What is the Best Unconventional Stringed Instrument to Start With?

Are you looking to explore the world of string instruments but don’t know where to start? With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to learn. But fear not, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll dive into the best unconventional stringed instrument to start with. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned musician, this instrument is sure to pique your interest and help you discover a new side of music. So, let’s get started and explore the endless possibilities of this unique instrument!

Quick Answer:
If you’re looking for an unconventional stringed instrument to start with, the Appalachian dulcimer is a great choice. It’s a versatile instrument that can be played in many different styles, from traditional folk music to modern rock and roll. It’s also relatively easy to learn, with a simple fretboard layout and only three or four strings per course. Plus, it’s a great instrument for accompanying yourself while singing, making it a great choice for solo performances. Another great unconventional instrument to start with is the lap steel guitar. It’s a great instrument for creating atmospheric sounds and can be played in many different styles, from blues to country to rock and roll. It’s also relatively easy to learn, with a simple fretboard layout and a variety of playing techniques to explore. Whether you’re looking for a new challenge or just want to try something different, the Appalachian dulcimer or lap steel guitar are both great choices for unconventional stringed instruments to start with.

Types of Unconventional Stringed Instruments

Exploring Alternative Instruments Beyond the Traditional Violin, Viola, and Cello

While the violin, viola, and cello are the most commonly known stringed instruments, there are numerous other unconventional stringed instruments that offer unique and captivating sounds. Exploring these alternative instruments can provide an opportunity to expand one’s musical horizons and develop a deeper understanding of the diverse world of stringed instruments.

Some of the unconventional stringed instruments that can be considered include:

  • Harp Guitar: A variant of the acoustic guitar that features additional strings and a longer neck, which allows for a wider range of notes and chords. The harp guitar is often used in folk and blues music and is known for its distinctive sound.
  • Kantele: A traditional Finnish instrument that is similar to a mandolin but has a distinctive bent shape and a sympathetic string system that adds depth and resonance to the sound. The kantele is often used in traditional Finnish music and is also popular in other Nordic countries.
  • Sitar: A stringed instrument originating from India that is typically played with a plectrum or fingerstyle. The sitar has a distinctive resonator and a long, gently curved neck, which produces a characteristic droning sound. It is often used in Indian classical music and is also used in some popular music styles.
  • Glass Armonica: An instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin that uses glass bowls filled with water to produce sound. The glass armonica produces a delicate, ethereal sound that is often used in ambient and new age music.
  • Electric Wine Glass: An unusual stringed instrument that uses wine glasses as its sound-producing element. The electric wine glass is played with a plectrum or fingers and produces a range of tones and harmonics. It is often used in experimental and avant-garde music.

Exploring these alternative instruments can provide a fresh perspective on the world of stringed instruments and open up new avenues for musical expression.

Characteristics of Unconventional Stringed Instruments

Unconventional stringed instruments are musical instruments that do not fit into the traditional categories of violin, viola, cello, and double bass. These instruments have unique characteristics that make them distinct from one another.

  • Innovative Design: Unconventional stringed instruments often have innovative designs that challenge traditional instrument design. This can include new shapes, materials, and constructions that offer unique sounds and playing experiences.
  • Unusual Tunings: Many unconventional stringed instruments have unusual tunings that are not found in traditional instruments. These tunings can offer new possibilities for composition and improvisation, and can open up new sounds and textures for the player.
  • Non-Traditional Techniques: Unconventional stringed instruments often require non-traditional techniques for playing, such as tapping, bowing, or striking the strings. These techniques can produce a wide range of sounds and effects, and can offer new possibilities for musical expression.
  • Hybrid Instruments: Some unconventional stringed instruments are hybrids that combine elements of different instruments. For example, a violin with a cello body or a guitar with a mandolin neck. These hybrid instruments can offer new sounds and playing experiences, and can be a good choice for players who want to explore different instruments without committing to a single one.
  • Limited Availability: Unconventional stringed instruments are often less common than traditional instruments, and may be harder to find or purchase. This can make them a good choice for players who want to explore new sounds and techniques, but who may not have access to a wide range of instruments.

