By Tom Hess
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.
Learn how to play 7 string rhythm guitar using this palm muting style to enhance your guitar riffs.
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 guitar.
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 guitar.
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 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.
Want to hear how this sounds? Listen to the mp3 examples in this 7 string guitar playing resource.
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 playing fresh.
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.