Hardest Instruments to Play


The Contenders: Page 2

21 Classical 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 ...more

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.

You have to study for years to play something that sounds like beginners piano. Besides, most friends and family member will discourage you from doing your excercises and tell you that should just chord the thing while they sing.

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22 Accordion Accordion

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.

What was stated is a true fact. It is a blindman's orchestra even if you have bright eye sight. Eventhough you are playing the accordion with great difficulty, the pleasure you are getting by hearing the tone will be fantastic. I am 65 years old and only now I started practising a biginners accordion because of its versatility.


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23 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.

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 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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24 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.

The marching variant of the baritone? It's a brass instrument, should be somewhat easy to play, mainly because I'm a trumpet player. - Metalhead1997

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25 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

Way harder than piano

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26 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!

27 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

28 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

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

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32 Double Subcontrabass Trombone
33 Double Bass

Currently, violin is the highest instrument on this list. This is hard for me to grasp as the double bass is set up in a near identical manner and requires as much dexterity and much more physicality than a violin. In order to get sounds out of a bass similar to that of a violin the amount of time, training, and practice is exponentially higher. And yes, most violin repertoire can be adapted to the bass. Furthermore, as a practicing bassist I am not only responsible for performing symphonic and classical music, but jazz is an vital requirement of a well rounded bassist. As other instruments all perform jazz differently than classical music, there is no bigger difference in technique than that of classical and jazz bass, it's almost a different instrument. One might even propose the bass to be the most important jazz instrument as jazz ensembles can nearly function without any instrument other than the 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.

Honestly I think double bass should be first because of all of the shifting that is required, and the fact that the strings are huge. I played bass for a year and quit because it was way to hard then I started playing the viola. I honestly don't know why the violin is at the top, all of the strings are super thin, and there is barely any shifting to be done. I am mainly a violist but I can also play the violin and cello and I haven't been able to master the double bass yet. I also find it weird how people love the double bass so much and they don't put any thought to how much trouble they go through to be so good.

In metal, the double bass is SICK. - Metalhead1997

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34 Alto 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. ...more

I have been playing Alto Saxophone since fourth grade, I'm now in seventh. So, I've been playing Alto Saxophone for about 3 years now. I feel like some people underestimate Saxophones. They think so many others are difficult and confusing, but they don't think saxophone is that unique, special, and mesmerizing. There are so many notes (high and low), along with the beautiful passing notes, along with the ability to play so many songs. One of the hardest parts about playing saxophone, is your mouth and lungs. The finger and note section is difficult too, but the amount of breath necessary to play just one note. Well, long story short, it's underestimated on it's ability and difficulty to play.

Saxophone is really fun, but it is really hard, too. You have know where each finger goes, not to mention having to play key with your palm, and each finger has usually 1 but sometimes 2. Then you have to have the right ombuchere for high notes and low notes. And if your into jazz, you have to roll your tongue while playing or make this humming sound to make a "growl" which I can't seem to do. I haven't played any other instruments, but I do know that flute is really hard, French horn is, clarinet, and violen. But I don't know how the trumpet is hard, as the new guy to my band got up to chair 1 in a day, and there was another trumpet, too, who went to chair 2 but he didn't practice at all. I'm also not really sure if trombone is hard, or how percussion is hard, because I think that people are saying it's hard but they don't practice. I played sax my first day and got really good. It was hard, really hard, it's been a year and I'm still learning but I PRACTICE.

Not hard expect for drops from d to low d

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35 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.

36 Hyperbass Flute
37 Tuba

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.

Been playing tuba for close to four years now, and I would definitely say that tuba is one of the more tricky to learn instruments out there. The rest of the band can goof off while doing breathing exercises, but if we want to be able to play above a mezzo, then breathing simply is a must. Articulation is very difficult, and at a high tempo, it is incredibly difficult to have notes come out cleanly. (The fudging chromatic scale). It is also incredibly difficult to begin on, since all notes sound like farts until you get to a level where air is steady enough to tune. (At which point it sounds unbelievably beautiful.)

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.


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38 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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39 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

40 Tenor Saxophone Tenor Saxophone The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s.

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.

Any Saxaphone is the same amount of difficulty than the other. Believe me I play Alto... but, imagine Godless amounts of keys and sever combos for said keys. - fireinside96

Tenor sax should go up higher. It takes up a lot of breathe with far apart keys. Still love it

French horn or saxophone? Which would be easier? I'm thinking of switching to horn

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List StatsUpdated 23 May 2017

12,000 votes
125 listings
6 years, 311 days old

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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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