5 Unique Ideas That Will Improve Your 7 String Guitar Playing

author: tomhess date: 05/03/2013 category: general music
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5 Unique Ideas That Will Improve Your 7 String Guitar Playing
Want to improve your 7 string guitar playing? Fact is, the majority of guitar players who are new to playing 7 string guitar play it just like a standard 6 string guitar. Unfortunately, this mindset greatly limits the musical creativity they can achieve with their instrument.

On the other hand, advanced guitar players with more experience understand how to use 7 string guitar in order to gain many additional creative options in their guitar playing.

Previously I wrote about many basic 7 string guitar concepts in a free 7 string guitar tutorial. In that article you learned various musical ways to use the instrument as well as how to effectively transition from 6 string guitar to 7 string guitar. This article will focus on some more specific ideas that will help you use 7 string guitar to improve your overall guitar playing ability.

Implement these five concepts into your regular guitar practice routine in order to become much better and more creative in your 7 string guitar playing:

Utilize String Skipping Technique Over Wider Intervals During Your Guitar Riffs

By using the low B string on 7 string guitar, you gain access to a much wider pitch range in the lower register for playing rhythm guitar riffs. This gives you the opportunity to utilize string skipping technique for jumping across larger intervals more frequently (in comparison to 6 string guitar) while still retaining the "heavy" feel of the lower register.

When you begin skipping strings from the low B string, you give yourself more options to be creative as well as improve your ability to pick with a much higher degree of accuracy. Why is this? While playing on 7 string guitar, not only must you adjust for the wider neck, but you must overcome these two obstacles as well:

1. You have to move your picking hand a greater distance between each string.

2. The likeliness that extra noise will occur due to other strings ringing out increases with the additional string. You must use great focus to mute properly while skipping strings.

Use Variety When Playing With Palm Muting In Your Rhythm Guitar Riffs

You might think that palm muting is a very easy and basic guitar technique, however, developing it to a level of true mastery requires great skill and focus (as with most techniques). Guitar players frequently (and often unknowingly) record their music with poor palm muting technique. As a result, they have to purchase additional time in the studio just so they can edit sloppy guitar playing parts.

With this in mind, you know you have truly mastered palm muting when you have the ability to consciously adjust the precise amount of muting you apply while playing rhythm guitar ideas. A good illustration of this is when you use palm muting technique while playing a power chord and slowly decrease the pressure of your palm on the strings to allow them to ring out openly. This technique can sound really intense when applied on the low B string due to the natural "heaviness" of the lower register. Applying this technique consistently and accurately requires practice, especially if you are going to "record" a double tracked rhythm guitar part that uses it. This palm muting application is not at all the same as playing guitar with inconsistent muting without being aware of what you are doing.

Using this style of palm muting can generate a lot of intensity in your music.

Utilize The Low 7th String To Enhance Your Picking Hand Accuracy

One unique way to develop your picking hand accuracy is to take advantage of the thickness of the low B string. Here's how to do this: First, think of several licks, scale patterns or riffs that only use the lowest two strings. Then take your time and develop the ability to play them fast with an emphasis on perfect accuracy for each note (use palm muting as well to improve your muting technique).

Increase the difficulty of this exercise by temporarily turning your gain or distortion settings OFF so that it becomes harder to cleanly articulate each note. By doing this, you will expose any weaknesses in your picking attack and force yourself to make adjustments in order to get better. Once you return to your normal distortion settings you will quickly notice that it feels much easier to articulate and play each note more accurately than you could previously.

To see an example of how to practice this skill, check out the audio and tablature examples in this 7 string guitar playing mini course.

Build Up Intensity In Your Music Using Irregular Rhythms

Playing guitar using irregular rhythms is not the same as playing using irregular meter. Irregular meter refers to the actual meter being used (for example: 7/8 instead of 6/8) and irregular rhythm refers to the way the notes are divided within the meter itself. As a general rule, irregular rhythm will refer to organizing rhythms in a way that is unusual for the meter by using syncopation, unique note groupings and many other musical techniques.

Of course you can use irregular rhythms while playing 6 string guitar as well, however when you use them on the low 7th string it combines with the natural intensity of playing in the lower register to add MASSIVE tension and power to your music. For instance, I like to occasionally add in silence during the middle of a measure to create an irregular feel to the music. While doing this, I catch the listener off guard by changing their rhythmic expectations and create a lot of extra tension in the music with the intense feel of the low B string.

Instead Of Using A Low B String, Use A High "A" String

The majority of 7 string guitars are sold with a low B string. However, this does not mean that you can "only" play with an expanded lower register. Instead, try stringing up the guitar with a high "A" string (assuming you are using standard tuning). This unique approach will create an expanded higher register instead that gives you the opportunity to play creative musical ideas that you could never play with the usual 7 string guitar set up.

Warning: Just like with the low B string, it is very easy to over-emphasize the high A string and cause your guitar playing to lose a sense of variety. Keep this in mind and use a balanced approach to keep your guitar playing fresh.

As you have found out in this article, there are far more creative possibilities for 7 string guitar than you might first expect. Certainly 6 string and 7 string guitars are played very similarly, however when you think creatively you can use the 7 string guitar to enhance your guitar playing and musicianship in interesting ways.

About The Author: Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and the guitarist of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. With his online guitar lessons, he has helped guitarists worldwide improve their guitar skills. To improve your guitar skills go to his website tomhess.net and see guitar playing video lessons, read guitar practice advice, and check out a free guitar soloing lesson.
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