View Full Version : How knitting has made me a better guitar player

The Spider
10-03-2006, 11:58 PM
I was a guitar player long before I started knitting. I think it's because I have hands that constantly want to be doing something that I am attracted to hobbies such as this. I just made the discovery of their relation to each other this afternoon:

I was knitting a cap in k2p2 ribbing on some nice, slick circular needles. I am just now getting good enough at knitting to be able to keep a steady rhythm, even while fixing my mistakes. I have found that if I focus intently on this rhythm, I eventually don't even have to think about it anymore, my fingers just know what to do, and speed comes naturally.

Today, I did my best to sustain my stay in "the knit zone" for about 30 minutes, before I got the urge to pick up my guitar. I stoppered the tips of my needle, picked up my instrument, and to my surprise, my fingers and mind felt twice as nimble as when I go straight for the guitar! I've read about warm-up exercises that professional guitarists use, including soaking the hands in warm water, and flexing them in the air, but I never thought that something else I actually enjoy doing would prove to be such a compliment to my first love.

Anyone else play an instrument and find this to be true?

10-04-2006, 12:38 AM
Haha! No. The closest I've come to playing a guitar is many an hour wasted on Guitar Hero. :roflhard:

But it's awesome that knitting helps you. :thumbsup:

10-04-2006, 09:22 AM
That's very cool! How great that one thing that you enjoy can help you do well at another thing you enjoy, plus, even though knitting may be a "warm up" for the guitar, you also get the added benefit of having a finished project out of it! I don't play but my son plays guitar...I always wanted to play an instrument but never had the opportunity...drums were my dream. What kind(s) of music do you enjoy playing? (I'm so nosey!)

10-04-2006, 09:37 AM
*runs to take out her guitar*

10-04-2006, 02:12 PM
My hubby has been a guitar player all of his life and does hand/finger stretches before he begins playing. I will have to tell him what you said, perhaps you will persuade him to knit :wink:

The Spider
10-05-2006, 12:31 AM
I would recommend it to any guitarist, except, since it doesn't offer
instant gratification, many folks would just as soon give up on it before putting much effort into learning how to knit at a steady pace. At first, as I'm sure you all remember, knitting is the most frustrating thing in the world!

Ms Nosey Cookworm (:)), I play mostly hard rock/metal, and some chilled-out fingerpicked stuff. It's strictly a "for me" hobby, meaning I don't play out or anything. It's never too late to start playing drums, though. My aunt is in her late 40s, and her son is teaching her. HAHA!

Mama Bear
10-05-2006, 01:33 AM
Hmmm... not sure how I feel about "late 40's" and "never too late" being lumped together :rofl: Now if one had said.. late 80's maybe ;)

All the knitters in this family are musicians. All the musicians are not knitters! We have lots of both!

Mama Bear

10-05-2006, 01:34 AM
I was taking guitar lessons..until I started knitting! lol!! =P I tried, but I suck at playing the guitar...something to do with my eye-hand coordination...and now my dad resents my leaving guitar lessons...he looks at me and says "If you would've put as much effort as you do when you knit, into your guitar lessons you would have been an expert by now!!" ...meh..but I think it's pretty cool that you play the guitar and you knit! :D :cheering: :cheering:

Pink Dandelion
10-05-2006, 01:38 AM
Yeah, I play harp, and I've noticed this some, though for me it's more obvious the other way around, if I've just finished playing I tend to be able to knit faster and at a more steady rythm.

It's the same with my typing too, if I go straight to the computer after playing harp I can type faster :teehee:

10-05-2006, 01:44 AM
That's very cool about your aunt! My son would just eat it up if I had him teach me something...he thinks I'm such a dinosaur! It's so weird to hear him getting into stuff that I listened to as a teenager or as a twenty-something because it's all "new" to him, and I never in a million years I'd thought I'd hear one of my kids jamming out to stuff I liked! Anyway, it was too humiliating to me when my kids were in the backseat of our truck while my husband taught me to drive stick shift a little while back (I did horribly for a while there!) so I'm not sure I'm ready to be a complete flop at music while one of my kids threw up their hands in desperation at my hopelessness! Music runs in my family, but for me...I don't know. :??

