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  #41  
Old 06-11-2009, 05:27 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by brittc89 View Post
Im sorry, but what are you talking about? Drumset is incredibly difficult to learn how to play well, no matter what "god given talent" you possess. .
Thanks for injecting some sanity here...

a "western" drumset is the most easiest instrument to learn: any kid can watch the drummer and imitate it in a minute, most basically crossing hands and play right hand on the highhat, left hand on the snare...

These kinda comments completely leave me scratching my head...
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  #42  
Old 06-11-2009, 05:57 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Does anyone here think the drums are harder than the guitar?
Haha....you dare ask that question on a drum forum....
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  #43  
Old 06-11-2009, 06:58 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Depends on the person too. Seems some people take naturally to some intruments and not others.

Just to throw one in. How about the Chapman Stick (like Tony Levin plays somtimes). It's a relatively new instrument so maybe it's hard because there may be a lot of uncharted territory with it. Never tried one though.

From the website: http://www.stick.com/method/

"The Stick method enables live execution of complete musical concepts, from the bass on through chords and melody, to the effects, ambients and sweeteners, greatly enlarging the musical scope.

Guitarists can now play lead lines backed by their own rhythm and counterpoint from all registers.

Bassists can support a group with driving low frequencies while filling in the spaces with chordal upbeats and melodic patterns.

Keyboardists will discover a hundred subtle elements of expression, fingers directly engaging the vibrating strings, and will excel at two-handed independence.

Drummers can apply familiar rhythmic techniques and reflexes to the world of harmony, simply by measuring distances between the hands and between the fingers on each hand. "
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  #44  
Old 06-11-2009, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

good thing with the stick is there was a body of touchstyle technique before it (used to play a polycarb myself) -- I think some folks get thrown b/c most guys that move to it are guitar players and have trouble intiailly getting the symmetry/independence (that both hands are "equal partners" as greg howard puts it) -- pianists maybe have an easier transition

Theremin is quite difficult in terms of body control - at least in getting rolling (that's all I can comment on)

(Franch) horn, esp double can be a bad daddy

Pipe organ [mom in law is a pro pipe organist] can be a challenging shit management issue and requires a lot of independence ... all the "OMG that's a lot of complicated stuff" that is readily apparent, when you get to it, there's even more

double bass can have some physical challenges on some relatively small muscle groups

I've only blown on one, larger (bass and contrabass) flute seems like it'd be hard in terms of wind efficiency -- though maybe you learn adaptive techniques as you go


Each instrument can present different difficulties - some in basic sound formation, some do better within their "central range" but are harder in their extended range, some have more shit management, some are physicially taxing

so I think they can have different curves - and that's some of why I think we get "oh that's easy to learn, but hard to play well" vs "it's hard to even get a sound out of" and all that

I will say, I don't think difficulty itself is a good metric of a musician's (or instrument's) merit -- I can misadjust an instrument and make it instantly difficult to play
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  #45  
Old 06-11-2009, 09:03 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
I'll volunteer the theremin for its total lack of any visual reference points, infinitely adjustable 'scale length' and the fact that you have to hold your entire body totally still to maintain a constant pitch!
I would have to second the theremin as the toughest to play and put it at #1 you want to see the difficulty check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6lImGpk0wE

that is really a freaky instrument...
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  #46  
Old 06-11-2009, 09:22 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Awesome theremin playing. Definitely one of the most tasteful uses of it I've seen. Very cool video.
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  #47  
Old 06-11-2009, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by rootheart View Post
WOW, now I want to see him do that with trad grip
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  #48  
Old 06-11-2009, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by PQleyR View Post
That's interesting. I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the pedals, to me that's the most difficult aspect of the concert harp (my sister is a harpist, among other things...you can see her in action here). You set the key signature with the pedals, so if you've got anything chromatic or a sudden key change, you have to move the pedals to the corresponding sharps and flats (one pedal for each note, with three positions). Not only that, but you have to try and do it quietly!
That sounds a lot like steel guitar. The high-end ones have a row of foot pedals for changing pitches, and also knee levers. So a guy is picking the strings with a hand full of finger picks, and using the bar and trying to eyeball it over the frets for pitch. Granted they can slide around a lot but as they advance up their their competitors rip them to shreds for playing out of tune, sort of like blowing flat if you play sax.
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  #49  
Old 06-11-2009, 10:48 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I think the kazoo is really difficult (which end do you stick in your mouth again?). Especially if you can't hum very well.

