make better songs

4 Ways Guitarists Can Make Better Songs

Making songs can be a fun endeavor, but it’s not always an easy process. You often hear about artists like Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga coming up with hits within minutes, but if you’ve ever written or made your own song, you’ll know that’s a rare occurrence. You may experience creativity or creative block, or sometimes the music doesn’t sound right. Fortunately, you don’t have to stay stuck in the process; there are many ways to boost your song-making process and create a great tune. Here are four ways guitarists can make better songs:

Keep the basics in mind

Whether you’re new to making songs or have some experience, remember the basics to give you a strong foundation. Learning or brushing up on your music theory knowledge can help you enhance your songs even further. Harmony, melody, rhythm, and notation are the major concepts, but it also narrows down to individual notes, intervals, scales, time signatures, and more. Guitar theory, in particular, can also help you understand the relationship between chords or scales to improve your music-making. Insights from Improve Songwriting note that music theory explains why music works but doesn’t tell you how to create your piece. You don’t have to adhere to the rules when you make songs, but considering the building blocks of music can streamline and strengthen the process.

Use guitar pedals

Pedals are great for giving your guitar a different sound or adding sonic texture to make your melodies musically interesting. Some of the most well-known effects pedals can offer are overdrive, distortion, and fuzz, which give your guitar more gain and “dirt” in its sound. Way Huge pedals are particularly famous in the stompbox community for fuzz effects. The brand’s Swollen Pickle Jumbo Fuzz allows you to adjust the intensity of the effect so you can go from a gentle crunch to Armageddon. The wah effect is another popular choice, characterized by the funky “wah wah” sound it allows your guitar to produce. The Dunlop Cry Baby Wah pedal is one of the most recognizable effects pedals ever made and is an essential part of the pedalboards of many guitar legends. Utilizing pedals can give your guitar sound more character and diversify your tone, allowing you to make better songs.

Study your favorite songs

As a guitarist, you’ve probably listened to a song and heard a riff or a solo that stunned you. That can be a great starting point for studying how that sound or melody was produced, and you can take notes on how to emulate that playing in your style. You’d likely want to have your own tone, but it doesn’t hurt to hear the masters at work. Create a playlist of songs you feel match the genre and playing style you’d want to pursue, and you can play them on repeat and research the song’s creation to learn more. You can also practice playing these songs and performing covers; recording yourself can help you identify areas of improvement and how you can deviate from the sound to create your unique spin.

Delve into other genres

You don’t have to stick to listening and practicing top hits or your favorite songs; listening to music from different genres that utilize various playing styles can help you branch out and experiment. Our “Tips for Writing Song Lyrics in a New Genre” post highlights that playing or writing music in a different genre requires understanding its structure, tone, and jargon. If you’re used to making songs with the verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure common to pop music, you can challenge yourself to study the blues genre’s 12-bar blues structure. Understanding the meter, rhythm, and tone of other genres helps you develop an appreciation for the emotions the music conveys. Learning the elements of various genres can help you build your style of making music, giving you a chance to make better songs — and inspiration may finally strike. 

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