#1 Posted by Christoffer (1742 posts) -

I know I can't be the only one who find it relaxing to pick up the old guitar and strum away for an hour or so just for relaxation, recreation, or just to keep my fingers busy and nimble. I'm curious to know what you play. Off course it goes for any instrument, maybe you have one of those Pie-anos. You play songs, your own songs, random chords, scales, arpeggios etc?

I have a pretty weird list of stuff I do before I even try something new (mind you I'm a guitar beginner at best):

  • Hammering an open A minor for a while, trying to cycle through chords that fits.
  • Blues scales that I'm pretty sure are completely wrong.
  • House of the rising sun.
  • Bisbee Blue by Calexico to which I try to sing badly. Laid back song.
  • Sometimes tries to play The Bare Necessities from the Junglebook, for some weird reason.
  • The last thing I play is hopefully something new I'm trying to learn, if i get that far.

I know I wont get far by playing the same things over and over. But as I said, it's just for some relaxation whenever I'm bored with everything else. (I will still try to play properly someday).

#2 Edited by ElixirBronze (415 posts) -

I like to play both the guitar and the piano... I'm not amazing or anything, but I like doing it for relaxation.

I tend to play some old stuff like (example songs in brackets):

The Beatles (basically the entire catalog),

Stones (Ruby Tuesday, Mother's little helper i.a.),

The Who (entire catalog),

Presley (Burning love, suspicious mind i.a.)...

The newer stuff I like to play is

Radiohead (Fake Plastic Trees, Creep, Let Down, No Surprises),

The Killers (When you were young, Human),

Oasis (Don't look back in anger, Wonderwall)

and the like.

#3 Edited by Ramone (2956 posts) -

I had about a 12 month period where whenever I picked up a guitar I would play the riff to Led Zeppelin. Now I tend to just jam out some Dinosaur Jr.

#4 Posted by OneKillWonder_ (1691 posts) -

Definitely. I probably play more often to just relax or relieve stress than anything else. I do enjoy learning new things and I'm always striving to improve myself, but sometimes it's nice to sit down and play something I'm very familiar with just for the hell of it, or just to jam with no real purpose. Though if I do stumble across something I like the sound of, I'll record it right away. I find playing solos and shredding to be very satisfying and therapeutic whether I'm playing an actual song or just improvising. Playing my acoustic is very relaxing, too.

#5 Edited by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

@christoffer The great thing about guitar, especially when compared to more classical instruments, is that there is no proper way to play it. Totally up for grabs in the hands of anyone who wants to strum, hit, stab, or beat sound out of the thing. And you'll get much farther playing the same things over and over again than you'd think.

And House of the Rising Sun is awesome, and a good chord progression to learn and practice. You sound like you got this under control.

In any case, I used to teach brass instruments as well as guitar. There is something about playing a guitar that is, I think, similar to smoking. Totally relaxing in an intrinsic, psychological way. My absolute favorite thing in the world is sitting in my kitchen with either beer or coffee and strumming an unplugged semi-hollow body guitar.

#6 Posted by ShockD (2393 posts) -

I usually listen to relax...

#7 Posted by CheapPoison (716 posts) -

Pretty much just whatever. Mostly just improvising, throwing out some riffs and seeing where that goes, or some scale runs (usefull and a nice drone and it is weirdly relaxing) and some assorted exercises mainly including the pinky.

#8 Posted by Christoffer (1742 posts) -

@elixirbronze : Holy balls. That's a deep catalogue. I want to say I'm jealous of you, but I know I'm just lazy and should practice more. I'm sure you've put a lot of work to learn that stuff. Please tell me you play Let It Be on piano (I guess it's a pretty basic song). Back when I tried to learn piano I loved to practice with that.

#9 Edited by Christoffer (1742 posts) -

@detectivespecial: Thanks for the encouraging words. I guess "getting good" at an instrument isn't about learning new songs all the time, but keeping it up and practice your technique. And I will have to agree, It's one of the more relaxing things you can do. And the more I learn the more satisfying it gets.

