I always like to think of myself as more of a multi-instrumentalist than being just a guitar player. Even though, when you play stringed instruments, such as the guitar, in my opinion it opens up the other string instrument possibilities much more for you!
Personally, I started on the violin when I was only 8 years old, but the guitar held a deeper attraction for me, my father saw this, and then encouraged me to play the guitar more than the violin. I was certainly getting good at the fiddle, but the strictness of the regimen of playing classical music was just too much for me, when I was already teaching myself so much on the guitar. Not to mention that especially to a young kid like me, the guitar seemed much more “contemporary” and was of course, far more “visible” in life in general as an instrument, especially with the advent of the Folk movement and early “60s rock beginning.
As time went on, I realized that just about anything with strings felt extremely comfortable in my hands. I got a cheap mandolin when I was about 14, a Dobro when I was 16, started pedal steel at the age of 16 and was also playing Hawaiian lap steel. Of course, most of them are “slide” oriented, which I’ve always had an appreciation of, and I consider even regular “slide” guitar to actually be another instrument than just being another form of guitar. The rules of the techniques involved with slide are just so different as to render it as another instrument in my opinion.
I am still in the midst of making my new album, and once again, I am employing pretty much all the string instruments I know how to play, which is a great feeling. Nothing like getting an idea that for example, a mandolin would sound good on a certain part of a song, and just reaching over and picking it up and seeing how it fits! I love Dobro as well, and quite frankly, I gave up the pedal steel, because I felt like it was a much more unique feat to make the guitar sound like a pedal steel, as opposed to dragging along that 100-lb. instrument! Still, if I were to sit down at the pedal steel, I’d remember what to do completely! In fact I may get one, and I also intend to get back into the fiddle as well!
If the temptation of playing other instruments intrigues you, I really suggest that you give in to it….it’s wonderful to know other tools you can have, and it’s so great to have all those “real” sounds and textures at your disposal! Have lots of fun with it!