I was thinking of picking up a new instrument, and going for serious lessons, which on side, can hopefully improve my theory in general and also help incorporate it into a more interesting style of guitaring. My guitar playing is self (internet) taught so I don't really have any REAL knowledge of theory besides scales and stuff.

I can't seem to decide on what new instrument to pick up though. I was thinking of a violin or a saxophone. I usually play rock/blues/funk stuff, but I don't think that's important, right?

Anyway, aside from personal stuff, what's the opinion on learning new instruments to help your guitar-playing?
i guess you mean improvising.
well other than guitar itself, nothing will really improve your GUITAR playing...
u'd have to learn from scratch that new instrument, pretty much..
violin isn't completely different but the tuning can really mess you up.. cus the same note of the following open string is on the 7th position instead..
saxophone would be totally different, that one would.. i've tried to play flute a while ago and i was amazingly confused about the notes on it xD
it has some kind of opposite different direction, pitch lowering or upping (nice english) or something..
in the guitar you go down towards the floor for higher notes, while on flute or other blown instruments you go up, and pressing more buttons, holes, w/e..
so i'd advice, GUITAR wise, to keep on guitar.. for more general knowledge, yeah a completely different thing, like piano or sax pretty much
It really depends on where you want to go with your playing. Learning a new instrument won't necessarily improve any aspect of your guitar playing.

Getting a good guitar teacher would be best if you want to improve your knowledge of theory in relation to the guitar. I would imagine saxophone and violin teachers won't focus on teaching harmony and that's a huge world of knowledge you would be missing out on.

If you're dedicated to learning a new instrument your technical ability on guitar is likely to decrease because you'd have to share your practice time between different instruments. Like RCalisto said, the only thing that it could improve really is helping you to look at improvising from new perspectives but this could also be achieved by getting some good reading material and sight reading from violin or sax scores.

I'm not trying to discourage you from trying to learn a new instrument (being a multi-instrumentalist is great), but I think the reasons that you're doing it may be misguided.
Last edited by Eirien at Jun 28, 2008,
If you want to improve your guitar playing, violin will not help. I don't have a teacher but I own one and play it every now and then and it's a pain in the ass. It's really hard to get something that sounds remotely good to a beginners ear. Sax is the only reed instrument that i like, i want to learn it some time. If it's between those two, definetly go with that.
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

-Max Planck

For theory, I suggest piano. I didn't pick up much theory until I got to guitar, but chord building, intervals, etc. are easy to find on a keyboard.

Saxophone would open up a whole new world of sounds, especially for jazz/blues/funk, and it is so much different from guitar that it might help a lot with composing and single-line leads. I am going to start sax soon (I already know piano, violin, and guitar), and I've heard from people that it helps.

Drums are very helpful for learning all aspects of rhythm, timing, and experimenting with sounds. It is very precise (technique and timing are killers), and requires plenty of time and discipline, but if you get drums down then it will help tons.

I suggest keys and drums, although saxophone may prove useful (especially to fit your genres). Any instrument, though, will require a lot of work. Good luck!

Edit: Violin is REALLY HARD. It's so frustrating for beginners because getting the right sound (intonation, tone) is insanely hard at first. But if you get it down, you can pretty much do anything with it. It's really versatile.
Last edited by chinese_jazz at Jun 28, 2008,
I wouldn't advise learning an instrument for the sole purpose of improving your guitar skills. However, if there's an instrument you've always wanted to play and never gotten around to, and you get a good teacher, yeah, it'll probably help with your theory and well, you'll have another instrument you can play. Always things you'll have to look at as say, a horn player you wouldn't think of as a guitar player, and when you notice these things, you can start focusing on them as a guitarist.
I played viola for years and years and years (and still do) and I still credit it with improving my guitar skills. Playing a non-fretted string instrument like violin, viola, cello, or upright bass makes you really have to pay attention to intonation, and obviously your music reading skills will vastly improve.