Hardest Instruments to Play


The Contenders: Page 3

41 Banjo

While I agree that other instruments may be harder to play, the 5-string banjo is definitely in the top 10. Because you have to memorize rolls, different ways to play the same chords, it is one of the hardest instruments to play. I have played bagpipes, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitar, and the bugle, and I am convinced that the banjo is the hardest of these. If you mess up a note, there is no way to hide it, because it is so noticeable; therefore, you have to perfect hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, and basically play perfectly, all while making sure you are wearing your finger picks the right way.

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.

Steve says it's the hardest instrument to play. He has won several Grammy awards playing it.

V 10 Comments
42 Harmonica

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 ...more

When I found this site, cowbell beats harmonica? Bull.

Harmonica is incredibly difficult. Newbies whine about even getting single notes to sound clearly -- and this can go on for months. After that comes bending notes -- that can take months to even get it to happen (it will sound terrible, but it happens). Then there's the effort of getting that bent note to sound proper. Holes can bend one, two, or three half steps. This all happens on the lower end of the harmonica because the upper end requires another technique called blow bending. This will also take a long time to even get it to happen -- let alone make it sound good. Slide back down to the lower end, and you can do something called overblowing. Slide back up to the upper end and you can do overdrawing. Then there's vibrato, warbles, double stops, chords, octave stops, and a whole slew of other techniques.

A cowbell is not harder than this.

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.

You can't see the hole you blow and it's kinda difficult. Breath control is difficult too,

V 7 Comments
43 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.

Are you kidding? This is the only instrument in the world that you play in the air. If someone saw you from a distance playing this thing without seeing it they would think you are losing it. I wonder how many people in the world have mastered this one. The funny thing is for it to produce a better sound your other hand has to act like you are having seizure. This one is definitely Numero Uno. Without doubt. - StephB


V 6 Comments
44 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!

Zelda called. They want this back. - Metalhead1997

It's hard but cool, like hanzo

V 3 Comments
45 Vuvuzela

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

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

This should be higher in the list, I've played the vuvuzuela for over 20 years. It takes dedication and hours of hard work to master this instrument.

46 Fife

I love playing the bass guitar

47 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.

I like the electric violin, although I have never played.

You mean like the one in Starship Troopers? No, seriously, Ace Levy has a neon green violin he plays after Raczak's Roughnecks (HOO! ) capture Tango Urilla. Is that it? - Metalhead1997

48 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.

This thing is HEAVY - shawnmccaul22

49 Flugelhorn

What is a flugelhorn?

It is very hard.


Easy peasy

V 1 Comment
50 The Electric Euphonium

I can only play it in my dreams and it electrocuted me

51 Thai Oboe

What? - Metalhead1997

52 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.

53 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

Why are bagpipes and accordion ahead of cpk? I've played bagpipes while playing 2 accordions on unicycle with a flat tire on top of richard simmons.

54 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.

Tabla is the hardest instruments. not everyone can play this. this needs technique and practice

V 1 Comment
55 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.

I play pedal steel guitar I already played piano,resonator, bass,guitar...Etc, and pedal steel is by far the most difficult to learn. You have to use both knees both feet both hands it is like doing about three or four different things at the same time. Not only that but playing in tune smoothly blocking strings so they don't continue to ring out make it even more difficult. It has been said it will take at least a year before you will want someone else to hear you and five years before you are halfway decent. I don't know about that but I do know I practice for 2 or 3 hours every day no

V 9 Comments
56 Low Brass

Actually, isn't this just what you classify trombones, baritones, French horns, and tubas in? - Metalhead1997

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

Totally agree

V 5 Comments
57 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

Mandolin is SO easy!

V 2 Comments
58 Baritone

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

V 1 Comment
59 Timpani
60 Santoor

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 think Santoor is tougher to play than drums or electric guitar or violin.It's not easy to play 126 strings compared to 6 strings in guitar or violin.I have been playing Santoor for the last 14 years and it seems to me not any less harder than it did to me 14 years ago.
I play Drums also.But its much easier than this Persian,Indo-Kashmirian Classical Instrument.
You hold the sticks and play the three-stringed groupings of the notations.You tune it using a KEY hammer.
Just try to do it once!
You would end up playing a distorted tune resulted from simultaneous hammering of two or more groupings.Or you would find your neck stiff after tuning a 126 STRINGS,bending over the Instrument and fumbling which tuning peg belongs to which string

V 1 Comment
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You can cheat on the violin by sliding into notes
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