Hardest Instruments to Play


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The Top Ten

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.
Part of that you have to do exactly on horn, and most comply with the horn in the same way. You have to make sure it is the right note because you can easily spot if the sound is wrong or right on the violin, but with the French horn it is different. It takes a very skilled person to know the notes because all the notes are so close together. Also, playing songs with the valves is very complex and takes a very long time to master before you can play off-hand.
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.
You're rather uneducated in the field of brass instruments to believe that the trumpet doesn't deserve a high place. Though I agree that the violin and piano are very difficult instruments, I can confirm to you that pitching and tone quality on the trumpet are very hard. I tell you this from experience having played, some of which I am still playing, the violin, piano, French horn as well as tenor horn, and attempted the trumpet. I can not comment on the cello however, but do not be an ignoramus as to speak down on the trumpet.
[Newest]It's the hardest instrument. Agreed
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2French 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.
I have not played the horn for very long. The thing with this instrument is that it plays in both treble and bass clef. Another thing is splits where you get the option to play low or high. I always play low because the lower register is really cool. And I have to use just as much air as the high notes
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.
Oh yeah, I started horn just last December. I have a 2 octave range.
[Newest]I play horn I find it quite difficult to play. Horn was my first instrument and my main instrument I find it hard compared to sax but I can only play those two. The horn has 3 valves like other brass instruments but what makes it hard is the the notes that have the same fingerings are extremely close together. You have to have a good ear to play horn. The mouthpiece is also very small making it difficult as well. Thank god some genius came up with the valved horn imagine playing natural!
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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.
I have played both piano and violin for 15 years and to narrow it down piano is easier to learn at the beginning but to become a master at piano performance is much harder for mainly these reasons:

1. In concerts or competitions you do not get the luxury of playing on the same violin you have been practicing on for many years. Each piano is different and the technique you have used to produce a certain tone on one piano may have to be changed on a piano with a different tone, lighter or heavier key action, the list goes on. Many people think all pianos are the same. This is not true at a professional level if we are comparing difficulties with mastering an instrument. If we could all bring our favourite piano everywhere we performed, it would be a lot easier to perform with presicion and not need to adapt to different pianos. I can't count the number of times I've sat at a piano and not known how good the action was and had to adapt with no chance to try the instrument out beforehand. Whereas with violin I know the intricacies of my instrument and having to adapt my technique in the moment of performance doesn't even cross my mind.

2. Violin is single line instrument, piano is polyphonic. Yes violin is incredibly technically hard. But so is reading treble and bass at the same time, memorising 5 times more notes, having to be mentally aware of 2, 3 or even 4 lines at the same time, voicing one of two melodies occurring in the same hand etc etc. The sheer volume of notes pianists must play at one time indicates how much more presicion and control is needed to make every single one of those notes the way you want it.

I think these are the only two ways piano for me will always be harder in terms of becoming a concert artist. More people play the piano as well so it is harder to stand out and win competitions etc. Piano is the master of all instruments.
I have played piano for 11 years, and it took a tremendous amount of time and effort to get to level where I am now. These are the two main reasons why:

1. There is so much competition on the piano, simply because everyone plays it and that there are many talented pianists. You can almost never find a musician who does not play the piano, and many people who are not musicians also play piano. If you tell people that you play piano, they will not be impressed until you sit down and play. Even so, it's extremely hard to stand out in competitions and eventually when applying for college. For college, you are competing against hundreds, or thousands of prospective students who are at the same level as you or higher.

2. Mastering difficult pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, and Mozart requires all of your concentration. Your tone, interpretation, dynamics, phrasing, tempo, posture, personality, and even the way you carry yourself are things that judges look for. In advanced pieces, there are complex rhythms and require you to use every inch of your hands to reach all the notes. At the same time, you need the precision to hit the right notes AND the control to achieve the right sound.

3. In auditions, you play on a piano that you've never played before. You only get a few minutes at the very most to try the piano, and determine how to approach your piece with the piano that is given to you. It's the adaptability that pianists have that makes piano so difficult.

