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  • Guitar as a second instrument serious thread

    This is for Plink Floyd.

    I've played piano (I briefly tried keyboards, but have since gone back to piano) for fifty years. I've played guitar for forty years. I'm pretty close to equally-good at both.

    Lots to talk about. But first, why bother?


    -another damn thing to carry around

    -it can get expensive to maintain both keys gear and guitar gear

    -time practising guitar is time not practising piano

    -people are confused about what you do or they assume that because you play two instruments you're probably not that great on either

    -you can seem threatening to both guitar and keyboard players


    -guitar is a very very different musical voice than piano/keys and it facilitates very different forms of expression than piano/keys

    -it's useful to extend your range of sounds when recording

    -when you're tired of being rendered inaudible on keys by the guitar player, you can haul out your guitar and amp and put him back in his sonic place

    -as a guitar player, you understand keys; as a keys player, you understand guitar

    -it's much more portable

    -like a piano, but unlike any other keys, you can play it during a blackout

    I fret about spreading my mojo between two instruments, but that's where I find myself and I'm hardly going to drop one or the other now. If I could magically alter the past (and also magically alter my long-dead parents' attitudes toward music and musical instruments) I would start studying guitar at six with the best teacher in the city (who my parents would magically know). However, having the two does have its advantages, so I hardly ever cry myself to sleep over it anymore.
    Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung. Pierre de Beaumarchais

  • #2
    Thank you for your thoughts. I believe this will be an interesting discussion.

    I've begun two or three replies now, but lost them to a rainstorm that's playing heck with our rickety rural power grid so I'm going to give up for now and try again tomorrow.

    Any other 'doublers' here?


    • #3
      yes. I played guitar first and am still better at it. Got guitar, originally bass, just to add more organic sounds to my music. I havent suceeded yet. But I have a guitar and bass and play quite a bit.

      I find the barrier to entry really low. Especially if you buy used and there are a LOT of used guitars, under $200 or $100 gets you something that's playable and actually looks and sounds good. That's a bit harder to do with synths, though it's doable. There's tons of tab available online. Plus get some cheap guitar pedals and its even more fun (these can also do double duty if you want to experiment with them on keyboards). I currently use the amp models in a little Boss recorder for practice, I know they're not great but they get the job done for a lot of tones and eventually I'll get me some amps.

      At the end of the day you can just pick up and play them, dont even have to plug them in and you can sit on your ass. The same is true of Casios and the Monotribe of course.


      • #4
        I played guitar for about 25 years (mostly jazz) but had to quit because of focal dystonia in my right hand so I'm not technically a doubler. I've been on the keys now for about year and a half. I can honestly say that even if I were to gain full motion back in my hand, I wouldn't switch back to guitar.
        Studio: Moog Slim Phatty - Alchemy - Yamaha Mox6 - Roland Gaia - Dave Smith Instruments Mopho - GSI Burn - VB3
        Samson Graphite controller - SM Pro V-Machine - Mackie SRM 450 v3


        • #5
          Good discussion indeed. I am about to pick up the saxophone, as a friend is willing to trade sax lessons for lectures on how to use a synth. I will be borrowing an alto from him, so I'm not about to plunge on a project whose level of seriousness I am yet to figure out. I would, however, at some point love to reach a level of expression that somewhat resembles what I can do on the piano. Then I can go to a jazz gig with just a sax and if there's no piano, no harm done!

          Regarding your particular situation, I can definitely understand some of your concerns. There's a lot of extra stuff to lug around if you want to play both on a gig. And then there's practice time. For my part, I'm mostly concerned that my dedication to piano will eliminate potential threats to my pianistic progression. Suppose it's just a matter of doing a little extra work every day. I do, however, like the fact that we are practicing not to become better keyboardists or guitarists, but to continously exceed our own level of musicianship. Everything we do relates to one another; i.e. my pianistic background will obviously show in my sax playing, but I suspect my playing sax will also give me a clearer conception of melodic lines and the possibilities they hold. Guitar will probably be nice in that regard, plus it's an amazing instrument from a compositional point of view.

          You can probably get more gigs, too.
          Niels Münster


          • #6
            I started on keys on my grandmother's Hammond organ and upright piano. She'd sit there very patiently and show me songs note for note. Then I played cornet and baritone in junior high. At age 15, I bought an acoustic guitar and an electric at 16. I was in a band shortly after. I then started on bass guitar and alternated between bass and regular guitars for years, usually in some band or another. I got back into keyboards around age 29 when I bought a piano, then a Yamaha CS-10 synth, and then more synths. Live, I still usually play bass or guitar. My friends keep asking me to play keys live, so I'd like to get a lightweight all-in-one keyboard for live work (I don't like taking my synths out of the house.) Maybe a MO6 or something.
            Gear: buncha stuff and a couple bazilion cables


            • #7

              I find the barrier to entry really low. Especially if you buy used and there are a LOT of used guitars, under $200 or $100 gets you something that's playable and actually looks and sounds good.

              It's true. There's a strat clone on the local Kijiji that looks great for $250. It's been there for ages and I'm very tempted. But I don't need it. (urgh! get that hand away from the reply button!!!!!). Of course, because of this, it becomes easy to collect bunches of guitars, which I really don't want to do. Most of my guitar-only friends have far more value and space invested in guitars than I have in both guitars and keys.

              And then there's practice time. For my part, I'm mostly concerned that my dedication to piano will eliminate potential threats to my pianistic progression. Suppose it's just a matter of doing a little extra work every day. I do, however, like the fact that we are practicing not to become better keyboardists or guitarists, but to continously exceed our own level of musicianship.

              There absolutely is cross-fertilization from one instrument to the other. More so, I think, from piano to guitar but that may just be me.

              You can probably get more gigs, too.

