How To Massively Improve Your 7 String Guitar Playing

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Do you want to enhance your 7 string guitar playing skills? If you do not have a lot of experience yet playing with 7 strings, you are probably struggling to come up with interesting musical ideas. This is a frequent occurrence for the majority of 7 string guitar players, because they are still used to playing with only six strings. When it comes down to it, the 7 and 6 string guitar are very similar. That being said, there is A LOT of untapped potential in 7 string guitar that you can use to become a more creative guitarist.

In order to become a great 7 string guitar player, you must learn how to get the most out of all the nuances that make the instrument unique. For the rest of this article, I will be showing you various ways to enhance your musical creativity and expression by explaining various approaches for becoming a better 7 string guitar player.

Use The Low Range To Add Depth To Your Chord Progressions

The 7 string guitar offers many new options when it comes to creating interesting sounding guitar chords. By taking advantage of the low range that comes with the extra seventh string, you can combine standard guitar chords with the sound of a bass guitar. This allows you the versatility to play guitar in many different musical situations. Even though many guitar players consider 7 string guitar to be a “metal only” instrument, the truth is you can use it to play in various different genres from mainstream pop to jazz.

The low B string on 7 string guitar will give your chords a new depth and unique sound that you simply can’t get from a standard guitar. 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.

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.

Learn To Use The Entire Range Of The Instrument

In most cases, guitarists are introduced to 7 string guitar through heavy metal riffs played by their favorite bands. This influences them to purchase a 7 string guitar for themselves. As soon as they pick up this instrument, they focus all their energy into creating heavy riffs or rhythms on the low B string. This is certainly one of the most unique features that a 7 string guitar has to offer, however if you spend too much time on the same string, your music will quickly become stale and uninteresting.

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.

If you would like to be more creative on 7 string guitar, it is essential that you understand and apply this concept. When I show my own guitar students how to compose songs, I train them how to master this idea of balance in their music.

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 make improvement in this area of your guitar playing, create two different guitar parts: a rhythm guitar riff (using lower pitches) and a lead guitar phrase (using mostly high pitches). For now, don’t worry about making them too complicated. Once you have created both parts, work on combining the two parts together while playing tightly ‘in time’ and without any sloppy noises/hesitations during the process of switching from one part to the next. For this exercise, it will be useful to practice with a metronome. Additionally, record yourself playing so that you can listen to any mistakes you have made. This will make it much easier to spot yourself playing guitar ‘out of time’.

Discover And Build Unique Chord Patterns

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!

To demonstrate this, I am going to show you an exercise. First, turn off any distortion settings you have and play through a clean channel on your amp. For this exercise, you will be experimenting with various guitar chords that you may have already learned on 6 string guitar. First, create some chords using only the fifth, fourth, and third strings. Then, combine these chords with the low B string. Next, try this same idea, but use the third, second, and first strings. While you are experimenting with this exercise, pay attention to how different it feels when you are playing the strings closer (in pitch) vs. the strings that are farther apart in pitch. Which one of these do you think sounds more pleasing overall? Once you have decided this, you can begin using this idea in your own 7 string guitar music.

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.

Final Thoughts…

Most likely you have not found the ideas in this article to be too difficult to understand. Unfortunately, most 7 string guitar players do not take ACTION to use these ideas for improving their guitar playing. As a result, their progress is very slow. By simply focusing on mastering the ideas described above, you will be able to get much more from playing a 7 string guitar as well as greatly enhance your musical creativity in a shorter period of time.