As for my nosy questions :oops: ...well, I can say to blame it on the fact I wanted to be a journalist/writer growing up! I always have to know the "behind the scenes" stuff!

About knitting being frustrating when I first tried (I've only been knitting 2 years now), oh my gosh--I thought I'd knit squares and rectangles forever!!! When the knitting instructor showed us increases and decreases during the last class, I was TOTALLY confused--almost to tears!--and I defiantly thought, "Well, I'm not going to worry about those--I just won't knit anything that requires increases or decreases". Well, gee, that just about eliminates everything, doesn't it??? :rofl: See how my brain goes!!! For me, knitting is about the finished product, but also, it's about productivity and portability. I can take my knitting with me from room to room--something I can't do with my sewing machine--and I can stay busy during times when I might ordinarily be slacking off doing absolutely nothing otherwise, so I don't feel guilty about sitting too much because at least I'm keeping busy. Is it this way with knitters and crocheters--it's just as much about the process of knitting and the rhythym as it is about the finished project?

10-05-2006, 01:34 PM
I admit, I procrastinated on opening this thread. I have the most beautiful Ibanez Acoustic sitting in my room in its case. My ex refers to the case as its coffin because it might as well be dead for as often as I play. My problem is that I never learned how... I tried, but I had no quiet place to practice, no decent teacher and the worst part is that our house is really small and everyone in the house would make fun of me when they heard me practicing. Plus I am left handed and have no strumming rhythm with my right hand.

Oh the shame of it all.... :oops: :wall:

10-05-2006, 02:00 PM
Oh Chel, you should try it! If you have the desire to play, you should try. About the instructors...good instructors are hard to come by. :( The place we used to live where my son started guitar, we had an AWESOME instructor. My son is very shy by nature (until he gets to know you, then look out!!!) and I know would never play in front of anyone, but his instructor not only gave him a GREAT start, but he also pulled him out of his shell and gave him confidence, as well as teaching him on his level and teaching him well.

Are there places on the internet that maybe show little video clips of chords and things (kind of the guitar version of knittinghelp.com)? Maybe you can spend a few minutes just fooling around on it a little while each day to familiarize yourself with your guitar, maybe you might not feel as intimidated to begin? And I don't mean to ask a dumb question :oops: (I don't know anything about guitar playing), but can't you play lefty? There must be some lefty guitar players out there. Don't worry about how you sound. The beginning stage doesn't last forever. When my son first learned to play guitar, the first three songs he learned were Metallica's "Sandman", AC/DC's "TNT", and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water". I can't tell you how many times I heard these songs played! :wink: The first one he learned was "Sandman", and at first, he was a little shaky, but I remembered thinking, "Wow! He's actually playing a song!!!!! (Which is more than I could ever do on a guitar!)" I was so proud of him and impressed that he could put everything he had learned together to play a song, even if it had some mistakes in it.

Playing a musical instrument was one of my childhood dreams, and I never got the opportunity. Anytime I hear anybody that plays an instrument, I think it's so great, and anytime I hear of somebody that wants to, I cheer them on. Follow your dreams!!! :heart:

The Spider
10-05-2006, 09:34 PM
Is it an Ibanez Artwood? I used to have one of those, but I had to sell it to pay rent one month :( It played really well.

Though instructional videos aren't quite their focus, the folks over at the Seymour Duncan (http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum) (guitar pickup company) forum are just as friendly and helpful as everyone on this board. Their tips and clips section would be the best place I can think of to ask any guitar playing related questions.

The Spider
10-05-2006, 09:46 PM
There are countless sites on the internet devoted to guitar instruction, and most DO have videos/chord charts. I cannot recommend one or speak on their quality, however, because I never spent much time with 'em. I learned from some old books my mom had laying around. he he... there really are many routes leading to learning guitar. Just search around.

I would, however, recommend a subscription to a guitar magazine such as Guitar One. They have lessons in print each month, and you can use what you've learned to play the songs they've transcribed in the back. Of course, it took a couple years before I could make those songs sound like they're supposed to, and my friends made fun of my playing during those years, but you eventually end up being like that kid in the kung fu movies who gets bullied all the time while he's learning from a great master. When the time comes, you'll be able to avenge your father's wrongful death, and the main badguy mob-boss will be one of those kids who was making fun of you.