Yes, many people play the piano, but playing well is a totally different story.
[Newest]Just through my own experience, do I think piano is extremely hard to play.
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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 totally agree! I have been playing for 2 years and I can not seem to get enough air. I constantly have to take more breaths than the rest of the band earning me glares from my band director for "breaking the frame" Still LOVE the oboe and would not trade it for any other instrument. 😘
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.
Again as many people said here, the votes here are generally biased as people tend to vote for their own instrument and never had any experience with others. I've played piano before and sure I can play at a intermediate level and all I had to worry about were my fingers. With the oboe, I was constantly worrying about my fingers, the tone, how much air and support I'm using. On top of that, I have to worry about if I worked on reeds the previous night and if they play well in the playing environment, which leads me to having to pay attention to the temperature and humidity of the playing environment. And if you have wooden oboe, stress levels just increase. You're then constantly worrying about the humidity and temperature of where you store the oboe or else it will crack and it'll be a costly repair. Then prior to playing a wooden oboe, you have to literally put the joints of the oboe in your jacket or under your arms so that you can warm them up before playing, otherwise, you are encouraging them to crack when you play. Getting started on an oboe is even harder. A decent beginning level instrument runs around $2000-$3000, and unless you're buying handmade reeds from a professional maker or teacher, the store ones are flat and sound like crap. Not to mention the reed openings are about 1mm wide and the path down the oboe is about 1cm on the top joint, causing back pain while playing due to the air pressure. And even with a good reed, with a good oboe in the perfect playing environment, the embouchure is extremely hard to perfect and you'll sound like a duck regardless of the player.
[Newest]Oboe is a double reed instrument, so it is very difficult. But I'm a pro at it so…...
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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.
I learned how to play the flute and it is much easier said than done so I do not that the flute is 5th hardest instrument to play.
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 should honestly be #1 here, because it is a PAIN IN THE BUTT to learn how to embouchure properly, get all the fingerings right, learn how to use the other "extra keys", and plus, we blow the air ABOVE the embouchure hole, not into it, so like 80% of our air is 'wasted', for the lack of a better word. On the other note (haha, see what I did there? ), after you learn it it is the best feeling in the world to let go, forget your surroundings, and just play whatever piece you currently have. Also, people, there are different sized flutes, so we are NOT able to play all flutes if we are able to learn one. If you learn piano, you can play any keyboard! Every flute has a different feel to it, especially after it is used for a while. And there is also no other feeling like playing your own flute, the one that you learned on especially. AND, if you do not put in the head joint properly, or put your arm in the right angle, there goes your beautiful sound. Also, there's the format and shape of the mouth that matters. If you have a tiny little button head with a scrunched up mouth, with a big chance you're not going to be a flutist anytime soon. Also, it is probably the most sensual instrument of all; it requires that feeling and touch... (Excuse me if I get sentimental, this is a really soft spot of mine) And that practice you need to be able to play fast! As you might know, it is not possible to play multiple notes at the same time on the flute. THE practice it takes to master those quick changes, the ones that can only take up milliseconds or the whole song is ruined, like C to D, that, my friend, I wish you good luck with. Also, do not say it is easy to play just because you see someone play it with ease, or it "looks easy". How do you know how much that person practiced? If you play Hot Cross Buns, then of course, it's easy. But if you start to play some Mozart or Bach, then let me see your face, because it is not even possible to be compared to Hot Cross Buns. And only say you can play the flute if you can actually blow into it. If you can't yet blow into it, you are learning. And even after, you are still learning. There is almost no way to master this instrument! There will always be layers that will surprise and shock you, even if you have been playing for 20+ years. And like, THE power and lungs you need to blow a strong note... Phuh. You will be surprised. And please, do not ever say that this is a soft and feminine instrument! It just takes a good pair of lungs, practice, and possibly some talent, and the trumpets will fall off their seats. This instrument should be #1, as I already said.
[Newest]I have been playing flute for ten years now and it sure is hard
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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)
As a 50 year old terrible guitarist I started playing drums about a year ago because it has been relatively easy for me to keep time in my head and on the guitar. I quickly found that that I had a knack for the drums and immediately enjoyed playing them. As I have progressed it is clear to me how difficult the drums really are to play well. I agree with everything said here about how difficult it is to play drums. Although I have listened to thousands of songs over and over now that I play drums I can really appreciate the incredible skill of so many "professional" drummers... Even on types of music I hate. That's another thing... On the guitar I would not think about trying to play styles of music I don't care for but that is not the case with drums. I would recommend the drums to anyone with an interest in playing instruments. Yes they are difficult and impossible to master but compared to some other instruments way more fun! Plus it can be a very good workout!
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.
[Newest]I play this in a rock band
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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).
[Newest]I play the cello and have the opinion that stringed instruments are more difficult to play than all others. All musical instruments are a challenge and good performance will not be easy. However, stringed instruments require two techniques that set them apart. The first is intonation: your fingers must be in the proper place to get a good sound, and the second is shifting: moving your hand up the fingerboard to play the desired notes. Combined, these two important techniques will make stringed instruments quite a challenge to play. In addition to this there is vibrato and things that must be done with the bow to get a good sound out of the instrument.
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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!
[Newest]Organ has to be the hardest instrument.

