Episode 36 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at how the guitar you play changes you as a guitarist and shapes your playing style.
This is something most guitarists don’t think about, but it’s important to understand. This episode will explain why it’s important to understand how your guitar changes you as a guitarist.
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Podcast Episode 36 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 36 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.
In the last episode, I shared three different things you can try out to refresh your guitar playing. I’ve had some great feedback from listeners who tried one or more of these suggestions.
Quite a few guitarists were really happy after they tried out different string gauges and discovered that their guitars felt better after a small change. Someone mentioned that they had never considered changing string gauge before and now they wished they tried it sooner once they realized how much of a difference it makes.
One beginner who was struggling to learn bends found that most of the problem was that the second-hand guitar he bought was fitted with super-heavy strings. He took his guitar into his local store and found out that he was playing on 13s, which is a very heavy gauge for an electric guitar if you haven’t played them before. No wonder he had trouble learning to play bends. As soon as he moved to a lighter gauge of strings, his problems disappeared.
That’s a good example of one of my goals with this podcast, to get you to think about and try out things that you may not have thought about before. In that episode, I wanted to show that unless you try out different options, you may never find out that there’s a better option for you out there.
There’s another reason for trying out different settings and adjustments on your guitar. The way you have your guitar set up, the type of strings you use, the action height, and other features don’t just make your guitar more or less comfortable, they actually shape your playing style. The suggestions from the last episode hopefully gave you a glimpse into what I’m talking about.
So in this episode, let’s take a look at how the type of guitar you play shapes your playing style.
This is something not many guitarists think about because it sounds a bit backward. You choose what style of music you play, not your guitar, right?
Well, that’s true to an extent, but the type of guitar you play and how your guitar is set up has an important impact on how you play. Understanding how your guitar shapes your playing style will help you become a better player and will make sure you’re playing on the right guitar.
Now of course, certain guitars suit different styles of music. If you want to play acoustic folk songs, you’ll probably choose a very different guitar compared to the person wanting to play metalcore. That’s obvious.
What I’m talking about is more subtle in how the type of guitar you play forces you to make small changes in technique that over time changes your playing style.
The best way to see how the type of guitar you play changes the way you play is to spend some time playing a different type of guitar than what you’re used to playing. I’m not saying to go out and buy something different, just try out a different type of guitar and see what it’s like to play.
If you have any friends or family who play guitar, ask if you can borrow theirs and play it for a while. If you can’t do that, go to a local guitar store and try some guitars out.
The longer you’re able to spend with a different guitar, the better. The idea here is to get your hands used to playing something completely different than what you’re used to playing and see what happens to what you play.
So if you’re used to playing a steel-string acoustic guitar, spend some time with a classical guitar or an electric guitar. If you’re used to playing one type of electric guitar such as a Stratocaster, try to spend some time with a different type of electric guitar such as a Les Paul, a PRS, or something completely different.
If you try to play the same licks and riffs on a classical guitar, a steel-string acoustic, and different types of electric guitars, you’ll immediately notice how different those licks feel to play on each type of guitar. The licks will feel comfortable on some guitars while they may feel almost unplayable on other guitars.
The licks and riffs will obviously sound completely different on different types of guitars. The licks may sound great on some guitars, then sound strange or bad on other guitars.
For example, bluesy licks with a lot of bends sound great on an electric guitar, but they don’t tend to sound good on a classical guitar. A bendy-bluesy lick sounds bad on a classical guitar because nylon strings tend to sound weird when you bend them.
Think about this example and what it means for a minute. Because bends sound weird on a nylon string guitar, you’re far less likely to play them at all if you only play a classical guitar.
In other words, the type of guitar shapes the type of techniques you play and the music you play. If a certain technique doesn’t feel comfortable to play on your guitar, you’ll be less likely to play it, which over time changes you playing style.
This is a very basic example, but it should give you a glimpse into how your guitar shapes your playing style.
Even switching from playing a Stratocaster to a Les Paul can change the way you improvise, write parts, or even how you pick the strings.
If you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut or you’re trying to write parts for songs and you’re struggling with writer’s block, picking up a different type of guitar can be all it takes to shake things up.
Even guitars with different hardware change your playing style. I know that if I pick up my guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo and improvise, I’ll play in a very different style compared to if I improvised using one of my fixed bridge guitars.
If you’re able to spend an entire week playing a different type of guitar, you’ll learn a lot about how important it is to make sure the type of guitar matches the style of music you want to play. By the end of the week, you’ll know whether that type of guitar is something you might want to look at buying in the future, or you’ll know that it’s definitely not for you.
Either way, when you go back to your own guitar, you’ll notice things you may not have noticed before such as the action height, the tension in the strings, or other things that impact playability.
The goal for this episode is to try and think about guitars in a different way and see how your guitar shapes your playing style. Once you start noticing how different guitars nudge you to play in slightly different ways, you can start taking advantage of that fact.
Hopefully, I’ve given you an idea of why you might want to try and spend some time with a different type of guitar. If you can get your hands on something different than what you normally play, I highly recommend you spend at least a week playing with it. It’ll help you grow as a guitarist as well as recognize how your usual guitar shapes your playing style.
Check out the page for this episode for useful resources at guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-36
Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you next time.