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Guitar one of the hardest instruments?
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
Posts: 180
Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:29 pm    Post subject: Guitar one of the hardest instruments? Reply with quote

Every once in a while I'l have a mature student who has played several other instruments; perhaps a teacher who has been required to learn one of each family to ge his/her teaching credential. I play with a fantastic jazz pianist who got his double masters at Eastman in classical piano and jazz performance AND and education degree AND a PHd who says guitar is the hardest instrument he's ever tried to learn how to play. He gave up finally.

I've had student jazz groups where unquestionable the worst musicians tend to be the guitarist. And like everyone else I just figured it had to do with the way they learned the instrument, coming from rock and Mel Bay and riffs just being passed along by friends and teachers.

But then it occurred to me maybe it's just the fact that it's really HARD to play jazz on guitar. Way harder than say the sax, probably the most natural jazz instrument. Scanning back I find it more difficult to find convincing jazz guitarists of high school age than almost any other instrument. I know of some. I played pretty well for a high schooler and know of others. Just getting to the point where you can THINK on the fretboard and comp and swing and play medium to fast tempos is a major challenge, let alone ii-Vs and bop lines.

What do you guys think?
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is a question without a single, definitive answer.

* The guitar is one of the easiest instruments to learn just enough to sound like crap on...

BUT...

* The guitar is one of the more difficult instruments to sound halfway decent on (although not as difficult as playing jazz on the fiddle in my opinion)...

YET...

* An instrument easier to gain some minimal competence with, is an instrument that really should demand more of the player...in other words, if it's easier to blow single note lines on a trumpet, then the trumpet player's lines should be held to a higher standard if he or she is to be considered "better" than the guitarist.

ALL IN ALL THOUGH...

* The clean jazz sound of the electric guitar is just so damned cool, that little of the above matters... Very Happy
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
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Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And yet even for beginners the pain they experience just learning basic chords is excruciating. It's not like piano. I've had some students tell me after taking a semester of piano and guitar that they prefer guitar but it's just too hard. Piano doesn't hurt their fingers. I think it's easy to forget the beginning.
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Henryrobinett



Joined: 01 May 2010
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Location: Sacramento, Ca

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh and I don't mean to infer that because an instrument is harder that a musician is BETTER for playing it. That's a whole 'nuther kettle of fish.
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Gorecki
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always understood the french horn to be the hardest but it seems like guitar in general has the highest desire to decoration rate. SOOO many people buy/get a guitar, give it a try, "oh, it hurts!" or "oh, it's so hard to practice", put it on a stand and there it sits.

And if memory serves correctly, for the longest time guitar was considered a second class instrument.

I've wondered for a long time what playing a lute is really like?
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
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Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Guitar one of the hardest instruments? Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
Every once in a while I'l have a mature student who has played several other instruments; perhaps a teacher who has been required to learn one of each family to ge his/her teaching credential. I play with a fantastic jazz pianist who got his double masters at Eastman in classical piano and jazz performance AND and education degree AND a PHd who says guitar is the hardest instrument he's ever tried to learn how to play. He gave up finally.

I've had student jazz groups where unquestionable the worst musicians tend to be the guitarist. And like everyone else I just figured it had to do with the way they learned the instrument, coming from rock and Mel Bay and riffs just being passed along by friends and teachers.

But then it occurred to me maybe it's just the fact that it's really HARD to play jazz on guitar. Way harder than say the sax, probably the most natural jazz instrument. Scanning back I find it more difficult to find convincing jazz guitarists of high school age than almost any other instrument. I know of some. I played pretty well for a high schooler and know of others. Just getting to the point where you can THINK on the fretboard and comp and swing and play medium to fast tempos is a major challenge, let alone ii-Vs and bop lines.

What do you guys think?


What I think is that I agree with you completely!
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
Posts: 369

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
And yet even for beginners the pain they experience just learning basic chords is excruciating. It's not like piano. I've had some students tell me after taking a semester of piano and guitar that they prefer guitar but it's just too hard. Piano doesn't hurt their fingers. I think it's easy to forget the beginning.


