In every guitar journey there are some hurdles and detours that all guitar geeks must deal with along the way, but nothing is more intimidating nor frustrating than the ultimate nemesis to any guitar geek…
That nemesis is known as the dreaded guitar rut.
Falling into a guitar rut happens to us all. Every single guitar geek at one point or another (often times more than once) finds themselves in a guitar rut.
Guitar ruts can lead to low motivation, lack of progress, and even depression… seriously, no joke here. Since guitar ruts are the evil force we guitar geeks are trying to defeat I wanted to share with you 5 ways of busting your guitar rut right now.
These are 5 simple tactics and tweaks you can do today that will help relieve you of your guitar rut and keep it at bay:
1.) Recognize the Rut – This is the most important tip I can share and it is to simply understand and admit that you may be in a guitar rut. Again, I want to reiterate that it’s ok to be in a guitar rut, it’s one of the parts to any guitar journey. To take action against your rut admitting that you are in a rut and haven’t felt any progress in a while is crucial. This will allow you to take power over the guitar rut instead of it clouding your brain with negative thoughts about your guitar journey.
2.) Make a U-Turn – A guitar rut can be extinguished nearly immediately if you just turn 180 degrees and run with your guitar in hand. No, I am not saying quit the guitar, I am saying pursue a different path of guitar study. If you are primarily a flatpicker try fingerpicking. If you fancy yourself a blues cat try bluegrass. If you are a strictly instrumental guitar player, try singing along while playing. These new paths of study will show off the guitars flexibility and reinvigorate your relationship with your six string friend… not to mention scare any guitar rut within a 1,000 mile radius away.
3.) Commit to 10 Minutes – When practice turns into a chore it’s as if the guitar rut can smell it. As soon as you start feeling like you “have” to practice, the guitar rut picks up your scent and begins to lick its toothy smile. Practice should be fun and when the fun gets sucked out of it you may be vulnerable to the prowling guitar rut. To fight it off, I would try and commit to a minimum of 10 minutes of playing the guitar per day. This could be 10 minutes of chord progressions or picking exercises – whatever. This minimum time commitment allows you to get your playing in even with the craziness life can throw at you. These ten minutes also fuel progress every single day which reinforces your guitar playing habit. Also, those ten minute sessions allow you to get past the hardest part of sitting down to play… and that is opening the case and starting.
4.) Open Up Your Ears – Let’s say you are in a rut and you just haven’t even been playing for a week or so. Without your guitar in hand you can still blast a guitar rut’s butt into outer space just by listening to new music. If you are stuck just listening to blues, try on gypsy jazz for size. If you really enjoy 60’s and 70’s folk, listen to some modern fingerstyle. This simple pattern interrupt can offer some much needed new perspective towards the guitar.
5.) Guitar Geek Shopping Spree – Guitar geeks and gear are a match made in heaven and when the guitar rut takes grip and starts stripping away the fun from your playing one of the best things you can do is get something new for yourself. It can be as small as an accessory, a slide, a new set of strings, or it can be as big as a new guitar. New gear is definitely fulfilling, but it also can reignite your love affair with your guitar, which makes the guitar rut cower in fear.
Guitar ruts suck plain and simple, but with these tips you will send that guitar rut running away with it’s tail between it’s legs.
How to have more fun playing acoustic guitar and get better in the process.
If you want something new to play every day then I highly recommend checking out Tony’s Acoustic Challenge. It was designed from the ground up to bust any guitar rut and ignite the guitar player passion inside you.
Good tips. Not currently in a rut, but I ride waves from time to time. Looking forward to getting on your daily acoustic challenge. Sounds like a great motivator to get away from the phone and doing something that is fun.
Great writeup on the bane of our existence! The dreaded “rut”…. I’ve struggled with this many times over many years.
And sometimes just something simple, like putting on a new set of good strings can make all the difference. Or adjusting the action… when it’s too high it makes it very hard to enjoy playing! Same with strings that are no longer fresh. Even just getting out and walking or hiking can pull you out of the dreaded ruts we all experience. And, one the BEST ways is finding another player and pickin’ together over a beer or whatever.
Thanks for the great article, Tony!
– Russ Evans