Are you interested in learning music, but having trouble deciding between piano and guitar? Both of these instruments are quite popular and it’s easy to be a little conflicted between the two.
In this article, you’ll learn about the difficulty of learning these instruments. You’ll also learn about some other aspects of these instruments that might not be so readily apparent.
Read on to discover which of these instruments is easier to learn!
Table of Contents
What Is The Process Of Learning The Piano?
Learning the piano typically involves taking lessons from an instructor. However, the internet has changed this in some regards, though the process remains the same.
Typically, to learn the basics, a piano student will learn how to read music in order to play the instrument. This begins with simple melodies, slowly incorporating both hands, and going from there.
Obviously, there are quite a few steps in between those landmarks, as, with anything, growth does take time. This growth is usually augmented by the learning of new pieces and studying the techniques within.
With dedicated practice and a wise teacher, a piano student can progress quite far within a few years. It wouldn't be uncommon for somebody to play college-level pieces within a decade.
What Songs Are Typically Learned On Piano?
If you’re studying with an instructor, chances are fairly likely that you’ll be studying classical music. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as classical music pushes the capabilities of the piano itself.
For those wanting to learn more pop-oriented modern music, you are certainly free to do so. However, you’ll likely be learning from sheet music, of which classical music is more available.
With that being said, even if you are classically trained, you won’t have any problems learning modern music. In fact, you’ll be more than equipped to handle most modern songs, especially in a pop context.
You might find that you’ll have more chops than what a modern pop song actually needs. Most of these songs consist of simple chords and melodic lines.
However, if you choose to go the self-taught route, your options are more open with regard to your repertoire. You could easily learn songs through online video lessons, which don’t always teach in standard notation.
As you progress your skills, you can tailor your playing to suit the genre that you wish to play. The sky is really the limit as to what genres of music could use a piano.
What Is The Process Of Learning The Guitar?
The process of learning the guitar is similar to the piano in many regards, especially if learning from an instructor. However, many people decide to learn the guitar through means of self-teaching.
Unlike the piano, a person doesn’t really need to be able to read music to play the guitar. Quite often, new guitarists will start their journey by learning chords and incorporating them into songs.
In fact, a guitarist could easily spend their life never having to look at a piece of sheet music. By understanding the relationships between notes and other basic music theory, a guitarist can become decently competent.
Aside from that, the learning process is very similar to the piano. This usually revolves around learning new material and techniques in a consistent and organized manner.
Again, with years of dedicated and intentional practice, a guitarist can become quite proficient. However, without the wisdom of a teacher, a guitarist could easily practice for years and not progress much.
What Songs Are Typically Learned On Guitar?
The guitar has a bit of a different personality within the context of music. These instruments seem to be, perhaps, a bit more popular, and thus a little more widely used.
Because of that, the songs that you learn on guitar are likely to be a bit more modern. The exception here is if you choose to specifically study classical music.
Unless you have a certain musical disposition, you’re probably more likely to study your favorite bands at the time. This is usually the path that beginner guitarists take.
Eventually, they’ll start to expand their horizons beyond a specific few bands. Quite often, classic rock songs tend to be next in line, if only to learn techniques.
After the guitarist progresses, they’ll usually start to specialize in a specific genre. Again, the sky is really the limit here although there are probably more genres with piano than the guitar.
If you’re drawn to guitar, it’s usually for its role contextually within the music you listen to. Thus, you’ll likely follow the path of integrating skills and utilizing the instrument in a similar manner.
What Are The Benefits Of Each Instrument?
For the piano, the biggest benefit would have to be the fact that music theory is embedded in the teachings. In fact, the piano is the primary instrument used to teach music theory in schools (more on that later).
Learning the piano, especially in a classical sense, can provide an excellent resource of knowledge to draw upon later. By being equipped in the fundamentals, you could contribute piano to any music genre that calls for it.
One should also keep in mind that many sampler-based music genres do incorporate the piano in great detail. It might not be readily obvious, but anything MIDI-related is usually controlled by a MIDI controller designed like a keyboard.
