One main guitar or multiple guitars?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Berlin Chris, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. Berlin Chris

    Berlin Chris Member

    Jan 14, 2002
    Hamburg, Germany
    I am trying hard to become a better player these days. One of the most difficult things for me is to play at a constant skill-level from day to day. You know, being able to pull off what you could play the day(s) before. I think I found out that I really have have to stick with one guitar to develop a better, more consistant timing and technique.

    Swapping guitars every day/hour/minute is totally counterproductive especially for my right hand and my synchronization. Switching from a stoptail to a trem-equipped Strat seems to be extremely difficult for me. My right hand and arm are totally unrelaxed and it feels somehow weird. Not much problems the other way round going from Strat to stoptails though.

    But well, on the other hand it is super-hard to stay away from the other great axes that I have. There they are, they look so pretty, they sound cool, they play great, they all have something good to offer, and yet...

    I think I have to store away all of them into their cases and bags for a while and keep concentrating on playing *one* guitar, which will be my Tyler I guess.

    Does that make sense?
  2. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2005
    Playing just one guitar totally makes sense to me.
    Sometimes when I switch to a guitar with a different scale length, I have a much harder time getting the right chords and I imagine the same would be true for notes.
  3. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    West Village, NYC
    I switch all the time and I like it. I love being able to play the guitar I'm in the mood for. I also like rediscovering the qualities of a certain axe. Like if I lay off strats or teles for a couple months and pull out one of mine, I find their unique qualities inspire me to play differently, which is refreshing. It's still me playing, but I'm using the strengths and weaknesses of the instrument (and my playing) to make it sound the way I like it. There's nothing wrong with letting cool axes inspire you to play more.

    I also tend to work out a lot on a Gibson ES-175 with heavy strings. The theory being that the ropes are strengthening my hands. But I like the way the guitar sounds and feels, so I'm just inspired to play it a lot more than my other axes.

    But if I was gigging and playing in a very distinct style, I'd probably do a lot more practicing on my main axe for the gig(s)...with the same amp, etc. etc. It does make a lot of sense to work that way.
  4. UnderTheGroove

    UnderTheGroove Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2005
    Los Angeles
    I don't have a big problem switching between different guitars, other than a quick adjustment to bending when I switch scale lengths. It may be a good idea for you to try and stick with one guitar for a week of two and see if that makes your playing more consistent. Then you can start adding the others back into the mix...
  5. ToneKing

    ToneKing Member

    Nov 27, 2003
    I used to be a 'one guitar is good enough' kinda guy. As a result, I found it hard to switch between fender and gibson type guitars. I have since out of necessity, started using both styles, at first it was tough getting used to, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
  6. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Yes, yes, yes! And after a while, you won't even think about it. Play a different one for a minute, it'll feel like you've been playing it for years. AC
  7. Thwap

    Thwap Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2006
    Tacoma, Wa
    It's never really bothered me...switching guitars. I'm primarily a Les Paul player, and I'd say 70% of the time that's what I play. I play a strat the other 30% and outside of a couple of minutes it doesn't really bother me. I do tend to play different stuff on the strat, which is why I've got to have each type, I guess if you're working on a specific piece of music, or maybe a certain technique switching might be bothersome.
  8. PlexiBreath

    PlexiBreath Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    La Quinta, California
    I learned the hard way to not develope a dependency on one guitar. You get used to the neck shape, string spacing, scale, action height and knob/switch locations, then pick up a strange guitar and can't perform as well.
    Many years ago I arrived at a big jam not expecting to play so I didn't bring my guitar, everyone finally talked me into joining the jam and I was handed a guitar to use, my playing that night was so bad because the guitar felt very wrong, the sonic equivalent to tripping over my shoe laces. Now I have a selection of guitars that are all very different that I play often, I no longer feel lost on unfamiliar guitars, anything is fine though I prefer Strat or Strat derivative designs.
  9. tac5

    tac5 Member

    Aug 5, 2004
    Way North of Dallas
    I play both Gibson LP's and Fender Strats and Tele's. I've found that after about 10 minutes, whatever guitar I am playing is my favorite. Different tunes do require different sounds, so I alternate a lot. But one guitar can never offer me all the tonal possibilities I desire.
  10. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I've never had any problems with the physicality of switching between different instruments. My quandry has always been that of matching output level and inherent EQ with various pickups. If I set amp(s) and stomps up for teles and strats (which I do), then those settings are totally phucked with a P-90 loaded Gibson. Thus, while I do call on the Gibbys occasionally at recording dates, I strictly carry the Fenders to the live jobs.
  11. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

    Dec 16, 2005
    It depends on the objective. Decide what it is specifically that you want to accomplish during a practice session. Get a timer, and spend 15 minutes of concentrated effort on each objective. Be consistent in your day to day routine, and you will see results. Remember, it's a journey. Half the fun is the trip itself.

    As far as guitars are concerned, I have my own reasons for "mixing things up". I played a Les Paul for 13 years. I've played a Strat for almost 15 since. Now, I'm alternating between the Strat and a Bluesbird. I find that playing a different guitar can take you in a direction that you might otherwise not have chosen.

    There's something about that clean strat sound that makes me play differently than I would on a humbucker equipped axe. On the other hand, my Bluesbird takes me from archtop to 335 tones, both clean and distorted. When I play a solo on a edgy strat, I play differently, because the sustain factor is not the same.

