Poll: How often do you get in a creative slump?
Poll Options
View poll results: How often do you get in a creative slump?
Never (I'm always rockin!)
2 29%
Every once in a great while
2 29%
Every other week
1 14%
Every time I pickup an instrument
0 0%
When I haven't had any coffee
2 29%
Voters: 7.
#1
I think as guitarist, or musician for that matter, we've all gotten in a creative slump where we just feel like we can't progress or everything sounds the same.

I've had this happen many many times throughout my guitar playing career and the question always remains: How do I get out of it?

There is no 1 solution for all, or "quick fix", but I know there's lots of different stories and opinions out there that could benefit others.

I want this thread to showcase your solutions or strategies when this happens to you.

Post away!!
#2
Quoting myself from another time regarding Guitarist's Block:

Quote by dannyalcatraz

While it is always a good idea in structured practice sessions to do certain exercises like arpeggios and picking pattern variations, you don't need to do ALL of them EVERY session or in the same order every time. Pick and choose. Throw yourself curveballs by randomizing them: put your exercises on a sheet and roll dice; put them on flash cards and draw them out of a bag.

But then go about trying new stuff. ANYTHING new will be a challenge to your mind and skills, even if only briefly.

Try new musical genres. I don't particularly dig country, but I did learn a couple of tunes by Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash...and grew to like playing them.

Try new tunings. I currently play in Standard and NST, but I'm considering DADGAD, and will probably try Open G if I try to learn slide. This also works if you try to relearn songs you already know in those other tunings.

Try learning a song back to front...or even turn your sheet music upside down. Pianist/comedian extraordinaire Victor Borge used to do the upside down thing in his act. He'd play for a while, then- "realizing his error"- would apologize, flip the music to the correct orientation, and start playing correctly.

Try playing songs in different time signatures. By that, I mean try playing a song you know in an unfamiliar beat. I know a jazz pianist who can play the song "Take Five" in its original 5/4, but also in 3/4, 4/4, 6/4 and 7/4. Each variant completely changes the feel of the tune.

Try mimicking song parts written for other instruments or even for singers. One of Prince's touring guitarists was struggling with learning to play a piece in a way that made his boss happy. Prince told him to learn to play the part as if it were being sung by Billie Holiday.

Take a break. Advice usually given to writers, painters, and other creative types, this works for guitarists, too. Sometimes, you just need to recharge your batteries. When you come back to the process, you may find you have a different perspective, a fresh view, and you'll make progress again. So, go for a walk, see a movie, read a book, go camping. Just forget the guitar for a bit, and come back to it.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#3
A couple of things that tend to work for me

1. Buy a new guitar (or pedal or amp) - although this is not a practical solution in the sense that you can't continually be buying guitars - well you can but it gets pretty expensive, but having a new guitar or other piece of gear can change things up enough to spark some creativity.

2. learn a new song, maybe there is a song that you have always wanted to learn but never got around to, or it was too technically challenging at the time, pick it up and learn it, it will get things going creativity wise and can also be great skill practice if you are having to push yourself to perform.
#4
Quote by guitarsngear

2. learn a new song, maybe there is a song that you have always wanted to learn but never got around to, or it was too technically challenging at the time, pick it up and learn it, it will get things going creativity wise and can also be great skill practice if you are having to push yourself to perform.


yeah, learning new songs worked for me too, especially if you learn it by ear, you'll be surprised
#6
Trying new tunings has worked wonders for me. I find that it brings out that which standard tuning had tethered me away from. It might not say much good about you as a songwriter, but from an intuitive point of view, it opens new doors that you were previously holding closed, so to speak. Try something you've never tried before.

Listening to music I don't normally listen to is also helpful, as is looking at painting and photography.
Quote by EndTheRapture51
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#7
I can agree with each comment.

To add to it, I've also noticed that playing WITH someone else can also help in some cases.

Play with someone that has a different play style be humble, somewhat shameless, and explore different techniques. Explore their techniques, it can be fun if you make it fun, try not to be intimidated. If you're intimidated it can almost make you go back in to your shell, your same routines.
#8
Depends. If you're talking about improv, or writing your own songs then I haven't got much to add. I used to write a lot of my own songs but they all sounded very similar. That's because I was stuck at a low level and just stayed in my comfort zone for ages. Now I'm branching out and learning lots of new stuff, it's opened up a whole new wold of possibilities that I've yet to explore (still having fun improving technique, learning theory, and the fretboard).
#9
For the the perfect solution has been to change the things that I am doing. If I am burned out, I'd move on to producing or engineering a song, or I would work on lyrics. After a while the inspiration comes back. Changing instruments and effects also does this. I keep quite a few thins stored in a locker and I pull them out while something else goes in, that way the gear is always changing. I find different guitars and amps definitely help write in a different way.
#10
Your header question isn't the same as the poll question.

I get out of creative slumps by focusing on a different technique. For example, I'm currently working on Bert Jansch's chord voicings and rearranging one of his songs for lap steel. This is providing insights and ideas on how to get more out of the instrument.
#12
It's good to take a break once in a while to let your current progress sink in a bit.
Just a day or two, maybe even a week & focus on other aspects of guitar besides the physical playing.

During that time,
try listening to various types of different music than what you're trying to play.
This will give you a fresh perspective for when you return to your regular practice.
#13
I play blues, jazz, classical, rock and metal, and also enjoy learning Christmas songs. I also play electric guitar, bass and nylon string acoustic. If I get in a slump playing one style, I focus on another.

I was in a slump with blues so I played nothing but classical for 6 months. Then that got slump-ey so I went to jazz (both guitar and bass) and also Christmas songs on the Classical guitar. I'm pretty re-energized right now.

And buying a new guitar always gets me excited to play more
Last edited by Jack Strat at Sep 22, 2016,
#14
The thing that did it for me was learning chord tones and using modes.Figuring out as many options as possible for each chord rather than just playing in a static key.Opens a whole new world up for you.