Drums easier than other instruments?

(Future)DWdrummer

Senior Member
A few days ago a buddy of mine, who plays bass, and I were chatting... While we were talking, he made a comment about drums being easier to play and learn compared to guitar, bass or keyboards... I wasn't really sure what to say.. I've only been playing drums for about two and half years, and I'm already pretty good so he could have definitely made a point about drums being "easier to learn" by pointing out my abilities in spite of my seemingly small amount of experience......... What are any of your guys' thoughts on "drums being easier to learn and play". Any experiences with people who have made similar comments to my friend's?....

Jacob G.
 

Angus Macinnes

Senior Member
It's different but far from easier. Can your bass playing friend, read music, play the bass with one hand and a piano with another. This may not be the best example but if your a drummer you at times are playing as many as 4 different things at the same time. Each hand and foot are busy so I say No it isnt easier to play drums. IMHO and by the way remember this answer is worth what you paid for it.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I will say to you what I say to everybody who thinks this.

The drums are the easiest instrument to play BADLY, but by far the hardest to master. I know hundreds of guys who play the guitar, and I literally only know a few drummers.

Then tell him that all bassists are just repressed guitarists.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
The drums are the easiest instrument to play BADLY, but by far the hardest to master. I know hundreds of guys who play the guitar, and I literally only know a few drummers.
.
I tend to agree with this.

Yes, drums are perhaps the easiest to get started on. Anyone can sit out and learn a basic beat perhaps easier than learning a guitar chord.

But beyond that, no, drumming is not easier.

Put a bad guitar player in a band with a good drummer, not many people will pick up on the guitar players lack of ability.

Put a bad drummer in a band with a good guitar player, everyone will notice the timing is off.
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
It entirely depends on exactly what is meant by "easier." The answer to the question of "which is easier" is a function of what parameter you are examining.

If we look at the rhythmic accuracy requirements, the drum set is generally more demanding than other instruments, since drums produce sharper transients, which makes micro-timing errors more apparent. Not only that, but the rhythm of the drum set is generally depended upon by the rest of the band, which increases its importance and raises the bar for the necessary accuracy.

If we look at independence and interdependence requirements (at the scale of limbs, not at the scale of individual appendages) then the drum set is generally more demanding than other instruments, since all four limbs are used, which is often not the case for other instruments.

However, if we look at other aspects, the drum set is far simpler, to the point of being trivial. For example, how much tonal harmony does one need to know to play the drum set? Arguably none whatsoever. If we look at finger independence, then the drum set is trivially easy compared to the guitar, bass, and keyboard. If we look at the difficulty of reading sheet music, the drum set is much easier. You can continue on in this matter virtually indefinitely.

Another complicating factor is that the difficulty of any given piece of music is not the same for every instrument. You can put together an amazing rock band with crazy guitar shredding, but make do with a very mediocre drummer, since most of the drum parts are simple and repetitive. In that case, the guitar players may have spent 10x the practice time of the drummer, but that certainly will not be true of an extremely technical fusion band.

I think the best way to measure this sort of thing is to examine the amount of practice time it takes to reach a world class status. For every instrument (excluding prodigies, which certainly seem to exists) it basically takes a lifetime. In that sense, they all have similar difficulty. Also, even when they are old, the best musicians are STILL learning their instruments. In that sense, all instruments are INFINITELY difficult. They can NEVER be mastered. That's part of the reason why I love drums (and keyboard, and guitar, and bass, and composing, and mixing, etc.). I'll never "finish" learning any of them.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
drumming is easier than crawling up a sliding board lined with razor blades
 

LukeSnyder

Gold Member
drumming is easier than crawling up a sliding board lined with razor blades
I disagree. I feel like most people could accomplish that without any prior practice if they had sufficient local anesthetic, whereas most individuals could not do what you do without putting in thousands of hours of practice ;)
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I think it's an apples and oranges comparison. Drum set isn't a tuned instrument so there isn't the same theory involved - notes, scales, melody, harmony, etc - but obviously drumming comes with its own set of skills required, most notably limb independence.

They are such different skills that I don't think a fair comparison can be made. It's like asking what's harder, drumming or skateboarding, or guitar playing vs. needlepoint. They all require different skill sets.

I've been playing bass enough in recent years where I don't mind calling myself a bass player. I think the two are related in many ways, and my skill with drums and familiarity with music in general has made bass playing much easier to pick up - one informs the other, I guess. I imagine if I got a wild hair to get competent on guitar (or piano or whatever), I could pick it up about as fast as I've been able to pick up bass, but they aren't as interesting to me at the moment.

Bottom line, I think it's a pretty lame and divisive question with no real answer. I don't see the need for the player of one instrument to try posturing as the more difficult (and somehow more virtuous) instrument because I just don't see the merit in that line of thinking. Why some feel the need to make it a competition is beyond me.

Maybe the larger point for me is whether it's finger dexterity on a fretboard, keyboard, or with sticks, most of what goes into being musical on any instrument comes from the brain. I've yet to be convinced that one instrument requires more creativity, physical or mental horsepower than another.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I find drumming easier than any other instrument ;)
Touché!

