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Mission Strings And Have No Spares? Practice Anyway!

by Matteo

Have you ever gotten lazy when you lose a string, and say hey, I can’t play my guitar anymore until I get strings, and then it just takes a long time before you finally go purchase a pack? Well, the first thing you should know is this:

It’s actually A WONDERFUL THING that you have missing strings on your guitar. And here’s why:

In order to play things that sound excellent when improvising, or composing, with less strings you need to rely more on your listening skills (aural skills), which is a very important part of learning music. This impacts your ability to play better things, easier, and faster if you come up with it in your mind. It's in reality what lets you come up with music in your mind.

So what CAN be done with fewer strings, besides the obvious, which is either buy new strings, or play with less strings?

In truth, there's quite a few things you can do with ONLY a few strings. They challenge you to think about your guitar neck in new ways. The good thing is you can actually feel like you’re playing the guitar while doing these exercises, as in they don’t feel like mindless scale mashing.

Here are a few suggestions:

On those strings you have, you can play certain chords in new ways, which will make your guitar playing sound really cool. You will need to find and play these chords everywhere on your guitar neck. You can start to play them in any order once you have found them, even jam or write songs using them. You may discover a secret to other people’s songs.

Discover what notes are in the chords you usally play, such as A major, G major, D major, C major. (You can do more)

Look on the internet to find the notes in each chord, and then look for a chart that has all the notes on the guitar drawn out.

Take your time trying to find a few different places where you can play those chords on those few strings you have. Remember: You don't want to fret a D note if the chord you're playing doesn't contain a D note.

After you figure out a new way to play the chord on your guitar, write it down in a chord chart, and keep note of it so you can remember it for later use.

How does this help you?

This will help you to visualize chords better over the fretboard, which will improve your songwriting skills, improvising skills, help you to get more familiar with the fretboard, and open up possibilities with how you play chords. You will be able to more confidently express what emotions you want through your instrument. Also, the act of writing the chords down will help to give you practice with writing music in TAB or notation, which can be quite a challenge if you haven't done it very much.

We’ve got rhythm guitar covered, but what about improvising and soloing?

Here’s something really cool you can do:

1. Record yourself playing a progression with the "new" chords you discovered. Or find a backing track online, so that you can have something nice over which to solo and improvise.

2. Pick 2 strings that are NOT adjacent to each other, and practice soloing and improvising using only those 2 strings. (Yes, you will be skipping over a string or two)

3. You should do this with the other strings that you have still on your guitar, and you can use 3, or 4 as well. Make sure at least 2 of the strings are not adjacent. You can solo over chord progressions you make with the chords you found above.

4. When you do this, try to write down any sequences or licks you find that sound cool. You can then use them in a song.

How does this help you?

This will obviously improve your improvising skills, visualization of the fretboard, and bring you one step closer to being able to play anything you hear in your head, as well as develop your ability to play up and down over the fretboard rather than just in one spot. The fact that you are skipping a string means that you need to listen much more closely while you are playing, and that will develop your ear much better than just running up and down some scales. This also makes you think about the precision of your pick’s motions so that you can hit the strings accurately.

Now you have two really cool new things to do that will build your guitar skills REALLY FAST; much more effectively than if you had all of your guitar strings. More importantly, you know WHY these exercises help you and what they will do for you while you are putting yourself through the stress that it will cause when you are doing them. So what you should be doing right now, is breaking your guitar strings. :)

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