Feeling Stuck? Here Are My Top 10 Rutbusters!

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.

I am feeling stuck for a few weeks or month. I have a feeling I can’t move forward. Sure today I made the music theory grade 4 quiz. Got 100% even though I finished the grade a year ago. My timeing also got better. I stardet the course again a few month ago from the beginning because I skipped a few things. I was looking elswhere as well for courses like guitar tricks but I know it has nothing to do with the course Justin made.

I’m only 2 months into the course, but I tend to get bored quickly of repetitive tasks and can feel my motivation wane which is the beginnings of getting stuck in a rut. I finished Grade 1 in about 3 weeks, and have been consolidating and working on my songs to be memorized/recorded for over a month now. Here’s what I’ve done so I don’t lose momentum and give up:

  1. Tried the first rut buster with my wife “hun, my online guitar instructor says I should buy another guitar so I don’t get stuck… yes I know I’ve only been practicing for two months, yes I know I already own two electric guitars, but…”. Let’s just say that hasn’t worked out well yet. Will be reattempting that in a few months for sure :smiley:

  2. While consolidating and practicing daily, I did some other courses. Finished Grade 2 on Practical Music Theory, and working on Grade 2 Strumming SOS - Strumming Dynamics which is really helpful for the songs I’m learning and improving my strumming, rhythm and timing overall. I’m including the exercises from those courses into my daily practice routine to keep it fresh. I had started Ear Training, but realized that I was trying to do too much at once, so I stopped that for now. I’ll save it for a future rut busting period so I don’t run out of new courses to use (along with Grade 3 PMT).

  3. I found my fourth song “How to Save a Life” a bit more challenging than the others I’ve recorded, and started to get frustrated and thought of picking an easier song, but I’ve really wanted to learn and play that one for a long time. So, while still practicing that one daily, I’ve been practicing the previous ones I’ve already recorded and added more things to them (different strumming patterns, better chord changes, a few embellishments, etc.) and recorded them again to compare with my earlier recordings. I’m really happy that I did that, as it’s improved my playing of those songs, and has shown me the progress I’ve made in just a few weeks of extra practice which I didn’t realize. That gave me a motivational boost to keep practicing my fourth song.

  4. This past week I decided to move on and begin Grade 2 of the beginner course, but at a much slower rate than Grade 1 while continuing my consolidation and song practice. I only started the first module 8, and added the stuck chords and my first Pentatonic scale to my daily practice routine. That gives me new things to practice daily and keep my interest going while continuing to work on my Grade 1 song practice.

  5. Finally, I’m exploring listening to new music. While one of my goals is to play Blues music, I only really listened to and knew one album/musician which is Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album. So I’ve been using Spotify to explore both older and contemporary blues musicians and making my own Blues Favorites Playlist for future dream songs to aspire to. It’s also introduced me to Blues Rock which is a great combination of the two genres I’d love to play :blush:

So, thank you for this video Justin! Lots of great suggestions which shows that there isn’t just one way to go about this. I’m loving exploring different ways of both enjoying my daily practice while adding variety to it that keeps it interesting without straying too far from the structured learning approach of the course.


If your strings are old, I found new strings to sound so good it was inspiring.

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Hi all.
Watched this video and realized that my “problem or Rut” was probally one that lots of us have or have had.
Especially Blues but other genre’s too ,( for me ) Rock, Blues and Reggae are my main music.
Now, to my “rut”. I can not work out any leads or riffs? that adds to the music or backing tracks.
I sound like I’m just running about in either Pentatonic or scales.
I record what I try, but never felt that I was adding to or making the song interesting. Most are pretty boring being honest.
The only things I kept was recodings of just noodling. They were OK (to me)
Have anyone else come across this feeling? And what did you do to overcome it?

I’m surprised that Justin didn’t mention bass guitar for Rutbuster #8 - Try Another Instrument. I did this almost two years ago and have been hooked ever since. I have a “repertoire” of almost 500 bass tabs that I’ve developed on YouTube that I have a lot of fun with on a regular basis. Playing the bass guitar has reignited my passion for playing the acoustic and electric guitar. Although I wasn’t in a rut, I also purchased a 12-string acoustic guitar earlier this year which addressed three of Justin’s Rutbusters: new guitar, new sound, and try other instruments.

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