When it comes to learning to play an instrument, people often don’t know where or how to start.
They don’t know if they have enough time, don’t know how to use the time they have, and don’t know which instrument to pick up.
That’s all very understandable; it can be a relatively daunting task, after all.
We want to help you start learning to play and stop talking about learning to play.
Two of the most popular instruments to learn are piano and guitar, so we will answer some common questions that should make your decision a little easier.
Why are piano and guitar so popular?
The simple answer is that learning to play piano or guitar will make you super-cool. OK, maybe that’s not the real reason, but we believe it!
There are many reasons, so let’s start with the most practical ones.
Instruments can be noisy, and the people who aren’t learning to play don’t always appreciate that noise.
You can turn the volume down with a digital piano or keyboard or even practice with headphones.
You can do the same with an electric guitar and amplifier; any residual noise shouldn’t bother anyone too much.
Even an acoustic guitar shouldn’t cause too much distress for others if you practice in a separate room.
A guitar or electric keyboard is easily put away if you don’t have much space. Alternatively, if you go for a digital piano, it becomes a lovely piece of furniture; it’s not like having a drum kit in your sitting room.
Musically speaking, guitar and piano could be considered the most universally adaptable. If we think of the core instruments for a typical band it’s drums, bass, guitar, and piano.
Guitar and piano are the most obvious accompaniment to a singer, and that’s attractive to many people, whether they sing themselves or accompany others.
Also, you’re far more likely to walk into a party and find a guitar or piano in a corner than a drum kit.
Before we even get into serious musicianship, guitar and piano have a lot of practical and social elements in their favor.
Should I learn guitar or piano?
The big question now is, why should you choose one over the other?
One of the first things to ask yourself is how far you want to take it? Is it a hobby, a party trick, or a serious pursuit?
If it’s just for a fun hobby, think about the kind of music you enjoy most. If it’s Bob Marley, you probably want to learn guitar; if it’s Alicia Keys, you probably want to learn piano.
It’s not always that simple, but if the music you love is driven more by either instrument, that’s an excellent place to start.
Piano vs. guitar: Price
Depending on your needs and budget, both instruments can be very cheap or incredibly expensive.
At the beginner end of the market, with, let’s say, $100 to spend, the guitar might have a slight edge.
Whatever you buy at $100, it’s not going to be the highest quality. But, a guitar at that price will still have six strings; a keyboard at that price is less likely to have 88 keys and far less likely to have weighted keys.
The point is that a cheap keyboard will be further from an authentic piano experience.
Piano vs. guitar: Portability
It’s also worth remembering that you can’t throw a piano over your shoulder like a guitar. If you want to be able to take your instrument anywhere, the guitar might be the better choice.
Obviously, you could get a portable keyboard, but you limit the number of keys, therefore changing the experience.
Piano vs. guitar: Songwriting and music production
Piano and guitar are the chosen instruments of many singer-songwriters. Which is better depends largely on the kind of music you make.
However, if you want to get into music production and home recording, the piano will serve you best.
Whether you make Pop, Jazz, or EDM, much of what you do in a DAW revolves around a MIDI keyboard.
If you have a reasonable understanding of the keyboard, it will open up a world of creative possibilities in digital recording.
Piano vs. guitar: Music theory
If you just want to play as a hobby, you might not get too deep into music theory, and that’s OK. You can play a million songs with three chords, and that’s all you need.
However, if you do want to take it as far as you can, the piano is often considered the best instrument to approach music theory.
The main reason for that opinion is that the notes are laid out in a consecutive linear fashion. There are no repeating notes like there are on the guitar, which makes theory (scales/modes/harmony) less confusing for many people.
Piano vs. guitar: Difficulty
There’s a question that comes up often, and it’s is it easier to learn piano or guitar? But, there is no straightforward answer.
If you want to learn any instrument to a high standard, it won’t be easy. Some people will learn faster than others. But, taking natural ability out of the equation, both guitar and piano are equally challenging.
Both instruments present physical challenges like getting your wrist around the guitar neck or stretching your hand span on the keyboard.
Musically, there is something that many beginners who try both instruments notice. If we use the example of learning three chords, C, F, and A minor, we can play lots of songs with those chords.
Beginners know they can hold the chords and strum up and down on the guitar. That fills up the space, keeps time/rhythm, and sounds great.
On the piano, beginners often take the same chords and don’t know what to do with them because they can’t just keep hitting the chord to mimic strumming (well, you can, but it often sounds terrible).
So, it then feels like more of a challenge to fill that space, and to beginners, space feels like there’s nowhere to hide.
With that in mind, the guitar, for many people, is easier to get started and play a few songs quickly.
However, if you want to go beyond a few chords, neither instrument is an easy option.
The piano arguably makes players deal with hand independence and polyrhythms more often (or earlier in your development), but the guitar throws up repeating notes (pitch), various tuning types, etc.
If you look hard enough, you’ll find many things that make one seem easier or harder than the other.
Thankfully, both instruments are incredibly fun and rewarding options. So, stop asking, is piano harder than guitar? or is guitar harder than piano?
Focus on which one you think you’ll enjoy most; a happy student will always be more productive.
PS. If you choose the guitar, don’t quit at the first sign of sore fingers, it doesn’t last!