Questions tagged [instruments]

For questions about generalities about instruments or groups of instruments.

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43 votes
17 answers
87k views

How to minimize the pain for a beginning guitar student so they won’t give up before they develop calluses?

This is a common problem and solving it will ultimately lead to a much higher success rate for beginning guitar students. So I wanted to share the information here on Music and Theory. Many of my ...
16 votes
2 answers
29k views

What is a transposing instrument?

I've read this term many times. However, I'm not quite sure of what it exactly is. What is a transposing instrument? What would be an example of one?
46 votes
6 answers
58k views

What are the practical reasons for still having transposing instruments?

I understand that historically there was a need for transposing instruments. e.g. Brass instruments would use lead pipes to change their key and players in brass bands would like to stick to the same ...
28 votes
5 answers
19k views

Why is music for strings more likely to be in keys with sharps?

One thing I've noticed is that music written for strings, such as violin concertos, are a lot more likely to written in a key like D or A major than something like F or Bb major. I recently saw a ...
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25 votes
5 answers
9k views

Why do standard modern pianos have 88 keys?

I know that the piano contains 7 octaves plus a 4th. I also know that it accommodates the full circle of fifths (from C and back to C). But since a fifth contains 7 semitones, it only "needs" 7X12 = ...
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20 votes
4 answers
3k views

Could B♭ instruments be built in C? Why are they in B♭ in the first place?

Why did the clarinet and trumpet get made to 'be' in B♭? Could they have been made to produce concert pitch C? This would make a composer's life so much easier when physically writing scores. ...
  • 180k
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Curved v. straight windway

Besides physical structure, what is the difference between a curved and a straight windway in a recorder? I understand that a curved windway increases air resistance, but how does the sound quality ...
10 votes
2 answers
938 views

What is the general term for instruments without fixed pitches? Like fretless

There are fretless versions of electric guitars and basses. Instruments in the violin family are (almost) always fretless. But what is the general term for this when expanded for other instruments, ...
  • 1,398
8 votes
14 answers
10k views

Acoustic piano vs digital piano: is there any solid evidence for one being better than the other?

As someone who'll have to buy a piano soon, I'm at the old question of acoustic vs digital. I've done a fair deal of research on the internet, as well as heard the opinion of a piano teacher, and ...
  • 593
8 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why are there transposing instruments that transpose by octave?

Some instruments (for example the guitar, the bass guitar, and the xylophone) have written music in a typical clef, however the note written and the note played are an octave lower or higher depending ...
  • 46.6k
8 votes
1 answer
4k views

Examples of acoustic instruments producing sounds very close to pure square, triangle or sawtooth waves

I've been able to find plenty of info about acoustic instruments that create sounds close to sine-waves, and I understand that sounds approximating square, triangle and sawtooth waves are produced by ...
57 votes
11 answers
26k views

Do advanced musicians still practice scales every day?

I'm wondering if you're ever "done" or do you just go practicing them forever?
user avatar
48 votes
4 answers
216k views

What is the difference between a xylophone, a glockenspiel, a marimba, a xylorimba and a marimbaphone?

What is the difference between an xylophone and a marimba? What about a glockenspiel and a xylophone? Is it just the material and size of glockenspiel?
  • 489
44 votes
16 answers
107k views

What instruments are inexpensive, portable and not too loud?

I'm a college student, and I'd really like to start playing an instrument. But I want to find something that is: Inexpensive Small and portable enough to fit in a backpack Quiet enough to practice in ...
  • 551
23 votes
2 answers
17k views

Is my Yamaha guitar counterfeit?

I bought a new Yamaha Guitar and When you look inside the guitar hole it looks like the model number is written by hand. Can you please tell me if this one is a fake one or not? The number written on ...
19 votes
5 answers
6k views

Why do lower pitched string instruments have a larger body?

I know that increasing the length of the string will decrease the pitch, but that doesn't explain why the body of a cello is larger than a violin, only longer. What would be the "problem" with ...
  • 403
18 votes
5 answers
4k views

Trumpet low C♯ and D

Most trumpets' low C♯ and D are too high, and need correcting by pulling the 1st of 3rd valve. My first understanding was that the distance between tones in the lower register is larger than between ...
  • 4,568
16 votes
3 answers
9k views

How does the piano middle pedal work? Is there a standard symbol for it?

