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I am an amateur singer. I can sing. But, do not know how to play any musical instrument.

Which takes less time and effort to learn?

A piano or a guitar or an electronic keyboard?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Dom, jjmusicnotes, Bradd Szonye, Audrius Meškauskas, Dave Jun 6 at 19:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
And how long is a piece of string? –  Tim Jun 6 at 16:43
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@BROY Although your question is mainly opinion based I would like to give you a piece of advice that I've learned over the years. An acoustic guitar is easy to transport and is amplified anywhere you go. Making it one of the most popular instrument at campfires and parties. Although the difficulty really comes down to how determined you are to learn. Best of luck! –  MattCamp Jun 6 at 17:29
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I'm not really sure why this question gets so many close votes, whereas this question is nearly the same and gets 20 upvotes. Indeed, the question isn't great, but it's a perfectly valid one with a relatively objective answer. –  Lee White Jun 6 at 18:00
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@LeeWhite it is likely that the correct answer to this question is specific to BROY as an individual (too localized), and as currently formulated is open ended in the sense that there are no specific milestones to define when to "stop the stopwatch" (unclear what you are asking). The linked question in your comment doesn't have these problems if it is interpreted as "which skills do/don't carry over from playing piano to playing organ?" –  Dave Jun 6 at 19:13
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5 Answers 5

To learn the basics, piano/keyboard is more or less the easiest instrument out there, because the notes are structured so linearly, and you can play each note on it without needing any technical practice. You press any key, and you hear the note associated with it. Want a higher note? Play one to the right. Want a lower one? Go to the left. Once you can play chords, many other chords can be formed by simply moving all your fingers a number of keys to the left/right. It doesn't get more simple than that to start learning it. But really, that's just the first steps.

In the end, mastering your technique is important in any instrument. Indeed, playing a note on the piano is as simple as pushing a key, but it takes a lot of practice to make these notes sound good together. From that point, I think the difficulty of an instrument is mostly dependent on your own motivation: no instrument is impossibly difficult to learn, and if you are good at playing music, you'll be able to learn any instrument properly, depending on how much time you have invested.

Long story short:

Do you want to learn the instrument, but have very little time? Then pick the piano.

Do you want to invest a lot of time in learning this instrument? Then pick whatever interests/excites you most.

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+1 True, the relation between notes and keys is very close, it affects visual capabilities, which helps (slow) progressing. –  Wolf Jun 6 at 18:27
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"you can play each note on it without needing any technical practice" ...I am having a chuckle on this one, thinking of my piano teachers rolling over in their graves. –  filzilla Jun 6 at 18:51
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Elitism aside (and I'm a pianist myself), it is simply true. I can't think of another instrument where a one-year-old could play a note properly at its first attempt. –  Lee White Jun 6 at 18:53
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Playing a note and playing one properly are not the same thing. A child can blow on a harmonic too, but it would not be the same as Little Walter (Jacobs). Where's the music, where's the love? –  filzilla Jun 6 at 23:04
    
@filzilla: Isn't that exactly what I explained in my answer as well? :-) –  Lee White Jun 7 at 6:22
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I learned classical piano when I was a kid. I was never comfortable singing along with my piano playing. I started learning guitar when I was 35. After three months of practicing a half-hour a day I was able to accompany myself on guitar while singing in any key. YMMV, of course.

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+1 good point, self-accompanying on the piano seems quite hard. –  Wolf Jun 6 at 18:28
    
I do think that this is sort of your own preference... I have played the guitar for 13 years, and the piano for 5, and I am much better at singing while playing the piano than while playing the guitar. :-) –  Lee White Jun 6 at 18:29
    
We all have mileage that varies e.g. I personally prefer Mongolian Throat Singing while playing harmonics on my electric bass. –  filzilla Jun 6 at 23:25
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I would encourage you to go with both guitar and piano, the cross training is remarkable.

However, starting with guitar is more practical siting portability and affordability.

The main difference between these two string based instruments besides the obvious size and portability issues is the arrangement of the interface. Most piano's have 88 keys (Bösendorfer has 92 and 97 key models), covering the largest musical range of any non-electronic instrument. The strings are arranged with single large wound strings in the bass and progressively change gauge to multiple unison strings in the higher register giving the piano a rich and vibrant tone without the need for an amplifier. There is nothing sweeter than a concert grand in the hands of a master.