9Electric 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.
[Newest]I have played the electric guitar for 50 years I'm 60 and I have also played EVERY other instrument on this list and this one had been the hardest. Second was violin, third cam in at drums and so forth thanks I hope I can post again before I die... I'm old :(
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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.
In here I'm talking about the great highland bagpipe, I don't know much about the other types.

I feel kind of offended honestly that any one would think that an instrument such as the electric guitar or the drums would be harder than the bagpipe. It requires a lot of physical activity to keep the bag going steadily. Not only that, it is a militarized instrument full of traditions, so when you are playing it in band, you have to stay in step, stay in a line, and follow the proper commands that the drum major gives out; be attentive to the Pipe and the Drum major to know when the tune ends while marching down the street on the correct foot and playing the correct melody at all times not knowing when it will end (it ends whenever the drum major or the pipe major gives the signal and not necessarily at the end of the tune you are playing) is also challenging. One small distraction and the whole band may stop except you which will make the band sound off.

There is also a lot of technique behind the bagpipes let's take as an example the Piobaireachd (Pibroch). The Piobaireachd is a slow type of playing were the same line is being expressed in different ways. It is supposed to show the true sound of the bagpipe without anything restricting it. That being said, it has absolutely now beat and there is no other way of learning it than by listening to it. It also combines embellishments from playing the normal bagpipe. You have the Crunluath, which is basically a combination of a Taorluath and an Edre. Most beginners and intermediate already think this two embellishments are hard enough and have now idea that to really master instrument such as the bagpipe you have to be able to play such a strange combination.
[Newest]This has to be the most difficult instrument to play. I am no instrument expert but I known the bagpipes have many notes in many different spots and you have to squeeze at the right time and at with the right amount of force
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The Contenders

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 has all the complexity of a piano (two staves, multiple notes in both hands), but the additional plucking action really sets it apart from piano - you have to be on the note and prepare before plucking. Then, seven pedals, each with 3 positions to control the accidentals. But you have to time them exactly right so you don't get buzzing, and if you're doing them fast then you have to release them on the spring rather than putting them exactly where you need to. You have to build up your callouses on your fingers by playing a lot. Painful! And controlling the timbre of the strings is really hard too - I can hear how I want it to sound, but its hard to make it happen. There are 47 Strings! Violins have 4! Why is harp number 11 on the list - its only because not many people play it and vote for it! It should be number 1! (I played piano and oboe before starting harp, but now I just play harp because It's SO CHALLENGING! (But good).
I've played piano since age 8 and recently took up harp for the last 4 years. It is MUCH harder than piano as one has to put down patterns of notes in groups of four (you don't use your pinkies) before you play a note. Looking ahead for patterns constantly is very challenging!

