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Thread: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1 ?

  1. #1
    Registered User Teddy_2's Avatar
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    Default To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1 ?

    Hi all! I'm new here! I hope this is the good location for his thread.
    I've been consulting this forum so often now, I thought i'd better join. First question: who plays the mandolin as their first instrument, and do you play any other instruments too?

    I started as a kid, when I was 9 years old. Then I hit puberty and wanted to play a 'cool' instrument so I picked up the bass. Ten years after I put the mando aside and neck-deep into rock and roll I discovered led zeppelin and I picked up the mando again. Since then I've been playing actively again (since a year or 5). I can't imagine how I ever disliked it. Currently I play country and I attempt bluegrass (the slower varieties, my bluegrass techniques are not that good because I was schooled in folk and traditional European music).

    Ciao!

    Teddy

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    Registered User Martin Ohrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Hi Teddy, and welcome to the Cafe! Enjoy your time here

    My first instrument is the mandolin, I've got classical lessons on it. Second, other fifth-tuned instruments like Octave mandos and tenor banjos. And finally I learned Plectrum banjo and 5 string banjo. So basically I learned two instruments: Mandolin / Fifth-tuned, and Banjo (based on the Open G tuning).
    Mandolins: 1920s (?) Meinel & Herold Bowlback, 2006 Furch "Redwood MA-1" A5

    Octaves: 2004 Fender FMO-66 Flat-Top, 2015 A. Karperien 5 String Electric

    Banjos: 2007 Gold Tone IT-250F Irish Tenor, 1963 Vega Vox No. 1 Plectrum, 2016 Recording King RK-OT25 Clawhammer

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  4. #3

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Welcome to the café!

    Like you I started at 9 … 50 years ago (sax and gtr). Much later I went through a bluegrass phase when I was totally smitten with mndln (and banjo).
    Last edited by catmandu2; Nov-02-2019 at 7:29pm.

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    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Started on guitar, started a bit of mandolin when I was about 16, started playing a lot in my 20s, after my wife insisted I get a decent one. I consider mandolin my main instrument these days, but play a lot of guitar, some bass, octave mandolin, mandola, and working away at banjo. Given my preferences, I'd play mandolin most of the time. In band situations, I wind up playing guitar a lot it seems.
    -Dave
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    Way too many other instruments

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    Registered User mandopaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    I can't imagine how some musicians like Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs and a bunch more play fiddle, mandolin, and flat pick guitar, play banjo - and not just passable playing, but mastering them all?

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    I play piano, guitar, banjo, and mandolin and have dabbled in other instruments. The mandolin has been my main instrument lately, partly because I just love the mandolin for all the common reasons (size, tone, string symmetry, flexibility, and ability to be heard in a group) and partly because it seems like there are relatively few mando players around here.
    Doug Brock
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Violin was my first instrument. Then came guitar, then bass, then many years later mandolin followed by all members of the mandolin family. Mandolin is my main instrument in a band setting. Mandocello is the go to for solo work.

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    I started out playing drums and guitar when I was a kid, and then picked up the tenor banjo and mandolin in my 40's. I still play all four, but I'd rate the tenor banjo as my No. 1 instrument, followed by mandolin, drums and then guitar.
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    i play harp(like the angels play not like the devils play)mandolin cittern bouzouki and guitar.(and i fiddle around with a few others) i go back and forth but think these days for both performance and home playing i play short and long scale bouzouki/citterns, and harp most. they are unique for my adoring public

  11. #10
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Drums was technically my "first" instrument, but I wasn't really good. Guitar was my first musical musical instrument, but I'm equally comfortable on banjo. Mandolin is something like my fifth instrument, but I'm already quite comfortable on it since I already flatpicked guitar and play fiddle.
    Mandopaul, you think they're amazing check out Justin Moses! He plays everything as if it's his first instrument, he's my main instrumental hero
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

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  12. #11

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    I had to dabble in guitar for quite a few years, but mandolin was my first stringed instrument and always my main one.

