I've played guitar for most of my life, but recently I've bought an electric piano and am looking to build at least some proficiency in the instrument. I'm particularly interested in all the possible voicings for the same chords and progressions that piano offers compared to guitar.

Any advice on making the transition? Has anyone done it or just plays both instruments? With the musical familiarity that I already have, should I still start with intro to piano textbooks, etc?

Also, what are some techniques that I could start to learn on piano that I couldn't on guitar? Any help is much appreciated!

  • 1
    Not sure what you are looking for but I'd recommend at least some lessons. That is the best learning technique I know.
    – user50691
    Aug 8, 2019 at 17:52

3 Answers 3


This question has been posed several times, so is probably a duplicate. However, the two instruments are very different, and I feel there's not a huge point trying to tranfer skills from guitar to piano.

Of course, the theory used in playing both is very similar, but the execution of it is very different. Generally, 6 is the maximum number of notes available simultaneously on guitar. Not so on piano. 48 notes total on guitar, up to 88 on piano. Same note avaiable in different places on guitar, only one place for each on piano. Far easier to play a melody and chords simultaneously on piano. Only one staff to read for guitar - two on piano.

When I first started guitar, after a few years on piano, I did use one to help the other - both ways round. But then, each took its own path, and now (many years later), I play each with no thought of the other, as for me, one works better in a given situation - they're not a substitute for each other.

So, this answer is saying you can try to transfer your music from guitar to piano, but it's better (in my opinion) to treat each separately as far as playing is concerned. You mention playing guitar chords on piano. Fine. It's interesting as an exercise, but with so much more available for different voicings on piano, discover what it can do in its own right.


My first instrument has been guitar for almost 20 years now, but I picked up a late 70's vintage Yamaha electric grand about a year ago and ordered an adult beginners method book to work on learning to play it. I was able to pretty much burn thru the first book with no outside instruction, because I had already learned a lot about intervals and ear training and studied theory, had previously studied the different scales and things musicians pretty much need to have an understanding about in order to move forward in developing needed skills. That meant I could focus more on developing my hands and working on playing positions, different chord shapes and scales on the keyboard instead of the fretboard. Something else I needed to be able to do is be able to chord with one hand and play melody with the other. The technique is completely different from guitar technique, so I had to work on that for a while. Also, reading a grand staff is different from reading treble staff and took me a couple of weeks to get used to it. At this point I'm able to hear things in my head and improvise at a better than beginner level, but I've noticed that when I improvise on guitar, I'm more aware of how it fits together with a possible keyboard part and it inspires my playing in different ways. I'm still learning on the piano and I'm lucky because I enjoy it, because to get as skilled as I'd like to be it's going to take work and more time.


I made the same transition myself. I think music theory in general is a lot more "user friendly" on the piano so it'll help you understand music in general. The keys are a great gateway to learning any musical instrument. I got a lost in music theory on the guitar but when I played piano everything made alot more sense to me.

I'd say most important is just to figure out all the different scales on the piano. Both in major, and then in minor. Also practice finding the diatonic chords from those scales, so for example in major the I,ii,iii,IV,V,vi,vii-dim chords. You can then use those chords to make progressions in whatever key you're in.

You can also restrict your playing to just two keys. For example you can tranpose any major song to C major, and any minor song to A-minor. That way you just stick to the white keys. And once you're good you can transpose to other keys. But C major / A minor on the piano will be easiest to start with. So they're good "reference" keys and a good place to try things out as far as chords go. There's a youtube video I found that talks about this concept as well.

As far as intro to piano textbooks, it really depends on what you want. Those textbooks generally teach you how to read. To me, I didn't want to do that and I just wanted to play by ear, so practicing figuring out songs by ear was all I was concerned with so just listening to songs and figuring them out on the piano. And what helped me to do that was just learning all the scales and their associated chords.

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    White keys for A minor? Possibly, but probably not. Far more pieces in Am will use the leading note of G#. Someone was going to mention it...
    – Tim
    Aug 4, 2019 at 10:01

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