Me as a beginner violist I still have a lot to learn but I can tell you now it's NOT an easy ride! Violist often need bigger hands and fingers that can spread far because playing the viola is pretty hard and it has different strings then the violin! Viola's also need more pressure applied to the strings then the violin and espically the bows! I held a cello bow and compared it to the viola bow and it was super light! I was surprised because you'd think a cello bow would be heavier! And I could be wrong but I was shocked! And I have absolutely nothing against Violins or cellos but I think the viola just might be a little harder then them
Considering that the viola similar to the violin and cello, it should be ranked higher. Alto clef is its main clef and it also requires violists to read treble clef. With that being said, the viola can't play as high as the violin but it can still go pretty high which would result in serious shifting. As many violists know, shifting can be a pain sometimes. The viola can do a lot of the things the violin can do and the two make a great team.
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.
[Newest]The viola is a completely different world from other instruments. Learning new staff, having to correct your position over and over and over, having to focus on so many things at once while playing to make sure that it doesn't sound terrible, and STILL getting mocked by the people who actually know the difference between a viola and a violin. Not as easy as it looks, guys.
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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!
I'm a flautist and have attempted the piccolo. I'm rather decent with the flute after 5 years, but the piccolo requires more air power and effort to learn altogether it seems. Flute isn't necessarily in the wrong place, ranked at 5, but I feel that piccolo should be above it.
I play the piccolo and the flute. But of course I think piccolo is harder because your hands have to be small so you can fit all your fingers on the keys. Then your embrasure has to be really small because the piccolo plays the notes that are even higher than the flute.

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.
Its not so hard to pick up, but my god is it difficult to master. I've been playing trumpet for 9 years now and I'm up to grade 6/7, and I can just about reach a top A. To put it in comparison I've been learning violin for 1 year and I'm up to grade 2 and I can play every note there is. Up to about grade 5 is the margin between people who play trumpet for fun, and the people who take it seriously - you have to worry about where in the mouthpiece your embouchure is, which lip is forwards, which direction the air stream is in, how big your aperture is, what combination of valve to use for which notes (there is more than one for each) and even then your chops are working harder (in ratio to their size) than almost every muscle in your body. And then your diaphragm is also pushing the air into the trumpet, you have to make sure you aren't pushing the trumpet against your lips so your aperture is clear of metal, etc etc etc etc etc etc
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
[Newest]Not being biased, or am I. However in my experience with music the trumpet is extremely difficult to master, not only does the instrument itself let down its players by enabling almost any note to be played on any valve configuration in high registers but the player him/herself is mentally and physically pushed. 'trumpets lips' may be a slang word you may have heard of- players need a large stamina to exert and sustain pressure during high notes and even in normal playing. String instruments and other wind instruments like saxes who just blow and use the cheat key (octave key) have it easy. That's why it is up there with the most difficult instruments to play.
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I used to play violin (honestly, I don't know how it's considered the hardest to play, I was able to play many songs within the first two months of playing. If violin is the hardest, viola, cello, and bass should be up there as well) and switched from orchestra to band to play bassoon. I wanted something more challenging, and after 2 and a half years of playing the violin just wasn't doing it for me. The bassoon took me forever just to get the first note, F, out of it. It's definitely a test of how much oxygen you can store in your lungs. As compared to most other instruments, the bassoon is heavy and it has keys all over the place. You won't have much luck playing it if your fingers are short- lucky for me, mine are long and feminine. You have to be well aware of what you're playing on the bassoon. One wrong key and you make a very obvious mistake. In class I find myself constantly adjusting my mouth to get the right sound, particularly on the higher notes. This year I was trying out for district band and it was extremely hard trying to find someone to help teach me- in fact I never did find anyone which resulted in me having to have a trombone player assist. This also leads me to the fact that my band teacher is school has a lack of bassoon sheet music, so I'm always playing the trombone part. This messes me up when she can find bassoon music, like this time when we played March Mania by Michael Story I was seated by the trombones, at after school practice I found myself extremely confused because I had the melody at the beginning and the trombones didn't. It also messed me up at measure 61 (it's my favorite of the entire piece) when I split off from the trombones and was playing along with the Bb tuba, whom was all the way at the other end so I could barely hear her. I just really think bassoon is a difficult but amazing instrument and it should really be at the top of the list.
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.
Bassoon poses a number of issues irrelevant to many others, wind control for pitch dynamics and tone colour, embouchure for these things and playing the different registers, key holes which can have adjusted amounts covered for each note and which are delicate in exactly covering the notes you want, illogical fingering in the higher register, similar to clarinet. The thumbs are in high demand as well on bassoon and it can get quite difficult if fast passages require you to use your thumbs a lot. Violin is hard, yes, and I don't think bassoon is the hardest but nor is violin. just to compare them a bit more, you need to be aware of climate and conditions constantly because simply adjusting your instrument doesn't cut it when it comes to tuning a bassoon, you have to constantly monitor it with your ears, breath and mouth. there are also issues with muscular and aerobic stamina. If you cannot consider these things worthy of calling difficult, go play the electric guitar because that's got to be the easiest instrument that shouldn't be on the list.
[Newest]In a small band I find it near impossible to play quiet low notes without breaking up or having to stop and start. Everyone else makes it look effortless
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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?!
[Newest]I've played a couple of brass instruments but the trombone is the hardest in my opinion. Unlike the trumpet and French horn you have to remember the slide positions to get the perfect tone. And fast paste music are really hard because you have to move your arm quickly.
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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.

