It doesn't matter if you play electric guitar or acoustic, or if you have been playing for six months or six years, at some stage you will find yourself in a rut, with your guitar playing going nowhere.
This is when we find ourself falling back on our tried and tested licks, replaying our favourite riffs ad nauseam, and ultimately learning nothing.
Falling in a rut is all too easy, but as Sophie Burrell explains, in a new instructional video shot as part of Positive Grid's Ignite Sessions (opens in new tab), getting out is kind of easy, too. It just requires a little discipline, maybe a little routine, and some fresh thinking.
• This 5-step, 30-minute daily routine will improve your playing (opens in new tab)
The first step is recognising that you are in the rut, says Burrell, who cautions us against the familiar trap of noodling instead of practice.
This might be symptomatic of our time-pressured lifestyles, and when there’s only half-an-hour in a day to play guitar, it might not be so appetising to spend that valuable time on that economy exercise that you’ve been putting off for months.
“It’s really natural to want to play the things you are already good at because you are going to enjoy playing them, it’s that personal sense of satisfaction,” says Burrell. “You kind of feel accomplished at what you are already playing, but the real progress is when you sound bad. Sounding bad gives you a lot of direction and focus to become better at that thing that you sound bad at, which is going to result in progress.”
On a similar theme, Burrell is a big advocate of getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to genre, too.
The old public health campaign that said, ‘You are what you eat’ could be transposed to playing an instrument; the more musical styles you master, the larger your musical vocabulary, and it is amazing how many techniques that are inherent to, say, jazz can be appropriated and used in a rock context.
“This particular point was a big deal for me,” says Burrell. “I started making way more progress when I went to music college and I was faced with a lot more styles and genres that I hadn’t played before, and it really helped me to progress.”
$110 Off Spark Smart Amp + Carrying Bag:
$359, now $249 (opens in new tab)
It's hard to argue that the Positive Grid Spark isn't a fantastic deal, even at its full price. So, when you can save yourself some dough, even better! This epic deal sees Positive Grid knock $50 off the price of the amp and throw in a carry bag - worth $60 - absolutely free, effectively saving you $110 on the total price. Be quick, this offer ends 5 September.
40% Off BiasFX2 Standard: was $99, now $59 (opens in new tab)
Fancy turning your laptop into the ultimate guitar rig? Well, you might want to take advantage of this great deal. Bias FX2 gives you access to a slew of studio-quality guitar tones, from famous stompboxes to world-class amps. You have until 30 September, to bag yourself this deal.
Burrell’s tone comes via her PRS Custom 24 and custom presets using Positive Grid’s Bias FX 2 amp and effects modelling software.
If you like what you are hearing, now is as good a time as any to get in on the action because Positive Grid’s 10th Anniversary celebrations also some very attractive deals that offer considerable savings on the Bias FX 2 platform, and of course its flagship bedroom amplifier, Spark 40, which has been a revelation for digital guitar amp design.
Of course, once you are out of a rut and find yourself progressing, you can then cut loose and just play, and see where your newfound skills will take you.
This is the approach viral influencer, session guitarist, and producer Nicholas Veinoglou advocates in his Ignite Session, titled "Don't Practice, Just Play: Get Better While Having Fun Playing Guitar" (opens in new tab).
To sign-up for news alerts on when the next Ignite Sessions are released, head over to Positive Grid (opens in new tab).