How To Increase Musical Creativity On 7 String Guitar

By Tom Hess

What is one way that you are severely limiting your 7 string guitar playing creativity? Answer: You are playing 7 string guitar with exact same approach you use to play 6 string guitar. Many guitarists think that this is the ‘only’ approach for playing 7 string guitar… As a result, they never fully take advantage of the unique features of the instrument.

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 instructional article I wrote previously, you learned how to play 7 string guitar after having only the experience of playing a 6 string guitar. If you have not already read through that article, check it out first, then come back to learn some more unique and creative ways to improve as a guitarist.

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:

Utilize String Skipping Technique Over Wider Intervals During Your Guitar Riffs

By using the low B string on 7 string guitar, you gain access to a much wider pitch range in the lower register for playing rhythm guitar riffs. This gives you the opportunity to utilize string skipping technique for jumping across larger intervals more frequently (in comparison to 6 string guitar) while still retaining the ‘heavy’ feel of the lower register.

Additionally, using string skipping on the lower strings will MASSIVELY improve your picking attack articulation and ability to play clean. This is because the wide neck of the guitar and heavy gauge of the strings challenges your accuracy, forcing you to improve. On top of that, the extra width of the fretboard forces you to adjust for the following:

1. Your pick has to move further to get to the next string.

2. It is easier to play sloppy because the added string can ring out, causing undesired noise in your guitar playing as you skip strings.

Learn cool 7 string guitar riffs that will help you use string skipping to make your music sound more interesting and creative.

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). This point is made clear in the guitar player studio recording guide I created that explains how guitar players often record their music with unclean palm muting technique (without even knowing it). As a result, they have to purchase additional time in the studio just so they can edit sloppy guitar playing parts.

How do you know that you have really mastered palm muting? One sign is when you have 100% control over the amount of palm muting you apply during any given guitar riff. For instance, one of the coolest ways to play guitar with palm muting is to use heavy muting over a riff, then gradually release the pressure and let the strings ring out. When playing 7 string guitar, this sounds really cool because of the added intensity that comes from the lower register of
the B string. In order to perform this technique, you will need to be in total control of your palm muting (especially for recording double tracked parts).

This technique is totally different from the sloppy rhythm guitar playing that occurs when one you are not in full control of your palm muting.

Check out this mini course with cool 7 string guitar riffs to see and hear an example using the
palm muting concept from above.

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.

Instead Of Using A Low B String, Use A High “A” String

The majority of 7 string guitars are sold with a low B string. However, this does not mean that you can ‘only’ play with an expanded lower register. Instead, try stringing up the guitar with a high “A” string (assuming you are using standard tuning). This unique approach will create an expanded higher register instead that gives you the opportunity to play creative musical ideas that you could never play with the usual 7 string guitar set up.

Keep this in mind: It is easy to ‘overdo it’ by playing too much on the high A string (just like playing too much on the low B string). Make sure to use a balanced approach in order to spread out your guitar playing to different strings and octave registers. This will keep your guitar playing from becoming stale.

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.

Playing with irregular rhythms is not exclusive to the 7 string guitar (you can do this on a standard guitar as well of course). However, by combining the tension created from irregular rhythm with the tension created by the ‘heaviness’ of the low B string, you can play very powerful and intense guitar riffs that could never be played with only 6 strings. One of my favorite ways to take advantage of this is to replace notes in the middle of a measure with
‘silence’. This creates an imbalance in the flow of the music that builds up additional tension to compliment the aggressive feel of playing on the low B string.

Get 7 string guitar playing advice and learn how to use irregular rhythms to enhance your musical ideas.

After reading this article, you now have a much better understanding of how to play 7 string guitar using creative ideas that are unavailable in standard 6 string guitar playing. Don’t limit yourself to the ideas in this article alone. Fact is, there are still MANY creative possibilities out there to explore… and with some creative thinking on your part, you will discover them and take your 7 string guitar playing to a whole new level!

Get help applying the ideas in this article with this mini course full of cool 7 string guitar riffs that will enhance your rhythm guitar playing.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and the guitar player for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. With his correspondence guitar lessons, he has helped thousands of guitarists improve their guitar
skills. To become a better guitar player go to and watch free guitar video lessons, learn about effective guitar practice, and read guitar articles.