Is Guitar Harder Than Piano? [Non-Bias Look]

As a beginner musician, deciding which instrument to play first can be difficult. Guitar and piano have many differences both in play style and applied music theory. But which one is harder?

Is guitar harder than piano? Piano is harder than guitar because many piano songs require the player to use complicated hand movements simultaneously with both hands, an action that is easier with guitar. For medium to advanced piano playing, multiple parts are required to play a song in completion. Parts like soprano, alto, bass, and tenor.

Continue reading to find out which you should learn first, why the piano is harder, and which is more fun.

Is guitar harder than piano

Should I Learn Piano or Guitar First?

The guitar is better to learn first. This is purely because learning beginner songs on the guitar is easier. This relatively immediate satisfaction of playing a song gives a new musician motivation to keep learning. On piano, chords are more difficult to learn, thus making it harder to get started.

As a new musician who is just starting to dip their toe in the music landscape, playing guitar is much easier to learn and play songs off. Motivation is a big piece of a new musician’s journey and motivation can fleet away if you are not having fun. Constantly learning theory and chord patterns is trivial and should only be done in small increments when starting out.

Most important thing to do when starting a new instrument is to have fun. And playing songs is fun. Guitar is the better instrument to get you to playing songs faster because it is easier to do so. Open chords and simple strumming patterns to songs on guitar will not take as long to learn as those songs on piano would.

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On piano, if you want to learn how to play the chords to songs, you will likely learn your triads first in their initial position starting with the root note. To sound professional, you will need to add a left hand note to it. This will be the bass note or the root note of those chords. If these parts are to be the same even for simple songs, you will need to learn inversions.

If your focus is not on learning songs immediately, and would rather learn music theory, then the piano is best for that.

Is Guitar Harder Than Piano?

Piano is harder than guitar because the difficulty to progress becomes harder as you progress. Guitar has the opposite learning curve. Most people eventually graduate to the medium to advanced level of expertise and spend most of their lives there, the piano is statistically the harder instrument.

Beginner Level

Guitar is technically slightly more difficult to learn in the beginning. This is because there are physical constraints that arise with a beginner guitarist. Physical constraints like fingers hurting or arms becoming sore. It can take a couple months for calluses to form on your fingers and until then, it will hurt when you play guitar. Furthermore, right and left hand coordination is being developed in the beginning stages of guitar. Your hands are going in opposite motions which will feel unnatural in the beginning.

With piano, these physical constraints are not present at any stage. Piano keys are not made of steel like guitar strings and pressing them down is done with ease. Piano is relatively easy to learn in the beginning as all the notes are presented in a structured way.

Medium to Advanced Level

After the beginning stages, learning piano becomes far more difficult than guitar.

At the advanced level of guitar, most everything you have learned is transposable. The minor pentatonic scale in A minor can be easily played in D minor the exact same way. The CAGED system allows for most chord shapes to be transposed on any key desired. Coordination between the right and left hand has been built and different strumming patterns start to become easier to learn.

“The guitar is instantly transposable. The guitar has this transposable geometry where you learn a scale here and just move it up to a key. A piano becomes relative to the sharps and flats, you can’t put a capo on a piano.”

John Mayer, Charlie Rose Interview

Achieving this higher level of playing is harder for piano than guitar because the piano needs to play four different parts at the same time, for advanced playing. These parts are the soprano, alto, bass, and tenor. The guitar only has one part.

The piano is also much more sensitive and delicate. Pressing a key too hard can ruin a song, an effect that is not as permeable with guitar.

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As mentioned above, a guitars chords and scales can be moved up and down the neck to the desired key. With piano, each note only occurs in one place. More chords and voicings are needed to be learned to play at a higher level.

Is Guitar or Piano More Fun?

Guitar is more fun to play. With bends, hammer-ons, and fast licks that mimic your idols, guitar becomes the instrument that most gravitate towards because of how fun it is to play and listen to. A guitar is easily maneuverable, allowing you to play standing up and moving around the room. Getting your body involved in your playing (just rocking) is extremely fun to do and is something the piano does not offer.

Of course, this is an extremely bias and personal question to bring up, but it does get asked a lot. Being a guitarist first and foremost and a pianist second, I had to side with the guitar as the more fun instrument.

That being said, there is an image problem with the piano, especially keyboards. Not many want to be the pianist in a rock band if deciding over the other instruments. This image problem does not exist with the guitar. Guitar is often seen as the quintessential “cool” instrument.

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