Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Multi-instrumentalists


Recommended Posts

I just wanted to see how many of us here are multi-talented musicians. I play keyboards, but I started on drums (poor snycopation-hated it) and clarinet. I have been develing deeper into music lately, and have been feeling the need to expand some more. I have long since forgotten how to play my first two instruments, but was considering picking up acoustic guitar. For those keyboardists that might play both keys and guitar, how different is it in its thinking and execution (voicings etc.)? For those that play guitar, what would you recommend for someone starting out?

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 30
  • Created
  • Last Reply
My main instrument for years was keyboards. I picked up guitar/bass about 5 years ago, and picked up drums about a year ago. I've got a few other instruments that I can play with varying degrees of skill: Mandolin, accordion, harmonica, ukelele, miscellaneous percussion instruments... Sometime next year I hope to purchase a violin and/or cello and get started learning those, although who knows how long it'll take to sound presentable on those instruments. (My long term goal is to be able to imitate a real orchestra via multitracking.) I've found that playing more than one instrument helps keep things interesting -- and challenging. While I might not be an expert in any of the instruments I play (although I know keyboards pretty well), I'm never bored. My wife is also a guitar player whose first instrument was keyboards, and we agree that there is a pretty big transition that you need to make -- mentally and physically -- to adapt what you already know about keyboards to the guitar. Learning the standard chords on the guitar is... well, it's not like anything else, so you'd just have to memorize them, build up finger strength, and get comfortable playing them. Playing melodic lines is a little bit easier, in the sense that it's possible to imagine a guitar as six keyboards which overlap. Once I started thinking of the guitar in that way, it became a lot easier to figure out how to play single note melodies. My suggestion is to possibly start off playing bass instead of acoustic guitar. I've found the bass to be a really easy instrument to get rolling with if you're already a keyboard player. There's a couple reasons: * If you already play keyboards, you've probably had to play walking bass lines. So mentally, you may already have a handle on what the bass is supposed to play, even if you've never played the instrument before. * The bass is easier for melodic lines because all of the strings are a fourth apart. (They're the same tuning as the lowest four strings on an acoustic or electric guitar.) Guitars are similar, but then the tuning changes up on the 2nd highest string (can anyone tell me why this is so?), which messes around with how I think when I'm playing melodic lines up there. When I'm playing bass, it's just feels like... freedom! :D * You don't really need to worry about playing chords. :) That simplifies things quite a bit. * Everything you learn from playing bass can be applied towards the guitar. Good luck and I hope this gives you some ideas! [ 11-30-2001: Message edited by: popmusic ]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started out on piano when I was about 8, but got crabby with it because I was always getting lectured about 'memorizing' and not 'reading', which pissed me off because I couldn't help it...it was just something that came naturally. Switched to drums, later picked up guitar and bass. Had a few years attempting to strangle a brass instrument or two--French Horn, Trombone, Trumpet (I gave it one week)--but other than that, basically the three mentioned above. All my abilities are atrophing at current because I don't have space to set up the kit and don't have a gig anywhere. Truly, rust never sleeps.
I've upped my standards; now, up yours.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In order of ability: [list] [*]Piano / Hammond [*]Synthesizer [*]Bass [*]Drums [*]Guitar [*]Tenor Sax [*]Vocal [*]Perc [*]Trombone [*]Cello [/list] More or less. Like a lot of multi's, started off on one instrument and then took on others when in bands where folks would leave. Seems like the first two instruments are the hardest to learn, after that it gets easier. I am curious: how soon after picking up a new insrument can you start making handsome squeaks? How long does it take you on average to play a basic melody? Cheers
Oh yeah? That's fine for you, you're an accepted member of the entertainment community. What about me? What about Igor? Marginalized by Hollywood yet again. I want my Mummy . . .
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]how different is it in its thinking and execution (voicings etc.)? For those that play guitar, what would you recommend for someone starting out?[/quote] The thinking is quite a lot different going from keyboard to guitar, but that difference is what I like. For writing, I know the piano keyboard inside and out so I tend to write the same chords. On guitar, I really have no idea what I am doing. Nice harmonic surpises show up. One big secret that guitar-players [i]don't[/i] want you to know is how easy a lot of fancy-sounding guitar parts really are. Some of the most complicated blues riffs are pretty simple. On the other hand, trying to duplicate piano chords and inversions on guitar is impossible. There are two easy ways to start on guitar (without taking lessons). The first is simply to start by playing 5ths. This is easy enough . . you use say you first finger (index finger?) on the low E string and play a G note. Then with the fourth finger, on the A string play a D note. Once you have this shape down, you can play 5ths everywhere. Most guitar chords leave my piano fingers in painful pretzels. The second easy place to start (and a boon to songwriters) is to tune your guitar to an open chord. That is: when strumming the guitar and not holding any fingers on the fretboard, a major or minor chord is sounded. I like open D major, but you can try anything. But I like switching back and forth from guitar to keyboard, especially when writing. Certain chord patterns are just not the same on one instrument. It took me ages to learn that you don't have to know all the same chords on guitar that you do on piano. Many chords on a guitar are sort of 'fragments of intervals' sometimes with doubled up tonic notes or doubled up 5ths or 3rds. But it is always fun, most fun of all when crunk through a Marshall . . . . bwah ha ha . .
Oh yeah? That's fine for you, you're an accepted member of the entertainment community. What about me? What about Igor? Marginalized by Hollywood yet again. I want my Mummy . . .
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recommend starting with acoustic guitar, much as I would recommend a keyboardist start with acoustic piano. I liken this to a photographer that starts with black and white film. You develop much better technique when distortion and overtones are not masking mistakes. When learning multiple instruments you eventually reach a level of “music mentality” that spreads to all instruments. Piano and drums are a great way to start. I don’t consider the cord structure and fingering difference between a piano and guitar as difficult as an instrument such as saxophone which takes special fingering for some individual notes. My instrument list, most comfortable to least. Lead synthesizer (very different from piano in my opinion) Drum set Piano Congas Saxophone Trumpet Guitar Bass Kazoo
This post edited for speling.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

