Anyone ever take time off from guitar to play other instruments?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by cantstoplt021, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. cantstoplt021

    cantstoplt021 Member

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    It's something I've been thinking about doing this summer. I'm currently a music major studying guitar in college so I'm very busy with lessons, ensembles, trying to tame the beast named "Jazz", etc. I'm also a dedicated multi instrument practicer who usually spends around 3-4 hours on guitar, 1.5-2 on drums, an hour on piano and a half an hour on voice everyday. So yeah I spend a lot of my day playing music. I'd like to be able to play drums, guitar and keys well.

    I've toyed with the idea of maybe not playing much guitar this summer instead focusing on drums and piano. As it stands I'm pretty good at guitar for how long I've been playing, but I also have a long way to go. I'm in the dreaded intermediate stage where it's going to take some time for it all to come together. When it comes to drums and piano however, I'm more of a beginner player with both of those instruments. I would like to get much better at them both and I'm thinking about focusing on them over the summer. I'm of course worried about my guitar playing suffering because of this, but I also think it could help me possibly? Drums with rhythm and piano with general music stuff. I'm also a little burned out on guitar since I've been playing it so damn much these past few years. I think it would be nice to focus on something else music related for a few months and then return to guitar when the semester starts again. Not sure if I'll do it, but it's something I've been thinking about. It would only be a couple months not a decade. Anyway have any of you done something like this? How did it work out for you? Good, bad?
     
  2. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Yes, I have. I went on to try a bunch of other instruments - shakuhachi, tabla, viola, Chapman Stick, cello, etc. I forgot how exactly many years I did not play the guitar. It was definitely more than 5. Within that time I didn't play music at all for three years.

    The way I started playing guitar was this: I joined a post rock band as a bass player because I missed playing with other people. One night I was hanging out at the guitarist's apartment. He let me mess with his Rickenbacker, and afterwards he asked me to switch to 2nd guitar, so he could ask this girl to join as the the bass player :).

    I never did regain the ambition that I had for playing the guitar, that I once had in my college years. Ambition in the sense of attaining "greatness". I actually spend the most time playing the viola, followed by keyboard. I might play the guitar more when that guitar I paid for on Kickstarter arrives - who knows. I've played a lot more gigs on viola or electric violin than guitar. I'm not particularly "good" on either instrument but somehow a couple of notes with vibrato on them pleases people a lot more than anything I've ever played on guitar.

    Of course some of the questions you ask can only be answered by time/life experience - like which instrument is really right for you, multi-instrumentalist vs. specialist.
     
  3. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

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    Back in the mid-'90s I got seriously into jazz and decided to take up alto sax. I sold my guitar and bass (only had one of each at the time) to finance a sax and took lessons at a music store here in town for a couple of years. I still have the sax, but I don't play it often anymore.

    It was a good experience and did a lot for my sight-reading, my sense of melody, and the expressiveness of my playing. When I came back to guitar, I worked on developing my vibrato, picking, and bending to produce effects comparable to what I could do on sax with my breathing and embouchure.

    Btw, my sax teacher was an old fellow named Matt Schon. Great guy with lots of interesting stories from his career. In addition to playing sax in jazz groups, he also played oboe in orchestras. I think he found working with me, as an adult student, to be a bit of a relief compared to the middle-school kids he mostly taught. Years later, I found out that famous rock guitarist Neal Schon is from this town (San Mateo, CA) and his father was a sax and oboe player named Matthew. I suddenly thought, hey, wait a minute... I was taking lessons from Neal Schon's dad and I didn't even know it!
     
  4. Multicellular

    Multicellular Supporting Member

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    I had played guitar, but always had mainly sang. A few good opportunities came up for me to sing and play bass and did that almost exclusively for 8 years. Surprising thing was, when I went back to guitar, I thought I'd have to really work to dust off my abilities. But in fact, I was many times better than I had been at guitar before I stopped playing it. I guess just playing with guitars a lot (and ya I got a lot better at bass too) I picked up a lot of ...i dont know... musical clarity.
     
  5. Lephty

    Lephty Member

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    Not sure what inspired me to do it, but I picked up the flute and studied it fairly intensively for about 3-4 years. Probably the single best thing I ever did for my musicianship. The geometric nature of the fretboard causes a lot of us to get locked into patterns on the guitar, instead of using our ears. The flute really helped me get away from that and to really "hear" melodies in my head when improvising.
     
  6. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Guitar playing has been my bread and butter...never could afford time off, not that I ever desired it. I have gigged a lot on bass including this past fall in Asia.
     
  7. rumbletone

    rumbletone Silver Supporting Member

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    I played mostly guitar in highschool, and the summer after I graduated my metal band recorded and released an album (back when it was all analog tape and consoles!!), then in September I started music school with saxophone as my primary instrument, but also took basic piano and voice (required of all students in the program) and percussion. I barely ever played guitar during that time, in part because I got lots of gigs on sax. After I finished undergrad, I started playing more guitar again, and gigging more on guitar (often doing double duty in sax and guitar - which sometimes meant getting gigs over better/more experienced players just because I could do both). I don't think my guitar playing suffered from the break - and I definitely improved overall as a musician by learning other instruments, and was able to communicate better with other players (for example, by learning percussion I could provide more guidance to drummers on what/how I wanted them to play).

