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Griffis
05-16-2016, 09:31 AM
Apologies again if there are similar threads. I guess I'm just curious about people's relationships with their instruments.

I wondered who among us plays other instruments? And if so, what?

In my time I have played many...mainly electric bass and guitar, but I've dabbled (or more) with drums, trumpet, sax, mandolin, banjo (tenor and 5 string), fiddle, keyboards and synths...I guess that is it.

I have come to the realization that the ukulele IS my instrument. I rarely play anything else these days, my hands are getting too bad to play guitar or bass, so I'm selling all those off.

In fact, I am selling all my electric and electronic recording equipment and instruments. I want to downsize and I want to focus just on the ukulele.

That said, I think I will try to learn my way around a harmonica better. I have a few nice ones and I love them as portable, inexpensive (or they can be) instruments. I also think they pair well with the uke...play one with a neck rack ala Bob Dylan or Neil Young...

Aside from ukulele, the harmonica is the only instrument I feel any desire to interact with.

I may build another washtub bass at some point. I really enjoy those. But it is likely in the future I won't have a place to store or lug one around...I really love the combo of bass/uke.

jollyboy
05-16-2016, 09:40 AM
Well, I have aspired to learn blues harp for many years and have owned several decent harmonicas (currently I just have a Suzuki Manji). But, I'm not much past barely competent still - I can just about bend notes on a good day with the wind behind me. I have found practicing to be problematic as it's quite a loud instrument and sounds pretty horrible when played badly. So, not the best choice if you want to stay on good terms with your neighbours, in my experience.

Planning on investing soon in a... kazoo :p

igorthebarbarian
05-16-2016, 09:47 AM
I would love to learn the 5-string Banjo someday. I just love the sound of one played well.
But alas, I think it would be harder on my dainty fingertips. And banjos are LOUD - I live in an apartment so I don't think the neighbors want to go on that musical learning experience with me!
The ukulele is a perfect instrument for apartment living.
I came from absolutely no musical experience/background, so this 1st instrument was a huge step up from zero

janeray1940
05-16-2016, 11:49 AM
Uke seems to be the one instrument I've got some ability with, so I'm sticking solely with that for now. I've played a little piano, guitar, and bass before, and if I ever had a big enough house I'd probably want a piano. But the truth is, I'd rather be somewhat decent at a single instrument than really mediocre at several, and knowing me, if I played anything in addition, that's what would happen - so I'm content with just uke for now.

Rllink
05-16-2016, 12:28 PM
I play a pandereta, or often times called a pandero, in a plena band in Puerto Rico. Specifically, I play the seguidora, which is one size of pandero. Musicians who play in plena bands are called pleneros. Some pleneros are part of a band, which consists of three drummers, a singer, and often times a guitar or cuatro. Some times a sax player, or even a trumpet or trombone player will play plena. I have actually played plena on my ukulele, but it will get so loud most times that even amplified the ukulele can not compete. The beat is very Caribbean in nature. Often times if a plenero is not part of a band, they will roam the streets during festivals looking for other pleneros. If there is a band, or group of pleneros playing, they try to attract these roving pleneros to join in. A good band will grow quickly, and will attract crowds of wandering pleneros and spectators. As the crowd grows, people dance in the streets, and sing along during the chorus. At some point, a good band will literally drown out everything else for blocks around. A bad band will lose their pleneros to another band, which is humiliating for the singer. It is an incredible experience.
http://www.musicofpuertorico.com/index.php/instruments/panderetas/
http://www.musicofpuertorico.com/index.php/genre/plena/

Griffis
05-16-2016, 12:56 PM
(...the harmonica is)quite a loud instrument and sounds pretty horrible when played badly. So, not the best choice if you want to stay on good terms with your neighbours, in my experience.

Planning on investing soon in a... kazoo :p

I actually play quite a bit of kazoo. Wish I was as good on the harp!

I agree with you too, re: harmonica. It can become very brash and cloying very quickly. It's an expressive instrument in the right hands (mouth?) but unfortunately a lot of harp players seem to think every song needs a wailing harmonica solo going all the way through it. That ain't me. I like it as a seasoning, and used sparingly. But in cases like that, it is a killer instrument.