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.
[Newest]The classic guitar is harder then moste people think it is.

19Bass 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.
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.
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


[Newest]What the hell is this doing ahead of double bass on the list? I play Double bass, Electric Bass, Guitar, piano, drums and violin, and Double bass is way harder than all of them.

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.
It is the Hardest to play. Both hands doing completely something different at the same time and you are using the bellows not only to produce the sound but for expression. And it is 30 lbs hanging of you back. It is on the top 2 hardest instruments. Not many people stick with. Need to build up endurance not to mention never ever seeing you 120 bass notes.
[Newest]I thing the Accordion is the hardest

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
That thing has like a thousand strings, that's all I need to say

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

23English Horn

Should be in the top 2! Mallet percussion instruments take so much talent to play, take piano music, and make it more difficult. Two mallets is hard enough on any of these mallet percussion instruments, (except the tubular bell/chimes) other times you have to play with four mallets, and occasionally with six! I don't see any reason for any other instrument to complain that it's hard, these mallet percussion instruments take the cake. I've played for four years, I can play with four mallets, and it's still very hard. Now if you ask me to play 8th notes at a tempo of 200, I'll be pretty good at it, if you make me play with four mallets, I'll struggle, and six mallets are just plain insane! I've seen few songs with the need for three mallets in either hand, but I'll tell you, they look almost impossible to play..
Marimbas are a form of mallet percussion, which is harder than you think. You have to concentrate on 2 things: the notes AND the dynamics. Not to mention keeping your eye on the conductor or drum majors! And 4 mallets is just perplexing! It is fun to play, but it is NOT a piece of cake.


I play marimba and it's like playing the piano only a little bigger and you have usually two mallets to hit the notes with its like a xylophone. It's not too hard I started in 4th grade and I'm in 9th grade now I can play with four mallets so it's not that easy.

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.
Everyone underestimates how hard percussion can be. It isn't just hitting a drum or a cymbal once in a while. You need to be able to learn difficult rhythms, and also you need to be a lot more independent. You need to keep your own place most of the time and cannot rely on other people. (go percussionists :P)
Try learning and mastering hundreds of instruments.
[Newest]Much harder than I ever thought

I payed the vibe for an entire marching season... needles to say my face got burnt at band camp. hard to play
Imagine a piano. With a pedal. Add in all of your percussion skills. Now imagine reading piano music, but only being able to plsy in your periphiral vision. THIS IS HARD.

27Quad Drums
I plan on playing quad drums for my highschool band. From what I see, it doesn't look like it's all fun and games. I was expecting quads to be higher up there.

28Acoustic 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?
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.
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!
[Newest]I'm going to be honest, even for a person as virtuoso as I am and in love with music, the guitar is one of the most difficult instruments I've ever had to deal with, although I haven't had much experience in my defense, but I still have to hand it to guitar players you guys rock!
More comments about Acoustic Guitar

29Tenor 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.