What are the mechanics behind the middle piano pedal? I have been using the middle pedal for a variety of music, it is wonderful, but I can't figure out how it works (I mean the mechanical process). ...
  • 681
12 votes
4 answers
5k views

Does the type of wood on a solid body electric guitar affect its tone or sound?

I know that on an acoustic guitar the sound is produced by the strings vibrating the top or soundboard and that the type wood used on the soundboard and body of an acoustic guitar will be the ...
12 votes
6 answers
13k views

Do weighted keys on a keyboard lead to more expressive playing?

I use an acoustic piano to learn/play classical music. I use a midi keyboard to record/produce own music. My piano has weighted keys while my midi keyboard has a very light touch. I find that I am ...
  • 1,124
12 votes
4 answers
13k views

Why do F#6 and higher notes ring more than F6 and lower notes?

I learned Overworld Theme 2 from Super Mario Bros. 3 a few years ago, which features the nice bright high notes of A6, G6, and F6: I noticed on my 80 year old upright piano that the A and G rang out ...
user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
247 views

Piano Maintenance

What should be done to maintain an upright piano? I am not asking about tuning it, but what can be done so it does not have to be tuned as often? I heard someone once say about a particular piano ...
  • 506
7 votes
3 answers
16k views

How do I assess the value of a guitar when I'm preparing to sell it?

How do I go about researching the value of my instrument before I put it up for sale? I'd like to feel like I've done a proper amount of due diligence before I put it on the used market so I can both ...
  • 4,639
7 votes
2 answers
512 views

Does voice doubling an instrument's melody while improvising have a name?

According to wikipedia, scat singing is: In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all.[2][3] In scat singing, the singer ...
6 votes
4 answers
1k views

Can I play an English horn part with a viola?

I want to perform music in class for a Shakespeare play. Can I play an English horn part with a viola?
  • 79
6 votes
3 answers
5k views

Is Learning Guitar and Ukulele side by side a good idea?

I'm trying to decide whether it's a good idea to learn playing the guitar while I am also learning the ukulele. I've been playing ukulele since about six months and I'm making really good progress. ...
  • 63
5 votes
2 answers
3k views

B-string on guitar more easily out of tune?

I'm very sensitive to out-of-tune notes which make my skin crawl and may ruin my enjoyment of otherwise perfectly fine gigs. At first I thought something was wrong with my ears, since other people ...
  • 2,969
5 votes
5 answers
5k views

Alternative ways to classify Instruments

In Western music there are four classifications of instruments strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. This classification works on most instruments, but there are many different instruments around ...
  • 46.6k
4 votes
1 answer
133 views

Diatonic harmonica: How to play the draw bend with the three semitones down (effectively)?

For the diatonic harmonica, in the 3rd draw position B, how to play the draw bend with the three semitones down (marked in blue rectangle) B, Bb, A? I could play a semitones down, most easily in the ...
  • 701
3 votes
2 answers
353 views

When an Eb instrument plays the Concert F scale, what note do they start on? [duplicate]

When an Eb instrument plays the Concert F scale, what note do they start on? plz help? I was confused on this question and need more clarification because I play a Concert Bb instrument.
50 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why do instruments have a key?

There are many instruments that have keys other than C. For example: The Eb Alto Saxophone The Bb Clarinet The Horn in F Why do these instruments have a key in the first place? Here's a more ...
  • 1,468
49 votes
10 answers
23k views

Why can't drums produce melody?

A note is a vibration at a certain frequency. A drum produces a tone with a certain pitch much like a string percussed with a mallet. Why is a drum unfit for playing a melody while a string inside a ...
21 votes
6 answers
13k views

Will my wind instrument be damaged if I leave it assembled?

Almost every teacher, expert, and book has informed me that I should disassemble my (clarinet / recorder / saxophone) each time after I practice. However, it is difficult for me to see how this would ...
20 votes
3 answers
13k views

What's the difference between the "smooth" strings and the "rough" strings?