Ditto kazoo, really. I like playing it, but just during a break in a tune or something, not woven throughout a piece. Gets old pretty quick IMO.


Uke seems to be the one instrument I've got some ability with, so I'm sticking solely with that for now. I've played a little piano, guitar, and bass before, and if I ever had a big enough house I'd probably want a piano. But the truth is, I'd rather be somewhat decent at a single instrument than really mediocre at several, and knowing me, if I played anything in addition, that's what would happen - so I'm content with just uke for now.

I am so, so with you on the "jack of all trades, master of none" thing here. Feel the same. It's just, all through the 80s and 90s I was a gigging musician. It wasn't a full time job (although many weeks I made more money gigging than working!) I felt I needed to be at least adequate on drums, keys and others just to be in demand...be able to fill in slots for other players who were out sick, had other commitments, etc. Worked out pretty well. I can bash out some chords on keyboards, I am a pretty fair drummer, average at guitar (good at rhythm, fingerpicking, not so much on soloing) but electric bass was really my main instrument and what I was known for and asked to play most often at gigs and recording sessions.

But life isn't as long as it used to be. I have some health issues including worsening pain in my hands and wrists. That, incidentally, is why I took up uke in the first place about 15 years back, at the suggestion of my wonderful wife (also a musician.)

Unfortunately, I set it down a few years back and started playing rock and roll again. It has been fun, but my heart isn't in it anymore. I can't haul gear around and play three sets until 2 AM anymore...especially as I have a fairly stressful full time job and I'm pushing 50.

Here on out, I'm going back to uke, with possible forays into harmonica, as long as learning that instrument doesn't get in the way of re-learning and improving on the ukulele.

Tootler
05-16-2016, 01:18 PM
I started out on recorder at school. I played a bit after I left school, put it down for some years then picked it up again when my kids started learning it at school and have been playing ever since and still play regularly with a local recorder society. Since then I have dabbled in tin whistle but never really took to it though I do like a low whistle. I also play folk flute, concertina and harmonica.

I took up uke because I wanted to accompany myself singing and it has proved a real success for me after several failed attempts at guitar.

I play mainly folk music - a lot of it traditional - so I am not really into the kind of music most people seem to play on this forum and I primarily use the ukulele for simple accompaniments to folk songs.

Like a lot of folk musicians, I consider myself an multi instrumentalist. I love trying out different instruments and have to reign in my IAS (A more general form of UAS). I have two harmonicas coming in the post now - one a chromatic. :music:

Nibby
05-16-2016, 04:32 PM
I am in my early 40's and a complete beginner to playing music. The ukulele is the first instrument I have tried to play and I am having a hell of a time trying to learn. That being said in a couple of years when I get better with the Uke I want to learn to play the steel drums next.

pointpergame
05-16-2016, 05:00 PM
My first instrument was one of those 40's-50's bathtub hand-held shower heads...a "rubber" ( plastic ) tube with a trombone-like mouthpiece that fit over the faucet. I wound it in 3 circles and played bugle on the "mouthpiece." Since then ... 65 years ago ... I've played everything I could get my hands on, mostly strings. After a little Stephen Foster on the Ocarina, folk singing in Europe, and poor, naive Flamenco, I finally settled into guitar, harpsichord, and piano.
For me once the Bach invention phase passed, it was Jim Croce, Billy Joel, Carol King, etc.. That was the next improvement on folk and country for me and eventually led to amateurish jazz. I still sit at the piano of an afternoon and work my way through the Jim Croce song books ( which are excellent transcriptions, by the way ), or Billy Joel or a dozen others. The music dances off the fingers. The harmony is world class. I get to be part of that just by sitting and chording along.

Finally, 20 years ago I discovered another "music theory friendly" instrument, the mandolin. I got a bit serious about it and it has been truly rewarding because it switches effortlessly from melody to chording harmony to chopping rhythm. I can turn on a blue grass radio show and walk around the house with a mandolin hanging from a strap and chord along, take breaks on top of the singer, or mess it up to high heaven! The guitar and the ukulele are one thing. A mandolin is something else. Now arthritis has taken its toll on my basal thumb joints and I have to drop back to the Uke. But in the Ukulele is a fantastic opportunity to go after Jazz. There are a couple eras of Jazz that had the ukulele in mind when they were created so there are at least a couple bodies of music available and in our time, many fantastic masters to show us the way.

