Episode 35 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast gives you three easy ways you can refresh your guitar playing and try something different.
The three things covered in this episode can change the way you think about and play guitar. If you haven’t tried these things before, I recommend giving them a go and you might be surprised by the impact they have on your playing.
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Check out these resources to help you take action on the three suggestions covered in this episode:
If you’re still unsure why I’m suggesting these things after listening to the episode, have a read through the above guides.
Podcast Episode 35 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 35 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.
In this episode, I’ll go through five different ways you can shake up or refresh your guitar playing.
When you’ve been playing guitar for a while, you eventually settle into a certain style of playing and you develop preferences for certain types of gear.
While this is completely fine, it’s important to remember that our preferences and tastes change over time. The music you listened to ten years ago may or may not be the same as what you listen to today. The movies you watch, the foods you eat, or even the type of clothes you wear may be different now compared to ten years ago. So you should expect your guitar preferences to change as well over time.
But unless you experiment and try out different options, you may not realize that there’s a different option out there that you may prefer compared to what you’re doing now.
Let’s go through five easy ways you can try out something different with your guitar playing. Have a listen to all five suggestions, then pick at least one to try out.
Try a Different String Gauge
The first suggestion is to try out a different string gauge on your guitar. Have a think about what the string gauge is on your guitar right now and why you use that gauge.
How many different string gauges did you try out on that guitar before you decided to stick to the gauge you’re using now?
If you tried out three or more different string gauges before settling on one, that’s fantastic. Three different gauges is enough to figure out what’s ideal for you.
The chances are you didn’t do this and just stuck with the string gauge that came with the guitar when you bought it. While there’s nothing wrong with that, how do you know that this is the perfect string gauge for you?
Even if your guitar feels great to play, you may find that slightly moving up or down in string gauge makes your guitar feel even better to play.
On the page for this episode I link to some resources talking about string gauge and how the gauge you use changes the playability of your guitar. Check it out to learn more about string gauges, then I suggest trying out two different string gauges to double-check that you’re using the perfect gauge for your playing style.
Buy a set of strings that are slightly heavier than what you’re using now, and buy a set that are slightly lighter. That way you can find out for sure whether your current strings are just right, or whether you should go lighter or heavier.
I did this when I was a teenager after years of sticking to the same gauge. I used to play heavy gauge strings because I heard that they give you better tone. When I tried out a light set of strings, I quickly learned how rubbish that advice was. Not only did I prefer the feel of the light strings far more, they sounded great.
So even if you already have a strong opinion on string gauges, try a couple different gauges out to make sure that your preferences haven’t changed over time.
Try a Different Guitar Tuning
The next suggestion is something my students hate at first, then love after they discover how it opens up their playing in new ways.
The second thing to try is to try a different guitar tuning.
I’ve talked about this before in episode 2, so listen to that episode again for more details. The reason I covered it way back in episode 2 is because it can have such a big impact on the way you think about guitar.
A guitarist who never ventured out of standard tuning is limited in how they think about guitar. It’s only when you try a different tuning such as an open tuning that you realize the limitations of standard tuning.
Don’t get me wrong, standard tuning is fantastic, but it’s only one of many options.
Check out my guide on alternate tunings to learn about the different types of tunings you can try, then check out the guides for each tuning to learn more. In each tuning guide, I include a list of songs in that tuning along with Guitar TAB so you can see what that tuning is like to play.
I can’t think of any better way to refresh the way you think about guitar than switching to a different tuning. So I highly recommend every guitarist try it out.
Even if you’re a beginner, try out Drop D tuning as a simple taste of what alternate tunings can do for you. Once you see how Drop D opens up new playing options, you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Try Different Guitar Picks
The last suggestion is such a simple one, but it’s something that definitely shapes the way you play guitar.
The suggestion is to buy a bunch of different guitar picks and spend some time with each one. This is similar to the string gauge suggestion, but it’s a lot easier to try out compared to restringing your guitar.
I know a lot of guitarists will have already done this at some point. In the past, you probably bought a few different thickness picks and figured out which one suited you best.
But as I mentioned earlier, preferences change over time, most of the time without us noticing it.
The pick that was best for you five or ten years ago may not be your top choice now. The only way to find out is to experiment with different picks.
The most important factor with guitar picks is the thickness. Playing guitar with a thick pick feels completely different than playing with a thin pick. Most people will tell you that a thin and flexible pick tends to feel better when strumming chords, and a stiff pick tends to feel best when playing aggressive rhythm parts or fast lead sections.
It’s a bit more complicated than that, but it gives you a rough idea of how different picks suit different guitarists.
The thickness of the pick also changes the way you play. If you try playing something with a thin and flexible pick, then play the same part with a super-thick and rigid pick, you’ll notice that not only do the parts sound different, they feel different as well.
This is why I suggest trying this out. Changing to a different pick can be just enough to refresh your playing. You may find that moving to a thicker pick helps you tighten up your rhythm skills. Or you may find that the reason you’re having trouble playing fast parts is that the pick is tripping over the string. Moving to a different pick could be all you need to do to solve a lot of problems.
The reason some guitarists obsess over guitar picks is that they realize how much of an impact it has on their playing technique and their tone. A slightly different shape or material can change how you pick the strings, which changes your technique and tone.
I’m sure after listening to these suggestions it seems unlikely that any of them could have an impact on the way you think about or play guitar. Surely changing to slightly thicker or thinner strings shouldn’t make any difference in how you play guitar. But all of these minor details do make a difference.
A beginner isn’t going to notice much difference when switching between string gauges or different types of picks, but an experienced guitarist definitely will.
The idea behind this episode is to get you to try and notice how all of these things shape the type of guitarist you are. Try these three suggestions out and let me know how you go with them on the page for this episode at guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-35
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See how you go with the three simple suggestions I’ve talked about and I’ll talk to you next time.