Tenor Sax is very easy to learn, I would say, but it's insanely hard to actually be GOOD at (as with any sax really. ) A child could play a saxophone, but jesus christ I've heard some really bad players who have been playing for years.
Tenor sax should go up higher. It takes up a lot of breathe with far apart keys. Still love it

30Thai Oboe

I'm not even sure how to justify my vote...

32Bass Trombone
The bass trombone is extremely challenging because just like a normal trombone, it is hard to play in tune because of the slide, but on top of it, you must play in an extremely low register, at times playing in the same range as the tuba and even lower and low notes on trombone is not the easiest thing.
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

33Bass Clarinet
I've been playing the clarinet for 7 years now and I transitioned from soprano clarinet to bass clarinet 3 years ago and I must say that the bass is more difficult. While the soprano clarinet requires to to play nice and loud and fast the bass requires you to have practice more as mentioned before you need to have a good embouchure and you can play in bass clef and treble clef. It also requires more air and for marching band is much more difficult due to its weight, length and air requirement not to mention when it is cooler it tends to fall out of adjustment so you need to be able to tune it fast and effectively.
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.
I am an All State bass Clarinetist and I can firmly say that this instrument requires dedication to master, and the music can be extremely challenging at times. It's also extremely difficult to get higher notes from the clarion register to come out.
[Newest]Bass should be much higher up

It is very hard.

35Baritone Sax
Where do I start? I used to ride the bus but now I can't. The case is too big and heavy to be taken in and out of the bus. It takes a while to do this. Opening doors is another struggle as well. Playing low notes after F Natural quickly is hard. Trying not to hit anyone or anything is difficult to do. Unpacking and packing this istrument is a struggle while others are trying to do the same thing. This is a massive pain of complains while packing. Dragging the case around as well is hard. But for me, the most difficult struggle I face with is playing while standing up. It is very difficult since I'm just a 14 year old girl whose 5'3 and not very strong at all. Though with all of these struggles, I have to cope with, my love is so strong for Band, music and the sound of my instrument that I try my best to ignore these challenges.
It is hard to learn and the case is big
Bari sax is hard but awesome it is the king

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.

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.

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.
Banjo is absolutely the hardest instrument in the world to play. Managing multiple rolls per song while managing multiple chord combinations in the same song, by itself makes it much more difficult than any other string instrument. Not to mention the off beat timing that is required for many songs. Absolutely the hardest.

39Double 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.
Former violist of 5 years, had a buddy who played bass. If all things were equal music wise, bass is the hardest to play in an orchestra (orchestral instruments being the hardest over all other types). The role it plays makes it seem easy but if it were asked to do what a violin does (carry the melody) and get more lead music it would be extremely difficult.
[Newest]I have been playing the bass for a while and if I know anything, the bass would be the hardest because you have to shift a lot and shifting on a bass is very hard to do especially because if you are just even a little off, the not is wrong. The bass also has really big strings that we have to press down really hard for it to make the right sound.


Come on people. Definitely the worlds most difficult instrument hands down. Its not on here probably because most of you have never seen one let alone never touched one. Requirement of perfect pitch to play, absolutely no visual parameters. Hell you don't even touch it. Flabbergasted its not on here.
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!
[Newest]Definitely by far the most frustrating and difficult instrument in the world hands down.

42Contrabass 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.

43Snare Drums
It should be at least 25th hardest because of the speed you go and stuff
Try learning 40 rudiments... yeah its not as easy as it sounds
Actually this is quite easy. But I play rock n' roll drums and anyone who hears me play say I'm the best they've ever heard. So it comes easy for me to play only the snare drum.

44Comb and Paper Kazoo
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!
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.
This is definitely hardest to learn and play

I love the ocarina, but dang it isn't the easiest thing out there. I have a twelve hole one, and it may just be the notation system that the notes are in (the book that came with it had a really weird notation system) and some notes are very difficult. Gotta hand it to Link, he picked up on it pretty easily. 😉
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.
I really like the Ocarina! I got one a few years ago for my birthday. I also played it in my first school. I loved it then!

46Bajo 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

Tabla is THE hardest instrument in this list. I've spent 12 years of my life playing tabla, violin, and the flute. But this is what I found to be the hardest. The posture, force, pressure of you hands depend on how fluently you can play. Its takes years of practice to just start playing with regular beats. It is probably one the most underrated instrument. The only other instrument that I consider harder than the tabla is the santoor.
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.