I've always thought that you had to play two instruments. If you fly a Piper Cub, you should fly a glider. Each instrument does its own thing well, and that creates a guide to doing it well on the other. It sounds like I'm giving advice here, but it you haven't tried it, go for a little chording on the piano. It's very easy (if you don't let somebody convince you that you have to read notation or play scales for two hours a day before you are allowed to make music). Over time, it will take you as far into music as you want to go.

CiceroAnon
05-16-2016, 05:09 PM
Guitar and keyboard are enjoyable to play, but ukuleles are so portable and easy to pick up on a whim.

kohanmike
05-16-2016, 06:09 PM
I played harmonica for a long while, which inspired one of best friends to start when a bad nerve stopped him from playing guitar (he was really good). Then I took up the uke and we'll play together once in a while and I have to say, I think uke and harmonica really sound good together.

Croaky Keith
05-16-2016, 10:23 PM
Over the years, I have tried to play, recorder, harmonica, guitar, clarinet (was quite reasonable), flute, guitar (again), piano, then nothing until my retirement when I bought an electric piano to try & learn as a retirement project.

But it hasn't come to be (yet?), so I tried harmonicas, both diatonic & chromatic; I could just about get a tune out of the chromatic, but it was hard work for me.

Then I happened on a comment from one of our Seasonistas, (you know who you are :) ), who was on the harmonica forum, talking about ukuleles; that did it!

Joined this forum, was cajoled into the Seasons, & I'm having fun!

(I've even written & played a few of my own little ditties.) :D

bonesoup
05-17-2016, 01:58 AM
Griffs, you and I sound similar. For me, a friend in college taught me guitar - my first instrument. I gigged on it in the aughts. I started bass lessons around the time I got my first uke and that was cool. I'm self-taught on keys and can play chords and scales and that's about it. Never got much time behind the drums though - never learned to get my feet coordinated with my hands.

Just this weekend I played a classical guitar. Coming from uke, could that neck be any wider? And then played a Taylor. So heavy, and those strings dug into my dainty uke calluses. I told my wife, I don't know how I used to play these things haha. The uke is my instrument now!

actadh
05-17-2016, 02:13 AM
I just picked up a pair of vintage toy concertinas, a vintage toy zither, and a toy egg shaker. I also have other shakers, tambourines, zither/lap harp, a triangle, a teeny djembe, a pan pipe, and a wooden flute. Also in the house is an electric keyboard and a couple of guitars. I play none of them well. But, I live out in the country so I can make a lot of noise.

Griffis
05-17-2016, 03:29 AM
A couple folks have mentioned concertina. I gotta say, my hat's off to you! I have always had the desire to take up that instrument. Even spent semi-serious cash on a couple of decent ones. My recollection is murky, but I tried both an Anglo and a German type (I think?--one where the draw is the same note as the pull, the other just the opposite...)

But of all the things I've tried to learn to play I think the concertina was the most difficult and confounding. Ashamed to say I gave up on it, though after what I thought was a decent run at giving it a shot.

I love the things though...the sound, the history...

jelow1966
05-17-2016, 05:04 AM
Imagine I'm alone on this here but my other instrument is the sitar. I go in cycles, play sitar for awhile then back to the uke. I'm better on the uke but despite my attempts it does not do Indian music well. I did try to put a sitar style bridge on one years agof without much luck so I think it's best to use it for what it does best.

John

Griffis
05-17-2016, 07:04 AM
Griffs, you and I sound similar. For me, a friend in college taught me guitar - my first instrument. I gigged on it in the aughts. I started bass lessons around the time I got my first uke and that was cool. I'm self-taught on keys and can play chords and scales and that's about it. Never got much time behind the drums though - never learned to get my feet coordinated with my hands.

Just this weekend I played a classical guitar. Coming from uke, could that neck be any wider? And then played a Taylor. So heavy, and those strings dug into my dainty uke calluses. I told my wife, I don't know how I used to play these things haha. The uke is my instrument now!

Ha! Yes, we do sound like kindred spirits (although I suspect I'm much older...I started on guitar in 1977.)

