What's harder: guitar or piano? And how hard to move from guitar to Piano?

I’ve been playing the guitar since my teenage years. Was never super good, but there was a time when I could keep up with Kirk Hammett… well, in a lot of songs at least :slight_smile:

I’ve been trying to get back into it a bit here and there, but today I was watching some great covers of Nina Simone and man, I felt like I really needed to pick up some piano.

For those of you who know the instrument, especially those who might know both, how hard is Piano compared to guitar, and is any of the skill set applicable?

I remember being able to play the the first quarter of Fur Elise on the family piano back in the day, but I haven’t touched one in decades. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s an entirely different animal altogether.

It’s deceptively difficult; it seems like it should be super easy: all the notes are conveniently placed right in front of you, in ascending order, no less! That makes playing basic one-line songs extremely easy; in just a few seconds of probing, you will have “Mary Had A Little Lamb” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” mastered. If you can remember back to your first days with a guitar, that was a fairly significant achievement. On the piano, not so much.

Some things are comparable. There are chord “shapes” you can move up and down the keyboard like you can move a barre chord up and down a fretboard.

Unlike the guitar, both hands are producing separate notes, allowing for incredible complexity. What would take at least 2 guitar players you can produce entirely on your own because you can play both the harmony and the melody, or in guitar terms, you can be both the rhythm and the lead. You can imagine the sheer possibilities are astounding, but learning to make your hands operate independently rather than essentially as a single unit can be a very big hurdle.

It’s an entirely different animal.

The transition from piano to guitar, I would say, is far easier than guitar to piano.
But, if you understand chords and progressions and have a musical sense, piano wouldn’t be impossible. You’ll have a leg (or fingers) up.

Where the notes on the guitar are across the frets, on a piano, they are laid out end to end.

Just as you train your left hand (assuming you’re playing right-handed guitar) to produce chords or single notes without having to look at the fretboard, you do so on the piano, too. So while the keyboards are laid out differently, it’s a similar skill set.

In most piano music, your right hand produces the melody and your left hand produces the bass and rhythm, so similar concept to guitar playing, but on opposite hands.

It would depend on if you’ve ever studied the individual notes on the guitar that make up the various chords. You pull those chords apart and find the same notes on the piano.

And if you just play the black keys, you’ll never be out of tune :smiley:

Ironically, The Black Keys don’t play piano.

I played both in high school, though I was always a much more serious piano player than guitar. I agree with above posters that the two instruments are very different. It might depend on the individual which instrument is easier; perhaps you have a knack for one that doesn’t transfer to the other. On the whole, however, I would say that guitar is easier; there just doesn’t seem to be quite as much to think about getting right all at once.

The piano is harder to play because of having to so three things with different appendages at the same time but it is easier to understand. Guitar has a lot of exceptions to have to adjust to compared to the straight-forward keyboard of the piano.

Both are easy to play. Neither is easy to play *well.

I play piano, and like others say, they’re just very different animals. I understand guitar and the music theory behind it at an intellectual level, but the idea of playing it just feels so unintuitive and unnatural, that more than a tiny bit of random strumming just gets frustrating fast. I do believe, to a certain extent, that learning one instrument helps learn others–not unlike how it’s supposed to be with learning a third language relative to a second–because while the muscle memory is going to be different, the basics of music theory, scales, chords, timing, etc. are still there. So you don’t have to relearn basic concepts like keeping rhythm, simple chords, etc.

That said, it seems to me, it’s not even fair to really say which instrument is harder or easier as a whole. A single melody is generally easier on a piano, because there’s only one key that makes that note, but there’s potentially as many ways to play a note as there are strings on a guitar (more if one counts bends and harmonics and all that). As a result, I can figure out the main melody for any song in a matter of seconds, but then I still need to figure out appropriate accompaniment.

So, I guess the short answer is, you’re not starting from scratch, but there’s going to be a lot more to learn switching to a completely different family of instrument.

Thanks so much guys for chiming in!

I’m thinking I’ll start off with a few classes at my local music shop to see how it goes.

I would agree with others that the most transferrable knowledge would be that most closely related to musical construction - chords, for example. I learned guitar after learning piano and having strong ‘piano hands’ was a bit of an advantage, but truly a very small one.

Meh. It depends what you what to do. John Lennon played guitar but learned basic meat and potatoes chords on piano and wrote songs.

I play guitar but my son plays both - he picked up guitar from me and taught himself piano. He takes songs and moves them back and forth between the two to figure things out. When he starts the piano version, it is the most basic chords but sounds credible.

The point being that you can establish basic competence on both and then explore.

I can play a little guitar. The piano baffles me. So I am will have t say piano.

As a guitarist of 18 years - I have to say the level of guitar that I play at is significantly easier to accomplish on piano.

It all depends on what styles of music you choose to play, what your current levels are on guitar, and what your goals are.

If you’re a high level lead guitarist in the genres of metal, classical or jazz, the piano will be a comparative breeze (relatively speaking). If you’re a strummer, and wish to take up Classical/jazz piano, then you’re in for a very tough time.

But all in all, skills are transferable and your motivation and discipline are all you have.