Picking up at instrument for the first time, not sure which one

Rez

New member
I'm in my late 30s. I listen to music all the time but have not played any instrument before. There are a lot of instruments that I find interesting: electric guitar (rock), acoustic guitar, piano (jazz), cello, percussions, vibraphone, harp,...

As I'm completely new, I think I should pick up a simple instrument like electric bass or uke. Guitar (acoustic or electric) seems overwhelming with its 6 strings. What do you think?
 

Ella Beck

Member
I think it depends what you are really keen on. It's not too late to pick up an instrument, but inevitably it takes a lot of hard work and grit so if you're not really committed, you might give up.

I wouldn't bother with a ukelele, personally - it may be easy to play (I don't know) but is the final sound worth it?

If you love guitar, I'd say, go for it - but find a teacher.

However, out of the list you've given I'd go for piano - keyboard. The notes are there for you to find, and there are so many uses for it and so many different types of music that can use it - even just vamping as an accompaniment.

Plus it's a good basis for learning about harmony as well as melody. Once you know about chords, you might later decide to try guitar too.

Again, I'd find a teacher for the earliest stages.

But whatever you pick - go for it with a capital G.

Good luck! :)
 

Taggart

Member
Staff member
The English language has 26 letters and a slew of symbols. We manage all right because we organise them into words and sentences.

The guitar has six strings but unless you're playing classical guitar or melody, you'll be playing chords. If you use tabs, you'll get the finger positions laid out for you. That way you don't have to read proper music.

The piano has loads of keys but only 12 basic notes. It uses two distinct clefs - one for the right hand and one for the left so you have a lot to learn about reading music before you can begin to play. It took some time between going c-a-t = cat and reading through War and Peace but there were a lot of nice books along the way.

Whatever you want to learn, you're going to have to cope with left and right hand co-ordination. A piano is easier because it's all laif out in front of you, no stretching down and peering at your hands on a guitar.

If you want to play jazz piano, then a lot of that is down to the chords and that takes some working on.

Whatever you do, get a teacher. OK it costs money, but it saves time and helps you get started.
 

Rez

New member
Thanks for your input. It help me to decide and it is going to be the piano. Will take voice lessons too and might dab into flute as well (similar advantage to that of piano plus the added benefit of being small).

One more thing. I'm a mathematician. Would this be of any help with learning music?
 

Ella Beck

Member
They do say there's a connection - maybe understanding how the harmonies work and the shape of tunes etc.
However, my mathematical skills aren't very good, so I can't really comment - I am an arts person & where playing is concerned, I act on instinct! :)

(My violin teacher is interested in numbers though...)
 

Taggart

Member
Staff member
Know the feeling. Even digital keyboards aren't very portable, so I have taken up the English concertina as an alternative.

Never sure to what extent Math skills relate to music. Some mathematicians and physicists play - Einstein was a violinist with an interest in the Baroque and felt it helped him sort out his problems.
 

Ewadartin

New member
Once I bought a gift to a friend. He is my professional guitar player. I wanted to give him an amplifier for a guitar, but I didn’t know which one is better .. since I don’t understand so much. Thanks to this blog https://musiety.com/a-review-of-the-best-small-amp-models/, I chose a great amp. A friend was even surprised when he saw him ... because I thought that I did not understand anything in amplifiers
 

Ella Beck

Member
Thanks for your input. It help me to decide and it is going to be the piano. Will take voice lessons too and might dab into flute as well (similar advantage to that of piano plus the added benefit of being small).

Rez - I hope you will let us know how you get on?
Best wishes for your musical journey.
 

Rez

New member
Living in a small town and the winter holidays caused me some delay. Today I took my first voice lesson! Toyed with the instruments at the music store too. Now my heart is more with the guitar. I liked the sound of the steel string ones more.
If I can one day play and sing a song like this I'd be ecstatic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM6ooVgsWVk



For the voice lessons I need to get a simple keyboard too (Cause it will take me a while to learn the basics of guitar). The voice teacher teaches piano too, and seems I should learn the basics at least.
 

elderpiano

New member
Pleased you are getting started Rez, I like the song you posted. I was thinking if you prefer steel strings, maybe look at a mandolin, I love the sound of mandolin. My son had one given to him, but he never really took up an musical instrument. Good luck with your musical explorations.
 