In all seriousness though, I think the voice is the hardest instrument to master unless you have amazing singing talent already.
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  #50  
Old 06-11-2009, 10:56 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

The title should be "Hardest Instruments to MASTER"

If that were the case, then I'd say Improvisational Jazz Piano or drums.
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  #51  
Old 06-11-2009, 11:21 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by drumhead61 View Post
I would have to second the theremin as the toughest to play and put it at #1 you want to see the difficulty check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6lImGpk0wE

that is really a freaky instrument...
Yet another thing about the theremin that makes it a challenge is that unlike any other instrument I know of, you play the rests as well as the notes (with the volume antenna).
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  #52  
Old 06-12-2009, 01:55 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by Pavlos View Post
Depends on the person too. Seems some people take naturally to some intruments and not others.

Just to throw one in. How about the Chapman Stick (like Tony Levin plays somtimes). It's a relatively new instrument so maybe it's hard because there may be a lot of uncharted territory with it. Never tried one though.

From the website: http://www.stick.com/method/

"The Stick method enables live execution of complete musical concepts, from the bass on through chords and melody, to the effects, ambients and sweeteners, greatly enlarging the musical scope.

Guitarists can now play lead lines backed by their own rhythm and counterpoint from all registers.

Bassists can support a group with driving low frequencies while filling in the spaces with chordal upbeats and melodic patterns.

Keyboardists will discover a hundred subtle elements of expression, fingers directly engaging the vibrating strings, and will excel at two-handed independence.

Drummers can apply familiar rhythmic techniques and reflexes to the world of harmony, simply by measuring distances between the hands and between the fingers on each hand. "
Very true. I've seen the Chapman stick played and it appears very, very difficult.

Personally, it doesn't bother me that I have chosen a relatively simple and comparatively easy instrument to play. In fact, I take pride in telling people who ask that the drums are relatively easier to play and much more accessible than many other instruments, especially melodic instruments.

Of course everyone wants to think their instrument is the hardest, and drummers especially are prone to walk around with a chip on their shoulder, but compared to other instruments, the Western trap set is much less difficult to play well.

If someone has a problem accepting that fact about the drums, they should pick up the theremin or sitar to satisfy their need for prestige.
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  #53  
Old 06-12-2009, 02:42 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I've actually seen a harp with no strings. It used lasers to detect your finger movement. Now THAT would be difficult. I've also heard that sitar was really hard to get good at.
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  #54  
Old 06-12-2009, 10:49 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Pipe church organ must be the hardest from what i've hear. I've seen some live theremin virtuoso, it looked some of the hardest thing to play as it implies control over your whole body: breathing, positioning etc... .
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  #55  
Old 06-12-2009, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by brittc89 View Post
Im sorry, but what are you talking about? Drumset is incredibly difficult to learn how to play well, no matter what "god given talent" you possess. Honestly, saxophone is not anywhere near the hardest instrument to simply play, but the easier and instrument plays the higher the standards for playing it are. There is no one level that people get to that they can be considered a master, and it doesnt transcend every instrument.
Well.. I just took to it!!! sorry for yall that didn't!!!!!
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  #56  
Old 06-12-2009, 06:51 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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I would have to second the theremin as the toughest to play and put it at #1 you want to see the difficulty check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6lImGpk0wE

that is really a freaky instrument...
I think my fav (OK I know my fav) thereminist is Pamelia Kurstin (yup even more the Rockmore)

[and this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I think she's kinda cute - doens't hurt to look at though ;) ]

she does some great, very musical stuff

here's some example stuff

http://www.ted.com/talks/pamelia_kur..._theremin.html

she'll ocasionally show up on "spinning on Air"

one travesty -- So I was watching Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago and they had some pretty normal "I'm promoting my album/concert and Bud is shoving it down your throat" band as the musical guest.
But the filler music as they cut to commercial -- guess who was sitting in on theremin

Why the hell they didn't have HER as musical guest...

The days of having Leon Redbone as musical guest are just gone I guess

-----

One thing that always weirded me out -- "trad" as much as there is one theremin has the pitch antenna on the right hand (though you see a lot of people play reverse)

now good ole lev himself was a cellist -- I would have thought he'd tend to put it the other way 'round
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  #57  
Old 06-12-2009, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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I think my fav (OK I know my fav) thereminist is Pamelia Kurstin (yup even more the Rockmore)
I've discovered theremin with Pamelia Kurstin's playing. She's an amazing musician. I saw her soloing live last year but she was pretty high, drunk or both. Her show was psychedelic, full of sound exploration but a bit soporific on the end.
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  #58  
Old 06-19-2009, 08:18 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I m not really a drum teacher, but sometimes I´m asked by the parents to teach a kid..first thing I check is if the kid can clap the hands on 2 and 4 to random songs on the radio. Often they can not.
Also when I go out listening to a live band, I watch the audience, and I often notice that at the table next to me, there is a pretty woman, clapping her hands not even close to be in time, but just pretenting to clap her hands somehow...
It might sond funny, but I think think in terms of drumming I found out that there is a lot of people for which clapping hands in time on 2 and 4 is the hardest instrument to play....
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  #59  
Old 06-19-2009, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I never tried but I heard Bagpipes and the accordion are hard to master. the music I listen to usually don't. have either LOL.

