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Top 5 most difficult instruments to play

Team Soundbrenner, in Community news
Jan 11, 2023 | 5 min read

Learning any instrument is hard work. There aren’t any instruments in the world that don’t require plenty of effort to master. However, some instruments are tougher work than others. In this article, we’re recognising the top 5 most difficult instruments to play.

This list is put together based on technical and physical level of difficulty. And if your instrument isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a hard one to master! We hope this list inspires you to challenge yourself to pick it up. One day you’ll be able to say, “Hey! I’m playing one of the hardest instruments in the world”.

1. Oboe


The oboe ranks high in this list for it’s high maintenance and challenging physical movements.

For example, tuning an oboe is troublesome and still has room for improvement. The scales won’t be as perfect when tuned, and the players will need to know their instrument well enough to make up for this.

The oboe carries a lot more weight than it looks, you might have to start making trips to the gym to master the instrument! Plus, you will often have to lower your hand position to play a higher pitch or raise your hand to play a lower pitch which makes it a very counterintuitive instrument to play.

With all these challenges come an upside! Oboe players are high in demand and one of the highest paid instrumentalists out there.

2. Violin

violin pulse metronome

The violin is a commonly learnt instrument, so you may be surprised to see this here. While giving us some of the most beautiful sounds, the violin could very easily sound terribly painful when played incorrectly.

One of the reasons why the violin is a tough nut to crack, is because it’s a fretless instrument. Being fretless leaves players without a safety net, which means violin players need to make sure they are being extremely accurate to hit the notes they want.

Plus, have you seen how violin players have to hold their instrument? While it offers amazing dramatics, it’s no surprise that violin players face the risk of Fiddler’s neck, neck strain, and other conditions (so do take good care of yourself!)

3. French horn

french horn

The French horn is one of those instruments that are both large and look so complex that potential players are intimidated away from learning it. But it’s versatility is what makes it so valuable to orchestra ensembles.

It has a pretty intense learning curve. Being able to make any sound come out o the French horn as a beginner, is a challenge in itself. Only after managing to make a sound, then will you be able to try make this sound accurate. That too, is a series of challenges!

4. Hammond organ

hammond organ

Organs, in general, are pretty tough to master. The Hammond organ is a key-instrument in plenty of genres, from rock to r&b.

A beginner may think that organs aren’t much different from keyboards- I mean, they both have black and white keys, how different can they be? More than you think!

Hammond organs have two levels of keyboards, with 61 keys per keyboard. But this isn’t the difficult part, in fact it’s waterfall positioning may make it easier to play. This difficulty comes in the fact that these keys are not velocity-sensitive. So, any changes you make to the velocity of your movements, doesn’t change the volume. you would have to hold down a key for how long you’d want it to play.

Other challenges include the lack of a sustain pedal, preset keys, rotary switches- the list honestly goes on. But once you’ve mastered it- you’d honestly be unstoppable.

5. Accordion


The accordion is about as hard as it looks. Imagine having to play the keyboard with one hand while juggling with the other, all while spinning around in circles. That’s kind of what it feels like…sort of. Accordions come in two forms- button accordions and keyboard accordions. The right hand does the melody playing while the left is for harmonies.

It’s quite unique in the way that you have to hold it and move the bellows in and out. The airflow and pressure then plays a big part in the sound that you shape. So, if you’re a good multitasker, we may have just found the instrument for you.

Soundbrenner is a company dedicated to helping musicians stay focused on what truly matters: their music. By creating innovative devices, such as Soundbrenner Pulse and Core, our goal is to deliver the best possible practice experience for musicians. Click here to find out more.

Got a question about Soundbrenner wearables? Reach out to us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!

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