Several years ago, a Broadway musician told me in no uncertain terms, “the guitar is an imperfect instrument.”


I was a little pestered by his opinion because I had just told him I’d purchased my first acoustic guitar and I was swirling in the Heavens.

I asked him why the guitar was “imperfect” and he told me it was because it “didn’t have eight strings like a piano.”

I nodded as I tried to understand his reasoning.

“The piano,” he continued, “is the perfect instrument.”

“How so?” I wondered at him.

“Octaves.”  He smiled.  “Eight, perfect notes.  Natural on a piano.  Imperfect on a guitar.”

He then strolled away from me, confident and destroying, as I deflated a bit out of my newfound guitar love.

Is there such a thing as an “imperfect” musical instrument?

Is the piano the penultimate in musical perfection?

6 Comments

  1. I don’t think you can really call any instrument imperfect, because the next logical step in that progression would be to say that pianos are imperfect as well because they only have an octave and don’t have the musical range that a sitar has — an entirely different musical scale and perfect in its own right. 🙂

  2. I sure think that person was not very nice to you, Broadway or not. Who is he to put you down and put down all guitar players? Imperfect? I think he’s talking about himself.

  3. He was definitely a chameleon in every way. Everyone loved him on the surface, but below the gloss was a confused, nasty, and unfulfilled little boy. He used his false graciousness to bend others to his preening will. He was moderately monetarily successful, but deep down, he knew, in fact, he was an utter failure as a moral person.

  4. Just to illustrate, here are videos of two different people playing the same song — one with guitar and one with piano.
    Guitar:


    Piano :


    Is the piano more ‘perfect’? Interestingly enough, the piano player rewrote the song a little to accommodate the piano. 🙂 “Guitar solo” and “Piano solo” are similar but not quite the same.

  5. Now that is an outstanding example of musical accompaniment, Gordon! You picked two prime ways of performing the same song with different results. I’m going to write more about this guitar vs. piano matter in the future and your video selections certainly inform that future article and I thank you!

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