oops, just realized I didn't answer any of your questions. [quote]For those keyboardists that might play both keys and guitar, how different is it in its thinking and execution (voicings etc.)?[/quote] Completely different for me. I still don't know the fretboard very well and mostly play guitar by ear. As far as which guitar you should pick up first...definitly start on an acoustic.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over the years I've played about ten different instruments (including trombone, mandolin, banjo, lap steel, pedal steel) but now just concentrate on what I use on stage (keyboards, harmonica, electric violin). I've never taken up guitar because the ring finger on my left hand grew kinda crooked, it works sorta on violin but never did on guitar; I take comfort in the fact that there's plenty of guitar players to go around! Each instrument teaches you something different about music, I recommend at least trying as many as you can! (I'd still like to pick up a tenor sax, maybe someday...)

Botch

"Eccentric language often is symptomatic of peculiar thinking" - George Will

www.puddlestone.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was around five, my parents sent me to a piano teacher that was a minister's wife. I think she was minister of keyboard discipline for the Third Reich. She would hit my hands with a ruler every time I made a mistake. I didn't know any better, I just knew I HATED IT, but kept trying until my sister took one lesson from her and came home to tell my mom to never send me back there again. They found another teacher and I didn't look back; incredibly, I still liked music. I tried guitar when I was about ten, but the rented Harmony arch-top had a very heavy set of strings hovering around half an inch over the fretboard. I couldn't make a sound other than open strings. That lasted about one week. Later in grade school, I took up trumpet, then baritone horn in Jr. High. Our band teacher was of the same school of thought as my first piano teacher, and at the risk of bodily harm, I used to cut up in the back of the band room with a tuba player named Dave Hope. He went on to play bottom in a band named after our state. In high school, I quit band after a few sessions marching. The teacher humiliated me in front of the class, saying I was the only one there with two left feet. I took those feet and my one baritone horn and dropped the class. A year later ('66), I was appointed to be a page in the U.S. Senate. One of my friends there was a guitar player who was really into Bob Dylan. I went downtown and bought a Harmony classic and a couple of song books and began learning chords. I later bought a harmonica and holder to complete the Dylan pilgrimage. More than four decades later, I still play all these instruments (except the baritone, which I traded in '74 for an Ovation) plus bass and percussion. I'm a master of none, but I'm popular at jam sessions, especially with the horn and harp. My take on the differences between guitar and keys: They are both the "master" instruments for most songwriters and solo performers because they are two of a very few instruments on which you can play both chords and melody. Piano is more linear and obviously organized than guitar. Everything's the same, left to right. You need finger agility and strength to play it, but not callouses. It's harder for me to do different things between the two hands, maybe because the strokes are so similar that my hands don't want to act contrary to each other. The stuff you do right vs. left hand on a guitar is so different that I think it helps me keep it sorted out. Guitar is three dimensional: up and down the fretboard, up and down the strings, and by bending strings. I think this makes it harder to learn. The guitar's big advantage is in portability. Both instruments are somewhat percussive, though guitar has more potential, in the right hands. Both are lush with overtones, but you have more damping and striking variations with guitar (I still wonder how Roy Buchanan did it). Sorry for such a long rant. My double green tea TGIF must have kicked in... "He not busy being born is busy dying." - Dylan namaste Henry.