Overall, the characteristics of unconventional stringed instruments make them a unique and exciting choice for players who want to explore new sounds and techniques. Whether you are looking for a new instrument to add to your collection, or are just starting out on your musical journey, there is sure to be an unconventional stringed instrument that will inspire and challenge you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Unconventional Instrument

When it comes to choosing an unconventional stringed instrument, there are several factors to consider. These factors will help you make an informed decision and ensure that you choose the right instrument for your needs and preferences.

  1. Your musical goals: What do you want to achieve with your instrument? Are you looking to perform in public, record your music, or simply enjoy playing for personal satisfaction? Your musical goals will influence the type of instrument you choose.
  2. Your level of experience: If you are a beginner, you may want to choose an instrument that is easier to learn and play. More experienced players may be interested in an instrument that offers more challenges and opportunities for growth.
  3. Your budget: Unconventional stringed instruments can vary widely in price, from relatively inexpensive to quite expensive. It’s important to consider your budget when making your choice.
  4. The size and weight of the instrument: Some unconventional stringed instruments are large and heavy, while others are smaller and more portable. Consider your lifestyle and how much you are willing to carry around.
  5. The sound and tone of the instrument: Every instrument has its own unique sound and tone. Consider what type of sound you are looking for and how it will fit with your musical style.
  6. The availability of resources: Some unconventional stringed instruments may require specialized resources or instruction. Consider whether you have access to the resources you need to play and maintain your instrument.
  7. The maintenance and upkeep of the instrument: Some instruments require more maintenance and upkeep than others. Consider whether you are willing and able to invest the time and resources needed to keep your instrument in good condition.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the best unconventional stringed instrument for your needs and preferences.

Choosing the Right Unconventional Instrument for Your Needs

Key takeaway: Exploring unconventional stringed instruments can provide a fresh perspective on the world of stringed instruments and open up new avenues for musical expression. Unconventional stringed instruments often have innovative designs, unusual tunings, and non-traditional techniques, which can offer new possibilities for composition and improvisation. When choosing an unconventional stringed instrument, it is important to assess your physical abilities and comfort level, research and compare different options, and find the right resources and lessons specific to your instrument. By dedicating time to finding the right resources and lessons specific to your instrument, you can ensure that you have access to the information and guidance needed to excel in your chosen unconventional stringed instrument.

Assessing Your Physical Abilities and Comfort Level

When it comes to choosing an unconventional stringed instrument to start with, it’s important to assess your physical abilities and comfort level. This will help you select an instrument that is not only easy to play but also one that you can enjoy playing for extended periods of time. Here are some factors to consider when assessing your physical abilities and comfort level:

  • Body size and shape: Different unconventional stringed instruments have different body sizes and shapes, and some may be more comfortable for you to play than others. For example, if you have smaller hands, you may find it easier to play a ukulele or a banjolele, while a guitar or a bass may be more comfortable for someone with larger hands.
  • Posture: Maintaining good posture is essential when playing any instrument, and this can be especially challenging with unconventional stringed instruments. For example, playing a standing steel drum requires you to hold the drum with one hand while playing the notes with the other, which can be physically demanding. On the other hand, playing a Warr guitar requires you to sit with the instrument between your legs, which can be more comfortable for some players.
  • Physical limitations: If you have any physical limitations, such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, you may want to choose an instrument that is easier to play. For example, a lap steel guitar or a pedal steel guitar may be more comfortable for someone with arthritis in their hands, while a fretless bass may be easier to play for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Overall, it’s important to choose an unconventional stringed instrument that is comfortable for you to play and that you can enjoy playing for extended periods of time. By assessing your physical abilities and comfort level, you can select an instrument that will help you develop your skills and love for music.

