Do you feel like your 7 string guitar playing is not as
creative as you would like it to be? Chances are, you have not fully explored
the instrument’s creative possibilities and limited your approach to simply
trying make your 6 string ideas work with the low B string.
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 an past article I made, I covered several 7 string guitar ideas.
This gave you many additional ideas for how to use your instrument as well as
how to smoothly transition from 6 string guitar to 7 string 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.
Implement these five concepts into your regular guitar
practice routine in order to become much better and more creative in your 7
string guitar playing:
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 discussed in this resource
about how to
record guitar parts, many guitarists use sloppy palm muting technique
during their recordings. As a result, they have to buy more time in the studio
just so they can redo their recordings.
With this in mind, you know you have truly mastered palm
muting when you have the ability to consciously adjust the precise amount of
muting you apply while playing rhythm guitar ideas. A good illustration of this
is when you use palm muting technique while playing a power chord and slowly
decrease the pressure of your palm on the strings to allow them to ring out
openly. This technique can sound really intense when applied on the low B
string due to the natural ‘heaviness’ of the lower register. Applying this
technique consistently and accurately requires practice, especially if you are
going to ‘record’ a double tracked rhythm guitar part that uses it. This palm
muting application is not at all the same as playing guitar with inconsistent
muting without being aware of what you are doing.
to play 7 string rhythm guitar using this palm muting style to enhance your
Use String Skipping To Enhance The
Intensity Of Your Guitar Riffs
One of the first things that guitar players are drawn to
with 7 string guitar is playing rhythm patterns on the low B string. The
expanded pitch range of this string gives you the opportunity to use string
skipping as a tool to make really intense and killer rhythm guitar riffs. In
many cases, string skipping would normally be used as a lead guitar technique.
However, on 7 string guitar the low B string allows you to use string skipping
while still remaining in the lower pitch range normally associated with rhythm
When you begin skipping strings from the low B string, you
give yourself more options to be creative as well as improve your ability to
pick with a much higher degree of accuracy. Why is this? While playing on 7
string guitar, not only must you adjust for the wider neck, but you must
overcome these two obstacles as well:
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.
Expand your understanding of this string skipping idea by
using the free examples in this resource about how to play 7 string rhythm
Utilize The Low 7th
String To Enhance Your Picking Hand Accuracy
One unique way to develop your picking hand accuracy is to
take advantage of the thickness of the low B string. Here’s how to do this:
First, think of several licks, scale patterns or riffs that only use the lowest
two strings. Then take your time and develop the ability to play them fast with
an emphasis on perfect accuracy for each note (use palm muting as well to
improve your 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
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.
Want to hear how this sounds? Listen to the mp3 examples in
this 7 string guitar
Play Using A Higher
Register By Stringing Your Guitar With A High “A” String
It is overwhelmingly common for 7 string guitar players to
use a low B string. After all, this is how most 7 string guitars are sold at
guitar shops. However, this does not mean that you are limited to only playing
with this string. It is perfectly acceptable to use a high “A” string (in
standard tuning) that expands the higher register rather than a low B string.
When you do this, you will open the door to creative lead guitar possibilities
that are totally unavailable in both 6 string guitar and typical 7 string
guitar set ups.
Warning: Just like with the low B string, it is very easy to
over-emphasize the high A string and cause your guitar playing to lose a sense
of variety. Keep this in mind and use a balanced approach to keep your guitar
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.
Get more information to help you get the maximum value out
of this article and learn how
to play 7 string rhythm guitar with more creativity.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording
artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He helps guitar
players internationally to become better players with his customized guitar
lessons. Check out free
guitar playing videos and use a guitar practice
guide on his website with effective guitar
lessons to learn effective methods for improving your guitar playing.