He not busy being born

Is busy dyin'.

 

...Bob Dylan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started on piano around age 10, changed to guitar a few years later. I still do easy keyboard parts on some of my songs but I don`t have one at home. I can also do some basic percussion-I filled in on drums for a gig one evening and everything was going well until somebody called for me to do a solo-boy, was that ever a deer in the headlights imitation! I would say no question that the piano is a better instrument for understanding music, simply because it`s like putting your hands on a musical staff. All the notes alternate, just like the lines and spaces of the staff. With guitar you have to memorize fingering patterns, so `going modal` is easy on the piano but a mental fog machine on guitar. I have the same limitations on the piano that I do on percussion actually, that is playing contrapuntally. Someone once described it as attatching a separate brain to each limb. It`s mostly due to lack of practice tho.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yo Jason, whassup??? You should stop by the crib, if you have a minute, and check me on this hiphop soundtrack. I [i]think[/i] I'm doing OK with it, but perhaps you could provide some correction...I'd be more than happy to reciprocate with some guitar lessons... Back to the topic...In order of instrumental tackling... 1. Spanish guitar 2. Electric guitar 3. Electric bass 4. Drum machine 5. Multi-track recorder 6. Keyboard synthesizer 7. MIDI 8. Sampling groovebox 9. (next) ProTools ...that's it: 9 to the Universe! E :) [ 12-03-2001: Message edited by: Curve Dominant ]

Eric Vincent (ASCAP)

www.curvedominant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

guitar bass keys drums/percussion fx units guitar is different than piano. unless you are tuck, you really only do half of what you do on the piano but you have more variance with attack than just hammers hitting the strings. acoustic is good for building up chords and finger strength but electric is when it becomes fun. i started on piano at 6, guitar when i was 14. piano i had classical lessons, guitar i just picked up playing my favorite songs and then expanding from there. its really odd because the way i was taught piano, i could play classical music fairly well and sight read and so forth but after learning guitar it completely changed how i approached the piano. now i just improvise.

alphajerk

FATcompilation

"if god is truly just, i tremble for the fate of my country" -thomas jefferson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i didnt officially learn anything as a kid, but the way i thought about music seemed strange to me in comparison to my family and most friends then i got into music through concerts > raves > dj'ing > rebirth and Acid > guitar > enrolling in audio engineering > drums > bass > etc etc so i guess ow its sort of like: Programming > synths and drum machines.. best skill Digeridoo > very competent. Drums > passionate about but intermediate keyboard > emphasis on synths more then techniques Bass > beginner but loving it Accoustic > ... i dont try too hard Electric guitar > not interested and aside from odd instruments, harmonicas to recorders, whistles and flutes, not much else i think the passion sets in to much 'music' or 'sound/noise' in any creative capacity for me, i love drums, both playing and programming equally! i get laughed at for that but rythm is beautiful... so much to explore in so many resolutions!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

