Piano vs Guitar

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RtheBotanist
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As a way to express western music via the 12 TET system, which is a better tool? Which has broader capabilities for depth, expression and musical sophistication?
I like both equally, but would say guitar is more melodically and timbrally expressive while piano is more harmonically and texturally expressive. I play both, and have a lot of thoughts on their relative merits, but I want some reasoned debate from other people.

I'm not talking about suitability for a specific genre. I predominantly compose and improvise, trying to borrow as many approaches, techniques and styles as possible that people have come up with for the two instruments.
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DMCG1801
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It very much depends on what your personal preference is. I personally find piano offers a lot more freedom (you have 88 notes, can play up to 10 (or more if you're talented) notes at the same time, and it's easily laid out) and simplicity than guitar for composing, but both absolutely have their benefits and their cons.

Guitar has the freedom that you can take it out of 12 TET and practically tune it however you like, however (acoustic) pianos are restricted to 12 TET, this is not the case with electric pianos however.

I personally think that, functionally, piano offers more range, simplicity and harmonic potential, but musically, guitar has a much more appealing timbre.
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RtheBotanist
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(Original post by DMCG1801)
It very much depends on what your personal preference is. I personally find piano offers a lot more freedom (you have 88 notes, can play up to 10 (or more if you're talented) notes at the same time, and it's easily laid out) and simplicity than guitar for composing, but both absolutely have their benefits and their cons.

Guitar has the freedom that you can take it out of 12 TET and practically tune it however you like, however (acoustic) pianos are restricted to 12 TET, this is not the case with electric pianos however.

I personally think that, functionally, piano offers more range, simplicity and harmonic potential, but musically, guitar has a much more appealing timbre.
The fact that guitar frets are straight actually means that there are some fairly nasty pitch discrepancies. When quite a few notes are, by necessity, off 12 TET by a decent proportion of a semitone, other more finely divided tuning systems may actually be quite hard to attain? However, there are some people out there building functional guitars that divide the octave differently. I don't know too much about those.
I agree with all your points. I love standard guitar tuning but it is frustrating that it makes things very difficult if you want to play large closed voicings or some of the more interesting polychords. People like Allan Holdsworth have really pushed the boundaries of what the guitar can sound like over the last 50 years. Through clever EQ and very smooth distortion, he made his lead guitar sound almost like a wind instrument, and via massive stretches he would play beautiful piano-like chords with a mixture of very large and very small intervals. Using clean delay and chorus, these chords often sounded synth-like rather than guitar-like. Give a piece like Zarabeth or House of Mirrors a listen.
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