©Arlene R. Taylor PhD

It should come as no surprise that mastering one instrument, as opposed to another, may require varying lengths of time based on the student. It may also vary depending on the relative ease or difficulty of the specific instrument itself. Learning to play a keyboard or the piano may be easier for adults (than some other instruments) because they find it less difficult to create a single “tone,” as compared with woodwind or stringed instruments.

According to the American Music Conference, the range of difficulty in instruments for an adult to pick up can be ranked from easiest to most difficult. Examples follow.


Fairly Easy



Most Difficult

  • Autoharp
  • Chord organ
  • Electric keyboard
  • Bongo drums
  • Recorder
  • Ukulele



  • Accordion
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Electric guitar
  • Banjo
  • Drums
  • Harmonica
  • Mandolin


  • Piano
  • Organ
  • Saxophone
  • Clarinet
  • Flute
  • Trombone
  • Tuba
  • Cornet
  • Trumpet 
  • Sousaphone
  • Xylophone
  • Marimba
  • Vibraharp


  • Double bass
  • Cello
  • French horn
  • Viola
  • Violin


  • Bassoon
  • English horn
  • Oboe
  • Harp