I Hate Guitar Today - How to Feel Inspired Again

It's very easy to get burned out if you keep your head too engrossed in the game for too long but there are a few ways to combat this and help you get inspired and back on track again.

Ultimate Guitar
I think we've all woken up and just not felt inspired to pick up guitars at times. It's very easy to get burned out if you keep your head too engrossed in the game for too long but there are a few ways to combat this and help you get inspired and back on track again.

First of all try to understand why you might have burned out? Have you been dedicated and working hard on something without seeing signs of improvement? Has your guitar playing or song list grown stale and old? Maybe you've been stuck in the same environment with the same people too much. Whatever the reason might be, give some focussed thought to it and see if you can come up with the cause and the cure for it. Here are a few things you can try out to refresh and reset yourself in times of resistance.
  • Reminisce about the main event/song that made you want to start guitar in the first place. Try to think back to that eureka moment when you decided "that's it, I'm going to learn guitar." Try and reignite that original fire and think back to how it exciting and new it felt back then. 
  • Seek out new music and find a really killer track. This could also be a new band or a new musician. The new musician doesn't have to be a guitarist either, find inspiring musicians from other instruments.
  • Learn something fresh and new on guitar. This could be a new chord, or progression or a new lick or shape for example.
  • Learn something from a new style. I've been meaning to start delving into simple classical guitar pieces for example, this is great because I'll have to learn a whole new way to physically play the instrument and not just learn a new style of music.
  • Accept that you don't feel like playing and give it a break for a few days, or until the need to play returns. Not feeling like playing isn't a bad thing. If you've been grafting hard at your craft then sometimes a rest is needed to let everything sink in.
  • Break down large tasks into smaller chunks. It's very easy to get overwhelmed by the vast expanse of things you still want to learn and "need to know" so minimise and organise. 
  • Find unfamiliar ground. This could be found in a new tuning, or even another instrument such as a piano or a bass guitar. You don't have to give up guitar or start learning a new instrument completely but sometimes an hour jamming and messing around at a piano can give you some cool ideas. Anything to spark that inspiration and force you to think differently.
  • Meet new musicians, head out to "Jam night" or go and see a live band and get chatting to the musicians. New people always bring new ideas and influences to you. 
  • Change your environment; play guitar outside or in a different room or even in the park or busk somewhere. Anything to get you out of your usual practise space.
  • New tone. This is very electric guitar specific, but if you're used to playing cranked high gain lead tones try a spacey vibey atmospheric clean tone with lots of delay, reverb and chorus.

The main recurring theme here is "unfamiliar" and "fresh"; new songs, new environment, new playing styles, new people, spending time on a new instrument, new tone. The trick is to distract yourself from the current way of thinking/thoughts and feed your mind something it's not dissected before. Our brains love to be busy, looking at things we haven't seen before, listening to things to we haven't heard before.

Seek out new and interesting things and you will literally change your mind; you will be creating new neural pathways and connections while reinforcing old ones that haven't been used in a while. These new connections will also help you when you need some fresh ideas because your mind will have some new places to cross wires and connect seemingly unrelated things together to create something new.

Learning guitar really is an endless journey. And requires a lot of time and dedication over the span of a lifetime to master. With this in mind you're bound to have an off day every now and again, that's completely normal and understandable. When it comes down to it you're essentially left with two options; accept defeat for today and find something interesting to do with your well-earned break, or hunt down something new and unfamiliar and break new territory with your playing. Either way, I hope this has given you some ideas to try to break you out of the rut and get you back on track and feeling inspired to play again.

