Hardest Instruments to Play


The Contenders: Page 2

21 Bass Guitar

I've been a professional bassist for 50 years. I began to play bass as a choice and passion, not by default. What I mean is that many bands select the bass player because he/she is the weakest guitarist. If they are weak guitarists, then they will never master the bass. Recently, I was called into a recording session in Nashville to replace a bass track that was first laid down by the band's lead guitarist. The recording producer said something to me that I had known for many years but was never able to put into words. He said, "When a guitar player plays the bass, you hear a bass playing guitarist." "But when a bassist plays, he plays the song and becomes an extension of the music's percussion." Properly played bass notes are not the same notes that a good guitarist would play. The bass has it's on set of progressions, rhythms, and scales, and until they are mastered, the player is just a guitarist playing bass.

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

I learn guitar before bass and all I can say is the basics in bass is easy but the advance and expert is way harder than the guitar. Scales and slapping are difficult even for an average size man like me. You got to have the physical ability too, not including the riffs and licks skills that you need to learn to advance from basics. It's obviously underrated but very essential instrument in most genre.

I am a decent player of classical guitar, and when I first picked up a bass in my music lessons I could perform everything I had to do very easily. No chords, nothing too complicated for anyone.

You may be thinking of the easy type of bass. Perhaps scales or little snip bits of songs. But keeping the band secure is ridiculously hard and important. Sure, anyone can do the simple stuff on bass, but people can do the simple stuff on any instrument. - Inart

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22 Euphonium

This instrument should have been #5 or #4. The euphonium is definitely a brutally difficult instrument to play, but not as hard as French horn. My mother told me that I am not as great on euphonium than I am on piano but like the piano, it starts out pretty easy, just buzz the instrument, push the fingers at the right time, and you play a song, in beginning band, you are typically one of the most easiest parts most of the time, which is the bassline with tubas. For trumpets, it may be easier for them to switch to euphonium because it has the same fingerings in concert pitch as the trumpet but an octave lower, and because a bigger mouthpiece makes it easier, right? Well, shouldn't I mention that once you get higher in level, you have to have the ability to double tongue, triple tongue, play glissandos, memorize the different fingerings for each octave because of articulation and trills, often times transposition, cover fast or crazy licks from different instruments, have a greater ...more

I play the euphonium and it's quite hard to play the really high notes or low notes and sometime we don't play often so we have to switch between instruments in the middle of the song and depends which instrument you have to play as well you may have to be able to read treble clef on the euphonium.

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.

Easy to learn, but hard to master

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23 Marimba

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..

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 also play with Stevens grip (between middle finger and ring finger), and you're right, you do get calluses from it. - Turkeyasylum

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. - Turkeyasylum


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24 Acoustic Guitar Acoustic Guitar An acoustic guitar is a guitar that produces sound acoustically - by transmitting the vibration of the strings to the air - as opposed to relying on electronic amplification.

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 ...more

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 do believe every instrument has its own challenges, but I have played guitar, piano, violin, viola, and drums. Guitar is very challenging noticing it has different frets, fingerpicking, capos, and it is played in some of the worlds hardest songs. Drums is not hard AT ALL. All you do is hit it and keep the beat. Piano has its challenges, but all you do is make sure you hit the right keys. Violin and viola, cello and base, YOU HAVE A BOW! You don't strum so much until your fingers are bright red and bleeding! I have played guitar for 6 years, wrote my own songs, oh, and try singing, strumming, correct chords, and staying on beat!

My Favorite! - xedloo

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25 English Horn

This instrument is as hard as an oboe, but bigger and heavier. It should be way higher up. This system is really inaccurate because all unknown instruments are cast off, even if they are impossible to play.

I really want to play a cor anglais, but it seems hard! I have to prepare the cane reed, my mouth is not shaped right!

26 Vibraphone

Definitely mallets percussion are not easy, your hands do not touch directly the instrument, there is a lot of horizontal movement involved, the parts are standing far away from you and your eyes are looking simultaneously to the keyboard, the part and the conductor. It requires advanced drumming skills plus the ability of improvise, understand harmony, playing notes. While you get a saxophone, you don't need to look at your fingers, you can just look at the part, and you make one note at the time. You can feel the instrument with the fingers. However, saxophone holds different obstacles, like any other instruments it is hard on his own way. There are no easy instruments out there. Just play and play and spend hours enjoying it. Don't worry about the outcomes they will come. That's the secret. Play and play and enjoy it. And if for one year you can take a sabbatical, take your instrument and play it all day for 4-6 12 hours a day. Even fooling around with it, you will learn. The more ...more

Doesn't percussion include vibraphone? - PianoQueen

I payed the vibe for an entire marching season... needles to say my face got burnt at band camp. hard to play

27 Twelve 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.

Ask Jimmy Page how he played this. - Metalhead1997

28 Zither

This is the only instrument I have not been able to play with some sense of accomplishment. I am a guitarist (classical and jazz trained) and have been a lifetime musician and educator. The zither requires an independence of fingers that stands alone in the musical world. It not only requires one to have a fretboard knowlledge but also a technique similar to a harpists. Most people are not aware of what this instrument is and how difficult it is to play.

