19 June 2009

Change Your Guitar Playing

Are you stuck in a guitar playing rut? Happens to us all sometimes, so here are a two different ways to kick your playing into a new area and break out of your rut.

Resisting Change

We have a natural tendency to resist change whenever we face it. Our minds are very good at putting up all sorts of barriers to stop us making a change. One effective barrier we create for ourselves is the idea that change is hard.

There you are a comfortable guitar player with knowledge of a certain playing style. You want to learn a new style, but you've looked at a couple of tutorials and it just seems so complex.

You'll have lots of new chords to learn, and different scales and positions, and improvisation, that sounds really hard. Maybe I'm not good enough, or I don't have time for that. Instead I'll just carry on with what I'm good at already...

Change One Thing

Instead of seeing the change as a huge project where you have to learn lots of new things, look for a single thing to change. Keep some of the things you know already, but change one thing and your playing can tip into a whole new dimension. Here are some examples, use them to help you find your own change points.

  • Keep the guitar, but change what you make with it, e.g. play flamenco on a distorted electric guitar.
  • Keep the chords you know, but fingerpick them instead of strumming.
  • Keep rhythm patterns and use them on songs of a different style, e.g. play folk songs with reggae rhythm patterns.
  • Keep your finger style picking, but play funk songs and rhythms.
  • Keep blues chords and play them in a percussive binary rhythm style to turn blues into funk.
  • Keep chord progressions, but use new chord voicings.
  • Keep your guitar, but change the pickups.
  • Keep the guitar, but change the tuning, e.g. if you play in standard tuning try drop-D, or open G.

These are just a few change point suggestions to get you thinking. Create your own to find new ground for your guitar playing. List the individual things you have or know already now, then imagine which you could change or use differently.

Still not satisfied? Then how about this high power technique...

Change Everything

If a change to one thing doesn't bring you the fresh new perspective and enthusiasm you are looking for then maybe it's time for a bigger renewal. Why not try changing everything?

Sell that Strat, buy yourself a flamenco guitar and learn a whole new style. Or quit strumming those wimpy folk songs and trade your acoustic for some humbuckers and a Marshall stack.

What about you, what's your technique for making a change to your guitar playing? Why not share your tips in a comment.


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ChicagoMusicExchange said...

Such a good article to see!

Variety is the spice of life, and the more you can change up your playing... the much more interesting your sound is going to be!

Bravo on the article!

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freddy1955 said...

Thanks Gary! This was exactly the kick start I needed.

Guitar Mind said...

We box ourselves into seeing the guitar and our music in a narrow frame if we don't try to change our perspectives. Something as simple as moving up the fretboard in the E or F open chord positions can change our whole perspective and encourage innovation. Great points!

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