click here to report the error.