I think it was hard for me to pull out of that mindset--that "Hey! I'm a rock and roller! I'm the bass man--Mr. #@%! Engine Room!"

But my last go-round with that world proved to me that this chapter of my life is over.

Don't get me wrong--I'm still rock and roll! But now I appreciate listening to it. I realize I don't have to be the guy who makes it.

I got so tired of transporting gear, those late night shows, even just the racket and volume levels in general from playing live, loud music. I always protected my ears as best I could but the last few jam sessions and gigs I was in on...even with stage monitors I could barely make out what anyone else was doing. I honestly fear for my hearing.

I don't feel like an old man. I'm not used up--not "done." I just need and want something simpler. The absolute beauty of just picking up an acoustic instrument and starting to play...for my own pleasure, with no real audience in mind, with my own goals and exercises and all.

Not having to grab this or that instrument, plug it in, hope everything is working, oh wait--gotta unplug and plug in some effects pedals...oh wait...the battery is dead on that one and I don't have an adapter...hmmm...this effect sounds better in the chain in front of this one instead of the other way around, better switch them out...okay, now let's fire up the software program and get out the multitracker...how's that mic placement? how are the volume levels? Is anything clipping? I need to roll back the tone knob on the guitar...which pickup selection sounds best on this track? How's the EQ on the amp settings? Why isn't the bass part tracking in sync with the drums? Gotta erase and start again...okay, now to add the first track of guitar...now, do I export this as a wav or mp3?

And on, and on. Heck, by the time I got ready to record or even practice with all the "toys" and accessories, I could have gotten a full, worthwhile uke practice session in.

And space...oh lordy...not having guitars and basses and keyboards and drum gear all over...guitar amps, plus bass rigs the size of a city bus...and what a pain when any of that had to be humped to a jam or a gig. No thanks.

I am SO done with all of that. It's like a great weight has been lifted. It feels freeing to see things get sold off. It actually seems to be clearing my brain of a lot of old mess. I didn't even realize how much I needed this change.

I'm with you, brother. The uke is my instrument now!


Imagine I'm alone on this here but my other instrument is the sitar. I go in cycles, play sitar for awhile then back to the uke.

You know, I'm thankful the world is such a wondrous and diverse place but yeah--you might be alone in this, at least on this board. I have rarely known anyone who undertook sitar, much less heard of someone who divided their time between sitar and uke. that is too cool!


I'm better on the uke but despite my attempts it does not do Indian music well. I did try to put a sitar style bridge on one years agof without much luck so I think it's best to use it for what it does best.

You know, the Danelectro company used to make an effects pedal called, I think, the Sitar Swami. I used to have one. They don't make them any more, but I bet you could turn one up used.

I'm not making a recommendation to you, just saying IF you had an A/E uke or a completely electric one, you could run it through that Swami pedal into an amp and the effect really did replicate a sitar sound fairly well. At least, it did on electric guitar.

I sold mine on long ago because I just used it so rarely. It was cool though.

Rllink
05-17-2016, 07:47 AM
A couple folks have mentioned concertina. I gotta say, my hat's off to you! I have always had the desire to take up that instrument. Even spent semi-serious cash on a couple of decent ones. My recollection is murky, but I tried both an Anglo and a German type (I think?--one where the draw is the same note as the pull, the other just the opposite...)

But of all the things I've tried to learn to play I think the concertina was the most difficult and confounding. Ashamed to say I gave up on it, though after what I thought was a decent run at giving it a shot.

I love the things though...the sound, the history...I went on a road trip a couple of weeks ago, or maybe it was last week, I lose track of time, but I stopped at a music store that had a lot of ukuleles, and they had a used Hohner Concertina. I thought it was just too cool, and I carried it around the store with me. But just before I left the store I got to thinking about how much I have yet to learn on the ukulele and thought that I would be better off without another instrument to learn how to play. So I put it back. I'm pretty sure that the guy working in the store was not too happy with that. But I have to say, it was cool.

Rllink
05-17-2016, 07:52 AM
Griffs, you and I sound similar. For me, a friend in college taught me guitar - my first instrument. I gigged on it in the aughts. I started bass lessons around the time I got my first uke and that was cool. I'm self-taught on keys and can play chords and scales and that's about it. Never got much time behind the drums though - never learned to get my feet coordinated with my hands.