Researching and Comparing Different Unconventional Instruments

When it comes to choosing the best unconventional stringed instrument to start with, it’s important to do your research and compare different options. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

  • Consider your musical goals: What do you want to achieve with your instrument? Do you want to play in a band, compose your own music, or simply enjoy playing for your own enjoyment? Your musical goals can help guide your choice of instrument.
  • Explore different types of instruments: There are many different types of unconventional stringed instruments to choose from, including instruments like the oud, sitar, and harp guitar. Take some time to explore different types of instruments and learn about their unique features and characteristics.
  • Read reviews and watch demonstrations: One of the best ways to learn about an instrument is to read reviews from other players and watch demonstrations on YouTube. This can give you a good sense of what the instrument sounds like and how it’s played.
  • Try before you buy: If possible, try to play the instrument before you buy it. This can help you get a feel for the instrument and determine if it’s the right choice for you.
  • Consider your budget: Unconventional stringed instruments can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Consider your budget when making your decision and don’t be afraid to invest in a higher-quality instrument if it’s within your means.

By taking the time to research and compare different unconventional stringed instruments, you can find the best instrument for your needs and start playing with confidence.

Tips for Getting Started with Your Unconventional Stringed Instrument

Finding Resources and Lessons Specific to Your Instrument

  • Online Platforms: There are a plethora of online platforms available that cater to a wide range of unconventional stringed instruments. Websites such as JustStringIt, Groove3, and TrueFire offer comprehensive video lessons for various unconventional instruments, catering to both beginners and advanced learners. These platforms provide access to renowned musicians and instructors, ensuring quality education.
  • Specialized Forums and Communities: Many online communities, such as Reddit and Facebook Groups, cater specifically to the niche of unconventional stringed instruments. By joining these communities, you can engage with fellow enthusiasts, seek advice, and even find local resources. This interaction with like-minded individuals fosters a supportive environment for learning and growing.
  • Local Music Schools and Instructors: Explore local music schools or seek out private instructors who specialize in teaching unconventional stringed instruments. They often provide one-on-one lessons, which can be highly beneficial in the early stages of learning. Many instrument-specific stores or workshops may also host regular workshops or classes, offering opportunities to learn from experts in a hands-on environment.
  • Music Festivals and Conferences: Attending music festivals or conferences focused on unconventional stringed instruments can be an excellent way to learn, network, and gain inspiration. Many events feature workshops, demonstrations, and performances, allowing you to connect with fellow musicians and gain insight into various playing techniques and styles.
  • Books and Instructional Material: There is a wealth of literature available on unconventional stringed instruments, including books, instructional manuals, and online resources. Look for materials that are specific to your instrument, as they will provide the most relevant information and guidance. These resources can serve as a valuable reference, providing detailed explanations and illustrations to help you progress in your learning journey.

By exploring these various resources, you can ensure that you have access to the information and guidance needed to excel in your chosen unconventional stringed instrument. Dedicating time to finding the right resources and lessons specific to your instrument will lay a strong foundation for your musical journey.

Developing Proper Techniques and Practice Habits

Mastering Proper Techniques

One of the most important aspects of playing an unconventional stringed instrument is mastering proper techniques. This includes understanding how to hold the instrument, how to use a bow (if applicable), and how to produce the desired sounds.

  • Holding the Instrument: The way you hold the instrument can greatly affect your sound and technique. It’s important to find a comfortable and stable stance that allows you to control the instrument and make smooth movements.
  • Using a Bow (if applicable): If your unconventional stringed instrument requires a bow, it’s important to understand the proper bow grip and bowing techniques. This includes knowing how to apply the right amount of pressure and bow speed, as well as how to create different sounds by adjusting the bow’s angle and pressure.
  • Producing Desired Sounds: Understanding how to produce the desired sounds on your instrument is also crucial. This may involve learning different plucking or strumming techniques, as well as understanding how to control your instrument’s sound by adjusting the strings or frets.

