7 Tips For Leading Worship On Acoustic Guitar

Reposted with permission from Rob Rash. Originally posted on RobRash.us.

When it comes to leading worship, many of us lead with an instrument. Whether it’s a keyboard or a guitar, we usually have something in our hands.

I’m an acoustic type of guy. I like how an acoustic has the ability to lead a song without being too overbearing. It’s leads strongly and simply. It fills in the holes at times and gives you that raw organic type of sound.

But there’s really more to leading worship than three chords and a strumming pattern.

Believe it or not, you can create dynamics in your worship leading using only an acoustic. Likewise, you can also destroy moments with the flick of a wrist.

Today, I’d like to offer 7 tips for leading worship with an acoustic guitar:

1. Don’t Overplay

Know when to say when. I’ve seen worship leaders just hammering away at their acoustic like they were trying to beat it into submission. Or unable to stop playing and let another instrument lead. You’ve got to be able to know when to play and when to stop.

2. Be a Tone King

Don’t just plug your guitar into the system and let ‘er rip. Take some time to EQ and develop the right tone for your guitar and sound system. Most guitars need a little adjusting, even Breedlove’s and R. Taylor’s. No guitar is perfect and it would be more than worth your time developing a good sounding acoustic. You can use an external pre-amp, DI, or acoustic processor. Just don’t overlook this step.

3. Be in Tune

This is a no brainer but you would be surprised how often a guitar can get out of tune. And when your guitar is out of tune, everyone knows. Tune your guitar before and after each song (if your able and not causing a distraction). You can use a clip on guitar tuner or a floor tuner but whatever your flavor, just make sure your staying in tune.

4. Learning to Strum

Strumming is an absolutely crucial key in acoustic rhythm and dynamics. Don’t get stuck in a certain pattern, but rather learn how to strum freely without having to concentrate on it. It may take you practicing everyday, but it will be well worth your time. Listen to the songs your going to be playing for dominate rhythms and use those in your playing as well.

5. Re-String Often

Don’t wait for a string to break on stage or see how long you can go without changing your strings. Those are both bad ideas. If your using strings without a coating, change them at minimum once a month. I’d probably change them every two weeks. If you’re using a coated string like Elixirs, change them every couple of months. You’d be surprised at how much life new strings can add.

6. Work on Chord Voicings

Always be working at your craft as an acoustic guitarist. Just because you can play 5 chords really well, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep working at your playing abilities. Work on your chording, alternate chording, finger style, and playing techniques. You can always get better.

7. Alternate Tunings

EADGBE is great, but there are quite a few other tunings that you can really utilize. Drop D is a popular yet workable arrangement as well as any open tuning. You can also experiment and use cut capo’s to get some amazing alternative sounds. For more info on alternative tunings go here.

Have other tips on leading worship from an acoustic guitar? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-Jahn/1306128397 Brad Jahn

    This isn’t a tip, but a recommendation from an arranger to the guitar players: learn 7th, 9th, diminished and augmented chords (in that order of frequency used). An entire world of music opens up to you when every chord type is at your disposal.

    • http://robrash.us Rob Rash

      So true Brad. Those chords can really add a nice touch to the songs.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/hitch.on.the.loose Justin Hitchborn

    Isn’t there some joke about the acoustic player never being in tune?

    A good acoustic player does make a HUGE difference, especially one with good knowledge of chords and rhythms. A versatile player is a valuable player.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cperkins.65 Cole Perkins

      I really like that statement. Versatility is valuability. I’m going to use that, if you don’t mind.

      • Kyle Bynum

        is valuability a word?

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  • Capobro

    Thanks Russ, we all need to be reminded again and again about these simple but really important keys to leading from acoustic. I may have started with tuning or listed it more than once, but I have a tendency to overplay. So, point taken! I’m going to go change my strings now.

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  • hurlco

    The great theologian Eric Clapton once said;
    “It’s not what you play…it’s what you don’t play”