#10 Edited by ElixirBronze (415 posts) -

@christoffer: Indeed. Let It Be is a really good entry level song for Piano, and fun to play too. I wouldn't say I've put in a lot of work, I've just been playing casually for most of my life and you pick up a few things along the way naturally.

#11 Posted by themangalist (1716 posts) -

I usually find a cool chord, find a chord progression that uses it, then find some vocals to fit, and sing it out loud. Boom! I write songs. It really does take my mind off things.

#12 Posted by FourWude (2261 posts) -

Sometimes when I'm feeling lonely and my soul yearns to express itself. I take a walk to Crows Peak overlooking the town below. I take my top off and play the saxophone till the sun rises out of the darkness of my soul.

#13 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3770 posts) -

I haven't picked up my guitar in a while but yeah is pretty relaxing. I like writing my own stuff I used to do a lot of that. I taught myself so I'm clueless when it comes to scales or any of that stuff. I play bass and drums too but finding a place to set those up is difficult. I wish I knew how to play the piano.

#14 Edited by Christoffer (1742 posts) -

@fourwude: sounds fabulous. Could you wear a go-pro next time and upload it to youtube?

#15 Posted by Mezmero (1769 posts) -

Damn right it's relaxing. I'm still an amateur who mostly plays rhythm sections even after many years but it sure does feel good to pluck away on my guitar every once in a while. I was really into punk rock and ska when I was first learning so those are all super easy to just belt out when I need to vent some frustration. For something more soothing I like to go with Dynamite Hack's instrumental of Boyz In The Hood.

Also love me some classic rock tunes as well. You pretty much can't go wrong with stuff like The Weight by The Band, Peace Of Mind by Boston, or Boat On The River by Styx for maximizing your Chill-tober. So yeah playing guitar is super relaxing and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than cigarettes.

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#16 Edited by Stonyman65 (2573 posts) -

I'm a hair metal/shredder guy by heart, so when I sit down to play it's usually working on scales, playing old Dokken or Ratt tunes, or trying to find out how the play the insane solos from Steel Panther songs.

I need to start playing again. I've barely picked up the guitar for over a year now and most of my (little) skill and dexterity is almost gone.

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#17 Edited by rflx (572 posts) -

Sure. I also enjoy changing strings on my guitars an basses. There's something kinda zen about it I find.

#18 Posted by Immortal_Guy (107 posts) -

I've played the piano for a number of years, and I've owned (though not really played) a guitar for a year or so. I sometimes play music on the piano to relax, but I find playing the guitar a massively stressful experience. It's probably because I'm no good at it, but I have to concentrate like mad the whole time.

#19 Posted by Brodehouse (9521 posts) -

I started playing guitar at 15, was into metal and rock and technical guitar songs... and then I started picking up other instruments around 19 or 20. Around that time I got to appreciating composition and songwriting more than pure musicianship, and for a solid two years I was writing songs primarily on software. Still a lot of progressive rock/metal stuff with some experimentation, a lot of douchey odd-time signatures (I did a song that was primarily 13/8 and 15/8 and made it work). Wrote about 150 songs or whatever. Around 22 I shifted into working full time days, and either my creativity or my free time just dried up. I still pick up my acoustic every now and then and screw around until I get a melody I like... but I never write it down or add harmony or accompaniment so they're all lost... like tears in the rain.

Maybe I should get back into composition. Or maybe I should just study for my midterms and play Pokemon.

#20 Posted by PollySMPS (220 posts) -

I'm a 20+ year drummer and I find that on nights when I get home from work and I'm too wound up, putting a good 45 minutes or so behind the kit is enough to help me wind down, either playing along with something I like or just winging it and letting whatever drum line wants to happen just happen.

I recently picked up bass and when I play bass, I'm still in "learning" mode, so it's not quite as relaxing just yet.

#21 Posted by planetfunksquad (399 posts) -

I play bass. It's super relaxing. I just jam on scales most of the time.

