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Author Topic:  Piano or Guitar? Two Questions
Dom Franco


From:
Beaverton, OR, 97007
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 10:20 am    
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I am not sure but there may have already been a thread about this?

Did you start out on Piano or guitar before coming to the steel guitar?


Do you read music?

I believe most steel players came from the guitar.
and I believe that is why many of us don't read music...

If you take piano lessons they teach you to read music, but if you take guitar lessons you learn chords. This is a generalization and I know there are some exceptions...
But If you learn chords and play by ear and sing then you are freed from reading music, and thereby more likely to pick up the steel guitar.

Dom
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Keith Glendinning


From:
United Kingdom
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 10:36 am    
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I’m from the route guitar Dom.
My parents sent me to piano lessons between the ages of 5 and 7, but I wanted to play outside with my mates! Then I forgot it all.
I agree with you about learning chords on the guitar and I also play by ear. Thank god for tab.
Keith.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 11:32 am    
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I started on Hawaiian guitar but I had an instructor who also taught me music. He was a graduate of the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Very Happy
Erv
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Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 11:37 am    
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I started on piano, then picked up mandolin, then guitar before I got to steel. I used to read music when I was a kid, but I've completely lost that ability since I stopped taking piano lessons 20 years ago. At that point, I picked up new instruments by ear alone.
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Dom Franco


From:
Beaverton, OR, 97007
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 11:47 am    
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I marvel at pianists who can look at new piece of music and immediately play it by sight reading... even if they've never heard the song before!
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Michael Butler


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 1:20 pm    
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i started out on guitar but wish i'd started on piano. so, i've had to teach myself piano. it sure has opened my eyes to inversions. i believe it is best to start on piano and then move to other instruments if you wish.

play music!
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Michael Butler


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 1:21 pm    
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Dom Franco wrote:
I marvel at pianists who can look at new piece of music and immediately play it by sight reading... even if they've never heard the song before!


i do too, but, i've also found that a lot of them have no improvisation skills.

play music!
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 2:30 pm    
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My route was violin (briefly, in 4th and 5th grade), guitar, bass, sitar, surbahar, then finally landing on steel guitar. I can tinker on piano a bit, and have jammed a bit with elec piano and organ, but nobody is going to be paying me to do anything on keyboard instrument any time soon... Weird stuff notwithstanding guitar and bass are my two main instruments, and steel is the new thing, for me...just a few years so far.
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David Knutson


From:
Cowichan Valley, Canada
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 3:12 pm    
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I came through guitar, to dobro to steel, with some mandolin family on the side. I did have some piano lessons as a kid, but I play entirely by ear. Like you, Dom, I'm a singer, and I think that singing - especially harmony - really helps to develop my improv skills on steel.
I was also lucky enough in my early pro years to be surrounded by players who understood and shared practical chord theory, which, for me at least, was way more valuable than reading.
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA (deceased)
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 5:17 pm    
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I took some steel lessons in the late 40s, and the course was a Gibson, notation & not tab. Like many here, I forgot most of it !! Very Happy
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Robert Allen


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 6:18 pm    
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Started with lessons on lap steel at 8 years old. Oahu Method A tuning, then E7th tuning, then learned guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro. Yes, I can read music and tab but use them only as learning tools if I'm not familiar with a song.
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G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 6:39 pm    
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Started (in the 50's) on Clarinet. Then took up Saxophone. (Eb alto) The high school orchestra needed a bassist. (Upright) So I did that..... which started me on the long road to my demise.....lol Lap steel , then guitar, pedal steel and now back to non pedal steel. I sight read,(not as good as I once did.) Took some solfege and functional piano studies. Has all this helped? Well, I'm not sure but I do know theory, chord construction etc. I have always felt that if you are going to play music you should know the language that you are professing to speak. Wink
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Robert W Wilson


From:
Palisade, Western Colorado
Post  Posted 18 Aug 2019 11:43 am    
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Started pedal steel 1 1/2 years ago with no guitar experience. Had classical piano training from age 6 or 7 up to jr. high. Got pretty good but didn’t love the classical style, was limited by smallish hands, and couldn’t play anything by ear. Came back to it in my 20’s but got the right index and middle finger chopped up in a 1/2 “ datto blade (4 sawblades stacked together). I can read complex music on the go and stumble through a song I’ve never heard in all keys.

