Stuck In A Rut With Your Acoustic Guitar Rhythm Playing? Let Me Show You A Way Out

By Simon Candy

Have you ever been, or are you right now, in a situation where you have become stale with your acoustic guitar rhythm playing?

Every time you pick up your guitar you play the same old chords, with the same old strumming patterns. Maybe you pick out notes of the chords as you play too, but even that is getting tired because it also sounds the same all the time.

This is a very common frustration, and happens to all of us somewhere along the way. Unfortunately it can be a regular occurrence and lead you to quitting your guitar playing altogether.

Knowing how to sound good on guitar, so that you even surprise yourself every time you pick it up to play, is something that you can achieve, if you go about it the right way. 

In this article I am going to focus on your acoustic rhythm guitar playing and how you can literally develop endless ways to approach it, giving your playing loads of variety. No longer will your rhythm guitar playing be predictable, boring, and stale to you.

 

What Happens If You Don’t Get Out Of The Rut You Find Yourself In

I can certainly relate to being stuck in a rut with your guitar playing. There were many times in my early years of learning, I would hit what seemed to be a dead end with my playing. I just didn’t know what the next step was to take. 

Everything I played sounded boring and predictable. Little did I know then that this was because I was playing what I could already play on the guitar. I was just reinforcing things that I could already do. 

What you need are some specific strategies and methods you can use to not only sound a lot better and less predictable with your acoustic guitar rhythm playing, but to dramatically improve your skills over all.

The alternative is to just keep doing what you are doing, but surely that doesn’t make any sense to you. If you choose to go down that path, then one of two things is going to happen:

1. You quit playing altogether only to regret having done so in years to come.

2. You continue playing guitar, and in 10 years time you realize you sound no better than you do now. Imagine how that would make you feel. I’ve known many people in this situation and it’s unfortunate because it doesn’t have to be like this at all.

 

How To Get Out

In order to get out of the rut you find yourself in with your acoustic guitar rhythm playing, you need to train a variety of different rhythm type approaches into your everyday guitar playing, and then apply these to the songs you know.

The two key words I want you to focus on in the paragraph above are “train” and “apply”.

Simply stumbling across different types of rhythm guitar playing in the songs you learn is not good enough. Yes, you will improve some, by learning songs and the different playing approaches they throw up to you. But, if you only do these in the context of the song in which they are presented, then don’t expect them to become part of YOUR guitar playing, where you can use them freely in any situation, effortlessly.

Think about it. 

If you only ever played the different types of rhythm playing situations that are thrown up in the context of the songs you learn, then how often would you use these rhythm techniques?

The answer is every time you play the song that uses them.

Kind of obvious, but then the question becomes, in terms of a percentage of your guitar playing time, how often do you think you will play any song you learn now, in say the next 2 years and beyond?

The answer is likely to be very low, maybe 5%, or even less. That’s not a lot. The songs you learn come and go, there will be many you just totally forget about, and others you get bored with and stop playing altogether.

This is all fine and normal, but for any technique to stick and become part of your everyday playing, including rhythm guitar techniques and approaches, you need to train them into your playing as well as apply them to other musical situations.

Only using them in the songs you learn and then expecting them to come out in your own, everyday playing isn’t going to happen.

 

The Pay Off

I can tell you from personal experience that one of the best feelings as a guitar player is when you master something, such as a rhythm playing concept. To master it means you have total control over it. You can use it whenever and wherever you like in your own  guitar playing.

You will feel fantastic when you can do this! In fact, you won’t be able to stop using the rhythm guitar concept you have mastered. You will have a new found sense of freedom with your acoustic guitar playing, and better yet, the knowledge and know how of being able to take any aspect of acoustic guitar and train and apply it into your own playing.

It truly is a great feeling and your acoustic guitar skills will improve ten fold as a result.

 

How To Go About Mastering Your Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Skills

Let me give you one example of how to train an acoustic guitar rhythm concept into your playing so that you can master it and use it wherever you like. No more being stuck in a rut playing the same old things all the time.

Here is a typical chord progression you are likely to come across:

 

Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Progression

 

and here is one of many ways you could play this progression using a chordal picking approach:

 

Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Chord Picking 1

 

 

Now most people will stop at this, and as a result every time they use a chordal picking approach in their acoustic guitar playing, this is how they will do it, and this is how it will sound.

You don’t want that, because pretty soon you are going feel like you are in a rut with your playing every time you go to chordal pick something on your guitar because you will do it in the same way.

Let me give you another way you could pick this same chord progression:

 

Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Chord Picking 2

 

 

Now you have two ways that you can pick through these chords. This will start to develop some variety into your playing so you sound much better on the guitar.

To train this even more into your playing, so that it becomes something you can do effortlessly whenever you want, you need to combine the previous two approaches into one like this:

 

Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Chord Picking Combined

 

 

Now we are getting somewhere. Combining these two approaches trains even more variety into your chordal picking skills. You are learning more possible combinations in regard to patterns to pick and will sound much better on guitar when using this kind of rhythm approach in your playing.

Finally, lets APPLY this technique to another unrelated chord progression like this:

 

Acoustic Rhythm Guitar Chord Picking Application

 

 

Application is a vitally important part of training and mastering any acoustic guitar skill. Taking the rhythm concepts you come across in the songs you play and applying them to other musical situations is crucial in developing great acoustic guitar rhythm playing skills.

 

To learn many more essential acoustic rhythm concepts so that you can develop endless ways to play and never get stuck in a rut again, check out this FREE Acoustic Rhythm Guitar mini-course.