Learning a musical instrument can be fun and adventurous or pure torture, depending on how you look at it. If you are passionate about learning musical instruments, then this post is for you. If you started on one musical instrument and you’re developing an interest in another, go ahead – you can learn as many as you can. And if you feel that you started with the wrong one and want to start all over again, this post is for you too! Let’s get started!

The Basics

The first thing you need to know is that there are different classes of musical instruments. Each class is played in a different way. For instance, piano playing requires less strength when pressing the keys when compared to pressing the guitar strings or strumming. The different classes of instruments also engage different parts of your body, so when you are shifting from one instrument to another, your body will also need to adjust.

string instruments
Image Courtesy of Flickr

The Common Instruments

The top three instruments that are widely played all over the world are the piano, the guitar, and the drums. In this post, we shall look at switching from piano to guitar and guitar to piano.

Piano to String Instruments

The tricky thing about this transition is in reading the music. Reading the tablature is something you need to be ready for as it is very different from reading sheet music.

Switching from keyboards to stringed instruments can be tricky. If you are switching to a stringed instrument that primarily uses tablature (guitar, banjo, mandolin, lute) you might find that learning to read the TAB is confusing. Via Take Lessons

Secondly, while you are used to the continuous set of keys that make up the keyboard, string instruments like the guitar have 6 continuums.

So for starters, it might help to have a look at the layout of the guitar itself. One way to do this is to see the guitar like six pianos. Sure, seeing six pianos sounds confusing and counter-intuitive to making things easier,  but it’s essentially what a guitar is. Via Online Pianist

When it comes to the energy required to play, you will often find that playing string instruments will be strenuous.

guitars and drum set
Image Courtesy of Pixnio

…with most stringed instruments, you will need to build up finger strength, finger sensitivity (yes, you might start developing calluses on your fingers), and even arm strength when you transition. Via Take Lessons

String Instrument to Piano

The first thing you will need to do is learn to read sheet music. Of course, that is, if you want to learn really good piano!

… if you’re switching from an instrument that is devoted to one clef, you might need to learn a new clef; if you are coming from a TAB-based instrument, you’ll need to learn how to read sheet music. Via Take Lessons

Something to beware of is transferring your old guitar playing into piano playing, as this will affect your quality, and not in a good way:

It’s always easy for me to spot a performer who started out on a stringed instrument and then moved to the keyboard because they tend to have what I call the “guitarist’s hiccup.” There is always a ba-dum rhythm to their playing as the left hand lands on the keyboard slightly before the right hand. Via Take Lessons

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

The numbering of fingers is totally different…

The #1 finger for piano is the thumb, whereas, for the guitar it is the index finger. When reading the fingering for a piece of piano music, the guitar players often put’s the wrong finger on a key, so they must learn to translate different fingers for the same numbers. Via Online Pianist

The use of hands can be quite conflicting…

Guitar players train themselves to use their fretting hand like a vise-grip to play songs, such as when they play bar chords. This is in conflict to what good technique is for the piano, where one wants a quiet and relaxed hand.

It is common for guitar players to find it difficult to play both hands on the piano. This is because when they play the guitar, they are in a way playing one instrument with both hands…for the guitar players, it can be a greater challenge because their playing is not exactly two hands playing separate things as it is with the piano. Via Online Pianist


With this basic information, you should be in a better position to switch from one instrument to the other. Now you know what to look out for. Good luck!

Featured Image: Image Credit

Is it Ever Too Late to Switch Musical Instruments?

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