40 yrs later I order a new U12 PSG and posted “I will practice scales and arpeggios”. What a ridiculous naive comment ha ha ha! The 2 chopped fingers work really well with finger picks but the most limiting factor was that I translated everything to keyboard in my head, then to tab and finally the guitar.

So, piano study and reading notation was more of a handicap than the injury. Once I started study with John McClung the steel is making sense (I am probably his slowest student). I bought another keyboard and now, with the PSG knowledge, I am learning to play keys by ear as well!
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David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 7:27 am    
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I began on guitar...but I read music well enough to get sight-reading gigs like shows, theater, etc. I wound up with a Master's in Music degree.

I also can read fairly well on lap steel, best in A6. Some of my early method books used staff notation.

I can read tab to learn new tunes, but prefer the sheet music and making my own arrangements.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 7:47 am    
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I played guitar (rather poorly). I'm learning piano now.

I learned to read music in grade school, and from Mel Bay's guitar method. I'm not a real fast sight reader. Getting better now that I'm playing piano.
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Paul Monroe


From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 3:24 pm    
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I started on lap steel
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Allan Revich


From:
Toronto, Canada
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2019 2:32 pm    
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Hmm. I have to answer “sort of” piano, but really neither.

As a kid I took about 3 months of piano lessons, just enough to learn the notes on the treble clef. Played harmonica and flute (mostly blues and by ear) for about 40 years before picking up the ukulele and learning it. That led to learning guitar and learning how music theory is actually very useful when you know what to use it for! A couple years ago I got a deal on an old National (Valco) Lap Steel and that led me down the lap steel rabbit hole, where I currently dwell.
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Rich Gardner


From:
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2019 9:27 pm    
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I started on lap steel. I learned to read music using the Oahu method that came out of Cleveland. In time, I took lessons on regular guitar using the Oahu method.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2019 11:53 pm    
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I learned to read music as a kid and played trombone in bands and orchestras. Then I took up bass guitar and because I could read, I could deputise odd nights on gigs with written-out arrangements (there were not many in my city who could sight-read a whole show).
When I took up pedal steel I discovered that reading as such is of little value, but the theory that comes with it is priceless.
So to answer Dom's question, neither Smile
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Jim Pollard


From:
Cedar Park, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 21 Aug 2019 6:25 am    
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My route was trumpet, baritone, tuba, guitar, piano, dislocated finger on my fretting hand, lap steel, dobro, ... So I used to be able to read. Even sight read, started again with reading on piano, but quickly fell back into guitar.
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Paul Strojan


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 24 Aug 2019 6:16 pm    
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As a kid, I played violin in strings class. I lost interest in the instrument because I realized that we weren't learning any fiddle tunes. The nail in the coffin of my fiddle playing was an injury to my left hand that made fretting with my pinkie impossible. I remember playing sheet music on the violin but I have forgotten it all.
I don't see myself reading music with the steel guitar because there are so many different ways of playing a given note on a given tuning and so many different tunings to keep track of.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 24 Aug 2019 7:50 pm    
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Guitar. The Tommy Tedesco columns in Guitar Player convinced me to force myself to learn to read music. I used two books mainly; one called Fingerpicking Bach, and the other called A Collection of Classical Music For Guitar. I also had Richard Lieberson’s “Old Time Fiddle Tunes For Guitar”. I’m glad I did it. I think there are many things about music (as well as guitar playing) I would have missed out on if I hadn’t learned to read. Still can’t sight read for stink, especially in non-guitar friendly keys, but I can figure things out eventually.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 5:48 am    
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I remember Buddy Emmons once making the comment that he missed out on quite a few engagement because he couldn't read music.
He was scheduled to play with a philharmonic orchestra but, because he couldn't read music, they couldn't use him. Sad
Erv
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Tom Keller


From:
Greeneville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 8:58 am    
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I started out on guitar and then Dobro,lap steel to pedals.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 9:08 am    
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Erv Niehaus wrote:
I remember Buddy Emmons once making the comment that he missed out on quite a few engagement because he couldn't read music.
He was scheduled to play with a philharmonic orchestra but, because he couldn't read music, they couldn't use him. Sad
Erv

They probably should have just let him play on cue. For me, learning to read was a tremendous developmental help. For others, obviously it is completely unnecessary.
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