Ella Beck

Member
Living in a small town and the winter holidays caused me some delay. Today I took my first voice lesson! Toyed with the instruments at the music store too. Now my heart is more with the guitar. I liked the sound of the steel string ones more.
If I can one day play and sing a song like this I'd be ecstatic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM6ooVgsWVk



For the voice lessons I need to get a simple keyboard too (Cause it will take me a while to learn the basics of guitar). The voice teacher teaches piano too, and seems I should learn the basics at least.


Fantastic that you're getting started, Rez. Hope you enjoy every step of the journey. Do tell us more when you can. Best wishes.
 

Rez

New member
Now I can play a few guitar chords, LOL. I got a piano too, because I like to learn that too and is needed for voice lessons too. I'm not getting any younger so better not to delay it any further.

The piano is a Privia 160. I like its sounds however the keys make a loud noise when I hit them. Not a problem with the left half of the keyboard but van be heard with the right half. Are acoustic pianos like this too? Should I exchange it (not so easy)?
 

Taggart

Member
Staff member
The privia has weighted keys so should be like an acoustic piano. Try various touches on the keys to see how little pressure you need to make the note sound and how much noise the key action makes. If all else fails, get the manual out and see about adjusting the touch sensitivity of the keys. The manual says

Setting a smaller value causes lighter touch to produce more powerful sound.

Hope this helps. Glad to see you've got started. Good luck with your musical journey.
 
Last edited:

John Watt

New member
I've got one basic guitar lesson for all beginners.
Don't just play open chords as open chords all the time.
Stick what will be your barre chord finger up in the air sometimes,
and don't use it on the strings, so you can practice chord formations that way.
I know guitarists who were good with open chords, singing their own songs onstage,
but when they wanted to be better musicians and use barre chords they couldn't change fast enough.
That was enough to make some of them quit playing guitar, or hire me as a rhythm and lead guitarist.
 

Rez

New member
I find myself practicing the piano more. It's just easier to get to. Also Alfred's book is well structured and my teacher is a no-nonsense lady. I realize that I can't go fast; even something as simple as following a single note with a chord needs practice to get down. But I'm also looking for an alternative source...I should be able to place some simple songs now such as Bach's prelude in C major or his Piano concerto #5 largo.



The guitar is much more technical. Even holding it right is not trivial. My teacher uses a book that goes straight to sight reading which I found unintuitive. I'm taking a break from classes to get the following down first:

1-Switching between fingers without moving left hand.
2-Switching between C and G7 and also A,D,E chords
3-Finger style right hand technique
4-Sight reading for the first 3 strings
There are a few simple songs that I like to play too...

Thanks John Watt.
 

Ella Beck

Member
I find myself practicing the piano more. It's just easier to get to. Also Alfred's book is well structured and my teacher is a no-nonsense lady. I realize that I can't go fast; even something as simple as following a single note with a chord needs practice to get down. But I'm also looking for an alternative source...I should be able to place some simple songs now such as Bach's prelude in C major or his Piano concerto #5 largo.



The guitar is much more technical. Even holding it right is not trivial. My teacher uses a book that goes straight to sight reading which I found unintuitive. I'm taking a break from classes to get the following down first:

1-Switching between fingers without moving left hand.
2-Switching between C and G7 and also A,D,E chords
3-Finger style right hand technique
4-Sight reading for the first 3 strings
There are a few simple songs that I like to play too...

Thanks John Watt.

Thanks for your update, Rez - you seem to be getting on really well with the piano, and even if the guitar is causing a few problems, it's amazing what you are doing - two instruments at once.

Wishing you joy and good fortune in your musical journey.
 
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