About the Author:
By Steven Martin, www.stevenmartinguitar.com. If you enjoyed this, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to get in touch with any questions or comments in the boxes below.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I like the the article, but I would like to add something too: From time to time play guitar lick you dont know how to play it... Like you dont know scales or songs or hard techniques. I started playing guitar to play rock and pop punk songs, but know I play metal, because it is more guitar driven and is more challenging... But i tend to forget my roots. You play guitar for the music, not the complexity of the piece. Don 't forget that it is an instrument and not an exercise board. Express your emotions, don 't palm mute the shit out of the E string, write a song that can accomondate other instruments, expands your horizons! (my opinion you can disagree all you want )
    For me, learning a new Hendrix or RHCP song every once in a while has always kept me interested in guitar.
    Number 1 on your list should be "Join a band". Give yourself a reason to learn guitar.
    Chris Zoupa
    Yeah man. You improve so much when you are jamming and having to take in heaps or people's ideas.
    Emenius Sleepus
    I'll second that. On a broader scale, you could say that as 'set yourself a goal'. Think about how your playing would sound to an external audience? - is it as clear and well played as you'd want to hear yourself if you were listening to someone? Could you teach it to someone? Could you jam that piece with someone and make it sound good? - if the answer to all of those is 'no', then you have some work to do. Basically set yourself goals and challenges, so you always have something to work towards. Joining a band and having regular practices (or teaching the instrument to someone) forces you to have your stuff up to speed by a certain date, - don't know how it would work for everyone, but for me it's been a good motivation.
    Oops. A big one I forgot... Works best on stuff you've had a while, or bought used. *Clean your instrument. Really CLEAN it. Take all of the hardware off. The knobs, pickguard, everything! Use good guitar polish. Oil the fretboard. Shine the frets. Put on new strings. You and your guitar will feel new! And you will look and feel better holding a clean instrument!
    Good Article. Here are couple things I do to feel inspired again. *Play a different instrument. If you are a "Fender Player", try using a Gibson. Yamaha? Try Ibanez! See what your local music store has new, or borrow an axe, and spend some time with it. Try acoustic too! *Play another instrument. If you're guitar player, pick up a bass. And vice versa. Or beat on some drums. Hit some keys on a piano. This works very well for me. *Record (and listen to) yourself (or your band). Think your band is tight? Is your timing perfect? Even if its just a video on your iPhone, it can tell you a lot. Just be honest with yourself. Hope this helps some people....
    I was getting a little bored a while back. I play a lot of classic metal and some newer stuff. About that time, I started diving into texas blues style. Nailing the swing-blues rhythm made me like guitar again.
    My roots were punk and that's probably the least inspiring genre to learn once you mature as a guitarist. I find trying something difficult works best at inspiring me to get back at it.
    i'm the same way. i eventually learned to branch off of punk into metal like 9 years ago. then i got sick and tired of playing metal and punk and found myself listening to blues, bluegrass and jazz for more inspiration. it helps a ton to branch off and find new things.
    Least inspiring? Sorry, but no music genre is more mature than any others. It all depends on what YOU enjoy and want to do with your instrument. I've been playing guitar for over 10 years now and I still love playing punk pieces just as much as I enjoy playing Jazz. My biggest advice to musicians - Write your own songs! There is nothing more inspiring.
    One thing I do is find the musicians that inspired my favorite artists, or I check out early interviews. Just have to find what drives you. Hell, even putting on a pair of strings that you haven't tried before can do something.
    *play guitar like *now I play metal
    What I've learned from playing in several bands is that every riff is a potential song. It's all decided upon what you choose to do with it
    When I try to learn a new song it's usually harder than the ones I've already got under my belt. I'll mess with the song for a while but more than likely I'll come to a spot that I just can't figure out, either my speed/dexterity isn't there or my hand movement is wrong or I just haven't commited the part to muscle memory. To combat this motivation killer I will usually move onto another song, that is a little more difficult than the one I'm having trouble on. It just switches things up a bit for me, gives me something new to struggle with. I'll hit a road block at some point though and use that as a sign to go back to the older song I was struggling with. I'll be able to see improvement right away with the part I was initially having a problem with.It's not always as easy or nice as going from a hard song to a very hard song, then back to the hard song. Hell there are times I'll fall into like 5 other songs before I go back to that first one. But it's very satisfying to see the payoff. I'm always like "wow, I could barely play this at 50% speed a week ago, now it's no problem at full speed"anywho, that's what keeps me pushing along with guitar
    Also, do not go to this website for inspiration. With artists like Sam Smith on the front page, that is enough to make any guitarist want to saw his guitar in half. Yes we get it- modern music blows d*** for guitar. Honestly do not see why anybody would want to learn Sam Smith and how they would even get any useful knowledge from that. Sure, there are plenty of great things to learn with guitar, however you will have to dig deep on Youtube/internet to find them. All you will find here is the same old bubble gum bull s*** and the same old bands that have been around since the 2000's and beforehand. With so many challenging, inspiring things to learn, like Polyphia for instance, why settle for the superficial crap here?
    I try rethink why I play. I know I have dreams of being a famous rock star, but those are just dreams. Sometimes I get down on myself because I am not as good as I wish I could be. I just remember that I love to play and take it for what it is. I try to enjoy the fact that I can play at all. Sometimes the most simple things about playing guitar are the most enjoyable.
    Great points here,I don't really play other peoples music,I'm at the stage where I just want to get better at making my own songs,that's good enough inspiration right there
    Oh, do listen to albums from different language eg. some jap/Korean/Spanish band albums. You know, guitars do not speak same language.lol