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If I could wave a magic wand and give you the ability to play an instrument that you don't already know how to play...


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As much as I can play piano, I wish I had better chops. Actually, I use to when I was a teenager but its no longer in my will power to practice 3 hours a day.

 

I would also love to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan...

 

Then again, it seems guitars are no longer in style... but Ableton PUSH is and so are other boxes...

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I picked up an old Rickenbacker lapsteel - so old it's actually a Rickenbacher...it's not easy transitioning to a non-fretted instrument! Don't breathe a word, I'll hide this secret in lots of brackets, but [[[[[[[[melodyne works on lapsteel, too!]]]]]].

 

Can't really say I can play it yet, so yeah, lapsteel.

 

It was listening to Greg Leisz on a Bill Frisell album that made me crazy after a lapsteel. Pedal steel would be nice (Leisz plays pedal steel, too), but it's such a large, complicated beast. And a lot more expensive. I love the simplicity and portability of the lappie.

 

[video=youtube_share;cebDPuFasZI]

 

nat

 

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I tried pedal steel but never got to the creative stage. I'm more into playing that learning and practicing and I wasn't ready for all that work. I still have it, and every once in a while I take it out for a day or two, but then it goes back in the case where it won't collect so much dust in all those levers and cams.

 

But I'll take a tap on the head with your magic wand if you can make me play fiddle. I never got past the painful stage with that but I know so many tunes that I'd like to teach other fiddlers, and they just don't get it when I play them on guitar.

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For me it's the violin, I have one here and the wife would also like to learn it. Something else would the accordion I have that also and being a keyboard player I've hacked around with it a little but there's a lot more going on than people may realize; you have to be able to finger memory the keys while manipulating the chord buttons on the left all while timing the bellow movement and having the somewhat heavy thing strapped across your mid-section.

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You know' date=' I like learning manually. If I could suddenly [i']PLAY [/i]any of my instruments it wouldn't be the same and might even become meaningless.

 

While I appreciate the journey and the effort of learning how to play, I am even more interested in the creativity and expression once you can. I've done plenty of woodshedding in my life, and would be just fine with it if someone wanted to grant me the ability to rip on pedal steel... :lol:

 

I dink around on drums and can play a bit, but I'm not what I'd call competent at it - that would probably be my second choice if for some reason the magic wand lacked a pedal steel setting.

 

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I picked up an old Rickenbacker lapsteel - so old it's actually a Rickenbacher...

 

Wow - that must be really old. Didn't they change the spelling sometime in the 1930s?

 

it's not easy transitioning to a non-fretted instrument! Don't breathe a word, I'll hide this secret in lots of brackets, but [[[[[[[[melodyne works on lapsteel, too!]]]]]].

 

Can't really say I can play it yet, so yeah, lapsteel.

 

Non-fretted instruments are not unfamiliar to me - I started out as a reed player, and took piano lessons briefly when I was in high school. I'd love to be a great piano player... I mainly bash out chords to accompany my voice, or play synth lines - stuff like that.

 

I can play slide and lap steel half-way decently. It's the pedals that I've never messed with. And yes, Autotune and Melodyne work on lots of things - I've used pitch correction on tons of stuff [[[[including fretless and upright basses too.]]]]] ;)

 

My lap steel and slide heroes are guys like Duane Allman, David Lindley and Ry Cooder... I'd love to be as good as any of them.

 

 

[video=youtube;ezPZxfS1jys]

 

 

[video=youtube;ufjTCn0xERg]

 

 

[video=youtube;fwb1Y396cPk]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwb1Y396cPk

 

 

 

 

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While I appreciate the journey and the effort of learning how to play, I am even more interested in the creativity and expression once you can. I've done plenty of woodshedding in my life, and would be just fine with it if someone wanted to grant me the ability to rip on pedal steel... :lol:

 

I dink around on drums and can play a bit, but I'm not what I'd call competent at it - that would probably be my second choice if for some reason the magic wand lacked a pedal steel setting.

 

Immersion might help - until you burn out that is. :D

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And if you like your non-pedal steel guitar with less distortion, here's Herbie Remington, who played with Bob Wills when he was 20 years old. I met him in the 1990s when he retired from being a Texas oil executive and put together a band to start playing again.

 

[video=youtube_share;8ZevE6eZJ98]

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Wow - that must be really old. Didn't they change the spelling sometime in the 1930s?

 

 

My lapsteel is an Ace - online sources say that line ran from '48-'53. Apparently Rickenbacker was not always consistent in the use of either "..backer" or "..bacher" and both spellings can be found on instruments from the 30s to the 50s. Also, one source says that the models coming out soon after WWII ended often were a mix of pre-war parts and post-war parts.

 

The Ace is bakelite (feels heavy as steel!) and has the famous horseshoe picked under a molded cover. Magnet still strong as horseradish.

 

Researching the purchase was a lot of fun and an education about a corner of the electric string instrument world I knew nothing about. The lapsteels were one of the very earliest electrified instruments from the 20s and 30s when engineers and inventors were coming up with all sorts of things that could use the new-fangled energy source - electricity, right there in your own house!

 

There's a lively and extensive online community of lapsteel lovers - and you can find tons of YTs of guys 70-90 years or thereabouts still playing Sleepwalk and "Ke Kali Nei Au" and such chestnuts from the Hawaiian music craze.

 

The really early Ricks are very highly prized and, of course, the word is "nothing sounding as good has been made since.."

