Ranked! – Which is the Hardest Instrument to Play

Playing a new instrument is always a hard task, which requires an attentive balance between theory and practice. That said, some musical instruments are extremely complex, way more than other ones. Which is the hardest instrument to play?

It might be how they are configured, their shape, the peculiar way to pluck their strings or the coordination between hands and feet they require, that makes them distinct.

No matter what, playing a new instrument is a nightmare for young music students and teachers and the reason behind many discouragements and disillusions.

Note, if you are thinking about picking one of these instruments to learn, don’t worry, because practice always makes perfect.

Below is a list of the 12 instruments, which is the hardest instrument to play? Listed in no particular order.


Violin is the most popular one among string instruments. There are many elements attributing to the difficulty of string instruments.

First of all, violins have no fret to indicate what note you are playing. To ensure that you are playing the right pitch, you will need to develop extremely good listening skills and ensure that you practice endless hours to train your hand to reach the right spot on the string.

It is also very hard to find the right position when playing them. Your fingertip precision needs to be perfect every time and the movement and pressure of the bow give it a unique play style that’s unlike more popular string instruments.


Bagpipes are made up of several different elements, all aligning to different layers in the performance.

Firstly, bagpipes require air, usually blown into the bag through a blowpipe. On top of that, a performer needs to play the melody pipe and one or more drones, the pipe providing the harmonizing notes. 

All at the same time! This poses quite a challenge for your coordination.

It’s a very difficult instrument to learn because it’s not something you find at your local music store, and it’s extremely loud. Finding a good practice spot will be hard and will slow down your learning process.


The hard part of playing the piano consists of coordinating the right hand, which usually executes the melody, with the left hand, which usually executes an accompaniment.

With some practice, it is fairly easy to play simple tunes, however, you’ll need to learn how to read at the same time the two-bar lines that form a piano sheet and this could be hard at first.

The real obstacle arises when the tune you are playing presents different layers, corresponding to more keys you should play. 

This is why it requires a lot of focus and hours of tiring practice to achieve a good level of performance on a piano.

Some other obstacles may be represented by the coordination needed between hands, playing the pitches, and feet, controlling the pedals. 

Piano keyboards are also quite hard to hit and this can be particularly difficult for small children to play.


hardest instrument to play

Being one of the most iconic instruments and also one of the most complex ones. The organ is perhaps most recognizable for its ability to produce both the loudest and lowest sounds, as well as the faintest sounds.

But what makes it so difficult to learn? First of all, the organs are massive. If you have small hands and poor upper body to lower body coordination, you’ll struggle a lot.

Because it’s so big, the organ is also divided into different sections. Each of these sections or divisions pretty much acts like a separate keyboard if you will. 

That means that the note range is massive, and just learning the notes will take you a long time.

Playing it gets even harder when you consider that unlike the piano, you can’t let your fingers off the keys. 

If you put your fingers on hold, so to speak, the organ will stop making the sound. And, if it wasn’t complicated enough, there’s also the pedal component to take into account.

An additional difficulty is represented by the absence of the sustain pedal. To have a legato effect you have to practice hands and feet techniques that require daily practice.


The most difficult element in the harp is represented by the fingering technique used to play it. 

Coordinating the left hand with the right hand can be quite hard, especially when you need to sharpen or flatten a note through the use of pedals.

Harps have a lot more strings than any other string instrument, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. 

Another thing that’s going to be difficult is learning by feel and ear where to position your fingers to get the correct notes.


Where drummers do not have to worry about pitches, they do have a huge responsibility in terms of rhythm. 

A whole song can be based on the correctness of a drummer’s performance, meaning if he or she makes a mistake, the whole band is likely to lose the groove.

Drums require very solid coordination between arms and feet. Drummers must be physically fit as playing requires both strength and endurance.


What applies to the bagpipes also applies with the accordion, you have to play at least two musical layers, plus control the air supply. 

The main difference is that with the accordion you control the air supply and the execution of the pitches with your arms and fingers instead of using your breath.

When playing the accordion, you are likely to encounter the same difficulties faced by a pianist, as you will need to play two different keyboards to provide the melody and its accompaniment.

French horn

The main difficulty encountered when playing the French horn consists of the breathing technique, as you’ll need to project the air throughout its long tube.

On top of that, the position of the lips affects the pitch of the tune, so it is necessary to practice a lot before being able to execute a perfect note. 

On the other hand, the French horn is also quite big and heavy to carry, so it can be physically demanding to practice it for long hours.

It requires two things most of all is a highly accurate lip positioning and an excellent breathing technique. Bearing in mind that neither is going to be easy to learn.

It’s also a very heavy instrument, so holding it with a correct posture won’t be easy, either. If you don’t have the strength for it, it’s probably an instrument you will never be able to learn.


The oboe is not one of the most popular instruments in the world, but it has a distinct sound among all woodwind instruments and it requires a lot of talent and practice to learn and play properly.

The first most difficult thing to deal with is the almost never-ending string of keys to press. If your hands are short, this will pose an even greater challenge.

The oboe presents a lot of keys, so it can be hard to execute even the simplest tunes.

However, the real difficulty, again, lies in the breathing technique. The oboe requires a lot of air, especially for sustained notes, so some advanced players had to learn how to breathe in through their nose and breath out through their mouth at the same time. It sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

Classical guitar

It might not be that difficult to play a few guitar chords while you are at the beach with your friends, but playing an intermediate or advanced classical tune, employing the canonical fingering techniques can be a real task.

Advanced guitar players can produce at least three different layers at the same time. A rhythmical pattern, some harmonization, and the main melody. Focusing on these three elements at once requires perfect coordination and sharp focus.


This instrument is made up of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece. The most difficult part of playing the saxophone is to control the pitch of voice. 

The player covers holes by pressing the mechanical keys, triggering a system of pads, pivot, and linkages. 

If you really want to learn it, You have to make a commitment to yourself that you will practice at least 3–5 hours daily.


It looks like an ordinary musical instrument, but actually, a flute is one of the most difficult instruments to play, and becoming a master in it takes a lot of effort. For this instrument, you have to control your breath to create music.


Playing an instrument is one of the best decisions you could make in your life.  And some of us, pick up one of the hardest instruments without even realizing it. 

This list is not meant to persuade you away from these instruments, just the opposite, we want the challenge to attract you and prepare you for the reality of what’s ahead.  It isn’t easy but it’s worth it.

hardest instrument to play

Leave a Comment