Are you looking for ideas on how to practice on a 7 string guitar? This is a common occurrence for most guitarists because they are used to playing a standard 6 string instrument. In the end, a standard 6 string guitar and a 7 string guitar are basically the same. However, with the additional seventh string come several physical and stylistic differences that will totally change the way you approach your guitar playing.
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 7 string guitar 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.
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. To avoid this problem and play 7 string guitar more creatively, you must focus on playing with the entire pitch range.
Let me explain:
There are various instruments that use a very large pitch range. For example, the piano ranges from very low notes all the way up to very high notes. If you were to imagine a song being played on a piano, how would it sound? Most likely, you would be hearing a mix of low, mid, and high ranged notes. What if the piano song ONLY consisted of the lowest range notes…and lasted 15 minutes? How long do you think it would take before you became bored? Not very long I’m sure. In fact, you’d probably want to add in mid and high range notes pretty quickly to keep things interesting. This is exactly how you should approach playing 7 string guitar. By focusing all your attention on the lowest string, your guitar playing will become too one-sided (and uninteresting). By mixing in the mid and high range, you will help balance out your overall sound.
It is crucial to understand these ideas on pitch range if you would like to create your own music. When I show my guitar students how to write music, I always help them master this area. To become much more creative with balancing pitch range in your guitar playing, see this free lesson on how to play 7 string guitar.
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.
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.
Minimize All Unwanted String Noises
For most guitar players, it is very tough in the beginning to eliminate excess guitar noise coming from any strings that are not being played. This is due in part to the significant change in the physical ‘feel’ of a 7 string guitar compared to 6 string guitar. This change comes not only from the additional string, but also from a wider guitar neck. This will take some time for you to get used to. If you want to make your guitar playing cleaner, you need to make it a priority to fix any string noise problems in your technique. Listen closely as you play guitar so that you can hear any extra noise that occurs. Then, use guitar string muting techniques to minimize the noise until only the notes you want to hear remain. To get more help on this, check out this article on eliminating guitar string noise. If you have a lot of trouble playing guitar cleanly, seek out a great guitar teacher who can help you effectively solve this problem.
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’.
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 play creatively on 7 string guitar, check out this free lesson on 7 string guitar creativity.
To find out how you can play guitar cleaner by getting rid of extra string noise, check out this lesson on eliminating guitar string noise.
About The Author: Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He teaches guitar players from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. Visit his website tomhess.net to get free guitar playing resources and to read more guitar playing articles.