Hardest Instruments to Play


The Contenders: Page 3

41 Bass Clarinet

Okay, I just have to say, the bass clarinet is incredibly difficult, I understand why the oboe and the bassoon and the bag pipes and the violin are all up there. Those are respectfully difficult instruments to master, but the trumpet? The trombone? The flute? Are you kidding? I have personally played all of those instruments in my life time and none of them compare to the bass clarinet. First off, the bass clarinet is huge. If you happen to be small (like me) and also happen to have a little smaller than average hands and lungs (like me) this thing is near impossible to pull a sound out of. It takes all the air you can think of, you're embouchure has to be extremely loose, not even to mention how clunky and hard to maintain it is. I don't know if the fingerings are difficult to learn because I worked my way up (or down, pitch wise) to the bass and started with the regular Bflat clarinet (which, if you weren't already aware, has the same fingerings as the bass). But, I do know, that ...more

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 played Bass clarinet,clarinet, drums, and trumpet and all of them are super easy to me. My band teacher said that I'm at a 8th grade level and I'm he said that when I was in 4th and 5th grade
i'm sorry that I'm bragging but I'm very good at it and I'm the best in my whole band who can actually play four instrument. and also I'm in 6th grade now. and now I'm at a 10th grade level

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42 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...

43 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.

44 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

It a little complicated

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45 Banjo

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

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46 Theremin

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.


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47 Fife V 1 Comment
48 Saxophone

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

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49 Ocarina

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. 😉

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50 Vuvuzela

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

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

51 Electric 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.

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52 Comb 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

53 Thai Oboe
54 Alphorn

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.

55 Marching 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.

56 Flugelhorn

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

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57 Low 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

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58 Tabla

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.

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59 Steel Guitar

The Pedal Steel is almost a whole world away from a electric guitar. this is a instrument you will almost have to devote so much time to playing. Sorry classical violinists and electric guitar metalhead snobs you will have to see how hard it is to play this and sound great compared to those ones you play. I bought one a few months ago and have been spending so much playing it and I still don't sound like those greats. You have to deal with so many pedals and strings and the bar movement and at the same time you can't sound real good with out putting emotion into it (way more emotion than some emo turd puts into playing guitar). Part of the reason why those sad classic country songs get many people along with the lyrics is the sound of this instrument. The reason you see the same few pedal steel players playing for so many artists is cause the amount of effort you put into playing this instrument. You can't have a electric guitar master just pick up this instrument and sound really ...more

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.

You say there are not many steel players, sorry but you only have to look at the UK and US country scene. Britains top steel player is Sarah Jory, look her up she is one the best in the world. TK

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60 Mandolin

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

What? Mandolin should be higher. At least above the guitar, for crying out loud!

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List StatsUpdated 20 Feb 2017

11,000 votes
125 listings
6 years, 219 days old

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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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