Have you run out of ideas in your 7 string guitar playing? Fact is, most guitar players have very little understanding of how to play 7 string guitar in a highly creative manner. This is because they are only able to think with a ‘6 string guitar mindset’ and never really take the time to explore the creative potential of their instrument.
Unlike most guitarists, truly great guitar players are well aware of the differences between 6 and 7 string guitar. As a result, they are able to play creatively on their instrument.
In a 7 string guitar playing article I already released, you gained information on a variety of expressive ways to play the instrument as well as how to start playing 7 string guitar when they only have experience playing a standard 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.
Here are five unique tactics you can use to improve your guitar playing by utilizing the unique features of 7 string guitar:
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.
Additionally, using string skipping on the lower strings will MASSIVELY improve your picking attack articulation and ability to play clean. This is because the wide neck of the guitar and heavy gauge of the strings challenges your accuracy, forcing you to improve. On top of that, the extra width of the fretboard forces you to adjust for the following:
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.
To get more information about how you can use string skipping technique on 7 string guitar, study this free resource about creating better 7 string guitar riffs.
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). As covered in this guitar recording guide, it is very common for guitarists to (unknowingly) record their musical ideas with sloppy palm muting technique. As a result, they have to purchase additional time in the studio just so they can edit sloppy guitar playing parts.
How do you know that you have really mastered palm muting? One sign is when you have 100% control over the amount of palm muting you apply during any given guitar riff. For instance, one of the coolest ways to play guitar with palm muting is to use heavy muting over a riff, then gradually release the pressure and let the strings ring out. When playing 7 string guitar, this sounds really cool because of the added intensity that comes from the lower register of the B string. In order to perform this technique, you will need to be in total control of your palm muting (especially for recording double tracked parts). This technique is totally different from the sloppy rhythm guitar playing that occurs when one you are not in full control of your palm muting.
Using this style of palm muting can generate a lot of intensity in your music. For an audio example of this, check out this free 7 string guitar riffs resource.
Become More Articulate In Your Picking Hand By Using The Low B String
One of the greatest tools you can use to enhance your picking hand accuracy and coordination is the heavy 7th string of your guitar. How can you do this? First, put together several scale runs or rhythm guitar ideas that are only played on the lowest two strings. Then begin building speed with them with a focus on precision and accuracy as your first priority. Additionally, use this as an opportunity to work on your palm 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.
Using Irregular Rhythms To Build Musical Intensity
Many people associated the term ‘irregular rhythm’ with ‘irregular meter’. However, these terms are not interchangeable. While irregular meter refers specifically to the meter of the music (such as 7/4 or 5/8), irregular rhythm refers to how the beats are divided within a single measure. Generally speaking, irregular rhythm has to do with using unexpected syncopation, silence or note groupings that surprise the listener.
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.
Get more ideas tom improve the rhythmic creativity in your 7 string guitar playing.
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.
Keep this in mind: It is easy to ‘overdo it’ by playing too much on the high A string (just like playing too much on the low B string). Make sure to use a balanced approach in order to spread out your guitar playing to different strings and octave registers. This will keep your guitar playing from becoming stale.
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.
Study this 7 string guitar riffs resource for my ideas to help you become much more creative in your guitar playing.