When considering picking up a new instrument, you want to know all the details about both so you can make an informed decision. Guitar vs Violin is no different. You’ll likely spend countless hours playing the instrument you choose, so you want to consider all the factors before picking.
Both the violin and the guitar belong to the string family of instruments, but the similarities more or less stop there. This makes it even more important to pick the one best suited for you.
How do you do that? Glad you asked!
In this article, we’ll cover the differences between the two instruments, which one is easier to play, and factors you should consider when picking which you want to learn.
What is the Difference Between the Violin and Guitar?
The violin and guitar have more differences than things in common. The violin has four strings, is about the same size as a ukulele, has a chinrest, and is played with a bow. The guitar, on the other hand, is larger, has six strings, and is strummed or fingerpicked.
The styles of music they are used to play are different as well. Violins and Fiddles are normally used in classical arrangments, folk, bluegrass, and Celtic music. The guitar on the other hand is used in Rock genres like country, classic rock, metal, alternative, and pop. There are plenty of exceptions where the instrument has crossed over to a genre it doesn’t normally belong to, but it’s not super common. Especially for the violin.
Which is Easier to Learn: Guitar or Violin?
Most professional musicians, myself included, consider the guitar easier to play at a performance-worthy level than the Violin. The fretboard makes the notes of the guitar easier to find and play consistently, and it is easier to get a good strumming sound than it is to bow properly.
If you look at the two instruments it is pretty easy to see why the guitar’s fretboard might be easier than the fingerboard on a violin. The frets provide a roadmap as to where your fingers need to go, a violin’s neck doesn’t have frets and is narrower, making it harder to find the exact note you’re looking for.
The strings are also closer together on a guitar than on a violin, providing more of a challenge in finding the correct string with your left hand if you have larger fingers. While this is an advantage in that you can play more notes on the fretboard, it’s also a disadvantage because it can be more difficult to play certain chords.
Another factor that makes the Violin harder to learn than the guitar, is the bowing technique. You will want to practice a lot on this one before you want to even consider making any music with it. It is common for beginners to get frustrated and say “I gave up on the violin, I can’t do anything with it.”
The best thing I can tell a beginner violinist is to stick with it and be patient. Bowing is a very fine art and will take time to produce the tone quality that you’d like.
Many guitarists struggle to strum at first, and fingerpicking is even more complicated. That being said, both are easier than learning to run the bow over the strings at the perfect angle. If you pick a simple strumming pattern and start by playing slowly, most people can pick up basic strumming in a week or two.
Guitar vs Violin: Which Should You Choose?
Just because the guitar is easier to learn, doesn’t mean you should automatically pick it over the violin. The debate between guitar vs violin has far more factors than simply which is easier to learn! The violin has a ton of great benefits to learning which makes it a very good choice for a lot of people!
Music Genres You’re Interested In
Both the violin and the guitar have types of music where they really shine. If you like classical music then the violin is probably better for you, but if you like rock or country, then the guitar is probably a better fit. This is one of the biggest differences between the two instruments and should be your first consideration.
Now, there are plenty of classical guitarists out there that might argue with this point, but due to the complexity of playing either guitar or violin at the level to proficiently play most classical arrangements is a long-term endeavor.
Most people who play the guitar with the goal of being concert musicians start very young and choose music as a degree in a secondary education setting.
This leads to the next factor:
I think the Violin is a better instrument for kids. First off, the size of the instrument makes it much easier to handle for people with smaller frames and for kids who are still learning how to use their fingers. For this reason, I think the ukulele and violin are much better beginner instruments for kids than the guitar or banjo.
I think it has to do with coordination, but the bowing technique is in many cases easier for a child than strumming or fingerpicking, especially if the guitar is too big.
Lastly, kids are much more resilient and will stick with something longer than the average adult. The time, effort, and dedication that learning an instrument teach a child great skills that will be helpful for a lifetime, even if they stop playing the instrument somewhere along the line.
This component of the guitar vs violin debate is pretty simple.
The average beginner violin will cost you more than a beginner guitar. You can easily get a good beginner guitar for $150-$200 dollars, a violin will cost a good bit more. Traditional violin makers start offering instruments in the thousand-dollar range.
More affordable violins have emerged in recent years, If you’re buying an entry-level violin and you want it to sound the best, I’d definitely recommend going with a trusted brand. There are some really good options that are starting to show up at lower price ranges right now and they will last you for many years if looked after properly.
The Dynamic Difference
The range of sounds that a violin can produce is absolutely astonishing. Subtle differences in fingering and bowing can produce some very different tones. With the right equipment and technique, a violin can mimic everything from a trumpet to an electric guitar.
The sounds that the violins are capable of is what really sets it apart from other instruments I’ve played. With a violin, you can actually produce lyrics to your music, which can give it a whole different level of depth.
Many consider the violin to be the instrument that comes closest to mimicking the human voice!
The dynamic range of the guitar is actually quite small compared to many instruments, covering only four octaves total. While the guitar is capable of many things, the dynamic range of a violin is unmatched.
The Final Note
When all is said and done, the debate between guitar vs violin and your decision to purchase an instrument is completely dependent on what you want out of the instrument and how much time you want to put into it. Both instruments offer a rich and rewarding experience, it’s just a matter of which is right for you!
If you’re just looking for something inexpensive and are looking for something that can be picked up quickly so that you can play the occasional song, then a beginner guitar might be the right choice. However, if you’re looking for a long-term investment or taking music seriously as a future career path, then I’d say choose a violin.
Ruby has spent much of the last 20 years touring both North America and Europe in a number of Orchestras, playing lead chair for several. More recently, she has started to teach kids and young adults both the fiddle and violin, with interest in spreading the love for both bluegrass and classical music.