How to Move from your Guitar Comfort Zone?

You may think that I’m going to play it Sem the “personal guitar development” coach, am I ? The answer would be yes, and no! But read ’til the end, you won’t be disappointed…

Actually, I had this question in mind this afternoon while I was shooting the videos of the 3 Yamaha SG guitars (1820, 1820A & 1802) that I have for review.

I Like Having a Simple Guitar Playing But…

To make this reviews for, I had to calibrate the format but also my guitar playing. By calibrate the guitar playing, I mean going straight to the point !

There is a fine line between going straight to the point, and being simple. And I guess I crossed the line quite easily… I stay in my comfort zone ! I am not bothered by the fact that I have a simple guitar playing. I actually have a simple guitar playing, and I’m kinda proud of it! But what bothers me most is the danger around that corner : no risk taking anymore!

That I don’t want!

So how to prevent this habit (that I took with the video reviews) to spread like a plague?  Here is something I do, and that could be useful to those who don’t want to get stuck in their comfort zone, guitar wise.

Push you Limits, Play with your Fingers…

… Instead of a guitar pick! And if you are the kind of guitarist who plays fingerstyle then play with a plectrum… You get the spirit!

That may sound idiotic but fingerstyle playing, and playing with a guitar pick are very different approaches to the same instrument. And if you are used to play exclusively with a pick, believe me that you will find it very uncomfortable to leave that piece of plastic (or bronze if you are a Niglo pick addict). Do it, and you already are out of your comfort zone!

I started fingerstyle playing (again should I say) or some sort of thumb-index-middle fingers to be more accurate, under the influence of:

  • Jeff Beck… Oh how pretentious I was.
  • An acoustic guitar I’ve bought last summer, which I always play with my fingers.
  • The lapsteel, and bass that I would never play with a pick.

It is surprising that it took me so long to give my bare fingers a chance on the strings of an electric guitar. Especially while I used to do it on the lapsteel, the bass, and the acoustic guitar. And I think it has a good impact.

Why does it make me move from my comfort zone? It is fairly simple :

  • This modifies my approach of rhythm – Playing with 3 fingers is like having three guitar picks attackingthe 6 guitar strings! Fingerstyle allows me a more syncopated approach to guitar… Well I’m not sure that it is that good because I already love syncopation too much!
  • This modifies my approach of melody – With a guitar pick I tend to play melodic sequences on one or two strings… Always adjacent strings obviously! Remember that playing with 3 fingers is like playing with 3 picks then skipping strings comes more easily!
  • This modifies my approach of harmony – I don’t know if this is the best word but when I play fingerstyle I tend to play more open strings to enrich chords. That works on an electric guitar as well as it works on an acoustic guitar.

Obviously this doesn’t make me like the perfect player nor it will shake the whole universe but playing fingerstyle forces me to try new things… Always!

Of course it seemed natural to me to play fingerstyle on the electric guitar because I was already playing lapsteel, and bass which sounds better that way (in my opinion) but I think you don’t have to be multi-instrumentalist to give it a try. Yet, your guitar playing could benefit from the practice of another instrument… Try a slap lookalike on a guitar or try to reach the microtones of a lapsteel with your axe… It will get you straight out of your comfort zone!

And you… What do you do to get out of your guitar comfort zone?

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