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Should I only have one "main" instrument?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Helaskold, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Well guys, I just got the call. No longer in the band I was drumming for. Not a big deal; really didn't like the music but it was something to do. Guess they caught on.

    ANYWAY, I have always considered my main instrument to be "bass or drums" and I guess I'm pretty decent at both but I am now thinking about trading my drums for bass stuff and just forcing myself to only play bass so I will get good at it.

    My reasoning is that, while playing multiple instruments is helpful from a musician standpoint, that's not going to get you anywhere if you aren't able to put in the solid practice on the main one. How often do musicians get big with more than one? Dave Grohl is the only guy I can think of.

    My question is, what do you guys think? Have any of you forced yourself into one instrument only with good results or were you just bummed all the time about not having other things to play?
  2. No reason to stick with only one instrument unless you don't have enough time to practice. A few months ago, I didn't get the call, I just got replaced on the website.

    These days I'm playing a lot more guitar to try to get caught up to reasonably good. My goal is to find something good on guitar or bass and grab it. I'd hate to see a bass spot come up and be too rusty.
  3. RxFunk


    Dec 2, 2012
    I play guitar and bass in a band, and I've found its helpful to alternate your practice, and keep to a schedule. I'll play bass every other day, and practice guitar parts on the days in between. Even if I only have 15-20 minutes to practice a day, it keeps you from getting rusty on something.
  4. I can think of reasons to stick with one main bass. It seems a lot of the more proficient, unique, skilled players use the same instrument pretty consistently, for long periods of time. They develop a special bond with that instrument, and I think it helps them get to their level. I'm thinking people like Jaco, Wooten, et. al.

    I can think of reasons to switch 'em up. I'm no Jaco or Wooten, but I can give you LOTS of authentic tones and styles. Kind of a studio mentality, Jack Of All Trades Master Of None.
  5. I don't know if there are any real advantages to using a single instrument if you practice enough. I can see how lots of strings and/or fretless might not be ideal if you're not practicing enough.
  6. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    It's your choice to focus on one or spread your focus on multiple instruments, as well as at what rate you choose to advance your learning and skill level. And I think you have to consider if you're a 'master of one or a jack of all' and determine whether you're satisfied with the conclusion. There's no wrong or right about it...there's only
    what fulfills you and helps you to achieve the goals you've set for yourself.
  7. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Thanks for all the answers, guys! I think perhaps I will take it to heart and trade my drums for a keyboard so I can keep from getting stale without having something I'm too invested in. Looks like having multiple things to play seems to work for you lot.

    That being said, I am a "jack of all trades" and I'm pretty sick of not being great at one specific things so I'm going to see if selling all my MAIN instruments except one (goodbye, drums and guitar) changes that.
  8. NashStudioBass


    Mar 14, 2014
    I play drums, guitar, some piano, and bass. I play bass for a living. When u decided to pursue a professional career I had to get rid of a lot if my guitars and gear for basses and gear. I kept my Taylor acoustic but all my electrics and amps had to go. The question is, what are you playing for? Fun or career? I miss my guitars and vintage amps, but I couldn't justify keeping them, especially since needed the money for gear at the time. Don't ever give up a passion, but sometimes you gotta sacrifice things temporarily.
  9. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    It's good to play more than one instrument. If you find you are not developing on what you wish to be your "main" instrument, then dedicate MOST of your practice time to that one.

    But keep any others around; they can be very helpful in rouding you out as a player.
  10. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    That is about the same spot I'm in. I'm not professional in that I really want to make a lot of money (if I could get my gas and tour food paid for, I'd feel like I'm doing great... haha) but I do want to go as far as I can with the impression I make on the bass playing community. If that makes sense. It's not just a weekend jam with the boys for me.

    I just don't ever want to look back and wish I had ignored my drums/trumpet/whatever and practiced bass so I could have gone farther.

    Again, I really appreciate all of y'all's input on this. It's a huge decision!
  11. As a bass player, I think drums would be a huge help rhythmically. Keys has always been considered as the place to start to learn chords, melody, interdependence of hands and theory in general. I don't take it seriously enough to invest the time/$ for this but would if I wanted to be an accomplished pro.
  12. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I completely agree that it's important to learn drums as a bass player. But on the other side of that, how MUCH drum technique do you need? I feel that at a certain point, you hit a plateau as far as understanding how drums and bass work together. I am confident in my ability to lock in with the drummer but not at all confident in my knowledge of theory, so you are right. I will probably get a digital keyboard to play around with at home so I can improve the areas in which I'm lacking. I'm glad you reminded me of that.
  13. Are drummers in more demand than bassists in your area?
  14. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I play bass in one band, bass and guitar in another and play bass, guitar and keys in a recording project. No reason to limit yourself.
  15. Ronbassman


    Jun 1, 2011
    Flea also plays the trumpet and Marcus Miller also plays the bass clarinet.
  16. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Neither seem to be particularly needed here in Austin. Been here for about 2 years and haven't found one single band that I like. Into the technical metal and I get about a dozen emails a month to the tune of "hey man saw you were into tech death so you want to join our stoner metal/southern rock/Tom Petty cover band?" Haha.

    I just figured that if I quit splitting between instruments and just practiced bass all the time instead, I would be more valuable and could find a good technical band solely based on word of mouth. If I were playing your average 4/4 rock stuff, this wouldn't even be an issue; I'd just play both. But it's not easy to play tech music on one instrument (I'm certainly not pro level at it), let alone multiple.
  17. Omaha seems to be starving for good drummers and vocalists. Several years ago there was a bassist shortage, which is no longer the case.
  18. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    A lot of people that play multiple instruments seem to be a whole lot better at one thing, and kinda mediocre at others. I think those guys should stick to the one they are good at.

    A few people just seem to play everything really well. I hate those people.