Fretboard Geek

5 ways out of a guitar rut

Get out of a guitar rut

Getting ‘stuck’ in a rut is common for guitar players of all levels. Repeating the same licks, solos, techniques and songs over and over and not seeing any improvement happens even to the best-accomplished musicians.

As with all issues you face during your learning there are ways to deal with this situation. Through this article I want to help you share 5 ways to get out of the guitar rut that have worked for me over the years.

Why do guitarists get stuck in a rut?

The causes of a guitar rut are different for everyone but they follow a similar pattern.

Starting to play the same things every time you pick up the guitar and lack the inspiration to play anything different is both a cause and consequence of getting stuck in a rut. This can escalate even further and make you think you’re not a good player. The question of  “what should I do now?” easily gets replaced with the familiar blues pentatonic licks or familiar tunes.

The most bothersome part of this situation is that there’s no short way out of it. The main reason I think is the cause of a guitar rut is mostly just one – bad habits!

How to get out of a guitar rut?


  • Listen to new music

Feeling uninspired as a musician is a signal that you need to explore new music. Discovering new solos, guitarist, or even non-guitar music will give you new songs and ideas on what to play.

Even if you are focused mostly on one genre, trying to get into something completely new can have surprisingly positive effects in your playing. You don’t have to force yourself through the process, even some minutes of new music per day is enough to get you hooked on a new band and feel the urge to learn the song.

  • Play every day

A common consequence of a guitar rut is not picking up the instrument for days or even weeks. The longer you are apart from your instrument the harder it becomes to get back to it as your hands need some time to get back to optical shapes.

Set a timer to only 5 minutes and just play every day, even if you don’t feel like it. The goal is not to enjoy it or become a better player just by practicing for 5 minutes – the goal is to build a habit of playing at the least to keep your hands in shape. Doing this for a couple of weeks along with listening to new music is the best trigger on getting out of a rut and building a great routine.

  • Play with other people

In this new Era of Internet-based learning, losing the human touch and connection music brings is a cause for getting stuck.

The best ideas for guitarists come out of random jams that might start silly but then go on for hours. The slightest drum groove played by another musician can inspire new ideas out of you. If you add a couple of other good musicians to the mix then you will feed off each other’s energy.

Even the best guitarist of all time needed their band members to keep them sharp. Surround yourself with good musicians and you are sure to get out of a rut.

  • Stop playing for some days

If in your case you’re playing daily because like me you’re a working musician and need to play guitar for a living, getting stuck in a rut can happen and the cause is related mostly to a ‘burnout.’

Stopping what you are doing for a while and going back to the days of where you were a beginner just jamming and enjoying music could be a solution.  Stopping for a few days until you “miss” playing could solve it for you.

  • Learn a different instrument or the parts of different instruments

If the guitar feels like a ‘burden’ or something you ‘need’ to do then perhaps you could switch for some time to a new instrument you would like to learn. Getting in touch with your “beginner side” and starting a new learning process with the challenges and thrills could get you out of a  rut.

Thinking on another instrument and learning the parts of other instruments is another great way to keep your ideas fresh. Learning vocal melodies is the main way to make your melodies better and get you in a better position

Final thoughts on getting out of a guitar rut

You should never forget that the guitar is just an instrument, the motivation lies in the music and your passion for it. If you keep your love for music alive and combine that with some positive guitar habits you will get out of a rut and avoid getting into in the future.

Try out our FREE APP with over 20 drills that help you learn the Fretboard. A new approach to chords, scales and music theory might be what you need to get out a rut.

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