The question of ‘What is the easiest string instrument to learn?’ is very common across the world. There are a lot of string instruments out there, and each one has its own history, style, and culture.
I have narrowed it down to 5 string instruments to delve deeper into. The violin, guitar, ukulele, banjo, and harp.
1. Violin – How easy to learn is the Violin?
The violin is a string instrument that is easy to learn but difficult to master.
The violin is considered easy to learn because of the size of the instrument, the method in which you play it, and how straightforward it is. The violin has 4 strings so once you learn to tune them, they are relatively easy to master when compared to other string instruments that have more than one string to each note (added difficulty).
Also when learning the violin there are no scale tones; this means that all notes can be played using open strings (strings consecutively played without lifting/stopping the bow).
Finally, like all string instruments you needn’t spend money on buying an expensive amp or speaker system.
2. Guitar – How easy is it to learn Guitar?
Many people think guitar is an easy instrument, but it’s actually a lot harder than you might think!
The guitar is also easy to learn but difficult to master; much like the violin. There are 6 strings in total with only 3 of them being used for playing the guitar. The 3 strings are thick and are responsible for producing the bass of the music whereas the thin strings are responsible for producing higher notes.
To play a chord you need to hold down several strings at once that require your finger to bear its entire weight, whereas with violin you can rest 2 fingers on one string. You also have to bend over quite far when playing guitar which requires more physical energy than simply sitting upright without straining your back muscles.
But fear not! Like any other instrument, with enough practice, you will become an expert in no time!
3. Ukulele – How easy is it to learn the Ukulele
The ukulele has been called “the easiest musical instrument in the world” because it only has four strings and can be played with one finger. In addition, the ukulele is a very portable instrument and is relatively inexpensive.
However, the ukulele does require a good ear and a bit of musical knowledge. If you have ever played another instrument before, such as piano or violin, you will find it relatively easy to pick up the ukulele. Conversely, if you have never had any musical training before in your life, then learning to play any stringed instrument will be very difficult for you.
In addition to being easy to learn, the ukulele is also quite fun! Ukuleles are typically associated with Hawaiian music and beach parties–not exactly classical tunes. However, many new styles of playing have evolved that range from jazz and rock ‘n’ roll to more modern pop music.
The main difficulty with playing the ukulele is that it has a very small neck. This makes holding down the strings and changing chords difficult because your fingers have to be in awkward positions, I’ve had finger cramp numerous times learning the ukulele.
However like with anything, with a bit of practice, you can develop your finger muscles to play seamlessly.
4. Banjo – How easy is it to learn the banjo?
While not as popular as other instruments, banjos are still relatively easy to play and come in different sizes for various levels of difficulty. Banjos utilize a range of different chord shapes and most can be played by familiarizing yourself with just 4 or 5 chords.
The standard banjo is an open-back instrument with a drumhead that creates the sound when it is struck by the player’s fingers, but there are also some models that come with a resonator–a type of metal chamber that increases and prolongs volume and deepens the tone.
One problem I found when learning to play banjo was simply getting used to holding down so many strings at once – there are 5 thin strings for playing notes as well as two thicker drone/thumb strings on either side. It’s not as simple as plucking 2 or three strings as you would do with a guitar or ukulele.
Another problem I found was that the banjo is a very loud instrument, which put me off somewhat at first because it required much more effort to learn how to play quietly without disturbing the neighbors.
5. Harp- How easy is it to learn the harp?
The harp is one of the most challenging instruments to learn because it requires you to use both hands simultaneously.
People assume it is easy to play because those who play it well make it look effortless.
Harps are difficult for adults to learn simply because they require that your right hand always be gripping or pushing down strings at all times when playing. The left-arm also constantly moves up and down, which makes the whole process more difficult than other instruments.
I found learning keys much easier in comparison because you can sit with your back straight whilst fingers do the walking! But don’t worry if you’re not so concerned about comfort – by sitting up straight when playing harps, your proficiency will improve in the long run.
Conclusion – What is the easiest string instrument to learn?
There is no easy answer to the question of “what is the easiest stringed instrument to learn?” – it depends on your age, musical experience, and where you are starting from.
If you have never played a musical instrument before, then a simpler option would be a ukulele or banjo.
However if you have a bit more drive and motivation to become an accomplished musician, then maybe going straight for a full-size classical guitar might be best suited. Although again playing one requires you to use both hands simultaneously which can be physically straining towards your fingers. In my opinion, learning how to play the harp is most challenging due to having to use both arms constantly whilst still being able to keep accurate fingering with your right hand.
The elements of each instrument were discussed and common problems outlined which beginners can face when trying to learn a stringed instrument, but again it depends on the individual and what they possess in terms of their commitment and determination towards learning how to play an instrument.
If you do decide to take up the harp, I wish you all the best on your journey! Just remember that patience is key!