guitar - 13 years bass - off and on for 8 years vox - making eardrums bleed despite 11 years of trying to sound good.. :D percussions - fairly solid rythms and fills but not that great at voicings sitar - dabbling for 4 years synths - 3 years drum programming (poorly) - 4 years
meh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good thing about the guitar is you've got your fingers right on those pitch benders. It is all in the subtleties. Learning how to be comfortable and naturally reflect your coordination. Pick, mute, scratch, bite, spit, scrape, pluck, hammer on, pull off, slide, slur, bend, shake, yank, shut it down, let it out, just some of the things you need. In order: Bass 1965 (paper route money) Nerd with a mission. Rhythm Guitar (garage bands) VOX: learned simultaneously with guitar (practiced guitar parts so much I could talk while playing; gave me the ability to sing while playing. Everybody tried singing, got voted into the job). Then Parties, wedding receptions, harvest festivals, hall dances (the big rage back then), talent shows. 1st High School Dance 09/22/67. Beginning of my softmore year. Seniors thought we were geeks. We were. More highschool dances; Homecoming, Hello Hops, etc. louder, louder, LOUDER. Beginning of Junior year proud owner of Marshall 100 Watt JMP with one of the first Les Paul copies a beautiful Red Univox Les Paul. bass - after High School (class of '71) a year playing bass in power trio. Lead guitar: scratched records to death by all the classic guitar players getting there technique with my best friend the lead guitar prodigy of our hometown in central California. Breakthrough, the vibrato by Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac on "Searching for Madge" off of the "Then Play On" album. All the other types of vibrato came easy after that. Acoustic Guitar: 1975 (finger picking) James Taylor, McCartney, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Cat Stevens. etc. Major breakthrough was James Taylors "You Can Close Your Eyes". Learning to fingerpick with the syncopated bass pattern. It all jumps off from there. Keyboards 1979 (band members' Moog, Arp Omni, Crumar Orchestrator, later my first Keyboard DX7 (1984). I've always been the guy in class who would tap on the desk or anything. Tapping plus guitar knowledge. Seemed to make it come natural in the beginning. Plus the cool new sounds. Digital Guitar: 1991. Roland GR50 current Axon AX100 to Motu Midi Timepiece AV various modules. Engineering, and production. 'Cause I try to know and play the stuff like it's an instrument too. Defintely spend enough time and money on the stuff. If you learn the diatonic map patterns and penatonic maps on the guitar then you will have the basic thing like playing all the whites or all the blacks on the keyboard. Plus it's not so confusing cause on the guitar you just slide it up or down on the neck to change tone centers. I'm big on muscle memory. For example watch some television while you're hands are practicing a fingerpicking pattern on a open D chord. Pattern string 4, 2, 3, 1 over and over in sheer repetition while you don't think about it and watch Gilligan's Island etc. I know people say you shouldn't play without listening to what you're doing. Well if you're going to work on learning a part or perform I'll tell you that 100 repetitions of a picking pattern while you're mind is on something else completely is a painless way to gain coordination. After 100 times that pattern will be effortless, I've found. I just learn fingerpicking patterns of all types and effortlessly at the moment switch from one type to the next without really giving it much thought. If it's effortless you won't have much problem letting yourself go and playing fluently. I'm not saying everything else about learning music isn't valid it definitely is. Just that sometimes it's good to be distracted from the tediousness of rote practice.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

WOW!!! All the responses are very encouraging. It's good to read the different experiences that folks have had. I am planning to start with a cheap acoustic/electric guitar. I think it will compliment the music I do and give me a chance to expand my thinking. I am not trying to become a guitar superhero (all my needs to play out in front on stage are fulfilled by an AX-1), but want to be add some additional dimension to what I write. The one thing I do worry about, and I think most of us can sympathize, is developing callouses on my hands from playing (long or incorrectly). Any suggestions on a good cheap guitar (under $150)?

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by Curve Dominant: [b]You should stop by the crib, if you have a minute, and check me on this hiphop soundtrack[/b][/quote] Let me know when...