#22 Edited by Lysergica33 (517 posts) -

Yeah, I play to relax, though I don't ever play if I'm stressed. If I play while I'm stressed I just get frustrated and feel like I'm not able to channel any kind of emotion in a cohesive manner. Since I'm a mostly improvisational musician, the kind of focus and clarity I need to be able to do a proper improvised, spontaneously composed piece requires a positive state of mind. But yeah, music is deeply meditative thing for me, and very relaxing.

Shameless plug but this is what happens when I'm in full on musical meditation mode. More people should upload some videos, seeing/hearing fellow Giant Bomber's music is always nice. Sorry for shitty quality video.

#23 Posted by CheapPoison (716 posts) -

@rflx: REally? I guess i kinda have to blame my guitar but that does not seem relaxing at all!

#24 Posted by Lysergica33 (517 posts) -

@cheappoison: I find it very relaxing too, I have to admit. I've restrung my guitars that many times now that I can basically do it on autopilot. So yeah, it's pretty zen for me too.

#25 Posted by RonGalaxy (2846 posts) -

Thats all I do. I dont even really learn songs, I just play random stuff when I get bored. Ive been playing for 6 years (guitar) and think Im pretty good. Really wish I could get into making electronic music, but every program I try is way too intimidating. Im more of a hands on player, so the thought of thinking a song out and trying to do it with a mouse and keyboard goes against my musical thought process.

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#26 Posted by notdavid (815 posts) -

I'm decent enough at guitar to write little instrumental pieces, but every time I try and toss some lyrics in there I want to fucking die. I'm a terrible writer, and a worse singer. So whenever I play to relax, I usually just play a few chords and zone out.

#27 Posted by Winterstrike (59 posts) -

Being a musician myself playing an instrument relaxing me a lot(I'm a pianist/keyboardist, guitarist/bassist, drummer and occasional singer and arranger when needed, but mainly I play piano/keyboards) so, yeah, Sometime I do play to relax, it works. Most I play some solos by Rick Wakeman and others, but often I play whatever it comes in my mind improvising some chords progressions or doing some blues/jazz influenced improvisations.

#28 Posted by csl316 (7985 posts) -

I do all the time, just playing whatever comes to mind on guitar. Some old song I wrote, or some random melodies.

Favorite thing is to just jam over some songs, which is why Rocksmith 2014's session mode sounds like something amazing to me.

#29 Edited by JasonR86 (9587 posts) -

I'll play the first song I wrote on guitar to relax. It's comforting.

#30 Edited by Samael2138 (228 posts) -

I have practice, then I have relaxation. Relaxing is usually just improvising over random chord progressions. I recently purchased a Boss RC-3 loop station pedal. I just play a progression, stomp the pedal to loop it, and just improvise from there. Its really fun, and has led to some great ideas, which I've had to get serious about and actually record.

#31 Posted by Lysergica33 (517 posts) -

I have practice, then I have relaxation. Relaxing is usually just improvising over random chord progressions. I recently purchased a Boss RC-3 loop station pedal. I just play a progression, stomp the pedal to loop it, and just improvise from there. Its really fun, and has led to some great ideas, which I've had to get serious about and actually record.

Loopers are pretty much the most fun ever, and so inspiring. I have the EHX 45,000 looper. Love that thing to pieces.

#32 Posted by Christoffer (1742 posts) -

@lysergica33: I really like the sound of that, almost zoned out listening to it, in a good way. Kind of made me want to get an electric guitar for experimentations like these. But for now I'm stuck with my cheap old nylon guitar.

#33 Posted by MormonWarrior (2534 posts) -

Yeah sometimes I'll throw on headphones and play my piano for a while. If I'm really distressed/depressed though I have trouble playing anything and I get really frustrated.

Although last week I recorded and posted this just for fun. I like to sing and play, or just do classical music or mess around and try to come up with my own stuff. I wish I played guitar better so I could improvise on there.

#34 Posted by CynicalBuzzard (240 posts) -

I like to play the violin to relax.