Episode 39 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at why you might want to consider learning another instrument on the side.
Being able to play another instrument as well as guitar can help you grow as a musician in powerful ways.
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If you have a question about this episode or any other question about learning or playing guitar, ask it here and I’ll answer it in a future episode.
Use your Android/PC/Mac (iOS doesn’t work) to record your question below and send it to me to be included in a future episode.
Tips for asking a question for the podcast:
- Introduce yourself at the start (eg: Hi, I’m Aaron from Australia …)
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If you want to send me a question in text instead of voice, you can send it here.
Here are some resources to check out:
- How to Learn Bass as a Guitarist (I’m writing it right now)
- Bass Exercises
Podcast Episode 39 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 39 of the Bite Size Guitar podcast.
In this episode, I’ll talk about why I think you should try learning another instrument and the impact it can have on your guitar playing.
Now if you’re a beginner on guitar, it might be a bit too soon to consider learning another instrument. Focusing completely on guitar will help you learn faster and get over the initial harder stage.
But if you’ve been playing guitar for a couple of years or more, there are some good reasons why you might want to learn another instrument on the side.
I’ll go through the main reasons you might want to consider this, then I’ll talk briefly on what instruments to consider.
Understand Other Instruments
The first reason you might want to learn another instrument is if you want to understand that instrument. There’s no better way to understand an instrument than learning how to play it. You don’t even need to become amazing at that instrument, even building a basic level of skill on another instrument can take your understanding of that instrument to a new level.
For example, maybe you want to write songs to play with a band. You have in your head a rough idea of what the drums will do for a song, but you’re not quite sure how to explain this to the drummer in your band.
If you were to learn the basics of how to play drums, you’ll eventually get to the point where you can write parts on drums for the drummer to play. This is exactly what I did a long time ago when I started writing songs for my band. I’m a terrible drummer, but I learned enough to understand how drummers think and what they can and can’t do. Now I’m able to write decent drum parts that are too technical for me, but I can give them to a proper drummer to perform.
If you’re interested in another instrument and want to get a better understanding of how to write parts for that instrument, learning the basics on how to play that instrument is definitely worth the effort.
Develop Skills in New Ways
The next reason you might want to try learning another instrument is that it can help you improve as a guitarist. Any other instrument you learn will give you new ways to grow as a musician, and many of the skills you develop can give your guitar skills a boost.
For example, let’s say you learn to play bass. Many guitarists learn how to play bass and find the transition easy. While bass may at first feel like a four string guitar, you eventually learn that bassists need to think and play differently compared to guitarists.
Learning how to lock in your bass playing with a drummer helps you develop your rhythm and timing skills in a way that isn’t as easy to develop on guitar. Once you spend some time developing a rock-solid rhythm on bass, you’ll notice that your rhythm skills on guitar suddenly improve.
Learning another instrument helps you look at guitar in a new way. It also gives you a way to work on skills in slightly different ways that you may not be able to do on guitar.
For example, a guitarist who learns how to play drums can expect to see their rhythm and timing skills on guitar improve. If you learn violin, you can expect that your sense of pitch will improve when you pick up your guitar again. Learning other instruments can make you a better guitarist in ways that only become obvious after you start learning another instrument.
Get New Ideas
The last main reason you might want to consider learning another instrument is to help with creativity. If you’re stuck for ideas or feel like you’re in a rut, there’s no better way to give your music a fresh perspective than learning a different instrument.
For example, let’s say you learn how to play piano. Playing chords on piano is very different than playing chords on guitar. They require you to think about them differently and perform them differently. You can’t strum chords on a piano and it will sound horrible if you try.
But once you learn how to form and play chords on a piano, that experience teaches you to think about chords in new ways.
For example, learning chord inversions is simple on piano and you may find that it’s easier to learn on piano compared to guitar. You’ll learn how to think about chord voicings in new ways and different ways to arpeggiate chords.
Then when you go back to guitar, while you can’t play chords in the same way as you can on piano, you’ll notice that you suddenly start to figure out new ways of playing chords that you never considered before.
You’ll start coming up with song ideas on piano that you never would have tried on guitar. If you write a song on guitar and suddenly get stuck, jumping on the piano can be all that it takes to keep that spark of inspiration going.
It should be no surprise that many of the best songwriters are able to play multiple instruments. They may not be that advanced on those other instruments, but they know enough to help them with their songwriting.
If you’re interested in writing your own music, definitely consider learning another instrument.
What Instruments to Choose
Hopefully I’ve given you a good enough overview on how learning another instrument can open up your music in new ways. There are a lot of benefits to learning another instrument and the good news is that it isn’t as hard as you might think to get started.
The big question is what instrument should you learn.
The first thing to ask yourself is what instruments are you interested in. If you’re interested in a specific instrument, go for it. Learn the basics and see if you like it.
If you nothing jumps out to you, think about what type of instruments you regularly hear in the music you listen to. I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun to relearn the songs you know on guitar, but to learn them on bass, drums, or any other instrument used.
Bass is a great instrument to learn if you’re intimidated by the thought of learning another instrument. A lot of the skills and knowledge you’ve built up for guitar transfer across to bass, so it’s a great starting point.
Each instrument will help you grow as a musician in different ways. Violin, drums, saxophone, bass, piano, all of these instruments will teach you new skills as well as new ways to think about music.
Even if you never progress past the beginner level on another instrument, you’ll find that it’s a lot of fun to be able to pick up something other than a guitar and play a song.
Do some reading up on other instruments and give one a go. You might be surprised by how easy it is to pick up the basics on another instrument. The work you’ve put in on guitar will help you in one way or another.
Check out the page for this episode at guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-39 for some helpful links including a few guides for learning bass as a guitarist.
Give another instrument a chance and I’ll talk to you next time.