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by MusicWorkz: [b]The one thing I do worry about, and I think most of us can sympathize, is developing callouses on my hands from playing (long or incorrectly).[/b] [/quote] Don't worry about it -- callouses are a guitarist's battle scars... They should be worn with pride. :) [ 12-03-2001: Message edited by: popmusic ]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by popmusic: [b] Don't worry about it -- callouses are a guitarist's battle scars... They should be worn with pride. :) [/b][/quote] ...and you WILL wear them with pride once you'll be able to show the ladies you can hammer nails into walls with the tips of your fingers...Start out with an acoustic that has the strings one inch off the fretboard like I did and you'll have this ability in no-time!... :D
meh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love my fingers too much for callouses. If they are a source of pride for guitarists, maybe I better take up something that requires a lot less hand and mind stress.....like drumming :grin:

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]love my fingers too much for callouses...maybe I better take up something that requires a lot less hand and mind stress[/quote] Yes, there is something you can do with your hand that doesn't build up nasty callouses . . . but you wind up with hair on the back of your knuckles or eventually you [i]will[/i] go blind . . .
Oh yeah? That's fine for you, you're an accepted member of the entertainment community. What about me? What about Igor? Marginalized by Hollywood yet again. I want my Mummy . . .
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by Doctor Frankensteinway: [b] Yes, there is something you can do with your hand that doesn't build up nasty callouses . . . but you wind up with hair on the back of your knuckles or eventually you [i]will[/i] go blind . . .[/b][/quote] Did I menetion I am typing this in braille?? ;)

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]I love my fingers too much for callouses. If they are a source of pride for guitarists, maybe I better take up something that requires a lot less hand and mind stress[/quote] Perhaps some guitar players have pride in their callouses...I think that's irrelevent...my point was you can't really play the instrument without callouses. Well, you can make music on it but it won't be very good.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

MusicWorkz -- Commit yourself to calluses and come over to the dark side!!! :D Seriously though -- I don't know if I emphasized the point in my previous post, but learning guitar has opened up a new world for me, as far as how I hear things and listen to music. I'm glad I didn't just stick to playing keyboards. If you've got the inclination to learn guitar and stick with it, go for it! If you want something a bit easier on the fingers, maybe try an electric guitar with low action and light strings. I've found electric guitar to be easier on the fingers than an acoustic with light strings. As far as the callouses go, what are you afraid of? Are you a professional "hand model" for your day gig? :) (Anybody remember the Seinfeld episode where George became a "hand model"?)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Somebody mentioned vocal-I never really planned to get into that but people came up to me after gigs and gave me compliments so I started paying more attention. The thing about vocals IMO is it gets the `showmanship` element into things, to the point where it can be a distraction from playing well.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stick with your plan and start with an acoustic. In the beginning there's two things about learning to play acoustic: a. It's hard. b. It hurts. The good news is that electric guitar is [i]way[/i] easier to play than acoustic. However,there's two things about learning on electric first and then picking up acoustic: a. It's hard twice. b. It hurts twice. As someone who's played both keys and guitar for more years than I care to admit to,I can assure you that callouses will cause no problems with your keyboard technique[stage whisper](they're only on your [i]left[/i] hand). Actually,there's more good news about guitar playing...transposition is basically a non-issue. There are only a handful of open string keys and a capo will move all of them to any key center you wish. As for lead playing,it's all pattern-based and transposing is as easy as moving to a different fret. C-major and C#-major scales are fingered identically on a guitar. Try [i]that[/i] on a B-3! Seriously,it's a world of fun to be able to play both types of instrument. Let me know how it's coming. I'll be glad to pass along any stuff I know........(stay away from the accordion)...see? it's working already! later, Mike [ 12-04-2001: Message edited by: coolhouse ]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by popmusic: [b]As far as the callouses go, what are you afraid of? Are you a professional "hand model" for your day gig? :) (Anybody remember the Seinfeld episode where George became a "hand model"?)[/b][/quote] The callouses are the least of my concerns. BTW, that Seinfeld episode was hillarious :)

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...