As far as being lefthanded, most lefties I know play guitar right handed anyway, because it's apparently just as awkward starting off either way. May as well learn to play righty, as 99.99exaggerated% of guitars are right-handed.

Mama Bear
10-05-2006, 11:26 PM
I tried and tried to learn Guitar right-handed. I couldn't figure out why it was just NOT working. I could play piano, flute, bassoon, and many other instruments but I could NOT make guitar work.

I am STRONGLY left-handed. Then one day my husband came home with a left-handed banjo someone had given him and BINGO.. it just WORKED!

There are degrees of left-handedness. For those who are strongly left-handed, it can make a difference. I would suggest you see if you can get a chance to try a guitar strung for a left-hander.

When my daughter, who is also left-handed, started double bass, she first tried playing right-handed. Not only was it difficult for her, but she was still very young and she started to mix up the letters when she read. We quickly had her bass restrung to left-handed.

We ran into a lot of opposition.. she can never play in a symphony, etc. We figured if she went professional she could always play jazz or in chamber music etc. However, playing right-handed she would never reach her potential and be good enough to get INTO a symphony, let alone have those other choices.

Her playing improved dramatically when we made the switch to a left-handed strung bass. As it turned out she switched to harp later on so it wasn't an issue! Harp is actually more favorable to left-handers in how it's played.

During her bass playing years we talked to a lot of professional bass players. We discovered that most strongly left-handed players who were able to play well enough to make it professionally, were playing left-handed. There were a few who are left-handed and succeeded quiet well playing right handed. However when we talked in detail with them, most of those playing right-handed were not that strongly left-handed and some were close to ampidextrous.

There was a great old bass player at Disneyland. Some of you may have seen him. He used to play at the restraunt on the bayou there by Pirates of the Carribean. He played left-handed and we asked him once if he had ever gotten any grief for it. He said that he had studied for a time with Eugene Ormandy and that Ormandy had told him that he shouldn't play left-handed but that he did anyway. :teehee:

Paul McCartney plays left-handed.

Don't give up, just have the guitar restrung left-handed and give it a try!!! Some guitars can be restrung with no accomidations, but for some you may just need to have the nut (the strip at the top of the fret board with grooves to hold the strings in place) replaced so that the string grooves match the gauge of the strings.

I'll admit this is a soapbox for me. If someone had just told me years earlier that I could just switch the stringing I wouldn't have lost those years of playing. Same with knitting. Yes SOME left-handers can do these right-handed, but many of us can't, or can't do them well that way and it gets old to be told we should be able to.

There is a reason the stringed instruments are played as they are. Because it's the MOST efficient way for the majority (right-handers) to play. However, if strongly left-handed, why handicap oneself when there is no need, and why feel less successful at an endevor than we have to?

Mama Bear

The Spider
10-06-2006, 12:06 AM
If you want to go the lefty route, and you want to play electric or amplified acoustic, you will have to get a lefty guitar. Simply restringing backwards may work on a plain acoustic, but the preamp controls for an acoustic/electric would be pressed against your lap if you were to play it lefty. If you have a cut-out to allow for upper fret access, it would be on the wrong side. Electric guitars are not symmetrical and cannot be restrung backwards to accomodate lefty players... unless you're Jimi Hendrix :mrgreen: His controls were backwards (and the pickup balance would be off, as some electric guitar pickups are arranged to have a bass and a treble side), which isn't practical, but he made do with what he had available, and obviously suceeded..

Left handed guitars, while rare and sometimes more expensive than their righty counterparts, do exist, and people do play them. Go play a lefty guitar at a music store and see if it's any less awkward to strum. Though I've heard contrary from lefty guitarists, Mama Bear does make some exellent points, and they wouldn't make lefty guitars at all if there weren't at least some demand for them.

Mama Bear
10-06-2006, 01:27 AM
Spider, you made some good points! Thank you very much for your balanced and non-defensive reply to my soap box :)

Mama Bear