When you start thinking about learning a new instrument, you quickly realize how many there are to choose from. But, are you specifically weighing the pros and cons between guitar vs. violin? Wondering which one you should choose?
In this article, I will discuss the benefits and challenges of each of these two instruments, in order to help you make the decision for yourself.
The guitar has frets, which makes the issue of finger placement accuracy much less stressful. You can place your finger anywhere between two frets, and it will always play the correct note, as long as the open string is in tune.
On the violin, there are no frets. This means the finger has to be in the exact correct spot for the note to play well. Violinists spend years learning how to play in tune, and this can be a cause of frustration, especially for beginners.
On the guitar, transposing keys is made a lot simpler by the capo; a handy little contraption placed over all the strings at a given fret.
To some, it is considered cheating, but the capo can make lots more music accessible to beginners. There is no such thing as a violin capo, therefore, violinists have to learn to play in many more keys in order to be on par with their guitar counterparts.
1. Right Hand Technique
Guitarists usually hold a pick in their right hand, while violinists, a bow. Although both can be a challenge to learn how to use and execute comfortably, the pick is by far an easier choice. The pick hold is more flexible, natural, and certainly more forgiving. Many people even learn how to hold the pick on their own! It still is challenging at first, but the pick hold is something that can be mastered relatively easily compared to the bow hold. The bow hold is something that can take years to master. It also has a huge effect on the sound that can be produced from the violin. Without a good bow hold, your sound will be too soft, scratchy, squeaky, uneven, or choppy. The only bad thing that can happen from a bad pick hold is that you might be slowed down or play an occasional wrong string.
Now, Let’s Look at the Violin Vs. the Guitar…
Now that we’ve discussed the positives of learning the guitar vs. violin, we will talk about the advantages the violin has over the guitar.
1. Pressing Down Strings
One of the most initial challenges new guitarists face is the difficulty with pressing down the strings. It can take up to a few weeks of pushing through finger pain until you build up the necessary calluses to play guitar without problems. On the violin, however, it might be a little difficult to press down the strings the first day or two (depending on how your violin is set up), but this is usually just a fleeting concern.
2. Travel Size
This may be something that most people don’t consider when choosing an instrument, but it can be an important issue to take into account. If you’re someone that travels a lot, especially by plane, it’s important to know what traveling with an instrument is like.
With a violin, it’s usually not an issue. Most airlines have no problem with people carrying their violin on a plane with them, as long as it will fit in the overhead bins (which they usually do). The guitar, on the other hand, is a totally different story. I’ve never attempted to fly with a guitar, but I have heard many stories from friends and acquaintances.
Since guitars don’t fit in the overhead bins on a flight, many people opt to buy a separate seat for their instrument, or negotiate with the flight attendants to store it in a closet on board. The last resort is to put it with the checked luggage. This is very dangerous because on flights, instruments are not handled with care, and the guitar will almost definitely get broken. Even with a super expensive, heavy, fancy flight case, no promises can be made.
3. Tuning Intervals
The violin is tuned in fifths. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. Just know that there is a consistent interval between the pitch of all four strings, making many fingering patterns repeatable. On the guitar, there are inconsistencies in the tuning, meaning there are certain places on the fretboard where fingering patterns don’t apply. This isn’t a huge setback, but certainly means it will take more exploration to get a feel for the fingerboard than it does on the violin.
Of course, there’s no need to limit yourself to one instrument.
This was a list of some of the advantages of the guitar vs violin, which can help when deciding which instrument to learn. But, if you’re trying to make a decision between these two instruments, it may mean you’re interested in both. You don’t have to limit yourself to just learning one instrument if you don’t want to. The more music that exists in this world, the better!