Just this weekend I played a classical guitar. Coming from uke, could that neck be any wider? And then played a Taylor. So heavy, and those strings dug into my dainty uke calluses. I told my wife, I don't know how I used to play these things haha. The uke is my instrument now!That is one of the things that I considered when I started the ukulele. I didn't want to haul a guitar around. The ukulele seemed much more portable.

Snargle
05-17-2016, 09:43 AM
I fumbled around with acoustic guitar for many years, until I finally gave up on it. About the same time (12 years ago) my wife attended a couple of drum circles, talked highly of them, and finally got me to attend. Two weeks later, I was the owner of a West African djembe drum. I now own four djembes, a set of three dundun (bass) drums, and assorted sticks, bells, stands, etc. I play regularly with some local drum and dance ensembles, attend regular lessons with African teachers, and I just returned from a week-long West African drum and dance camp in North Carolina (we've attended annually for the last 10 years).

With all the percussive music going on, I still missed a melodic instrument, so on a whim, last fall I purchased a cheap ukulele. Now I'm double busy with two radically different instruments and musical styles to balance. I keep trying to find ways to incorporate West African percussion with the ukulele, but it doesn't seem very compatible. That's OK. I'm retired and I've got the time for both!

fowl
05-17-2016, 12:53 PM
The uke is my first instrument and I did not start it until I was in my 60's. A couple of years ago I started building three string cigar box strummers tuned like a mountain dulcimer. They are fun and simple since you have one melody string and the other two are drone strings.

johnson430
05-17-2016, 12:54 PM
Cool topic and I am enjoying reading all the posts.

I started off with the harmonica many years ago in middle school.(yeah, I was a big dork)
Then I noodled with the acoustic guitar for a few decades and then came to the uke in the end of 2014.

Recently, I got back into harmonica (so I can play while jamming on the uke)
I received a Key of C Hohner Special 20 Progressive for my birthday, last month.
And last night I ordered a Key of G Blue Moon Special 20 custom harp w/ a clear anodized aluminum comb.
http://www.bluemoonharmonicas.com/harmonicas/5
I am very excited.

UkingViking
05-17-2016, 08:54 PM
I attempted piano/keyboards in highschool, without any proper lessons except what the music teacher in school told me. Playing chords in the school music groups was fun, but for relaxing at home in an apartment it is less fun. A real piano is too load, cheap keyboards not cool to play, and when you play alone you need so much more than chords to make it interesting. Several times I found sheet music to songs I wanted to learn, spent hours dechiffering and memorizing notes until I could play the intro - then I gave up.
Sold my old keyboard years ago. Might get a proper piano some day, but I am not in a hurry.

My mother gave me an old classical guitar that my grandmother found with broken tuners in a flea market, and my father had had fixet in the 70's. Also back in high school, where everybody played a bit guitar, I started playing it a bit - also self taught and with slow progress. For the years to come that was my go to relaxing-at-home instrument. There was no gigs and no real progress as I seldom played. After more than 10 years I probably knew about 5 songs I could play at an occasional bonfire.
As a classical guitar has a lot of sustain or what it is called, just strumming will sound messy. You have to think a lot of muting and pingerpicking to consider.

So about a year ago I got my first ukulele.
What I like about it, besides the portability, is the way that you can get a decent sound out of just strumming and chunking, when accompanying yourself singing. It is easier to take on a new song, when the effort needed to get it "ok" is smaller.
And I like the easy going impression a ukes makes. I know there are many serious players out there, but to most people a uke sends a signal of playing for fun. People might ask why I keep playing my guitar, when I am not going anywhere with it. They will not ask that about a ukulele.

SallyS
05-17-2016, 11:15 PM
My ukulele playing started about seven or so years ago, but I have been a guitar player for over forty years - twelve string guitar is my passion. Once upon a time I played banjo and keyboard, still dabble with an upright three string bass.

