Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

Reviewed by
Last updatedLast updated: March 30, 2024
Prime Sound is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Learning how to play an instrument can be a fun or dreadful experience depending on what you pick. Our guide with the easiest and hardest instruments to play is aimed at making your decision process simpler. However, if your favorite choice falls in the hard category, don’t fret. It may turn out more manageable for you than for others.

Instruments such as the violin are dubbed hard to learn by many people because of their peculiarities. Additionally, for many people, the ukulele is a piece of cake. The good news is, if you’re a lover of musical instruments, you can master as many as you want to. Still, it’s best to know which one requires more time for that.

What makes an instrument hard to learn

Several factors can make an instrument harder to learn than others. Often, the instruments we tag as difficult only require more practice time. However, some of them are hard to master due to their nature. An example of such an instrument is the accordion.

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

Additionally, guitars are seen as tricky because they require practice. The instrument’s physicality is also a factor that makes it hard to learn. Below are some factors that contribute to the learning difficulty of an instrument.

Practice time

Undoubtedly, the amount of time required to learn an instrument determines whether it’s hard or not.

Owing to the technicality of the instrument, you need more time before you can master how to play it. For example, for you to master playing the French horn, you need to be able to use your lips a particular way. Learning how to use your lips the required way to play the French horn won’t happen overnight. You need to take your time to learn it.

Additionally, for instruments like the recorder, you may not need several months or years before you are a master at it. One reason the recorder is regarded as one of the easiest instruments to learn is because of its simplicity. Unlike many other instruments, the recorder requires less practice time.

So when you aim to learn a new instrument, factor in the practice time. If you’re learning an accordion, remember that it’ll require you to dedicate more of your time to practice.

Lack of physical qualities

Let’s face it – to learn some musical instruments, we need to factor in the physical elements required for that instrument. However, it shouldn’t hold you back from learning to play any instrument. Instead, it should serve as a determining factor.

You may not possess the physical qualities required to learn the instrument. Therefore, it becomes hard for you to learn that instrument. You may realize that playing the violin may be more difficult for you owing to a shoulder injury. This is because the violin requires that you use your shoulder.

Additionally, a person with a knee injury may find it rather hard to play the drum set. You must use your legs to learn how to play the drum set effectively. An injury to the legs may make the learning experience terrible for you. Don’t feel bad if this is your situation.

Instead of getting discouraged that the lack of physical qualities affects your learning progress, switch to another instrument. Talk to your instructor about your problem and find out the other instruments you can learn to play. Focus more of your time on the instrument you possess the physical qualities for and make the most of it.

Musical notes

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

This is one aspect of music many musicians detest. Little wonder many musicians aren’t proficient in reading musical notes. When it comes to music theory, it is recommended that you learn how to read musical notes. However, this doesn’t determine whether you’ll be excellent at playing the instrument.

However, those who play the harmonica, guitar, or piano, don’t need to know how to read musical notes. However, if you will be learning an instrument that features in an orchestra, it becomes vital that you know how to read musical notes. Your ability to read musical notes is often a requirement before you can join orchestras.


Often, many people give up on doing things because of the things they have heard about that particular thing. The same applies when it comes to learning how to play a musical instrument. You may not know the instrument, but what you hear from people is enough to discourage you. When you hear untrue misconceptions about an instrument, it registers in your mind, thus affecting your learning.

Furthermore, many people believe that the guitar is difficult to learn due to the shortness of their fingers. Others may see the violin as difficult because their arms are long. These misconceptions must be thoroughly dealt with before learning an instrument.

List of the hardest instruments to play

Irrespective of misconceptions, lack of physical qualities, and reading of musical notes, some instruments are hard to play. This is a result of the technicality that accompanies playing them. For instance, there is no denying the fact that the violin is a difficult musical instrument to play. Also on this list are the bagpipes.

Keep reading if you’re wondering about other instruments that make a list. Below are some of the hardest instruments to play.

French horn

Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Instruments to Play

Although the popularity of the French horn is not wide, it tops the list of the most difficult instruments to play. The French horn is an essential member of the orchestra musical instrument family. As such, it provides many solos and low accompaniment. There’s no doubt mastering this musical instrument takes time. If you lack the patience to learn how to play the French horn, we advise you to play another instrument.

Furthermore, the French horn Trusted Source French horn - Wikipedia The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the “horn” in professional music circles) is a brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A horn player or hornist is a musician who plays a horn. , unlike other musical instruments, has no levers to press to play notes. The pitches and sounds you play on the French horn require careful lip movements, which may take years to master. Even after mastering how to maneuver your lips to play the French horn, you will still have to take extra years to learn how to play the French horn perfectly for an orchestra.

Bearing these in mind, it suffices to say that the French horn isn’t all that easy to learn. It is a musical instrument that requires practice and patience. The reward for taking time to learn the French horn is becoming a pro at playing it.


Another instrument that follows immediately after the French horn is the violin. It is not hard to see why the violin is considered the most difficult instrument to play. Just like the French horn, the violin doesn’t sport keys or frets that help you to play the instrument. This is why it takes several years to learn how to play the violin in tune.