While the guitar affords a huge advantage with its portability, it has a significantly reduced range vs. the piano as illustrated here:

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However, remember that portability links well with opportunity, you can play and sing almost anywhere with an acoustic guitar (as well as the mandolin or the ever popular ukulele).

If you have made a life long commitment to music, you will no doubt have to learn piano at some basic level to survive.

Another key difference is that the guitar as with all open string instruments has numerous unison notes allowing the performer a wonderful advantage of choosing notes for the best timbre. Another advantage for the guitar is that you can pull and bend the strings for micro tonal changes and vibrato ! And yet one more advantage with the guitar interface is that it allows a more intimate contact, your fingers actually can massage the tone as you have direct contact with the strings vs. a hammer system on the piano. Both allow for a good dynamic range.

I do not consider myself a pianist by any means, but I do use it for working out compositional solutions. I have been playing both instruments for over 5 decades, and as I mentioned above the cross training is remarkable.

If you decide to study voice at a university you will be required to learn enough piano skills as to pass the piano proficiency test so starting now is not a bad idea--I recommend you study with someone that has classical training for this sort of preparation, and no matter piano or guitar, learn from the best you can afford. You don't want to learn from someone that will teach you bad habits or worse techniques that may cause injury.

If instruments were elevator systems in modern buildings with regard to pitch, a piano would be a building with 88 elevators, each elevator would only go to one specific floor, while the guitar building would have 6 elevators going to multiple floors with each having overlapping access.

UPDATE: In North India Ragas, the raga singer will usually have one tanpura (4 string drone instrument) tuned to the tonic as well as a tabla player. Someone in this section mentioned that playing open strings can become boring, yes that's true, but a tanpura player in a raga is the exception, as it creates the tonal foundation for the raga singer to build a luscious melodic landscape that transforms every moment into a transcendental journey.

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Well, you can just play open strings on guitar like small children do, really easy. It is the Em11 chord and sounds not so bad before gets boring. So probably guitar should be the easiest instrument to get any musical sound out of it (not counting the bell that you do not mention). From the other side, a very simple melody lines (3-4 notes not too far apart) may be easier on a piano, but also may not impress your listeners very much.

All instruments become more difficult after you start to learn seriously and probably no one is "easy" to play how is actually expected.

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BROY,

It really depends on the kind of music that you want to play. For the most part, acoustic guitar is much more welcoming instrument than piano. Since a standard guitar only has 6 strings, you can only play a maximum of 6 notes at a time, whereas on a piano you can play even more than 10 notes at a time, by playing more than 1 note with a thumb or finger. Why this is worth mentioning is because, if you're in a rush to learn an instrument, it is highly unlikely that you will develop good piano techniques that provide for convincing playing. You will have to be able to play a bass line, chords, melodies, inversions, etc. On a piano it would be very very challenging to just play chords and make it sound acceptable, whereas on guitar it is not uncommon for singers to just strum chords without doing anything advanced or difficult.

However, if you do not have the passion or desire to actually learn an instrument and become proficient with it, then I would suggest finding an instrumentalist to perform with and just mastering your singing. It is great to be able to play and sing, but you should have a passion and strong desire to learn and not be looking for a shortcut. I learned piano,guitar, and singing simultaneously, but I had a strong desire to do so.

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10 notes at a time is not true, despite referring to the length of your forearms, hitting two keys with the thumb isn't that strange... –  Wolf Jun 6 at 18:32
    
Very true, and this could be made to sound good. I have edited my post. –  MrTheBard Jun 6 at 18:35
    
Great, an I upvoted it :) –  Wolf Jun 6 at 18:39
    
Are you fellas trying to find a limit number for polyphony on the piano? If you are, then technically you can play all 88 keys at once, 97 if it's certain Bösendorfer model. Based on Charles Ives use of a 14 3/4" wood block in the Concord Sonata, why not extend to the entire keyboard. NOTE: most synthesizers have a limit on simultaneous polyphonic events--at last the piano wins technically over the synth. :> –  filzilla Jun 6 at 23:38
    
What are the merits of being able to play 10+ notes simultaneously over just 6 on a guitar? –  Tim Jun 7 at 6:23
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