Hardest Instruments to Play

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The Contenders: Page 3XW

41Banjo

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!

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.

Since the banjo is tuned to a chord, you have to play differently for each key! That is, unless you use a capo, which is almost mandatory. Combine that with the coordination of finger picking and you have an extremely difficult instrument to play.

I play the banjo. If you can put the finger picks on right the first time your amazing. Lol

V8 Comments
42Theremin

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.

It may not be the most widely known or practical instrument in the world, but it is certainly one of the hardest instruments to play in tune. Even the most experienced players can sound very flat or sharp during performances.

Definitely by far the most frustrating and difficult instrument in the world hands down.

V5 Comments
43FifeV1 Comment
44Saxophone

I have been playing the alto saxophone for about a year and so far it's pretty hard! The lower register requires a lot of air, if not you will get a "warbling" sound. Sometimes middle D and E are stuffy. The higher register requires a lot of air to get a nice sound. But I love sax, I'll recommend it to anyone.

The sax is one of the hardest instruments to play, when you start you sometimes get squeaking sounds and can't get a good sound out, and there are so many reeds to choose from

V1 Comment
45Vuvuzela

Just try making different notes with a vuvuzela. Go ahead. I dare you.

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

46Comb 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

47Ocarina

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!

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. 😉

V1 Comment
48Electric Violin

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.

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.

V1 Comment
49Flugelhorn

I play brass instruments including:Trumpet,pocket trumpet,French horn,piccolo trumpet,flugelhorn,echo cornet,and many others.i'm not saying the flugelhorn is the basest but it takes more air than the trumpet but is played the same,so it's harder than the trumpet

V4 Comments
50Thai Oboe
51Alphorn

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.

52Marching 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.

53Low Brass

I play trombone and it's hard to keep breathing over and over again but over all it very fun besides getting pinched every once and a while.

I have been playing my trombone and it's pretty hard to keep your air steady

Using the most air out of all the instruments

Totally agree

V4 Comments
54Tabla

Definitely, I'm 20 and have spent 10 years playing instruments/ singing, piano is a multitask, guitar is focus and manipulation, saxaphone is singing without a voice, drums is muscle memory and intuition, I would say I'm seasoned in these and they all at par in there own realm of expression, violin I'm yet to try, singing is an expression purely, its defninatly play your mind, but in the same sense it become second nature faster then any other instrument, though mastering is impossible for the instrument will never remain the same through the year of use its an ongoing process. but by far to acheive a polyrhythm on a tabla set requires diligence, focus, internal and external rhythm, plus a whole other language to understand in another realm of rhythm. I acheived 1 polyrhythmic beat in the two months I tried. you can warp the bass, there are so many different points of projection on the drum with pitches and different sustains, its definitely hard. I didn't get far in the tabla realm ...more

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.

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.

55Steel 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.

This is honestly probably the hardest instrument today but it won't get it's recognition due to its decline in popularity over the years. You have to use both hands, both feet, and both knees to play this.

V5 Comments
56Mandolin

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!

I am learning mandolin right now coming from being a bass player and the conversion is brutal. Don't get me wrong it's fun, but the neck is so narrow with 8 string

Mandolin is SO easy!

V2 Comments
57Baritone

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 like how this is one of the main instruments in a wind ensemble yet it is so far down the list

V1 Comment
58Santoor

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've played many instruments from guitar to piano but believe this much more harder than them, and a reason it's not in the top 10 is that many people haven't heard even it's name!

I agree should be up on the tip top 10 list

V1 Comment
59Timpani
60Mellophone

Mellophone is hard do to the reason it is just basically a marching French Horn, so it has all the difficulties of a regular French Horn but marching as well.

I am a French Horn and Mellophone player and I have to disagree. The Mellophone is piss-easy when compared to the French horn.

The mellophone is super easy because it is pretty much a bigger trumpet.
But I think the French horn is SO HARD.
So I have to agree that the mellophone is piss-easy compared to the French horn.

V3 Comments
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List StatsUpdated 5 Dec 2016

11,000 votes
123 listings
6 years, 142 days old

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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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