    I say go for it!
     
  8. JonR

    JonR Member

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    It's all about music for me.
    Guitar is just my prime tool. Easiest and coolest (I found). I taught myself piano, and various other string instruments (bass, mandolin, etc) whenever I had the opportunity. The more tools in the box....
     
  9. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    I've been itching to take up cello for a couple of years now. I went as far as to find some instructors I like who teach via Skype. I don't have the instrument (obvious must), and I'm about to start back to grad school this summer, so that nixes the urge for a while.

    What I have found is, when I seriously study another instrument, it makes me a better guitar player. My rhythm playing became much more solid after I spent a good chunk of time playing bass, my fill work became more tasty after messing with mandolin. Of course, it could be my imagination. :dunno

    I say go for it, and good luck.
     
  10. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

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    Never!
    Ive just added instruments to the mix:
    Lately its been:
    10 string pedal steel guitar
    5 string dojo ( neck / tuning of a 5 string banjo, body of a dobro)
     
  11. Neer

    Neer Member

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    Yes. Started playing lap steel guitar and eventually decided to dedicate all of my time to it. I didn't want to keep switching between the two and ultimately I enjoy what I do on steel more, so there you have it. This was after playing guitar since I was 7 or 8 and had a pretty decent little semi-career with it.
     
  12. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Didn't give it entirely up but about 10 years ago I spent a lot more time on piano than guitar.

    I was writing songs to try and get a new band up and running and for some reason found it easier to do at the time on piano.
     
  13. cantstoplt021

    cantstoplt021 Member

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    Alright I'm really thinking I might do this. I do love guitar, but I'm just a little burned out on trying to become a guitar hero. I think a break would be nice and summer would be about the only time I could take time off from guitar (since I have commitments during the school year).

    I'm also thinking about possibly adding bass lessons to the mix as well. I currently play bass in a band, but I dont know what the hell I'm doing. Sure I can learn bass lines note for note off of records and play them with my band and sound pretty good, but if someone wanted me to walk through changes or lay down a groove in G I'd be lost. I'd like to be able to actually play bass instead of regurgitating bass lines from records. That would definitely help my guitar playing too id imagine
     
  14. fuzz_factor

    fuzz_factor Supporting Member

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    I used to play a little tenor sax in band, then picked it up again in college. I've always sort of regretting selling my tenor (but I needed the money...) and have wanted to play a wind instrument again.

    I figured I'd buy another tenor and maybe take some lessons, but then a co-worker lent me his clarinet and I really enjoyed it. I started listening to a ton of jazz featuring clarinet (mostly Buddy DeFranco, who is a killer jazz clarinetist and recently passed away, and Duke Ellington who had several amazing clarinet players over the years).

    I picked up a clarinet of my own (Yamaha YCL-34 II, which is kind of like the equivalent of a nice MIJ Fender guitar) and plan on taking some lessons soon. In fact, playing clarinet has reinvigorated my guitar playing. Of course, I still feel like I might want to play sax instead (it's a bit easier)... I figure I can always sell the clarinet if I get a tenor! GAS...
     
  15. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    I've taught for years out of Building Walking Basslines by Ed Friedland. Great book, and will get you playing over changes in no time. Good luck!
     
  16. Double V

    Double V Supporting Member

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    I was at the New School in '99 deep in jazz studies and started to get completely fried from it. One day in my world music ensemble, the teacher Jamey Haddad brought in oud player Simon Shaheen to learn his music. This guy blew my mind with his music and his playing. It was the perfect solution to my growing lack of interest in jazz guitar at the time. So, I bought an oud and learned to play it. I completely immersed myself in the music. It was close enough to guitar to make the transition but it was a totally different beast. Three months later I was playing out three times a week in a middle eastern ensemble. This went on for about 8 years and I played very little to no guitar at all. It was one of the best musical experiences of my life.
     
  17. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Agreed. This book is fantastic.
     
  18. Neer

    Neer Member

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    Just become a guitar player, we don't need another hero.
     
  19. snouter

    snouter Member

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    I was actually thinking about setting up a "crossfit" kind of music practice space, if I win the lotto. Folks come in thinking they are guitarists and after 15 minutes at the guitar station where I teach them that E minor pentatonic over every chord progression makes them sound like John Mayer and then I move them to piano where they finally realize they had no idea what the 1-3 and 5 of was the chord they were playing. And they I take them to a harmonica to learn that the 5th mode is the hippest harmonica key (mixolydian obviously), how to bend notes and make them sound cool instead of ****** Bob Dylan blowing stuff. Then take them to a sax and show them you can play in a key other than Bb, that kind of thing.
     
  20. Ulug

    Ulug Member

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    I've done this in the late 90's. Had bought a couple of bouzoukis in Greece, one was a traditional six string rebetiko type, and the other a more modern 8 stringer, and I played these things for about a year and almost didn't touch the guitar at all. Realized that it had actually helped develop my improvisational skills, once I got back on the good ol' flat top and the electric. In my case though, I had always been into the blues (still am) and this was sort of an adventure into its Greek counterpart called rebetiko.
     

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