Developing Practice Habits

Developing proper techniques also requires consistent and focused practice. Here are some tips for developing good practice habits:

  • Set Goals: Start by setting specific goals for what you want to achieve with your instrument. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your progress.
  • Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is key to improving your skills. Set aside a regular time each day or week to practice, and try to stick to that schedule as much as possible.
  • Record Your Progress: Keep track of your progress by recording yourself playing or practicing. This can help you identify areas where you need to improve and also give you a sense of accomplishment as you see your skills develop.
  • Practice Smarter, Not Harder: It’s important to practice effectively, not just for long periods of time. Focus on specific techniques or skills that need improvement, and break your practice sessions into manageable chunks to avoid burnout.
  • Experiment and Have Fun: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques or styles of music. This can help you find new ways to express yourself and improve your skills. And remember, playing a musical instrument should be fun, so don’t take yourself too seriously and enjoy the process!

Building Muscle Memory and Strength

Playing an unconventional stringed instrument can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires dedication and practice. One of the most important aspects of learning to play an unconventional stringed instrument is building muscle memory and strength. This can be achieved through regular practice and by focusing on specific techniques.

Practice Regularly

To build muscle memory and strength, it is important to practice regularly. This means setting aside time each day to work on your instrument, even if it is just for a few minutes. Consistent practice will help you develop the muscle memory and strength needed to play your instrument with ease.

Focus on Techniques

In addition to regular practice, it is important to focus on specific techniques when building muscle memory and strength. For example, if you are learning to play the ukulele, you may want to focus on developing your fingerpicking skills. Or, if you are learning to play the sitar, you may want to focus on developing your ability to play the different strings with your right hand while pressing the strings with your left hand.

Use Exercises and Drills

Using exercises and drills can also help you build muscle memory and strength. These can be simple exercises, such as playing scales or practicing chords, or more complex drills, such as playing a specific piece of music or a particular style of music. The key is to find exercises and drills that challenge you and help you improve your skills.

Be Patient

Finally, it is important to be patient when building muscle memory and strength. These skills take time to develop, and it is important to remember that progress may be slow at first. However, with consistent practice and a focus on specific techniques, you can build the muscle memory and strength needed to play your unconventional stringed instrument with ease and confidence.

The Joy of Exploring Unconventional Stringed Instruments

Embracing Creativity and Expression

Discovering new unconventional stringed instruments can be a thrilling experience for any musician. Each instrument offers a unique playing style and timbre, enabling musicians to express themselves in new and creative ways. Exploring these instruments not only expands one’s musical knowledge but also enhances the ability to connect with diverse audiences.

Here are some reasons why embracing creativity and expression through unconventional stringed instruments is a rewarding experience:

  • Expanding Musical Horizons: Trying out different unconventional stringed instruments allows musicians to explore various musical styles and techniques. This broadens their musical knowledge and skill set, making them more versatile and adaptable to different genres and playing situations.
  • Developing a Unique Sound: Each unconventional stringed instrument has its own distinctive timbre and playing style. By incorporating these instruments into their music, musicians can create a unique sound that sets them apart from others in the industry. This can help them establish a distinct identity and make a lasting impression on their audience.
  • Experimenting with New Techniques: Unconventional stringed instruments often require specialized techniques and playing styles, such as alternative tunings, percussive techniques, or unique bowing methods. Mastering these techniques can challenge musicians to develop new skills and expand their musical vocabulary.
  • Enhancing Musical Expression: Unconventional stringed instruments often offer a wider range of dynamics, timbres, and textures than traditional instruments. This provides musicians with a broader palette to express themselves and convey emotion in their music. Experimenting with these instruments can help musicians tap into new dimensions of musical expression and create a more engaging and dynamic performance.
  • Connecting with Diverse Audiences: Unconventional stringed instruments can evoke cultural or historical associations that resonate with diverse audiences. By incorporating these instruments into their music, musicians can create a connection with listeners who may not have been exposed to these sounds before. This can help them build a loyal fan base and reach a wider audience.

Overall, embracing creativity and expression through unconventional stringed instruments can be a thrilling and rewarding experience for any musician. It offers the opportunity to expand musical horizons, develop a unique sound, experiment with new techniques, enhance musical expression, and connect with diverse audiences. So, why not give it a try and discover the endless possibilities of unconventional stringed instruments?