48Steel 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.
[Newest]It is the hardest because if your fingers are not in the right place even a bit off it wont work

Indian stringed instrument: its heavy, playing is highly nuanced, and volume hard to play. It takes years to master the fingering and tone, especially getting the nuances right and fluid. There are frets, yes, so you don't have to go hunting for the right note, but there are 22 different notes! Depending on the Raaga and the nuance you are trying to play, you gotta get it just so, or it sound like a different raaga altogether! Plucking has to be perfect and not purcussive, posture has you seated for hours without pins and needles... and the deep pulls and strikes will have your playing fingers cut to the bone in no time.. tell me what's harder!

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!

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

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.
Really? You should try something like the French horn or oboe, then say that you have to use a lot of air
The clarinet is REALLY hard to master (I should know, since I actually play it). Your embochure has to be just perfect to even make a sound, or else it will squeak. It squeaks the most out of ANY instrument here. And your mouth can get tired SUPER easily too. There are many, many good things about the clarinet, such as how it has the highest range out of all of the brass and woodwind instruments. We have buttons, holes, and many many keys on the clarinet. The clarinets usually get the melody in songs, so you never will get bored while playing a song. Everyone thinks the clarinet is easy, but it's not. All of the instruments are hard to master, but the clarinet should be at least in the top 10.


• beautiful sound
• high AND low notes
• each consecutive note is usually played by lifting one finger
• most important instrument in band

• 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
Wait till you try the brass instrument. Trumpet needs so much air with speed for high notes. Tuba? Haha
[Newest]Yes. It is so stinking hard. I've never played a harder instrument
More comments about Clarinet

53Soprano Sax
Number 1 hardest instrument

Laugh out loud I bet half the people are too ignorant to even know what a Santoor is. So I'll give a brief description. Its composed of 100 strings which are placed parallel to each other with a distance of half a centimeter. You have two tongs which has a sharp curved end to it. So basically you play this like the xylophone, but you need to put a certain string out of the 100, and in the exact order with equal pressure in order to get a beat. This is the hardest instrument to learn. Its takes an expert almost 1.25 hours just to tune it properly.
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
I agree should be up on the tip top 10 list

55Marching Baritone
You have to keep your embochure set while marching, it weighs 8 pounds, have to carry it with JUST your arms which is pretty heavy during a long rehearsal, takes lots of fast air, but definitely the most gratifying instrument to play. Has an exceptional rich tone.

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.

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
It is really easy because it only four strings, and it is small.
Ukulele is super easy. If you can play violin pizzicato, you can play uku.

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


59Electric Trumpet
I tried to learn this but electrocuted my lips in the process.
I just think this is hilarious

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

61Uilleann Pipes
The Irish or Uilleann pipes should be at the top of this list.
I can't imagine how in the world anybody could play this instrument.

Its not the hardest but its pretty hard to learn and play, it takes A LOT of practice to play well

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,

64Khlui Phiang Aw

65Venezuelan 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!

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.
The lute has way more strings than a guitar, and keeping one in tune is a bit of a nightmare (no geared tuning pegs like a modern guitar). The notation for lute tablature is also much more complex than guitar tablature. Playing double strings simultaneously with a nice tone is also much harder than on a guitar. I have managed to become reasonably proficient on all instruments I have attempted to learn: classical guitar, flute, piano, and have only admitted defeat with one: the LUTE!

67Tenor Horn
This probably isn't so high due to its lack in popularity
The Tenor Horn is in fact the hardest brass instrument to play in tune. While it doesn't require an as tight embouchure as the trumpet for example, the notes are nearly all very sharp and flat. No other brass instrument requires as much lip adjustment as the Tenor Horn. Whilst the instrument has a very beautiful and melodic tone, beginner players find difficulty in producing a mature and refined tone particularly in the lower register.

68Electric 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.