My first ukulele was ok, fun and portable. I finally got my first eight string tenor and that got me going more intently on uke. Now I own a concert and a soprano, found myself just last night playing a lullaby to myself��

Ukejenny
05-18-2016, 03:19 AM
I was 11 when I started playing clarinet in the school band. I ended up majoring in music education in college, and was a band director for several years. My main instrument is clarinet. I also enjoy flute and play that quite a bit. I taught beginning band and can play all the wind instruments enough to help kids through a middle school level. In the brass family, euphonium is my favorite and best suited for my lips. I enjoy the recorder a lot and have been in a recorder group. I have a nice soprano and tenor Moeck recorder, but a plastic Yamaha is hard to beat as well! I still have my plastic Yamaha recorder from college and it still sounds wonderful. I tried guitar and it is just too big for me to handle. Ukulele started in 2013 and it has been a joy each and every time I pick it up to play.

Down Up Dick
05-18-2016, 04:12 AM
I started on trumpet, and I've played all the brass instruments at one time or another. I now have a baritone horn and a tuba. I also play flutes, and I have lots of different kinds including piccolos and fifes. I can play other wood winds too but only a little. Harmonicas were my axes for a long time. I like to work on them too, changing keys or making them minor, etc. I still play them once in a while.

I also have a keyboard, and I was doing very well until I came to the part in the book where one chords with the left hand while playing the melody with the right. Then I found out that coordination was not my forte. If my left hand was pounding out the chords, my right hand wanted to pound too. I can still play chords and/or melody with it, but not at the same time. I played my son's guitar a few times too, but it was the same thing. Both hands wanted to either strum or fret--bah!

Then, later, I decided that I needed to sing. I had an old Uke that my Hawaiian Godmother gave me, so I took it down from the wall where it had hung for fifty or sixty years, tuned it up and began learning chords. ADF#B chords from an old book unfortunately, so I had to start all over when I got a new book. Anyway, I began whacking away with the Uke, got some more and was successful enough to get big headed. By the way, I can strum and fret at the same time now.

So, of course, I was ready for a new instrument. I had always wanted to learn two different instruments: the banjo and the oboe. Well oboes are very expensive, and they look difficult. But I already knew how to play a stringed instrument with two different hand movements. Sooooo . . . I bought a banjo! and another and another, and pow! I'm off (again) to the races.

Lately, I'm lusting after a fretless make-it-yourself minstrel banjo. But I'm fighting the urge. :old:

drbekken
05-18-2016, 04:43 AM
I am a pro piano player, but I also play guitar, ukulele, tuba and diatonic accordion. I love all kinds of instruments.

Tootler
05-18-2016, 07:13 AM
I also have a keyboard, and I was doing very well until I came to the part in the book where one chords with the left hand while playing the melody with the right. Then I found out that coordination was not my forte.


I had the same trouble when I tried to learn accordion. I gave up and got a concertina instead which I play melody only or sometimes add harmonies but not using the chords left hand, melody right hand technique.

Down Up Dick
05-18-2016, 08:15 AM
I had the same trouble when I tried to learn accordion. I gave up and got a concertina instead which I play melody only or sometimes add harmonies but not using the chords left hand, melody right hand technique.

Strangely, I had the trouble with the piano and with my son's guitar but not with the ukulele, and, of course, not with my banjos. Human minds are incomprehensible.

I was interested in a concertina at one time, but I never got one. I pictured myself playing sea chanties with it.

I have a fantasy about being locked in a music store all night. Wouldn't that be fun? :old:

Rllink
05-18-2016, 09:14 AM
Strangely, I had the trouble with the piano and with my son's guitar but not with the ukulele, and, of course, not with my banjos. Human minds are incomprehensible.

I was interested in a concertina at one time, but I never got one. I pictured myself playing sea chanties with it.

I have a fantasy about being locked in a music store all night. Wouldn't that be fun? :old:I think that you just like musical instruments Dick. :)

Down Up Dick
05-18-2016, 09:40 AM
I think that you just like musical instruments Dick. :)

Yeah, you're correct. I like to study and learn too. I often wonder how good I'da been if I had'a stuck with the trumpet. I was a pretty good high school player--always first chair in everything I played except trombone. My only failures were the French horn (many years after high school and the second try) and euphonium (my lip was too old and weak to get the high notes) and probably my keyboard.

I don't know what I'm gonna do when I'm to old to make some kinda noise. :old: