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How To Become A Creative 7 String Guitar Player

Tom HessAre you currently not satisfied with the level of creativity in your 7 string guitar playing? If so, you are in the company of nearly every guitarist who has made the transition from a 6 string guitar to a 7 string guitar. When it comes down to it, both instruments are the same in a lot of ways. However, they are not entirely the same. Along with the extra string comes a totally different ‘feel’ (physically), plus many great benefits to help you express yourself musically.

To become an excellent 7 string guitar player, you will need to fully understand how to overcome any challenges that arise with your new instrument. It is also necessary for you to become aware of all the new guitar playing possibilities that will help you express yourself better in your music. As you continue reading the rest of this article, I will show you many new ideas to help you express yourself creatively in your 7 string guitar playing.

Use A Lead Guitar Playing Style On The Low B String

Due to the lower pitch range that comes with the added string, most guitar players consider the 7 string guitar to be geared toward rhythm playing. This causes them to mostly ignore also expanding their ‘lead guitar’ techniques onto the low B string. As a result, these musicians totally miss out on all the interesting new guitar licks that can be made (which are impossible to create on 6 string guitar). If you are not confident in your abilities to play lead guitar or use the low B string, I recommend that you find a guitar teacher who fully understands how to teach 7 string guitar, and can show you how to effectively master these areas in your playing.

Avoid Overuse Of The Low B String

The first thing a guitarist typically does when he/she gets a new 7 string guitar is immediately start playing around with the new string. In most cases, making ‘heavier’ sounding guitar riffs often becomes the main purpose that guitar players choose to pick up their 7 string over their 6 string. This is definitely one of the coolest aspects to playing 7 string guitar. However, the problem is that players often end up in a habit of playing the same style of guitar (rhythm) every time the lower pitch range is used. This will make your guitar playing turn stale very quickly.

For instance, let’s say that you are going to create a song. In this song, you have a wide variety of instruments to choose from such as guitar, piano, bass, keyboard, drums, etc. However, while writing this composition, you decide to create the music by ONLY using the lowest pitch ranges that can be played on each instrument…for the entire duration of the song! I’m willing to bet that your listeners will become bored after the first 30 seconds. After this amount of time, your audience would likely be listening to the music while saying to themselves: “Are you going to ever play some higher notes??”

This is exactly what happens when many people play 7 string guitar. By spending all your time on the low B string, your guitar playing will lack variety. In order to fix this, focus on incorporating the other strings into your rhythm guitar playing. This will balance things out, and keep your music more interesting. To learn more about how to balance pitch range in your 7 string guitar playing, check out this free 7 string guitar creativity lesson.

Clean Up Your Guitar Playing By Cutting Out Unwanted Noises

One of the biggest problems for 7 string guitar players is eliminating unwanted string noise. This problem can occur for many reasons including: difficulty adjusting to the wider guitar neck, trouble with muting the extra bass string, or undeveloped string muting skills in general.

Since the 7 string guitar feels very different than a standard guitar, it often takes guitarists many practice sessions before they can play cleanly. This can be a very slow and frustrating process. Fortunately, it does not have to be this way. To clean up your 7 string guitar playing, you will need to dedicate yourself to overcoming this challenge.

Play your 7 string guitar using your normal routine of guitar techniques, patterns, scales, etc. Take note of when the most noise occurs. By listening carefully as you play, you can pinpoint the exact areas in your guitar playing that require the most work to clean up. To get more help with playing guitar cleanly, check out this article on how to eliminate extra string noise on guitar. If you have a lot of trouble playing guitar cleanly, seek out a great guitar teacher who can help you effectively solve this problem.

Use The Low Range To Add Depth To Your Chord Progressions

The 7 string guitar can be used to create many interesting chords that are not possible on a 6 string guitar. In most cases, musicians will use the 7 string guitar to play in a metal style; however, you are not limited to this style alone. The 7 string guitar can be played in a wide variety of different musical genres. With the addition of the extra seventh string, you can give basic guitar chords a much more interesting sound. The coolest part of this is that you can use the low B string to essentially play standard guitar and bass guitar simultaneously!

In order to hear this clearly for yourself, I recommend turning off any high gain/distortion settings on your amp. By using a clean setting, you will be able to hear the subtleties as you combine the bass string with the other strings of the guitar.

Here is an idea to help you start combining the chords you already know with the low B string:

Think of several of your favorite chords that begin on the A string. Now, use the low B string together with these chords to see how they sound. Start by playing the open string, then experiment by using fretted notes. See how it sounds if you use only the low B string together with the A, D, and G strings in your chords. Then see how it sounds if you only play the low B string with the G, high B, and high E strings. Notice that whenever you play notes that are closer together it will feel different than when you play notes that are farther apart. After playing through this short exercise, think about which of the string combinations sound best to you. Once you have decided on this, you can use this in your music next time you go to improvise or write something new.

Play Both Lead And Rhythm Guitar

If you would like to play 7 string guitar more creatively, you must invest time into practicing smoothly ‘transitioning’ between rhythm and lead guitar styles. This skill applies as well for 6 string guitar. If you have already worked on this before with only 6 strings, this skill will mostly carry over. However, when playing 7 string guitar, it will be more difficult to switch from rhythm in the lower notes to leads in the higher notes due to the wider guitar neck.

To get better at combining rhythm and lead guitar together, you will need to not only be able to play both parts flawlessly ‘on their own’, but you also must practice the specific moment of ‘transition’ from one part to the next. To make quick improvement in this area of your guitar playing, focus on playing each part without mistakes (and with good timing), then slowly integrate the two. For additional help, record yourself playing these parts together. By recording yourself, you will be able to hear any mistakes you make with much more clarity.

The Next Step…

Even though the main ideas of this article are not very hard to understand, the majority of 7 string guitar players do not truly know how to apply them. Over time, as you master the points discussed in this article, you will be able to play 7 string guitar with a much higher degree of creativity. In order to reduce the amount of time it will take to become creative in your 7 string guitar playing, check out this free 7 string guitar creativity lesson.

To get more help with playing guitar cleanly, check out this article on how to cut out excess string noise on guitar.

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and the guitarist of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He also trains musicians to reach their guitar playing goals in his rock guitar lessons online. Visit his website, to read more articles about guitar playing, get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.

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  1. Thanks for the tips. I have a 5-string bass, and though it’s a little different, you gave me some ideas.


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