Well, a double bass ain't easy on the ol' bod either, particularly if you use strings designed mostly for pizzicato playing...
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PaulD



Joined: 18 Sep 2004
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Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
And yet even for beginners the pain they experience just learning basic chords is excruciating. It's not like piano. I've had some students tell me after taking a semester of piano and guitar that they prefer guitar but it's just too hard. Piano doesn't hurt their fingers. I think it's easy to forget the beginning.


Compared to the piano, yes, guitar is probably physically harder for a beginner to get a good sounding note with little effort. But I can't say the same about other instruments. I played clarinet for a few years when I was a kid and I remember my cheeks and facial muscles hurting when I first started, and sounding like a dying goose. And I hated the vibration I felt on my teeth, especially when playing notes in the lower register. I started playing guitar around the same time, at age 8, and didn't seem to mind the finger pain as much, even though in those days the strings were thick and the action horrible.

Paul
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL! Trumpet is pretty hard too and LOUD. You gotta have real nerve to practice that thing. That's probably why so many trumpet players are such arrogant pricks -- (kidding!!)
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cjm



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
That's probably why so many trumpet players are such arrogant pricks -- (kidding!!)


You've noticed that too, eh? Very Happy
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sindongui



Joined: 09 Jan 2009
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Location: guadalajara, mexico

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree to previous posts, to learn to play the guitar in a very basic way just to take it out in parties and camping trips is easy. The real challenge is to really get to know the guitar and play it at another level.

Either if it's classical, flamenco, jazz or rock guitar, trying to play it better and better is always a challenge. I am a jazz guitar player myself, and between chord melody, melodic and harmonic improvising, sight reading, transcriptions, technique, theory, I can really get busy. Also, it is not the same to play Joe Pass-like or Stanley Jordan- like, or Jim Hall-like, or Pat Metheny- like. And we're not even talking about classical guitar, or flamenco guitar. It's a world of techniques and different musical approaches to playing the guitar. But it's fun to learn and enjoy the process.

Have you read Mike Goodrick's book, "the advancing guitarist"? It really encourages you to get to know the guitar in a very different way, like made of 6 parallel keyboards, and it also mentions the possibility of always getting better, with practice. That's why it is the "advancING" and not "advancED" guitarist, because getting to work to improve your musical skills and knowledge of the guitar is an ongoing-never ending- activity.
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toddinjax



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Gorecki"]I've always understood the french horn to be the hardest but it seems like guitar in general has the highest desire to decoration rate. SOOO many people buy/get a guitar, give it a try, "oh, it hurts!" or "oh, it's so hard to practice", put it on a stand and there it sits.

And if memory serves correctly, for the longest time guitar was considered a second class instrument.

I've wondered for a long time what playing a lute is really like?[/quote]

I spoke to a man that builds Baroque lutes at the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) a while back. I can still hear his voice as he casualy remarked ..."oh, they're impossible to play".
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Viper



Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 568
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



This chap is having a go.
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rwmol



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
Posts: 69
Location: Washington, Utah

PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm 67 and still can remember my first guitar and learning to play from those Mel Bay books. I took the guitar up when I was 10. My father wouldn't let me take up anything that was loud. No drums. No trumpet. I settled on the guitar. Of course I had a cheapo. It seamed the strings were about 1/2 inch off the fret board. Oh the pain.

I started off with piano when I was about 6 or seven. Didn't want to have anything to do with playing music. Loved to listen to it though. My favorite: Bumble Boogie. I think I wore the center hole out on that 78.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khy-30X9ruc

Back to the topic. When people ask about my playing. Want to know a couple of "hot licks". I say OK, here you go. Now what are you going to do with it? Most simply don't understand how much dedication and hours and hours of daily practice it takes to play any instrument professionally.
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Gorecki
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rwmol wrote:
I'm 67 and still can remember my first guitar and learning to play from those Mel Bay books. I took the guitar up when I was 10. My father wouldn't let me take up anything that was loud. No drums. No trumpet. I settled on the guitar. Of course I had a cheapo. It seamed the strings were about 1/2 inch off the fret board. Oh the pain.


Wow, most of that statement is very relative. Started at 8, totally crap guitar, mel-bay, floundered for a good while trying to pick out Elvis Presley tunes. Laughing
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