    I like the variety in having more than one sound, and how that sound can inspire you. Oh yeah,... I have a Carvin DC 127 with coil taps. Another "color" for the pallete. I think of it as painting with sound, or as Tomo seems to imply; cooking with spice. Pick your flavor!

    I don't know how many guitars you're talking about, but if you have 7, play a different one each day, and I'll bet you hear yourself playing differently each day. (not a bad thing, by the way) Part of your technique is going to be developed by flexibility. Variety is important too. You don't want to get in a rut. It just depends on what you're after.

    I used to play cover tunes. Note for note solos. The band loved it, but I got bored. So, I thought; What if I were in the studio, and I had to play this solo? I started doing "my take" on whatever solo I got to play. I think we can be inspired by other players, but we will never "be" them, so be yourself, even if it's a different "you" every time. Play a strat solo on a Paul, etc...
  12. Fifthstone

    Fifthstone Member

    Jan 30, 2006
    northern Connecticut
    I've played a Strat for 80% of my 20+ years of playing time and always had a problem playing LP's. Now that I've had an LP, I've come to like playing it from time to time. I've gotten used to it. Now I can switch from the Strat to Tele to LP and back again. I don't think it's been detrimental to my playing.

    On the contrary I think playing different guitars can bring out different qualities in one's playing and in the notes, and phrases which you might play. I know that on my Strat, I tend to wrap my thumb around the neck and choke chords and chord voicings often, while on the LP, partly because of its thicker neck, I tend to play more with double stops and triads, etc. Each guitar brings something different out in my playing. As long as I remain comfortable switching from one to another, I think it only adds to the whole experience.

    Plus...I'm not a one guitar kinda guy.
  13. ES350

    ES350 Member

    Feb 13, 2006
    I'd rather stick with one scale length rather than switch between Fender and Gibson...I used to carry one or two of each to a gig, but for the last 5 years, it's been all Gibson and it's a lot more consistent in terms of feel and tone going practice at home to playing gigs...
  14. planetal

    planetal Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Scenic NJ
    In my experience, your hands adjust to a guitar in a few minutes of warmup and you can go from there. Having said that, I prefer not to change guitars during a gig, especially between a gibson type scale length vs a fender type scale length. I do play and practice on all the guitars I own at various times. There may be different elements of each guitar that might make you adjust technique a little, such as scale length, string height and gauge as well as neck width and fret size (i.e you'll probably play an acoustic differently than a les paul than something like a Super 400), but in terms of exercices and technical practices, play whatever is most confortable, the result of practice will carry from guitar to guitar. I does for me anyway.
  15. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Pasadena, CA
    Switching between guitars just becomes another set of chops you develop with practice. But yes, I can definitely see the benefits of having a 'main' guitar and sticking with it pretty consistently
  16. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2006
    Benicia, CA
    I'm a confirmed gear junkie and have an ever changing assortment of 20+ guitars. I definitely find that my main guitar (a well-loved '52 tele RI) always gets me where I want when I play live. Alot of it for me is learning how to dial in the amps, distortion/gain and EQ for the different pickups. If you get that right then you can enjoy the tonal and playing differences each guitar offers.
  17. SarasotaSlim

    SarasotaSlim Member

    Oct 13, 2005
    St. Pete-A-Bug FLA
    I'm one of those nutty guys that hauls several guitars to every gig. They each have a purpose and I enjoy using them instead of hording them under the bed. I use a 6 space rack and carry...

    Dobro D tuning for slide - mid 70's metal body with pickups and transducer.
    Gibson 335 - 1963 tobacco sunburst - regular tuning - my favorite guitar
    Gibson SG - mid 60's - G tuning for slide - white with P90's
    Fender Strat - mid 80's - regular tuning - yellowish with dano's

    depending on how I feel - I often take these 2 as well...
    Gibson LP Jr. - 1957? - D tuning for slide - tobacco sunburst - extra P90 makes it more like a LP Special.
    Fender Strat - 1984 - tuned down low to C like a baratone almost - tobacco sunburst and lace sensors.

    I have a few more guitars that I never take with and rarely play any more.
  18. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

    Sep 24, 2005
    I love switching guitars.

    I always bring (at least) three to a gig. I like designing the tone for a song and I tweak the set list to facilitate guitar changes. I've got "Les Paul" songs, "Strat" songs and flexible songs. I find a good P90 (or even a Tele) usually bridges the gap.

    That being said, some nights any given guitar just doesn't feel right. If I'm in the groove with something sometimes I'll stay with it even if I don't think it has the totally optimal tone for the song. Also, and this is especially true for me playing live, it really is more about comfort. When you get up there under the lights, usually it's best to start out with that "comfortable old shoe". Minimizes the freak-out factor. IMHO.
  19. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

    May 20, 2003
    Home of the ex-world champion Cavs
    It doesn't matter. It matters more that you are practicing and not just entertaining yourself. That makes the biggest difference in a practicing routine. We all do it because we love music but sometimes when we pick up the instrument, it's easy to just run through stuff we have already mastered because it makes us feel good. Nothing wrong with that and you need to do that too but I try to differentiate entertaining myself with practicing. Once you learn to discern the difference it's easier to make progress or understand why you're at a plateau.

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