Another thing that makes learning the violin difficult is the fact that the strings are close to one another. Beginners learning to play the violin find this very frustrating and have to play just one string per time. Also, when you factor in the violin bow movement, it becomes even more challenging. Combining the left-hand fingering and the right-hand bow movement can cause eye and hand coordination issues.

Watching professional violinists play may give you the impression that playing is easy and seamless. If you’ve never tried playing the violin before, you cannot tell how many years professionals put into learning to play flawlessly. Also, just like the violin, and its cousins, the cello, double bass, and viola are equally difficult to learn. They require years to master and consistent practice to learn right and left-hand coordination.


The harp sports 47 strings, which all need to be plucked correctly to make their magical sounds. Now, imagine plucking 47 strings. To become a professional harpist, you need to be patient and flexible to learn how to play all the notes on the harp. However magical the harp sounds, it is more difficult than professional harpists make it seem.

Additionally, the difficulty in learning to play the harp is in plucking all 47 strings. Melody memorizing and the ability to play faster are requirements of playing the harp in an orchestra. Learning to play the harp so effortlessly requires years of practice. Once you learn to play it right, you can be assured to play magical tunes as you wish.


Many people may be encountering this musical instrument for the first time, which is completely understandable. The bassoon Trusted Source Bassoon - Wikipedia The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which has a tenor and bass sound. It comprises six pieces and is usually made of wood or synthetic plastic. isn’t quite as popular as the other instruments mentioned earlier. One very tricky musical instrument to play is the bassoon. It’s no wonder there are very few people who play the bassoon. In fact, most people who started learning to play the bassoon gave up along the line and picked up the oboe.

To play the bassoon, you must be relatively tall because of the bassoon’s height. Your height helps you navigate the bassoon’s 28 or more keys. Also, the bassoon’s double reed needs proficient use of the lips and tongue, and it requires years to master their use. If you’re new to playing any musical instrument, we advise you to start with something easier.

Drum set

Depending on the genre of music you’re going into, learning to play drums may be difficult or easy. If you’re aiming to play a simple beat for a band in your garage, then it shouldn’t be difficult to learn. However, if you’re looking to be a solo drummer someday, you’ll need to spend more time practicing.

When it comes to learning how to play drums, punk and rock are best to begin with. Their beats are easier, making them easy to learn, unlike jazz. If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting your drumming journey with the Pearl Roadshow RS525WFC.

People who do well in learning to play drums are those who are ambidextrous and highly coordinated. It can be quite challenging to hit notes at the appropriate time on the right spot on the drum using your hands while also keeping up with the beats using your legs.

Becoming an elite drummer may take years and consistent practice. However, keep at it, and you’ll be on your way to being an exceptional drummer.

List of the easiest instruments to play


The triangle has to be the easiest musical instrument to play ever. It doesn’t require any special skills. All you need to do to play the triangle effectively is follow the rhythm. It’s no wonder that percussion players are made to wield several instruments in an orchestra.


The ukulele, which resembles a guitar, is very easy to learn. It has a tropical sound to it and, for this reason, has become popular amongst beginners. Yearly, over one million ukuleles are sold.

Additionally, what makes them a piece of cake is the fact that they have frets. They’re lightweight and portable. If you are looking for a ukulele for beginners, our top recommendation is the Kala KA-EBY-T.


This list will utterly be incomplete without the piano. It’s hard to find a beginner who doesn’t start out with learning how to play the piano. The piano is easy to learn because its keys are easy to distinguish. Also, you can easily spot the flat notes, the natural notes, and the sharp notes.


The harmonica definitely has to be the most portable musical instrument. It’s almost impossible for a harmonica to sound bad. It often brings back old memories of the wild wild west. Although the harmonica still requires practice, it’s not difficult to learn.

Furthermore, harmonicas come in C keys. This makes it sound good whether or not it’s your first time playing it or not. Also, the harmonica is one of the best selling musical instruments.


The xylophone should bring back memories of your childhood. In grade school, the xylophone was a common instrument pupils played. Playing the xylophone is easy. Hitting the right bars produces the right notes.

Thankfully, the note names are inscribed on the bars making it easier for you. Also, xylophones are portable and made from steel or wood tubing. You can also get children-size xylophones.

Final thoughts

Learning to play instruments can be a long and tiresome experience or a fun one. This depends solely on you and the instrument you’re learning. The easiest and hardest instruments to learn can go a long way in determining your experience.

You need to consider the practice time when choosing an instrument to learn. For instance, learning the violin requires you to devote time to it. In the same vein, the harp is another instrument that requires your time to excel at it.

Which of those picks did you find to be hard or easy to master? Please, share your thoughts in the comment section below!


French horn - Wikipedia
The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the “horn” in professional music circles) is a brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A horn player or hornist is a musician who plays a horn.
Bassoon - Wikipedia
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family, which has a tenor and bass sound. It comprises six pieces and is usually made of wood or synthetic plastic.
1 Comment
  1. How about the lute, especially a Baroque one, with 13 or even 14 courses? And a baroque harp has to be harder than the modern orchestral harp. It has no pedals. But my guess is most older instruments are harder to play. A horn such as the one Mozart composed his concertos for was valveless. Same goes for the trumpet of his days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *