Feeling Bored With Your Acoustic Guitar Playing? Here Are 5 Things To Ignite Your Creativity Fast - Part 1

By Simon Candy

It is common at times to feel bored with your acoustic guitar playing, when everything you play seems to be the same old stuff, and you progress very little, if at all. 

While times like these can be very frustrating, it is normal and the good news is that it is not hard at all to reignite your creativity when playing your guitar. There are many innovative tools, elements, and techniques available to you that have the potential to totally reinvent the way you approach playing acoustic guitar. To ignore them is like saying:

"Hey, I'm fine with my playing as it is. I don't need to improve anymore. I am happy to play my acoustic guitar exactly the same way, at the same level, with the same amount of creativity, for the rest of my life".

This is the last thing any guitar player of any level, be it a beginner or someone who has played for many years, would want. 

In part 1 of this article I am going to get you started with two things that you can apply to your acoustic guitar playing today so that your creativity is not only reignited but set on fire! Another three approaches will then follow in part 2 of this article on developing the creative side of your acoustic guitar playing.

Personally, there have been several times over the years of playing acoustic guitar that I have felt uninspired and unmotivated. Everything I did was stuff I could already do and had been doing for some time. As a result I would feel very stale with my own playing. However what I found was that by being open to other ways of playing acoustic guitar and studying players I had not really heard before really reignited my creativity on the guitar.

By "other ways of playing acoustic guitar", I do not mean for you to drop everything you can already do with your playing and go and study some completely different style altogether. However, there are many elements and techniques from other styles that you can bring into your own playing that will complement what you can already do and literally set your guitar creativity on fire!

There have been many times that my acoustic guitar has felt like a totally new instrument to me when I have done this, even though I have been playing for 25 years. In fact, I strive to integrate new elements and techniques into my playing everyday in small ways because I see my acoustic guitar playing as something that continually evolves. It never stops, if it does, then I do too and I don't want that and neither should you.

If you ignore the signs of your playing getting stale and feelings of being bored with it all, then the likely scenario is that you will quit altogether. I'm sure that if you are reading this article that is the last thing you want.

As I mentioned before, you need to view your acoustic guitar playing as something that continually evolves and improves in small ways everyday. This is what keeps you engaged with your instrument and keeps your creativity on the guitar going in an upward trend.

A little side note just to be clear: 

I am in no way suggesting that you go and scour the internet for new tabs to songs you haven't played before on your acoustic guitar, or another riff to add to the collection. This kind of "new stuff" at best will satisfy you for a very limited time and will have little to no effect on solving your quest to reignite your creativity on the guitar in the long term.

It's ok to do this (ie. learn new songs and riffs etc) with your acoustic playing but it is not what this article is about. Instead I want to give you some things that will go a long way to seriously changing the way you play your guitar and massively boost your creativity as a musician. 

The following ideas and approaches are just to get you started. I want to make you aware of them, if you are not already, and also encourage you to follow through and explore the ones you like further. To cover any in detail is way beyond the scope of this article. I could literally write hundreds of pages on any one of the topics we will cover in both parts 1 and 2 of this article on creative guitar playing.

So for now let me just introduce you to them, as well as include a few ideas on what to do to get you creating with them on your guitar now:

 

Open/Alternate Tunings

While standard tuning is exactly that, standard, and the most common tuning used with guitar, there are many open and alternate turnings for your acoustic guitar playing you should consider exploring.

Open and alternate turnings will make your acoustic feel like a totally new instrument to you in a good way. It won't feel "new" like your guitar did when you first started playing it and you were totally clueless. Instead, alternate tunings will reignite your creativity on your guitar, as things that were at the very least difficult and a lot of the times impossible in standard tuning, become not only possible but very easy to do in an open or alternate tuning.

It is a good idea to spend some time in one open or alternate tuning before moving on to another. This way you can get familiar with its nuances and character without getting it mixed up with another tuning. 

Here are some open/alternate tunings for you to consider:

 

Open G Tuning (D    G    D    G    B    D): Great for slide playing on your acoustic guitar. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings are unchanged from standard tuning so it is still somewhat familiar but different at the same time.

Here are a couple of slide guitar licks using an open G tuning:

Open G Slide Lick 1

 

 

Open G Slide Lick 2

 

 

Even though I am only targeting the strings that haven’t changed in the examples above (ie. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings), you should still hear the over tones of the other strings when using a slide. This adds to the over all sound.

 

DADGAD Tuning (D    A    D    G    A    D): A very popular tuning known as "DADGAD" in reference to the open string notes. This tuning creates a Dsus4 sound and is great for open and moveable chord shapes on your acoustic guitar.

Here is an example of exactly that:

DADGAD Tuning Example 1

 

Notice the rich sound you can get by holding and moving a single chord form mostly made up with open strings.

Here is a similar example, only this time I have broken the chords up, playing the notes separately for a different effect:

DADGAD Tuning Example 2

 

Csus2 Tuning (C    G    C    G    C    D): This tuning creates an open Csus2 chord, hence its name. This is a very symmetrical tuning and allows you to play runs and melodies in different octaves across the strings without really having to change position.

Here are a couple of examples of some runs in a Csus2 tuning:

Csus2 Tuning Example 1

 

 

Csus2 Tuning Example 2

 

 

 

How To Start Creating With Open and Alternate Tunings On Your Acoustic Guitar Right Now

- Study and learn songs that are in tunings other than standard. This will give you a great insight into that particular tuning.

- Take something that you know how to play on your acoustic guitar in standard tuning and play it in an open or alternate tuning. This will again give you a great insight into that particular tuning.

- Write a song or piece of music in a tuning other than standard. 

 

Harmonics

Applying Harmonics PictureThere is nothing quite like the sound of harmonics in your acoustic guitar playing. Your creativity level using these alone will sky rocket! It is truly amazing what you can do with these when you really get into them and study players who have taken them to completely new levels themselves. 

In a nutshell, a harmonic is sounded by lightly touching a vibrating string at specific points along its length. 

In regard to your acoustic guitar playing and increasing your creativity, lets look at the octave harmonic. To get this you simply touch the string as it is vibrating, with your picking hand, exactly 12 frets higher from where you sounded the note. You must touch the string directly over the fret itself, not in between as you would normally do.

Check the picture on the right for reference:

As you can see, I am using my index finger to touch the string while my thumb plucks the string itself from behind sounding a "bell" like harmonic. 

In the example below I am sounding open string harmonics. Remember that you need to play exactly 12 frets higher from the note itself. So open string + 12 frets = 12th fret:

Open String Harmonics Image

 

 

* In the example above, the p indicates your thumb and the i indicates your index finger both of which are used to sound the harmonic. The note in the bracket indicates the fret that your index finger is above at the time. In this case it is the 12th fret all the way

 

This sounds great over an Em chord, or the key of Em in general. However you don't need to stop there. You can sound harmonics from any fretted note you like. Just be sure to place your index finger exactly 12 frets higher from where you are sounding your note.

Here is an example:

Major Scale Using Harmonics Image

 

Above, I am using harmonics to sound out a G major scale. I just need to make sure that I am placing my index finger exactly 12 frets above the note I am sounding at the time indicated in the brackets. You need to basically visualize the scale shape an octave higher, where you are sounding the harmonics, while fretting it out an octave lower with your fretting hand.

 

How To Start Creating With Harmonics On Your Acoustic Guitar Right Now

- Take the G scale from above right now and sound it with harmonics over a backing track in the same key. Mix the notes/harmonics up and you will be creating a really cool and unique sound on your acoustic guitar instantly.

- Take an existing melody you know in G Major and sound it out with harmonics. This is also a great way to start getting this technique into your own guitar playing.

- Change key and do the above.

Your creativity with these alone will increase dramatically! It is a whole new sound on your acoustic guitar to play around with and integrate into the stuff you can already do.

I have merely touched on harmonics today. There is a MASSIVE amount that you can do with them if you want to explore them further. 

 

The Key Is To Start Creating On Your Guitar Now

I have spent countless hours on just the two approaches presented above with my own acoustic playing enjoying many victories along the way. So expect the same and really enjoy the process rather than becoming impatient and wanting results instantly.

The key is to just jump in and start creating with either an alternate tuning or harmonics right now.

 

To really kick start your new found creativity on the guitar, download this free guide on 5 cool and creative ways to play your guitar with a capo and discover the full potential of this essential tool for the acoustic guitarist.