29 Quad 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.

Quads are extremely hard you have to play crazy rudiments along with them on diffrent drums. The are very hard to match there heaven in very unstable

30 Baritone 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.

I have played Clarinet for 7 years and have successfully mastered it. However I soon grew tired of the same thing over and over. At the beginning of the year, our one Tuba player left out little 12 member band, so we needed some bass. My music teacher chose me to play bari because I was the best woodwind in our band. Having already played clarinet made this a lot easier, but I have to admit, it has had it's challenges. I am a 16 year old girl who is 5'7" and weighs about 120lbs, I couldn't play this instrument with just the neck harness. To play this monster I have to wear a FULL BODY HARNESS.
Low notes were a big problem for the first week; I had to go in after school, every week day to get these notes down and I had to take it home to work with it over the weekend. (I hadn't been able to play the sax for the first month because I got into a car accident and broke my arm.) I have only been playing the bari for a total of about 6 weeks and I can already keep up with the tenor and ...more

It is hard to learn and the case is big

I Play alto Sax but my friend plays bari Sax. He sometimes gets headaches from blowing so much air in the instrument, and gets pain from neck from how heavy the instrument is

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31 Xylophone

It is difficult because it is so nice to play it

This should be top 5 idiots and hard should be top 5 and the reccorder isn't here morons who made this list

I agree thia should be at top

Pretty pard

32 Double Subcontrabass Trombone
33 Glockenspiel

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.

Listen honey, this may look easy, but I've been playing this thing for 5 years. There are a lot of different techniques that take pretty flexible wrists to master. My friends can't play this thing without any experience. Even harder, once you've scored the advanced level to play this thing, In my orchestra you start the vibraphone. Don't get me started on that contraption.

34 Hyperbass Flute
35 Sitar

I play sitar. It's a painful instrument to play, and after 30 minutes of practice the fingers are raw and sore. It feels like playing a cheese cutter. The instrument requires constant tuning, and the 11-13 sympathetic strings must be tuned differently according to the raga you are playing. The mizrab, or finger pick, is painful to wear for extended periods of time. All of the frets are movable. The technique of pulling the strings to bend notes (meend) is also painful.

The neck of a sitar is very long, so the notes are fairly far apart. This makes playing quickly physically exhausting. The instrument is also quite large, and must be played sitting balanced on the bottom of the left foot.

Indian musical notation is also different than Western notation, and contains quarter/eighth tones.

Maintaining the sitar is very difficult. The bridge gradually wears down from playing and performing string bends, and, as a result, must be replaced. If not, the sitar sounds dull ...more

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...

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

I would imagine it's similar to playing a guitar but heavier. - Metalhead1997

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36 Bass 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

I am really struggling with the trombone

37 Saxophone Saxophone The saxophone is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet.

I'm playing the saxophone, and I disagree where you put this instrument. The saxophone is easy to master. And I play the soprano, alto, baritone, and tenor. Although I'm in Level VIII, when I started playing the first time, you can basically get the thing right if you just study an hour a day straight. Then you can play easily.

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

Sax is the best instrument to ever play

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38 Subcontrabass Tuba

I've played The Contrabass Tuba for 7 years during I practice with it in our marching band after 15 minutes of playing I can't find my notes any more,because my lips couldn't tight anymore and in a Drum and Bugle Corp here in the Philippines,we need to play our tubas Loud to join/equal the sounds with other instruments...
It hurts my lips during playing,you will be lost from your notes if your playing 10-15 minutes music and it makes you very sweaty during a parade or a competition...

39 Contrabass 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 it's so uncommon, on some you have to stand to play, on the paperclip model it's 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.

40 Snare 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

It took me two years to get my rudiments perfect

Snare drums in marching are way harder than enything else in the band
-don't mess up your buzz rolls
-don't do marching if you can't get paradiddles
-buy only Vic firth
-don't play center if your really bad

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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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