Connecting with a Unique Musical Community

Exploring unconventional stringed instruments not only opens up a world of new sounds and techniques, but it also connects you with a community of musicians who share your passion for something different. Playing an unconventional instrument can be a unique and rewarding experience, but it can also be isolating if you don’t have others to share it with.

Fortunately, there are many communities of unconventional instrument players who are happy to welcome newcomers. These communities can be found online, in local music stores, and at music festivals and events.

Online communities are a great way to connect with other players and learn about new instruments and techniques. Forums, social media groups, and online communities like Reddit and Facebook can be great resources for finding information and connecting with other players.

Local music stores are also a great place to find a community of unconventional instrument players. Many stores host workshops and events featuring guest artists and teachers who specialize in unusual instruments. Attending these events can be a great way to meet other players and learn more about the instruments you’re interested in.

Finally, music festivals and events are a great way to connect with other players and learn about new instruments and techniques. Many festivals feature workshops and demonstrations, and they are a great way to meet other players and learn more about the instruments you’re interested in.

Overall, connecting with a unique musical community is an important part of the joy of exploring unconventional stringed instruments. Whether you’re online or in person, connecting with other players can help you learn more about the instruments you’re interested in and help you feel less isolated in your pursuit of something different.

Continuing to Learn and Grow as a Musician

  • Mastering an unconventional stringed instrument opens up new possibilities for personal and artistic growth
    • Expanding one’s musical vocabulary and techniques
      • Exploring unique tunings and scales
      • Developing innovative ways of playing and improvising
    • Broadening the repertoire and style range
      • Performing lesser-known or obscure pieces
      • Composing original music tailored to the instrument’s capabilities
    • Connecting with other musicians and musical communities
      • Joining workshops, masterclasses, or festivals centered around the instrument
      • Collaborating with other players to create innovative projects
    • Building a distinctive sound and identity
      • Customizing the instrument to suit individual playing style
      • Cultivating a unique voice through extended techniques and creative approaches
    • Staying curious and embracing the unknown
      • Experimenting with different playing styles and techniques
      • Pushing boundaries and taking risks in composition and improvisation
    • Embracing the challenges and rewards of learning a new instrument
      • Developing patience and persistence in the face of obstacles
      • Celebrating milestones and achievements along the way
    • Enjoying the journey of self-discovery and growth
      • Cultivating a deep connection with the instrument and music
      • Discovering new aspects of oneself through the creative process
    • Maintaining a lifelong love for music and learning
      • Embracing the joy of musical exploration and curiosity
      • Staying open to new ideas and experiences in music and life

FAQs

1. What is the best unconventional stringed instrument to start with?

Answer: When it comes to choosing an unconventional stringed instrument to start with, there are many options to consider. One of the most popular choices is the viola, which is similar to a violin but has a lower pitch and a thicker, richer sound. Another option is the cello, which is larger than a violin and has a deeper, more resonant sound. The double bass is also a great choice for those who want to try something different, as it is the largest and lowest-pitched stringed instrument in the orchestral family. Ultimately, the best unconventional stringed instrument to start with will depend on your personal preferences and musical goals.

2. What are the benefits of playing an unconventional stringed instrument?

Answer: Playing an unconventional stringed instrument can offer many benefits, including improved dexterity, increased hand-eye coordination, and enhanced musicality. These instruments also provide a unique and rewarding musical experience that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. In addition, playing an unconventional stringed instrument can help to develop discipline, focus, and creativity, making it a valuable activity for people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced musician, playing an unconventional stringed instrument can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

3. How do I choose the right unconventional stringed instrument to start with?

Answer: When choosing an unconventional stringed instrument to start with, it is important to consider your personal preferences and musical goals. Do you want an instrument with a high or low pitch? Do you prefer a bright or mellow sound? What type of music do you want to play? Answering these questions can help you narrow down your options and choose the right instrument for you. It is also a good idea to speak with a music teacher or professional musician to get their advice and recommendations on which instrument to start with. With the right guidance and support, you can find the perfect unconventional stringed instrument to begin your musical journey.

The BEST instrument to learn first! 🤭

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