With that being said, if you aspire to produce beats for hip hop, the piano will serve you well.
What about the guitar? Are the benefits as widespread as the piano?
Compared to the piano, the guitar might be a bit less versatile in how it can be used. However, pedals and limited MIDI-related technology have helped to push the boundaries of the guitar’s sonic possibilities.
Learning the guitar is an especially great idea if you aspire to be a songwriter. By having a basic foundation, you’ll be able to create as your heart desires.
The guitar also allows somebody to dip their toes into the music world without having to be too studious. Learning this instrument seems to have a much more casual approach.
It should be said that both instruments are equally beneficial in their own respective ways. You’ll need to have a developed sense of discipline to really excel and become a proficient player.
Which Instrument Is Easier To Learn?
When it comes down to it, the answer to this question is a bit of a toss-up. With these instruments, certain things are easy, and other things are hard.
Each of these instruments requires dexterity, synchronization between both hands, a good ear, and a sense of timing.
For people completely new to music, the piano can be extremely easy to learn. This instrument has a potent visual aspect, with each key representing 1 note and 1 note only.
Visually, the guitar is one of the most confusing instruments to understand for a person completely new to music. It certainly doesn’t help when you can play the same 1 note in multiple locations on the guitar.
The guitar does have its own sort of visual aspects. However, it could take years for somebody to really see the fretboard this way.
Another thing to note is that the piano is a linear instrument. When notes on the right are played, high pitches are produced, with the same for low notes on the left.
The guitar does work like this, but the reality is that the instrument is somewhat multi-dimensional in this aspect. You can play the guitar laterally and diagonally and still be linear, which can be a bit of a mind-bender.
However, with that being said, the basics of the guitar can be picked up relatively quickly. A new guitarist can become easily equipped with useable chord shapes without having to know their inherent notes.
This means that you could potentially utilize your knowledge quicker, but you run the risk of being an ignorant musician. The piano has music theory embedded in teachings whereas guitarists have to make a point to learn the same things.
What About The Mechanics?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, what about the difficulty of playing these instruments? What does each entail and is one easier than the other?
Both the guitar and the piano utilize both hands to be played. Where the guitar obviously differs is that a string must be plucked to make a sound.
To become a truly exquisite guitarist, your picking skills must be top-notch. This takes an incredible amount of focused practice to be able to achieve.
The piano has a similar mechanism built inside, with a hammer automatically hitting a string when a key is pressed. Because of this, the piano is slightly easier to play.
Another thing to mention is that it’s much easier to play chords on a piano than on a guitar. Beginners often struggle to play a guitar chord cleanly and tend to experience hand fatigue from pressing the strings down.
Chords on a piano tend to be in similar shapes with intervals that are fairly easy to play. The guitar, on the other hand, utilizes many chord shapes, some of which are quite difficult to master without practice.
As far as both hands working together, both the piano and guitar are equal, though each hand has different roles.
The guitarist must have their fretting hand and picking motion perfectly in sync to play clean.
Pianists are usually playing slightly more complex things due to the extended ranges of the instrument. In some ways, the pianist is playing multiple parts, similar to full orchestration.
It’s actually not uncommon for a pianist to be playing melodies, harmonies, and bass, all together at once. Quite often, these parts will have rhythmic syncopation which can be downright tricky.
So, when measured on mechanics, the guitar is slightly more difficult than the piano.
Which Is Easier To Sing With?
If you’re an aspiring singer looking to also play an instrument, both the piano and guitar will suit you well. Both of these instruments have a longstanding tradition of being suitable vocal accompaniment.
However, initially learning to play and sing with both of these instruments can be quite a feat. Much of the difficulty really lies in how complex your instrumentation is while singing.
With that being said, the guitar does prove to be slightly more difficult for beginners wanting to sing. You’ll be incorporating rhythmic patterns along with chords and melodies to play the part.
Many beginner guitarists actually struggle with playing strumming patterns, which causes the whole process to be more difficult. However, after you become fairly competent, this actually becomes very easy to pull off.