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  #60  
Old 06-19-2009, 09:57 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I hear a Bassoon is pretty hard to play. Double-reeded like the oboe. I think probably the easiest is the guitar...and I am pretty sure I just offended any guitar players here. Too bad....

But in all fairness, what is the hardest instrument to play well? Who knows? It's based on natural talent, desire, ability, drive, etc.

If you are interested in learning an instrument and have the desire and drive to learn it well, then it may become a lot easier to learn to play well as opposed to an instrument that you are not intestested in.

It's like anything else, if you enjoy doing it, you will be successful at it.

My .02 cents....
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  #61  
Old 07-04-2009, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

i agree with rogue drummer, its based on drive/talent.
in middle school i played alto sax, and it was easy for me, i was first chair and everything.
then my friend was like try trumpet... different story
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  #62  
Old 07-10-2009, 05:16 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Friends of mine, have told me that playing the harp is a bit complex and takes time to become an expert.
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  #63  
Old 07-10-2009, 06:53 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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I never tried but I heard Bagpipes and the accordion are hard to master. the music I listen to usually don't. have either LOL.

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Don't know how hard to play, but definitely hard to listen to! ; )
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  #64  
Old 07-13-2009, 08:08 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I dont know about you guys but for me, all guitars/string instruments are the hardest instruments to play...I have no idea how you play consistently on these instruments. I just tried to play a little bassline just now and the way you move around the neck with fluidity while keeping a good tone coming out of your bass while also staying in time just baffles me. for someone just starting, guitar/bass guitars are fricken hard...
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  #65  
Old 07-14-2009, 04:03 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Alright, I'll chime in. I believe that this question is not only unanswerable, but just plain fundamentally wrong.

It's not possible to compare the difficulty of playing various instruments, because the idea of "playing" or "mastering" or whatever-word-you-choose-ing an instrument is completely vague. I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words, but the basic idea is that comparison is impossible.

For example, if you were to compare the hands-down world's best drummer and, say, oboe player, the oboe player would show unmatched skill, as would the drummer. But the reality is that there would be no point of reference; no way to judge; which one was better at their instrument, because they themselves are the standards of perfection. Neither can be better, since they're both the best.

But we all know that this standard of perfection does not exist. We can't decide which instrument is the hardest because people will always attempt to achieve perfection, and perfection is defined by people's ability.
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Old 07-14-2009, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Also that endless quest of perfection, can end up in frustration.
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  #67  
Old 07-15-2009, 10:40 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Pedal steel guitar. you have to be a good slide guitar player, that's hard enough plus you have foot pedals and knee levers to worry about
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  #68  
Old 07-15-2009, 11:55 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I would say the Drums are the Hardest and the easiest.

I say easiest, because it is very simple to learn a 2 4 rock beat. You dont even need proper technique to do it (it just helps).

But at the same time, i think it is the hardest to sound truly good and become a 'master'.
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  #69  
Old 07-16-2009, 12:25 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Everyone know that thing Spock is playing is extremely difficult to learn. The steering wheel, not so much.
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:57 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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Originally Posted by yenraBdellikI View Post
Alright, I'll chime in. I believe that this question is not only unanswerable, but just plain fundamentally wrong.

It's not possible to compare the difficulty of playing various instruments, because the idea of "playing" or "mastering" or whatever-word-you-choose-ing an instrument is completely vague. I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words, but the basic idea is that comparison is impossible.

For example, if you were to compare the hands-down world's best drummer and, say, oboe player, the oboe player would show unmatched skill, as would the drummer. But the reality is that there would be no point of reference; no way to judge; which one was better at their instrument, because they themselves are the standards of perfection. Neither can be better, since they're both the best.

