Would you like to become a more creative 7 string guitar player? Being highly creative on 7 string guitar is one of the most common challenges for musicians who have mostly played 6 string guitar. Unfortunately, most guitar players get stuck playing in the same ‘6 string’ mindset as they did before, and therefore don’t get great results when they try to translate it to 7 string guitar. Although the two instruments are alike in many ways, they should NOT be approached exactly the same. Along with the additional ‘B string’, comes a world of new adjustments, challenges, and possibilities.

In order to become a great 7 string guitar player, you must learn how to get the most out of all these 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.

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’.

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. If you need help with cleaning up your guitar playing, check out this lesson on eliminating guitar string noise.

Integrate The Low B String Into Your Lead Guitar Playing

Since a 7 string guitar essentially adds a bass string onto the guitar, many guitarists consider the instrument to be primarily used for rhythm. However, this is only a single piece of the puzzle. In fact, 7 string guitar is unique because it gives you a great opportunity to extend your lead guitar playing into the lower range as well. To get the most from this instrument, extend the scale and arpeggio patterns you know from 6 string guitar onto the low B string. This will help you to expand the pitch range of your lead guitar phrases to make it more similar to piano. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, find a guitar teacher who knows how to effectively teach these 7 string guitar playing concepts.

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 see examples of how to utilize the pitch range of the 7 string guitar, see this free lesson on how to play 7 string guitar more creatively.

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.

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.

Learn additional creative musical ideas for 7 string guitar in this lesson about how to play 7 string guitar more creatively.

To learn how to play 7 string guitar more cleanly, check out this lesson on muting guitar string noise.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional touring musician and the guitarist for the epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He also teaches and trains guitarists from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. On his website, tomhess.net, you can get additional free tips about guitar playing, guitar playing resources , mini courses and surveys.