The other thing I thought of is what's harder: playing guitar like Eddie Van Halen or drumming like Charlie Watts, or playing guitar like The Edge or drumming like Dave Weckl? Too many ways to slice this one up.

There is no correct answer, I'm afraid.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
A few days ago a buddy of mine, who plays bass, and I were chatting... While we were talking, he made a comment about drums being easier to play and learn compared to guitar, bass or keyboards... I wasn't really sure what to say...
All much depends on which journey you're embarked and what's the destination, it's easier to be as good as Meg White, it's much harder to be as good as Vinnie Colaiuta.

... and it apply to all instruments.

Drums is one of the instrument where you get quick results, you bash them and they make a sound, and providing you have enough coordination, there's no need for further musical education or knowledge in the beginning, after that stage, drumming is as hard as any other instruments.

We are the foundation, the structure, we have to support the whole building and that's not an easy task by any mean. A band is only as good as his drummer.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
A few days ago a buddy of mine, who plays bass, and I were chatting... While we were talking, he made a comment about drums being easier to play and learn compared to guitar, bass or keyboards... I wasn't really sure what to say.. I've only been playing drums for about two and half years, and I'm already pretty good so he could have definitely made a point about drums being "easier to learn" by pointing out my abilities in spite of my seemingly small amount of experience......... What are any of your guys' thoughts on "drums being easier to learn and play". Any experiences with people who have made similar comments to my friend's?....

Jacob G.
Yes, drums are much less hard than other instruments. That doesn't mean drums are easy - just that most other instruments are more difficult to play as well. One can be a very good drummer and not know how to read, or know much about theory, harmony, scales, chords and complex things like that, and not have to apply them. But one must still work hard to be a good drummer.

Drums are much simpler instruments compared to other instruments and simplicity correlates with less difficulty, less complexity and greater ease, relatively speaking. Also, difficulty is separate from importance. I'd argue the drums in most popular groups are more important than any lead instrument. People will dance or have a good time whether there is a lead instrument or not - and the lead is the most technically demanding instrument. Take away the drums, however, and everything collapses and turns to something else. Screw up your solos and few people will notice; screw up the timekeeping and you could seriously wreck the song.

I think anyone who points out that "Well, X instrument is easier to play than Y instrument" always plays Y instrument, never X. Anyone who says such things is just an ass. Drummers would do well to simply shrug and say, "I'm surprised it's so important for you to say that" and avoid explaining after that.

Atlas has the most important job of all - supporting the Earth on his shoulders - but is it a complex one?
 

Zickos

Gold Member
I think drums may be easier initially but not the farther one gets into it. I was showing my wife, who is a fine musician and a first class flute and piccolo player, the sticking on a 6 stroke roll and she commented "I don't know how you have that kind of coordination".
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I think anyone who points out that "Well, X instrument is easier to play than Y instrument" always plays Y instrument, never X. Anyone who says such things is just an ass. Drummers would do well to simply shrug and say, "I'm surprised it's so important for you to say that" and avoid explaining after that.

Atlas has the most important job of all - supporting the Earth on his shoulders - but is it a complex one?
Agree. The Drummer / Atlas carrying the weight of the world lol.

The original question seems moot today. Drums or guitar. Two dying arts, rapidly being displaced by drum machines and sequencers.

The things that make real guitar and real drums special and unique are increasingly less valued with each generation. You can't keep treading the same old ground forever. As long as there's a good beat, intensity and depth of sound, most of the latest generations are perfectly happy with the digital equivalents, and usually prefer them.

Programming music isn't easy either - as with any instrument, it takes talent, learning, practice and passion to do well. Sequencers take less physical coordination than other instruments to do well (or at least much finer motor movements) - and more ability to analyse systems.
 

Fur drummer

Pioneer Member
Yes and no. To learn enough to make sounds and play a basic 4/4 beat that really doesn't take much time. To develop speed, endurance, steady time, 4 limb independence, coordination, feel, and stick control, takes a little more time.

Yes anyone can make noise on the drums but can they make music?

I think the triangle is the easiest instrument to learn and play. Followed by the cowbell. Needs more cowbell.
 

Zickos

Gold Member
Yes and no. To learn enough to make sounds and play a basic 4/4 beat that really doesn't take much time. To develop speed, endurance, steady time, 4 limb independence, coordination, feel, and stick control, takes a little more time.

Yes anyone can make noise on the drums but can they make music?
I totally agree. That is my point exactly.
 

techristian

Senior Member
A drummer can feel time like no other musician. They can feel a small change in timing as small as 5 ms. That is what separates a master drummer from a beginner, that discernment of small increments of time, and being able to play on top or behind the beat with precision.

Dan
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
One can be a very good drummer and not know how to read, or know much about theory, harmony, scales, chords and complex things like that, and not have to apply them. But one must still work hard to be a good drummer.
To be fair, this applies to other instruments as well... especially singers. ;) I know quite a few people who are next to oblivious about music theory and terminology, basically play by rote and their music composition is based on trial and error, but they're a blast to play with.
 
Top