But we all know that this standard of perfection does not exist. We can't decide which instrument is the hardest because people will always attempt to achieve perfection, and perfection is defined by people's ability.
I'm with you on this...different things are difficult to different minds. Our bodies are all capable of playing the instruments, it's just a matter of instructing them correctly, and that's true for any instrument equally.
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Old 08-29-2009, 06:04 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

The Twin Neck, electric Steel Guitar with 12 Pedals and four knee levers has to be the most difficult instrument on any band stand to master.......... I used to sit behind Buddy Emmons some nights at the Palomino Club in LA and watch that guy for hours. One of the Worlds Best. Curly
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:09 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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I'm with you on this...different things are difficult to different minds. Our bodies are all capable of playing the instruments, it's just a matter of instructing them correctly, and that's true for any instrument equally.
Some instruments are easier than others to learn. Mastery is a different thing altogether. How easy is it to be vageuly functional, to produce a vaguely pleasing sound? With keyboards, drums, blues harp and recorder the sounds are right there. Coaxing good sounds out of reed instruments, especially double reeds, is not easy. Violin is evil in the hands of a layperson, like running fingernails down a blackboard

Then you have the next level - trying to be functional enough to play tunes. That's where harp is insane with the pedal and trying to work out where your hands are in free space and the pedals would be hard to get the hang of, like the steel guitar Curly talked about. Wind instruments that need extra air pressure to get the octaves are hard to control when you want higher notes.

People talk about how hard the coordination aspect of drumming is but there are plenty of rock drummers making a good living out of it who don't have true limb independence, but have just worked out some four-limb patterns.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:54 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

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I'll volunteer the theremin for its total lack of any visual reference points, infinitely adjustable 'scale length' and the fact that you have to hold your entire body totally still to maintain a constant pitch!
Definitely, but I have heard somewhere that it is easy to learn but hard to master. The hard thing is that hardly any teaches it and playing is freeform, often players experiment and come up with their own technique.

Definitely the hardest instrument to play:
  1. No feedback (apart from sound) when hitting note
  2. Volume and pitch controlled indepedently of each other by opposite hands
  3. No defined note positions
  4. Hard to play one note after another without it sounding "blurred".
  5. Have to keep very still with note

The Continuum also sounds hard as it has no clearly defined notes, basically you can play inbetween the conventional notes, Jordan Rudess from Dreath Theater plays one aswell as Pedal Steels and Keyboards.

...and I could also imagine playing a guitar minus the frets as hard...

...has any one heard of the gusle? Probably not so hard as it is only one string but interesting sound, almost haunting and middle-eastern in nature but basically any musical instrument that you need to learn by hand positions (violin, theremin, gusle) is hard enough just to get the note you want.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:12 PM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Two strings, isn't it? It's very much like an erhu, and also some middle eastern instruments (rababa?). Similar sort of idea and construction.
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  #75  
Old 11-11-2009, 08:07 AM
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Two strings, isn't it? It's very much like an erhu, and also some middle eastern instruments (rababa?). Similar sort of idea and construction.
That depends. Gusle contains one string (although a Serbian variant has two) I believe. The kind I have seen has one string, made of horsehair and bow string made of horsetail...it's odd, middle-eastern sounding but in the Balkans, influenced by Ottoman culture for sure.
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  #76  
Old 11-11-2009, 11:21 PM
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The drums and guitar is all I have ever tried, I gave up on guitar but not because I did'nt think I could do it, I was in the navy and never had the proper time to learn it. Drums have been kickin my butt for 4+ years now.

If you think drums are easy go to a local open mic sometime and watch someone who has very little experience get up and play something in 2-4 and tell me it's easy after that. They may be able to do it without other musicians around and they may even pull it off playing to cd's as it gets masked but watch them when they are with a band and only have themselves as the official time keepers, then tell me it's easy.
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  #77  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:12 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Some instruments are harder than others in the beginning. They all seem to meet up somewhere at the end of the road and become just as hard to master though. Its also an indvidual thing, some people are to clunky for a guitar and others just dont have that inner groove that drummer needs. Its a great thing that everyone is drawn to their own instrument.

I play percussion but was originally a guitarist and mandolin player. They are all just as hard as each other in the end.

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  #78  
Old 11-15-2009, 05:27 AM
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wy yung wy yung is offline
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

I think to play anything to a high level is difficult. One of the "hardest" instruments I play is the humble pandeiro.



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Old 12-01-2009, 09:38 AM
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

Another vote for pipe organ. It is indeed the King of Instruments.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:07 PM
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Jeremy Bender Jeremy Bender is offline
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Default Re: Hardest instruments to play

The control to play great sensitivity on a concert snare drum has always been hard for me. To play it musically is really the challenge.

Outside of that, I understand the French Horn is supposed to be a difficult instrument to play well.
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