Feeling Stuck? Here Are My Top 10 Rutbusters!

Stuck in a rut with your guitar practice or lacking the motivation to practice the guitar? These 10 tips will help you!

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Another terrific video Justin. Thanks!

Here couple of things I do to energize myself:

I like to create arrangements of my favorite songs using Guitar Pro. It can start with my own transcription of a song or I’ll use something from a song in a book or a downloaded TAB. I’ll then add my own ideas as well as add drums, bass and vocal lines in the arrangement. It’s fun and very satisfying to listen to the final product. While doing this, I inevitably will have learned something new about playing guitar and something new about using Guitar Pro. And when I’m done, I’ve got a new song to practice!

My second rut buster is to commit to recording a song. This gets me to focus on playing something as well as I can. It forces me to fix mistakes that that are easy to ignore and to recognize technique problems I need to improve. Making a recording also gives me an opportunity to learn more about using audio and video recording tools like GarageBand and iMovie.


I can’t wait to get in a Rut for the first time, then I just have some kind of doctor’s note / prescription from Justin to buy a guitar :sweat_smile:
Greetings Rogier


Now that’s a logic I can go with Rogier!! :rofl:


Rogier you’re so much fun :joy:

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@roger_holland I am with you. Mind you, I managed my rut’s with one guitar for over 30 years. I tended to buy guitars later, once I got really enthusiastic about playing guitar, and could somehow justify the expense.

What changed the whole dynamics of Rut busting and learning was

  1. Learning to sing songs (actually getting vocal lessons)
  2. Playing together
  3. Playing together in front of a whole bunch of people.

I remember doing that for the very first time with 3 : 3 chord songs, a buddy who knew only cowboy chords, doing Johnnie Cash songs from the American Albums, oh, about seven years ago.

Then we met the keyboarder, and the two singers, and we had to up the repertoire within two weeks to 10, then 20 songs. One more singer came, and two more guitar players.

RUT Busting indeed.


Great video Justin. I am just showing my wife the bit where you said I need a new guitar.


Interesting video. I’m curious to know from the community - Have you hit a rut with guitar in the past? Why, what was it like, and how did you bust the rut?


@jkahn Interesting question Jk, thank you. I hit a rut with strumming more than once. My first rut buster was Justin’s positive approach. Rut buster number 2 was a Rumba flamenca strumming pattern,
5 minutes a day with the metronome everyday with no expectation whatsoever if not the curiosity to observe my own self. I ended up strumming along with Gypsy Kings at 60% of the speed and in some way I understood and could apply it a little bit to a dreamer song: soooo much fun and good slow and quite accurate practice that really kept my bum on the seat! I put it on a bench when it started feeling I was putting too much pressure on myself, you know I’m not a Rhythm natural! It did me tons of good and I know I’ll get back to it one day. Got back to standard strumming but being self-taught can be tough and I was very much unable to self-assess myself objectively and ended up practicing the wrong things: rut number 3 was the Ukulele. In only a few days I could already play a few kids tunes and in a few weeks we all were rocking with it, I bought a second Uke and I’ m learning tons of tunes, for many traditional ones I’ve been singing for decades with the kids I can work out the chords by ear and it feels like oh wow! But strumming an acoustic guitar is different and my late rut buster to get back to my steel strings is the new Foundation Strumming SOS. It’s so well structured, seems designed to meet my needs and keeps me fully engaged! I hope I didn’t annoy you too much with my long tale!


@jkahn I hit a rut at the end of my first year. I practiced a lot, at least one hour per day, almost every day and had the feeling of progressing too slow. I had the impression, that more practice didn’t take me anywhere. I couldn’t overcome my faults. So what? I went on, nevertheless had a lot of fun and still have and some things just fell in place on their own. Long train running…


Has anybody bought a guitar because they felt they were in a rut and really didn’t feel like playing much? Did the new guitar get you out of the rut? How long until the inspiration wore off?

I haven’t ever done so, but I’m wondering if it actually works.

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Last Fall there was a couple of months where I was extremely busy at work and didn’t have much time to pick up and play. I would still play daily but only ~30 minutes a day and sometimes I would have to skip it all together. Sometimes it felt like I was forcing guitar into my schedule. It got to the point where I asked my self why bother because I’m not improving since I didn’t have the time to play.

What got me out of it is reading my learning log. I scrolled up to the top of the page and re-read everything from my first post all the way to the latest at the time. It was the first time I looked at it since writing each post so I was surprised at how much progress I made. It made me realize that I was missing the bigger picture. I couldn’t play now sure, but eventually things would slow down and I could pick up the pace again. During that time I started to focused more on just playing the guitar/enjoying it and less with progress. Trying to play everyday, but not beating my self up over it if I couldn’t fit it in.

Eventually things slowed down and I’m right back feeling like I’m making progress. Sometimes even more energized and focused than I was pre-lull. Overall I think the experience taught me a valuable lesson on not seeing the forest for the trees. I’m grateful to Justin and the community for creating a place where the learning logs can exist. :slight_smile:


Try new techniques. I tried bowed guitar.

I’m in a rut right now! It’s similar to @alexisduprey in that I’m working long hours and although I have time to practice come night time, I can’t be bothered. It’s easier to put the kettle on and sit down and relax.
I had a 3 month rut spell last summer, again due to long hours working. It was different then though because it was warmer and lighter and I’m probably more energised in summer. I’d just started Grade 2 and whenever I picked the guitar up through that period I would just practice one thing from module 8. Next time it would be a different thing. I knew progress would be slow but I didn’t beat myself up because I also knew that the busy time would come to an end. And of course it did and I decided I’d done enough practice in m8 and moved on.
And now?….well the workload is for different reasons this time, but again, I know it will come to an end, so again I’m not beating myself up about it. My long term desire to learn and play guitar is as strong as ever and I know I’ll move forward and make further progress eventually.
This time I’m doing it differently. I’ve found the melody notations for a few songs in some old books and they are fairly easy. So now I feel I can pick the guitar up (it’s only now and then) and play around with these melodies. I’ll get back to the course come spring.

I hadn’t thought about reading through my own log to remind myself of progress but you may have a good point there Alexis. I’ll brace myself!!


I think we all get stuck in a rut at times in all different aspects of our lives and the guitar is no different. I have experienced several in the 4 years I have been playing, however I reminded myself that at times where I felt that I was just repeating the same old things over and over again and not really feeling that I was learning anything new , that during those times I was actually consolidating what I knew. Eventually I got to a point where those monotonous tasks became second nature and provided the foundation to kick on to harder stuff.

My favorite rut buster is when Justin completes a new module! Super grateful to Justin and team for producing this amazing content and making it available to everyone.