 

The Ace has very much a David Lindley sound, like on Jackson Browne's Late For The Sky. Not so much the nasal, high-lonesome sound like so many pedal steels. I just love it - you can hear me play about four notes on my Soundcloud song here...that's about the extent of my expertise to date:

 

 

Here's a YT of a guy just tearing it up with a blue Ace (same as mine) in a sort of fusion style....

 

[video=youtube_share;a2jLPfsZ-Ws]

 

nat

 

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Actually, I could just use some Harry Potter action on my bum neck and then I'll stay quite happily in my lane. :)

 

And I'm with 1001, it's the climb that makes arriving at the top of the mountain anything noteworthy.

 

Oh and while you're at it, it might be a good idea to wave that thing over a globe somewhere and get the world's appreciation for skills on an instrument, earned or granted, elevated a ways. smiley-wink

 

Sorry, I ain't playin. :D

 

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I already play guitar and some piano, though both far from being virtuoso level. If I had to pick something else it would be a close tie between drums and violin. I would probably go with violin, since its something completely new to me.

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tough call...either saxophone... or koto...

 

I started on sax (well, clarinet, then I quickly added sax), so to me, that's kind of disqualified. It's a fun instrument, and it's not really all that hard to play. You should grab yourself a decent student horn and give it a try. :)

 

 

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It would be piano. I know that's cheating because I play keyboards, but mostly synths & organ, I really don't have good piano chops.

 

I play sax, flute, guitar, bass, drums, wind synth, and keyboard synth so if it had to be something entirely new, I'd pick violin or cello.

 

Notes

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I started on sax (well, clarinet, then I quickly added sax), so to me, that's kind of disqualified. It's a fun instrument, and it's not really all that hard to play. You should grab yourself a decent student horn and give it a try. :)

 

 

Like drums, sax is a pretty easy instrument to get the basics accomplished, but as a lifelong sax player, I find it a very challenging instrument to master. Easy because you only play one note at a time, and the fingering is pretty much like the rest of the woodwind family (clarinet being the most difficult woodwind to finger). But once you get past the basics, there are so many subtle to large ways to coax expression out of the horn, that it takes years to learn and master them. From subtle ones like changing your oral cavity shape to change the vowel sound of your horn or adjusting your breath support to change the presence of tone to more obvious ones like adding your vocal chords to the airflow to get a growl sound, using the lip pressure on the reed to intentionally manipulate the intonation. Then we get into different ways of articulation, from "Ta" to "Da" to "La" to different locations on the reed, slap, flick, caress, and so on.

 

These and hundreds more techniques are what give the sax it's personality, they are done both in real time, and in combination to get the vox humana out of the instrument. And this is the main reason why so many great sounding sax patches when used in a MIDI file just don't sound convincing. No sampler or ROMpler can duplicate what a good sax player does. The closest thing is Physical Modeling Synthesis like the Yamaha VL70m (no longer in production) and a good wind controller that has at least breath, reed/pitch, and 4 additional continuous controllers that you can manipulate without losing your fingerings.

 

So yes, Sax is an easy instrument to play, but not that easy to master. I've been doing it for many decades, and although I feel I am 'one with the sax' and was considered to be the best sax player in the state each year I was in school a loooooong time ago, I'm still learning. The new discoveries don't come as often as they did when there was much more to learn, but they still happen.

 

But this is not meant to discourage anyone from learning sax. Because it's relatively easy to get started on, you get instant gratification, and because the instrument is so flexible, you get a lifelong journey that will keep you interested for many years.

 

Pick up a used Yamaha student horn if interested, they hold their resale value better than most of the others, find a good teacher, and give it a go.

 

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

 

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I would like to get fluent on piano, like I am on guitar and bass. I can think of what I want to do and just do it on those two, but on piano I still have to reason it out a bit.

 

I took a shot at saxophone too, and still want to learn it.

 

I'd also like to master the harmonica. I can do cross-harp pretty well for blues & minor key things, but I've never fully explored the upper half of the instrument. And then there's the 'modified' designs, like Lee Oscar's retuned ones that use minor scales instead of diatonic.

 

Pedal steel is an amazing instrument, too. Harmonic and chord theory plays a major part in what goes on there, along with a major learning curve in muscle memory.

 

I've found you can be good at a lot of things, but you can't be great at everything. One has to decide where to invest their time....

For recording work, I can get fairly good at any one part on any instrument if I loop it enough times; but real-time improvisation is where the boys are separated from the men, so to speak.

 

If money and time were no object, I'd also really enjoy learning to play the stick. www.stick.com

 

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Now there's something you don't hear about every day! :)

 

Good to see you blue! :wave:

 

 

Unless you're in West Africa, anyhow. ;) I do have a friend who plays the kora and has appeared with at least one touring African player when he came to LA.

 

Here's a nice bit from 3MA, a cross-cultural group with kora player, Ballalké Sissoko (who's played with Toumani Diabaté), oud-player Driss El Maloumi, and valiha (a sort of tubular harp) player, Rajery (who lost the fingers on his right hand before the age of one).

 

[music starts at 30 seconds; followed by a long interview in French with what looks like Dutch subtitles, and about a minute and a half of music at the end]

[video=youtube_share;VFuLaiwdTRk]

 

Good to see you guys!

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Since I already play piano, my choice would be the guitar. But if we're talking about wishes, included in this magic spell would be the ability to finger pick, finger style, or whatever it's called. My impression has been that finger plucking (with the needed proficiency) opens up possibilities for creating rhythmic propulsion. Flat picking has great possibilities too, but I'd want the potentials that finger picking opens up. And I'm not thinking of simply being able to play bluegrass and such.

 

 

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