70Hammered Dulcimer

71Pan Flute

72Contrabass Saxophone


74Flamenco Guitar
This should definitely be in the top 10 at least.
I think this is the hardest after violin and top 3 is:
1. Violin
2. Flamenco Guitar
3. Piano


Harpsichords are like a piano just with twice as many keys, and they are expected to be played four times faster to.
Harpsichord is much easier to play well than piano, as dynamics are much less important. The main difficulty with harpsichord is that the keys are so small

77Double Subcontrabass Trombone


79Tar (Lute)

They are so easy!




84Contrabass Flute
This instrument is very difficult to achive a nice sound in, let alone its enormus!

85Goblet 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...



88Student Trombone
Is the most easiest to play -by Emily leninsky

It is a good instrument. But we can only be a master if you have interest in Carnatic Music...

90Twelve String Guitar
Double the strings ten times the difficulty. Comparing apples to apples, playing Bach on a 12 string guitR is nigh near impossible, but if accomplished, sounds like a harpsichord. Yes strumming a 12 string is a minor accomplishment, but playing one to the guitar repertoire's full potential has to be incredibly difficult.

91Steelpan (Steel Drum)

It is difficult because it is so nice to play it

93Alto 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
I love the saxophone but there is so much to think about! There's different mouth shapes for each note, fingering, amount of air, for me how hard you press the octave key since it pushes open a hole of pressed too hard on my sax. And then there's vibrato and huffing and tonging and tone. Also you need strong mouth muscles and the right read and you have to break the read in. Very hard to master. I also play piano and I find it much easier since there is less to think about. You have to co ordinate your fingers on both and put fingers down at the right times in piano and on saxophone to avoid squeaks but sax has the added difficulty of breathing and everything else.
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.
[Newest]I think sax. isn't hard but you need a lot of air and you would always run out and I would get tired easily.

I haven't been playing the Tuba for that long, but I did originally play the Baritone/Euphonium. The Tuba is one of those instruments that you have to use a lot of air and you have to focus on tonguing a lot more. Being someone who has asthma, it's a bit more harder to play the instrument. The Tuba is a lot more difficult than people think. After playing the Tuba, sometimes I have to make sure I don't pass out haha. It is similar to the Baritone but different. There are plenty more notes and partials on a Tuba than a Baritone. Th partials are always the trickiest things to master. Especially getting those high notes is hard, but the low notes can be just as hard.
Tuba is a great instrument, but it is hard to play. Not only is it hard to find a DECENT tuba playing instructor, it is hard to find online classes, help, or sheet music. We are also laughed at for the way it sounds. It takes lots of air to play correctly and loudly enough. It is not very fun it play whole notes either, and actually very hard to do the oompah part in marches without the band director complaining. Double buzz, cleaning, low notes, and high notes are another big problem. Let's not forget that this is one of the biggest insturments out there. Very hard to carry at times. As a FEMALE tuba player, I get judged people say my playing is worse. This is a great but very hard instrument. Don't think it is easy because it seems comical.
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.
[Newest]Tuba takes a lot of hard work and effort to get good at. I've been playing tuba for almost two years now and I have had to practice almost every day just to get where I am.

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.
To play this instrument is one thing. To play it well is something else entirely. A single hole in a 10 hole Diatonic can play up to 5 different notes that can be achieved by bending. Bending a note requires lots and lots of practice to change the flow of air in your mouth as is passes through the harmonica. Other techniques such as vibrato require absolute control over one's breathing and even posture (much like a vocalist). Even playing a single note can often sound shabby without necessary practice. There may be harder instruments to play, but this is one of the hardest to master in my opinion.
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

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!


First one to say "MORE COWBELL" gets their butt kicked
[Newest]The cow should be using the bell not you anyway!


I love eating with these things. So far I have managed to impale thousands of dead pieces of cows and sheep.
I'm amazing at forks


OH my lord the kazoo is VERY hard harder than the other instruments

100Bass Drums
Actually much harder than anyone could guess.


Its very easy. All you do is hit the head. I love it! Marching band is a good place to play it!
Bass drums are poop and easy

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This list was created 4 years, 283 days ago and has been voted on over 5,000 times. This top ten list contains 104 items, has been remixed 19 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Sunday, April 26, 2015

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