              I don't think so. There's the advantage of being able to produce more sounds but you can only produce them one-at-a-time. Some singer-songwriter types (Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, ???) play both and use that to their advantage. But really, who really gives a damn that Joni plays piano, too? You go to see her because of her songs and her general presentation, not her piano playing. I don't ever recall seeing a small-time musician performing solo with both keys and guitar.

              In a bigger band, you probably have a specific role--keys or guitar but not both--and in a small band (duo or trio) the stage is unlikely to have enough room for both keys and an extra guitar.

              Another downside is that people get confused about what you do. I believe that in marketing yourself, you need a clear clean image. Playing two instruments makes you more complex and, therefore, more difficult to sell.
              Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung. Pierre de Beaumarchais


              • #8
                I was thinking that a probably a good amount of bands play keys-friendly music and then a couple of songs which are better suited for, say, two guitars. Most bands would have the keys guy do keys stuff anyway, and that's absolutely fine, but if you can market yourself as the versatile dude that can make virtually anything sound like it's supposed to, that might be an advantage.

                But yeah, be sure to maintain a primary instrument. Otherwise people may get the idea that one can dabble a little on this and a little on that without really excelling at anything. I agree.
                Niels Münster


                • #9
                  I'm not good at keys, not good at guitar, not good at drumming..... I'm proud to say I'm not good at a lot of things rather than just one. BUT, I do enjoy most things musical and it is fun to play around with a variety of stuff - for example, I'm messing with LIVE DRUMMING too hoping to replace the drum machine in future tracks.

                  Do whatever ya like and have fun in life! No rules. Become great, or don't, whatever you enjoy.


                  • #10
                    I also play both and started both (by ear) around 6 yrs old. In a band situation I call myself a keyboard player than CAN play guitar if needed. Most rock keyboard players tend to be trained somewhat formally while most guitar players are rock guitar players and were trained as rock guitar players. I'm a rock/jazz keyboard player but was classically trained on guitar. So I'm kind of backwards. Playing 2 instruments kind of sucks because it takes twice as long to get out of a music store.

                    I also played drums and percussion from 4th grade into college but finally sold my drum kits off and have only maintained my snares and cymbal stands in the attic. I keep a small Yamaha electronic kit around so I can sequence drum parts properly.
                    Response from John from American Musical Supply on why I have received 2 used/damaged Korg M3's and 1 reboxed M3 from Guitar Center (a.k.a. why I'll never buy from AMS again): Footfall wrote:What you're experiencing with these units is the result of our warehouse crew intentionally "overpacking" this product.Current Korg Gear: KRONOS 88 (4GB), M50-73 (PS mod), RADIAS-73, Electribe MX, Triton Pro (MOSS, SCSI, CF, 64MB RAM), DVP-1, MEX-8000, MR-1, KAOSSilator, nanoKey, nanoKontrol, nanoPAD 2


                    • #11
                      It seems there are two distinct camps: the serious and the funsters. I confess that I'm currently a member of the latter crowd, perfectly happy that I don't have to exert myself at much of anything nowadays.

                      I do believe, however, that when I was busting it five or six nights a week, I had the edge over lots of other keyboard players because I also played tenor sax. Having pretty good vocals didn't hurt, either. Once I was established, I never wanted for gigs. There certainly were better piano players out there, but I was a better overall contributor to a pop band than the virtuosos could be. Remember the term 'multikeyboardist'?

                      Guitar, though, is the topic. Well, for whatever reason, I like it a lot more now than I did when I was younger. We had only a piano in my toddler to grade school years, until I convinced the folks to trade it in on a Farfisa. So no guitars in the house, and I simply had no interest in them, till lately.

                      I got my teenage son a Squire Strat three or four years ago, and I went through the beginner book with him with the understanding that if he seriously undertook the task of learning scales, notation and other theory, I'd get him lessons from a real teacher. He didn't. But he discovered tabs, and he plays want he wants to play, and he has fun. So be it. It's exactly what happened to me, except there weren't any tabs for Inna Gada Davida or Magic Carpet Ride, so I had to cop them by ear.

                      The 'teaching' experience is what sparked my recent interest, I think. If not for that, I probably wouldn't have any guitarish equipage in the house.

                      In younger days, I had no patience with acoustic plinkery, but I quit like it now.

                      Oh, and this thread is a good place to say I Kerry Livgren.


                      • #12
                        I play both. Very useful in cover bands. For electric guitarists I recommend the digitech GSP1101 processor or something similar. they are as much fun to program as synths. Here's my baby

                        Korg Triton Extreme, Yamaha CP33, Vermona Lancet Mono, Voce V3, M Audio Venom
                        Carvin TL60t, G&L S500 tribute, Agile AL3010 > Carvin MTS Combo Korg AX3000G

                        Bus to Neptune


                        • #13
                          I play guitar, bass, and keyboards, and unless one absolutely must master one as quickly as possible, I can't imagine not wanting to play multiple instruments


                          • #14
                            I actually started on classical guitar as a child. I remember that I didn't like that the strings hurt my fingers so I switched to piano, which obviously was much easier on the fingers These days, I'm just "ok" at guitar, but I think I'm much better at electric bass, since I played it in bands for years. I dabble with several other instruments too. But I am, first and foremost, a keyboard player.


                            • #15
                              As much as we like to make fun of 'lead' guitarists, they had to work hard for their chops just like we did. (That's assuming of course their chops are not delusional, which can frequently be the case among that tribe. It's generally the personality disorders which fuel the derision, I think.)

                              But learning rhythm guitar isn't that tough, especially for someone who already knows theory. The worst of it is the aforementioned hamburger finger effect. Once you can do it without looking at the fretboard, you're as good as any other rhythm guitar player. Sing a couple songs and your dad's uncle's brother's name is Robert.