The piano is a bit limited in terms of being able to be as rhythmic as a guitar. This instrument lacks the percussive element of the guitar but is still quite viable for accompaniment.
For beginner musicians, it’s often easier to sing with the piano. This is because chords can be played simply without having to move around too much.
Which Instrument Is Cheaper To Get Started With?
Both instruments have a barrier to entry due to the fact that you should have one in your possession. This is a factor that might play a deciding role in the instrument you actually choose to learn.
Guitars are a bit more expensive in terms of having access to a well-crafted guitar. There are guitars made for every budget, but cheaper guitars run the risk of poor craftsmanship.
What ends up happening is that the guitar becomes even more difficult to play due to the guitar’s build. This is usually seen with the guitar having high playing action, requiring more force exertion to fret the strings.
The piano, however, has a much lower barrier to entry, unless you get a premium brand. Pianos have the benefit of being able to be digitized.
As electronics progressed, pianos started to be produced in a portable electronic keyboard form. Some of these are incredibly inexpensive and provide the same utility for learning purposes.
This means that you don’t need to have an actual piano in your home. Chances are likely that you might not really have the required space in your home for an actual piano.
However, even if you couldn’t afford the most inexpensive keyboard, you still have options available to you. Many schools and churches have pianos and some may be willing to let you practice on them if you ask.
For this reason, the piano/keyboard is much easier to access. You don’t need to spend a whole lot of money to get started learning the basics.
Which is Easier To Gig With?
As you progress on the instrument, you may find that you have a desire for live performances. Whether with a band or on your own, schlepping gear is an unavoidable reality.
Each instrument has its own pros and cons associated with gigging. However, for the most part, these instruments are relatively equal in this respect.
Aside from the actual guitar, an amplifier is usually a requirement, specifically for electric guitars. Along with this, you’ll need cables and, if you choose, some guitar pedals to spice up your tone.
Some other accessories, such as a guitar stand and strap are usually things you’ll need to bring to a gig. Plus, when traveling with a guitar, a gig bag or hardshell case is a must.
For somebody playing piano, you’ll usually play an electronic keyboard of some sort. Traditional pianos are too cumbersome and fragile to travel with.
Electronic keyboards can be as small or as large as you choose them to be. Regardless of their size, you’ll need a stand to place the keyboard on for performances.
Depending on whether you sit or stand, it doesn’t hurt to have a stool that you can bring along. You’ll also need a cable and a direct box to plug into the PA.
For the most part, this might be all that you need, though some players prefer to have their own amplifiers.
Traveling, loading, and unloading these rigs are relatively equal. The exception here is dependent upon the actual gear that you have in your rig.
For instance, a heavy speaker cabinet might require 2 people to carry. Also, a heavier keyboard piano, such as a Fender Rhodes, usually requires 2 people to carry.
Both rigs should fit comfortably in any car, though keyboards can be a little more difficult to fit ergonomically.
Should I Learn Guitar Or Piano?
If you need to ask somebody what instrument you should learn, take a moment to yourself for thinking purposes. Ask yourself, which instrument is the one that really calls out to you?
You should follow your interests and let your natural curiosities guide you. That way, you’re following your own authentic path and happy to be exploring your interests.
However, if given the chance, you really should take the opportunity to learn both. Playing each instrument will inform your playing on the other instrument.
Learning the piano will teach you so much about music theory, particularly from a visual aspect. The guitar will teach you different ways of looking at things as well as instill an innate sense of rhythm.
Plus, you just might find that you end up playing each instrument as you would the other.
It can never hurt to have skills in both of these instruments. There is always a demand for both and each is a potent tool for personal creativity.
Is Guitar Harder To Learn Than Piano? Final Thoughts
As you can see, both the guitar and the piano are somewhat equal in terms of their overall difficulty. The guitar might be a little more difficult, but it depends on how far you’re willing to progress.
Nevertheless, each of these instruments is incredibly valuable and offers much for you to learn. Don’t be afraid to branch out and learn both if you can!
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!