What are the main differences between the violin and the guitar? Is it easier to learn the former or the latter? How much effort does one need to put in on a daily basis to learn both? How many years does one need to master each? We’re going to answer all these questions in this article.
Yet another thing we’re going to do is to bust the myth that states ‘violin for beginners’ Most newbie music composers believe this fable not knowing that it is based on shaky footing. They aren’t aware that it would be much better for their career if they spent its first few years learning the guitar.
Violin Vs Guitar – Key Differences
Following are the key differences between both these musical instruments:
Design and Construction
Here’s how both these instruments differ when it comes to their design and construction:
Also known as fiddles, violins are wooden string instruments with a hollow body. They typically have four strings that are tuned in with notes A4, E5, G3, and D4.
Different parts of a violin are mostly made from different types of wood. That is why you might have seen violins strung with steel strings, gut, or other synthetics.
Mostly constructed from wood and strung with either steel strings, nylon or gut, guitars are fretted musical instruments with six strings and raised metal bars that show you where to put your fingers on the strings.
This instrument projects the sound of its vibrating strings either through a speaker and an electrical amplifier, or through its own hollow chamber (in the case of an acoustic guitar).
Playing mechanism and posture
Here’s how both these instruments differ on these two counts:
One of the primary reasons why violin is not for beginners is because 90% of its tonal production comes from the bow. As long as the bow isn’t working as you want it to, nothing else will.
The playing posture of violins also makes them a difficult instrument to master for beginners. You have to sit or stand with a straight back and hold the violin with your jaw before playing it.
Guitars attract beginners due to their ease of playing. You can either strum their strings or pluck them with fingers or picks to get your desired sound. There’s no bow to test your expertise.
Their playing posture is equally easy to execute as well. All you have to do is to sit upright, hold the guitar in your lap and start playing music. There are no special instructions which you must follow.
Expertise and experience required
Here’s the level of expertise needed to play both these instruments with poise:
Jason Webb of the BBC states that one needs to be more experienced while playing the violin. He follows up his claim with a simplistic statement that the violin is more “difficult” than the guitar.
He is right. Beginners have to spend at least three years to perfectly master the bow – the most challenging element of the violin without mastering which you can’t play this instrument.
One doesn’t have to have a decade of experience to play the guitar to the audience’s liking. The main reason as to why that is the case is because it is your fingers, and not a bow, that play the music here.
That isn’t to say that one only needs a week to become an expert guitarist. Far from it. But it does mean that when you juxtapose a guitar with a violin, learning the basics of the guitar will take much less time.
Ease of multitasking
Which of the two instruments lets you play an accompanying instrument with more ease? Let’s find out
Before you could churn out the first bit of music from your violin, you’d be required to fix the bow, rosin it, tune the violin, grasp the bow, and perfect your hand position.
All these steps are so demanding that even expert violinists find it difficult to play any other instrument at the same time in which they are playing their violin.
Playing guitar is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is to learn guitar chords and put what you have learned to practice. Once you learn the relation between chords, you’d be able to create your own music.
That is what allows guitarists to multitask with ease. They can control and play the guitar with one hand and easily sing or play any complementing instruments with the other.
Types of both instruments
Following are the major types of violin and guitar:
Two types of violins are mostly used today. They include acoustic or non-electric violins and electric violins. Acoustic violins are bowed string instruments that are more suitable for beginners.
Electric violins, as the name implies, rely on an electronic signal output and are mostly the preferred choice of experts. The sound that they produce is much sharper than the one produced by acoustic guitars.
Modern acoustic guitars are available in three types: the classical guitar, the archtop (jazz) guitar, and the steel string acoustic guitar. Here’s how all three are different from each other.
While the classical guitar mostly uses nylon strings, a jazz guitar uses synthetic strings and the acoustic guitar counts on steel strings. The different materials of construction of the strings of all three guitars make them feel and sound different.
Violins and guitars cannot be more different from each other. The former might be harder to master for a beginner but one cannot deny that it is played in more genres, including Western classical music, rock music, jazz fusion, and even Indian music.
Guitars might not be played in many genres – as their utility is limited popular culture and in many rock subgenres, but their ease of learning make them an attractive proposition for beginners who are new to the musical instruments scene.