On my acoustic, the first 4 strings are "rough" - that is they are covered in a type of metal corkscrew. The last 2 strings though are completely smooth, and don't have a corkscrew finish. Why are ...
  • 1,855
19 votes
11 answers
75k views

Difference between Baritone and Euphonium

What is the difference between a baritone and a euphonium, and how can you tell? My band director sometimes uses them interchangeably, but I am pretty sure that is not correct. All I know is that this ...
17 votes
2 answers
8k views

What are some qualities to consider when purchasing a cello?

My wife is a Suzuki-method violinist but wants to dabble with some cello pieces. I'm a rock guitarist--so I have absolutely no clue what to look for in a cello. It's clearly not a Les Paul so any ...
  • 11.4k
16 votes
7 answers
2k views

What kind of effect does practicing on difficult-to-play instruments have?

To clarify the title, I'm not asking if it helps your mandolin skills to play violin (or vice versa, whichever you feel is "more difficult"). Let's say you are a guitarist: Does it help or hurt to ...
12 votes
3 answers
16k views

Can I split guitar string gauges?

I want to know if I can split guitar string gauges, ie. using 12s on the bottom and 10s on the top, both for standard and drop tunings.
  • 733
10 votes
4 answers
2k views

Acoustic pianos with weighted keys

I'm currently trying to build up my finger strength, and have found that the exercises I do are more effective if I am practising on a piano with a heavier touch, as the keys require more force to ...
9 votes
9 answers
5k views

What instrument can an old guy learn if the main goal is to write music?

At this old age I began, two years ago learning to write music. I write it using Sibelius and let the computer play it for me. I have been strongly recommended to learn to play an instrument. I have ...
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Wind instruments and sharp keys

As far as I know, most of the wind instruments are transposing, and many of them are either in B, in E-flat or in F - these keys make them more suitable for playing in "flat" keys. My question is why ...
8 votes
1 answer
12k views

What is the difference between a Bandoneon and an Accordion?

Astor Piazzolla was a famous bandoneon player. In his one cd, he says that people ask him why he plays the accordion and then he says he does not he plays the bandoneon. So what exactly is the ...
  • 14.2k
8 votes
3 answers
5k views

GuitarPro: Change to Eb, but keep notation in E [duplicate]

I just downloaded GuitarPro 7.5. I used to use GuitarPro quite a bit, but it's been a while. I like to tune down and play in Eb. I want to change a song to sound 1/2 step lower, but want to keep ...
  • 176
8 votes
3 answers
5k views

Do instruments get out of tune when you place them near a radiator?

Do instruments get out of tune when you place them near a radiator when the radiator is hot? If so, why? Also, is there anything else that happens when you place an instrument near a hot radiator?
7 votes
3 answers
3k views

English Horn Etymology

Why is the English Horn called a horn when it is a woodwind instrument, basically a lower oboe? When compared to other horns, such as the French Horn and the Flugelhorn, it seems to be a misnomer.
  • 733
7 votes
2 answers
3k views

Adjusting clarinet or saxophone reeds

How do various techniques and equipments for adjusting reeds compare? e.g. (blade perpendicular strokes) (Tom Ridenour's Tools + DVD) ...
  • 1,724
7 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why does the English horn have a French name, and the French horn an English name?

Why do we call the English horn by its French name Cor Anglais and the French horn by its English name, why does this exist? What does the French Horn go by in France? Cor Français?
  • 14.2k
6 votes
3 answers
375 views

Can a physics simulator be used to generate sounds for music?

Does anyone use, or know of, a simulator for creating sounds based on simulating the vibrations of real objects? I saw an art display called Tipping Point that created a sound-scape based on ...
6 votes
2 answers
650 views

Accessible Instruments While Away From Home

I am a musician spending a few months away my home. I fear that I may lose a good chunk of skill if I am unable to practice my instrument during this time. It is completely unfeasible for me to buy ...
  • 485
6 votes
5 answers
405 views

Is it better to tune an instrument by procedure, or while playing?

I'm an amateur Guitar player. When I want to tune my Guitar, I follow this formula: Use a diapason to tune the A note on the third string, second fret Tune the second string by help of the B on the ...