  13. #12

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopaul View Post
    I can't imagine how some musicians like Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs and a bunch more play fiddle, mandolin, and flat pick guitar, play banjo - and not just passable playing, but mastering them all?
    One thing that always impressed me about Sam Bush over the years is that although he is an excellent fiddler and plays a mean guitar also, he has always stuck with mandolin as his main instrument. If it's good enough for Sam, then it's good enough for me.

  14. #13

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    As a teen I took piano lessons and played the recorder. Thanks to a family member, I took up the ukulele. And via the ukulele and interest in 8 strings have come to the Mandolin. Because I play the ukulele so much better it is my main"love" but mandolin is closing in and the search for a "perfect sounding" mandolin consumes much of my thoughts and YouTube, screen time. :-)

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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Started on piano when I was five. Picked up the guitar at 40 and the mandolin at 50. Guitar has been my primary for a while and is the most versatile for worship and group playing, but I think I enjoy the mandolin the most.
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Mandolin is my favorite, but I’m still more proficient on guitar, which I’ll begrudgingly admit is more versatile. I also play OM, bass, and banjo. Well, I own a banjo, but wouldn’t say that I’m a banjo player yet. Since my wife can’t stand the banjo in general, it gets the least amount of work.

    I used to own an awesome Weber mandocello, but the scale length kicked my bootie, so it became the short scale OM, which is much more manageable...

    I’m the “utility guy” and adult supervision for our youth praise band, so what I play depends on who shows up. Lately it’s been a lot of emando and electric guitar...
    Chuck

  17. #16

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Drums since the middle 60's. By far most of my hundreds of gigs have been on drums, guitar second since the 80's. Less than a year on mandolin.
    1989/2019 Ike Bacon/Barry Kratzer F5
    1945 Levin 330
    192? Bruno (Oscar Schmidt) banjo-mandolin
    early Eastwood Mandostang
    2005 Tacoma CB-10 acoustic bass guitar
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  18. #17
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopaul View Post
    I can't imagine how some musicians like Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs and a bunch more play fiddle, mandolin, and flat pick guitar, play banjo - and not just passable playing, but mastering them all?
    It is mind-blowing to see people who are equally adept at multiple instruments. Some people just seem to have it.

    I started on guitar and have been tripping up in the exact same places for 25 years while playing it. I got to a level a long time ago that I seem unable to go beyond. Been playing mandolin (badly) for over 10 and find myself in the same boat there.
    “Don't suck the fun out of your hobby by making it results-based." -Ryan Holiday via The Art of Manliness podcast.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    I had 6 years of piano lessons as a kid, then played drums in garage Rock bands as a teenager. Then 30-odd years of acoustic and electric guitar. I discovered the mandolin around 11 years ago, and a few years ago I started to learn "Irish" flute. For many years I played Blues and Jazz on guitar, but lately it's all been Irish and Scottish traditional instrumental music, along with related styles.

    Prioritizing which is No. 1 isn't easy. My main instrument for performance or casual playing with others is mandolin. That's what I play in local Irish/Scottish sessions, and it's what I've played in the last two bands I was in. If you look at what I play in public, mandolin is clearly No. 1. In terms of "focus" though, these days it's more about the flute because that's where I'm spending most of my practice time on technique and building repertoire.

    I would have a hard time prioritizing between mandolin, flute, and guitar for the music I'm currently interested in, because each one is a different window into the music. Heck, if I had more time and wasn't getting up in years, I'd want to learn button box accordion and the pipes, for those additional perspectives. For me it's always been about what the music "wants" first, and then finding the instrument to express it. Guitar was the clear No.1 when I was more interested in Blues, now it's something else.

  20. #19
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopaul View Post
    I can't imagine how some musicians like Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs and a bunch more play fiddle, mandolin, and flat pick guitar, play banjo - and not just passable playing, but mastering them all?
    I actually think it helps to play more than one instrument in a class of instruments, such as string instruments.

