How To Make The Transition From 6-String Guitar To 7-String Guitar

Are you having a hard time coming up with interesting ways to play your 7-string guitar? Fact is, the overwhelming majority of guitar players are accustomed to playing a standard 6-string guitar. This makes it difficult to be able to adapt to the creative advantages that the 7-string offers. Along with these advantages come several new ideas that will alter your current guitar playing style.

To become an excellent 7-string guitar player, you will need to fully understand how to overcome any challenges that arise with your new instrument. It is also necessary for you to become aware of all the new guitar playing possibilities that will help you express yourself better in your music. Let’s explore some of the many new ideas that can help you express yourself creatively in your 7-string guitar 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 thirty seconds. After this amount of time, your audience would likely be listening to the music while asking 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. To find out more about balancing pitch range on 7-string guitar, check out this 7 string guitar lesson.

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 and the high range of notes the standard guitar uses. 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.

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.

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.

Start by playing 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 don’t know how to do this, read this article on how to eliminate unwanted string noise on guitar.

Combine Rhythm Guitar Chords With Lead Guitar Melodies

One of the signs that you are becoming a truly great 7-string guitar player is when you are able to cleanly and accurately shift between rhythm and lead guitar parts while still playing in time. When playing 7-string guitar, this skill becomes more challenging due to the wider guitar neck that makes it harder to jump from lower range notes to higher range notes.

To get better at combining rhythm and lead guitar together, you will need to not only be able to play both parts flawlessly on their own, but you also must practice the specific moment of transition from one part to the next. To make quick improvement in this area of your guitar playing, focus on playing each part without mistakes (and with good timing), then slowly integrate the two. For additional help, record yourself playing these parts together. By recording yourself, you will be able to hear any mistakes you make with much more clarity.

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 and implement these ideas in order to improve 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 more ways to play 7 string guitar creatively in this 7 string guitar lesson.

Find out how to play guitar more cleanly in this article about how to eliminate unwanted string noise.