    I was always curious about the mandolin, but only when I started getting serious about becoming the best flatpicker I could be did I start playing the mandolin. Why? Because I noticed that nearly all of those considered to be the best flatpickers also played the mandolin or some other string instrument, at least casually. Clarence White? Check. Doc Watson. Check. Steve Kaufman. Check. And on and on.

    The skills crossover. Every minute of practice I put in on the mandolin I know will help me pick better on the guitar. And after I learn a song on the mandolin, it's easy enough to transpose it over to the guitar. Also playing something different always keeps things interesting. The more interesting an activity is, the more you want to do it. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

    If anyone is on the fence about picking up a new instrument, I say go for it. It will help you play better on your number one instrument, which for me is the acoustic guitar (to answer OP's question).

  21. #20

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Ya instrument functions and settings is an interesting question. I'm no chris thiele so I had to go to other instruments to say what I want with music. After my bluegrass/OT phase was done I couldn't find a use for mandolin...went to 4-string banjos for jazz voicings. I've since gotten into Brazilian music and would have used mndln for that, but I learned accordion instead which is primo for Brazilian. When I had children I had to quit playing in bands and go solo - which ended my mndln playing (as well as drumming and bass playing which I did for money). Solo playing allowed me to pursue instruments after my heart.

    For performing efficacy, I use fiddle and box - for volume without amplification, as well as collaborations. I occasionally do quiet settings with harp, but still no amps.

    Oh I still love horns, but my daughter is the horn player now.

  22. #21

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy_2 View Post
    . . . First question: who plays the mandolin as their first instrument, and do you play any other instruments too? . . .
    Hey, no fair! That's two questions!

    Learned guitar in at sixteen in self-defense. (It was 1968. Wouldn't have had any friends otherwise.)

    My main instrument is a Guild D-35 dread. Also close at hand: two mandos (one healthy, one in rehab), three partscasters, two resos (a square and a round), an electric bass for recording, the usual five blues harps, a tambourine, and a few other toys. There are also a washtub, broomstick, and piece of rope down in the basement ready to become a bass at short notice. They've been gathering dust there for about fifteen years. But someday I'll be tub-thumpin' with the stars!

    I'm pretty new here, myself. The folks here ar hugely helpful.

    Welcome, Teddy - no matter how many questions you have!

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Most of my gigs are done with guitar, five-string banjo, ukulele and harmonicas. When I go to sing-arounds or jams, I usually bring mandolin and/or mandola (the latter more frequently recently), banjo, guitar and concertina. Sometimes resonator guitar. With particular groups, I'll add octave mandolin, bass fiddle, mando-bass, Autoharp, mandocello, uke oddities like tiple, ukulele-banjo, even sometimes a mandolin-banjo.

    No such thing as a "Number 1 instrument," but the one I guess I'm found with the most is six-string acoustic guitar –– for chords, rhythm, and vocal accompaniment, not lead. I've found this the most versatile of the instruments I play, most useful in a variety of different musical situations. But when I need a particular voice, I go for the instrument that provides it.
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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    In my early days of playing in bands I was always the bass player - but now that I am a songwriter and solo artist who does one-man shows, it is the guitar that I can be found playing most often . . . .

  27. #24
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    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    Mandolin was my third instrument, guitar first, banjo second and fiddle fourth. I usually play what isn't being played by someone else. I am interested in balancing out whatever music is going on. Rarely do I get called to play banjo which is a good thing as I practice it the least. Usually there is already a guitar player sometimes two so I don't get asked to play guitar much either though I do keep my chops up. Fiddle and mandolin are what I usually wind up playing switching off between the two depending on the song or tune. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  28. #25

    Default Re: To the multi instrumentalists: which instrument is your no. 1

    1. Banjo
    2. Mandolin
    3. Guitar
    4. Porsche

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